Guitarist-composer Johnny Alegre, is a jazz journeyman and innovative recording artist from the Philippines. His albums are available on Candid Records and MCA Music.
Johnny Alegre's pioneering musical projects contribute progressively towards bringing an emergent Southeast Asian and particularly Philippine milieu to the attention of musical audiences local and foreign; defying barriers of genre, demographics and cultural stereotypes.
Alegre's involvement in the Manila scene encompasses scores of bands and recording projects, spanning more than three decades of history and discography in seminal "pinoy rock", his early production sorties in classic OPM (Original Pilipino Music), and the epiphany in jazz. In various capacities as composer-arranger, record producer and performing musician, his protean roles have been none short of groundbreaking.
In 2002, Johnny Alegre formed what effectively became Manila's premier jazz collective, the "Johnny Alegre AFFINITY" (with bassist Colby de la Calzada, drummer Koko Bermejo, pianist Elhmir Saison and saxophonist Tots Tolentino as co-founding members), which initiated a series of musical chairs that continue until the present. His performances with AFFINITY spanned the breadth of Manila's high profile clubs and concert venues in modular formats of trios, quartets and quintets. Their first recorded work, "Stones Of Intramuros", written by Alegre, was included in a limited edition Philippine jazz anthology CD, Adobo Jazz Vol.1, that caught the attention of the London-based jazz specialty label, Candid Records.
Subsequently, the eponymous first album, "Johnny Alegre AFFINITY" was released in the Philippines in mid-2005, described by the local press as "a blend of musical, technical and communal creativity between the composer and his allies". The opus was subsequently re-released in the U.K. as "Jazzhound", with notices in British jazz publications, and capped by two sold-out engagements (with guest saxophonist, Dimitri Vassilakis) in London's PizzaExpress Jazz Club. In 2008, Alegre unfolded "Eastern Skies", an album set to the framework of an orchestral backdrop by the Global Studio Orchestra (conducted by Gerard Salonga; arranged by Ria Villena-Osorio). It was his response to the clamor for even more innovative music from "Manila's jazz superband". Alegre's introduction to a mainstream American jazz audience in Hollywood's Catalina Bar in December 2007 earned him a favorable notice in the Los Angeles Times, particularly some kind words from journalist Don Heckman and the music historian Ashley Kahn.
In pursuit of these encouragements, 2009 was the year of "Johnny Alegre 3", Alegre's third outing: a U.S. trio recording of the guitarist-composer joined by Billy Hart (drums) and Ron McClure (bass). "3" was the follow through to what became a breakthrough effort for the Philippine jazz artist to work with iconic American jazz musicians. Billy Hart played drums for the Montgomery Brothers (Buddy with brothers Wes and Monk), and recorded with Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter and Miles Davis. He was with the groundbreaking Herbie Hancock Sextet, and much later with the Saxophone Summit (Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano and the late Michael Brecker). Ron McClure played for the classic Charles Lloyd Quartet with Keith Jarrett and Jack de Johnnette, and was a co-founder of the experimental jazz group, The Fourth Way. He joined Blood, Sweat & Tears in the 1970s, and which won him a Grammy nomination. Together with Billy Hart, Ron McClure joined Quest, led by David Liebman, that still performs currently. The album, "3", also marked Johnny Alegre's migration to his new home and record label, MCA MUSIC (Philippines) of the Universal Music Group.
On the collaborative front, Johnny Alegre recently delivered his world-music suite composition, "Humanfolk", the ensuing recordings and the subsequent concept band he undertook with the New York based avant-garde percussionist and indigenous music advocate, Susie Ibarra. Together with Ibarra's husband, drummer Roberto Juan Rodriguez, with innovative Philippine-based musical artists and collaborators, singer-composer Cynthia Alexander, the sound designer, Malek Lopez and the later addition of vocalist-keyboardist Abby Clutario, the world music opus, HUMANFOLK, was released by MCA Music in May, 2011.
Juan Bautista H. Alegre (III) attended the University of the Philippines College of Music in the latter 1970s, studied composition and was a founding member of the U.P. Jazz Ensemble. Under the tutelage of jazz educator Dr. Joseph Howard and pianist Fred Robles, he further participated in creative workshops conducted by visiting professors such as musicologist-composer Dr. Erhard Karkoschka from the Stuttgart Musikschule, British guitarist Ike Isaacs and composer-scholar Chou Wen-chung from Columbia University. This is an exciting time for those to hear the musical stories of Johnny Alegre, who had emerged as a compleat musician and exponent of a distinctive and very personal musical statement that is both Philippine, Asian and Global.