Updated: May 16
Pre-pandemic, somewhere in the maze of Bacolod Casino, at L Fisher Hotel, was a music Lounge. It was one of those places, where otherwise staid and respectable citizens were, after the fourth beer, seized by the muses of Tin Pan Alley, and were then easily cajoled to take to the spotlighted stage, take hold of the mike, and sang their hearts out before an audience of equally inebriated customers, many of whom weren't even listening.
"A walking encyclopedia of pop standards and jazz classics"
But that was not a run-of-the-mill karaoke or videoke joint, In fact, minus-ones come into play where you get a real live band, complete with guitar, bass, drums, and of course piano. The nice thing about having a live band is that the boys in the band can adjust to your timing, even if off, or to your pitch, even if wrong. You can't do that with karaoke. That inflexible infernal machine with a limited repertoire requires you, flawed human being that you are, to keep up or shut up.
However esoteric your song, chances are it's known to Ed Malata. The musician from Bacolod is a walking encyclopedia of pop standards and jazz classics, able to coax out of his fingertips the forgotten melodies of old unfamiliar scores. He's a rare gem, how many guitar players in the Philippines can play accompaniment to "Speak Low" or It's Delovely" or " I didn't know what time it was" or " I Like New York in June" or Laura.
Since as far back as he can remember, Ed has been tinkering with strings. He learned to play ukulele and guitar by himself, then studied violin for four years during his elementary and that's where he learned notes. In 1960 he turned professional, playing with a band at Bacolod's K Club to outside of the country. This was the beginning of the Sixties, and once
played alongside the famous Bobby Enriquez. Despite his far-ranging repertoire, Ed still studies songs: "You never stop learning music."
Someday, when this pandemic is over, we may have another chance to listen once more to the real guitar virtuoso.
Check out his music here!