“Ronald Tomas Nonet” is a Filipino instrumental group that specialised in fusing a variety of musical styles including light rock, classical and jazz. Their music is heavily influenced by Philippine indigenous’ music traditions from the Maguindanao, the Palawan Islands and the Kalinga of Benguet as well the traditional harana and kundiman. The group ‘s best known members Joey De Guzman (Alto Sax/Flute), Gilbert Francisco (Baritone Sax/ Clarinet), Jeck Cenidoza (Trombone), Richie Gonzaga (Trumpet), Ria Villena Osorio ( Piano), Aya Yuson (Guitar), Simon Tan (Bass), Rey Vinoya (Drums) and Ronald Tomas (Tenor sax/flute), who created the band.
To know more about the band, Pinoy Manila asked some questions about the profile of group and their latest album.
Why the name of your band called Ronald Tomas Nonet?
Ronald: There was really no particular reason why the name was chosen. It’s just logical since I put up the group and my name is Ronald Tomas and I wrote most of the material and arranged all the songs and produced the entire album. The word Nonet is basically describes the numerical configuration of the group (e.g. 2=duet, 3=trio, 4=quartet….8=octet, 9=nonet). We are nine (9) of us, so we include the Nonet and came up with the name Ronald Tomas Nonet .
When/How the band started?
Ronald: I really can’t tell the exact date because originally I did not envision this group to be a gigging band. The current line-up came together because I wanted to hear the assignments I had submitted while taking up an arranging course from a school in Boston played live. I initially just thought of bringing my friends together to record my arrangements from my courses at Berklee which were inspired by the sounds that I encountered during my travels all over the world while working as a musician aboard a cruise ship. Incidentally being aboard also exposed me to fellow crew from over 60 countries on the average and I have developed over the years a familiarity with their culture and their music.
So it came to be that every time i came home from a contract, I would contact my friends and we’d go to the studio to rehearse and then subsequently record the songs and arrangements that I came up with because hearing my arrangements actually played by live instruments that I envisioned to play the parts is much more satisfying than trying to imagine their collective sound using electronic instruments trying to emulate these same instruments.
But it is notable to note that the main nucleus of the band played together every Monday in a group called Shower of Flour about 11 and a half years ago at Freedom Bar where we started the Jazz jam still ongoing to this day. Likewise, we all came from the UP College of Music and we were all good friends.
Who are your influences?
Ronald: The music we play is still essentially jazz but it is heavily influenced by indigenous Philippine music traditions, harana, kundiman, folk and music from all over world which include, Chile, Argentina, the Caribbean to name a few. For specific artists, I am a big fan of Bob Aves, Jose Maceda, Ramon Santos, Angel Pena, Miles Davis and Gil Evans.
What is the name of your latest album?
Ronald: The name of the album is called “Travels” describing the trek I have done for a good number of years while traveling and working aboard a cruise ship as a musician.
What are the songs include on the album?
The basic run -down of the tracks are as follows:
Chili Con Pasyon– A fusion of the Traditional “pasyon” and a rhythm from Chile with jazz harmonies
Pandango Palawan– Based on a Palawan highland melody fused with the Argentinian tango and a little bit of the Colombian’s Cumbia.
Very Early– This song is a cover of one of the most influential jazz pianists Bill Evans.
Joselynang Baliwag– A rearrangement of a very old kundiman that was said to be the favorite of the Katipuneros that also serve as a signal for the revolutionaries to attack and a warning when the Spaniards were coming to attack. I put a drum and bass beat underneath to con temporize it a bit.
Dum Da Dee Dum- This is a composition Aya Yuson. The band chose not to put lyrics here even though a female voice was used to carry the melody because the melody itself could carry the song.
Duyog Sunrise- Based on a Maguindanao rhythmic pattern interspersed with jazz.
Ground Zero– Ronald Tomas’ rearrangement of the jazz song that won the Katha music awards for the jazz band WDOUJI (Witch Doctors of Underground Jazz Improvisation) back in 2001.
Ramut-A reinterpretation of the rhythmic interlock present on most Northern Luzon highland music. This was one was taken from the kalinga of benguet province.
Natutulog Ka Na Ba Sinta?– Originally a HARANA written by the late National Artist Levi Celerio and Santiago Suarez.
Sinulugang Taktak– A jazzified version of the Maguindanao Sinulog.
Why all the songs are just instruments sounds?
Ronald: Because I wanted to explore the essence of the music via solely its melody and to further explore and show the rhythmic undertones that is present in the rhythmic patterns that i was trying to utilize.
Ronald Thomas Nonet’s “TRAVEL” album is now available in Lpoez Museum (Exchange Road corner Meralco Avenue, Pasig City 70s Bistro (46 Anonas St., Project 2 Quezon City, Metro Manila Philippines) and Conspiracy Garden Café (59 Visayas Ave., QC ( Across Shell Gas Station).
You can also call 09392211271 for order. It will deliver via courier, or if your within the Metro Manila, Ronald could arrange a meet-up for you.
The CD will also be available at Amazon, iTunes, Rhapsody and CD baby within the next couple of weeks. Visit also Ronald Thomas None Facebook Fan Page
Check out Ronald Thomas Nonet gigs