by Rene Villaroman/AJPress
LOS ANGELES – Although I have not watched her perform in acoustically proper venues like a concert hall or an auditorium, I have been fortunate enough to watch her perform twice in the entertainment portions of two trade expositions, once at the Los Angeles Convention Center, and again at the Del Mar Fair Grounds in San Diego County. Both performances were in the mid-1990s.
In 1997, I attended the launching in Los Angeles of her CD, Precious, at the Philippine Village Center in Eagle Rock. Kuh’s performance was truly impressive.
Some of Kuh’s back-up musicians and her co-producers were there, and she sang a couple of tracks from the CD. I was very impressed by what I heard. I got hold of a CD a few weeks later and had ample opportunity to listen to all the tracks. I was so impressed. I said to myself, with the right marketing push and direction, a few tracks in that CD could be candidates for Top 40 honors in the R & B and smooth jazz stations across the United States.
was such an excellent product of a collaboration of an acclaimed Filipino vocalist and contemporary jazz and R & B musicians and composers, and was out in the market for years. Unfortunately, it wasn’t marketed aggressively and the effort was left mostly unheralded. The album missed out on the opportunity to get airtime in mainstream radio stations across America.
Years later, kudos were still coming from people across the globe. These reviewers were not all Filipinos. Consider this one from a British chap, Bob Seddon, dated September 29, 2001: “I first discovered the golden voice of Kuh after obtaining the album The Soul of Smooth Jazz Volume 2, released in the UK by Jazz FM. That CD features the tracks Lover’s Journey and Dreaming and when I heard them, I had to investigate this artist’s work further. The CD Precious is, I would say, one of the best buys I’ve made in a long time. The track Keep on Loving Me encapsulates the spirit and mood of the CD and Kuh’s rendition of the Doobie Brothers classic What a Fool Believes demonstrates that she keeps her finger on the soulful pulse; it also demonstrates her incredible vocal range, as does the moving ballad Love Begins With You. I first heard Love Will Follow on Kenny Loggins’ album Outside-Live from the Redwoods, and he teamed up with Shanice for his rendition of the song which he wrote. Kuh’s version is good but lacks the length of Kenny’s version. Moonlight, Silence and I Remember Your Love all demonstrate the fact that Kuh knows how to ‘put a song across’ in her own unique style. I say ‘unique’ as I know from other reviews that she has been compared to Barbra Streisand; I don’t agree. Whilst both are excellent vocalists, their work, I think, is aimed at different audiences. Barbra has her won style and, thankfully, Kuh has hers. Their recorded material, whilst featuring strings, horns, etc., stands out as different to anyone who has a musical ear. I took this CD to Gibraltar recently and when played, many asked with interest who it was. That speaks for itself! I look to future releases by this artist.”
This is, by far, the best accolade I have read directed at Kuh Ledesma’s universal caliber as an artist, and I feel so proud for her. I have been a smooth jazz and jazz fusion enthusiast for more than three decades in the Philippines and in the States. So when I heard Kuh’s Precious CD, I knew that it had struck gold as a smooth jazz and R & B CD. Precious could have achieved the commercial and critical acclaim that it deserved. (www.asianjournal.com)