HUMANFOLK had its inception as the musical collaboration and concept band of guitarist-composer, Johnny Alegre with the New York based Fil-Am percussionist, Susie Ibarra and her husband, drummer Roberto Juan Rodriguez, together with the multi-instrumentalist Cynthia Alexander and the electronica exponent, Malek Lopez. This collective is a pioneering effort marking the convergence in a contemporary setting of multiple musical idioms (jazz, rock, electronic music, ethnic Philippine sounds with Iberian and folk music influences). The group’s name is a deliberate conjoining of the words, “human folk”, akin to menfolk and womenfolk, without prejudice to gender, and frequently set in all caps to distinguish it from a dictionary term.
Convened in the summer of 2008, the introduction of Alegre, Ibarra and Rodriguez in Manila spurred a series of musical and social interactions. The impetus culminated in the recording sessions for the “Humanfolk Suite”, a world music cycle composed by Alegre, for which Alexander and Lopez completed the seminal Humanfolk quintet. Towards late 2008, the threesome of Alegre, Alexander and Lopez performed a live semi-improvised score for a short, silent film entitled “Une Femme Andalouse”, which was awarded the KODAK Best 16mm Experimental Film in that year by the Kodak Filmschool Competition.
They were subsequently invited to perform at the Philippine International Jazz & Ethnic Arts Festival in 2009 and subsequent years. A live collaborative performance in 2010 with the Australian didgeridoo virtuoso, William Barton, also introduced vocalist-keyboardist Abby Clutario as a new principal member of the group. These high profile appearances and many others that followed were milestones leading to the release by MCA Music (Universal Music Group) of Humanfolk’s eponymous album in 2011. In 2012, HUMANFOLK was conferred an Awit Award (the Philippine version of the Grammy Award) for the song, “Para Sa Tao” (For The People), as Best World Music Recording by the Philippine Association of the Record Industry.
Months hence, HUMANFOLK members have gone abroad (i.e., Susie and Roberto to New York, Cynthia to Seattle, and Malek to Singapore) thus bringing two of the Manila-based principal members, Johnny Alegre (guitarist-composer) and Abby Clutario (keyboardist-vocalist) to reinvigorate the band with new music as the “New Edition” HUMANFOLK (2013). Supported by members of the “Johnny Alegre Trio” (bassist Rodney Vidanes and drummer Zach Lucero) the group has found an unprecedented recognition from a global audience. In recent months, they have graced the festival circuit such as the Philippine International Jazz Festival (Manila), the Mosaic Music Festival (Singapore) and the Summer Peace Festival (Zamboanga) before enthusiastic audiences. They are similarly honored to perform and share their music for the Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival. This is a beautiful time to witness the latest compositions and musical arrangements of HUMANFOLK.