Marlene del Rosario/The Marlene Jazz Ensemble
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Marlene del Rosario/The Marlene Jazz Ensemble

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | INDIE

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | INDIE
Band Jazz Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"E-jazz News"

Ms del Rosario draws you in with an uncanny grasp of the jazz, blues and soul idioms - as demonstrated by the title track, with huge help from the Fab Four - and sensitively rendered piano chord choices exemplified on the Jack Gross and Walter Lawrence tune, Tenderly. One is also drawn to the triumphant manner in which she teases out the nuances of a ballad like Some Other Time. Mention should also be made of her own special song writing talents that emerge on Shoes for a Soul, Sintonado and Basic Rule.

Perhaps even more enamouring is this Filipino jazz sensation’s timing: she never rushes the lyric or the melody for that matter. Like Bill Evans and Miles Davis, the silences between the notes are always as emotionally telling as the notes themselves.

A word about the sidemen: del Rosario's accomplished piano playing and vocals aside, trumpeter Greg Hopkins easily distinguishes himself for classy solos and first-rate accompaniment. The perfect foil for a singer. He reminds me of another similarly undersung New England phenom - Claudio Roditi. Drummer Brooke Sofferman is the percussive patron of the groove on this Lilypad live date with singularly appropriate brushes for the slower pieces and sizzling ride cymbals for the more fast-paced songs. Guitarist Patrick Mottaz and bassist Dave Landoni, playing their respective stringed instruments, weave a comfortable rhythmic cushion around their leader’s melodic efforts." - John Stevenson

"Abyss Jazz Magazine"

"...simply Beautiful!" - Lyndah Glover


One on One with Marlene del Rosario

Marlene del Rosario has many musical tricks up her sleeve; first and foremost as a singer, then as a pianist, and then as an arranger-composer. She has been absent from the local music scene since 1999 when she left for Boston, enrolled herself for one year at the Berklee College of Music, then decided to stay on when she tied the knot. She is the daughter of pianist-inventor, Bert del Rosario, who was prominently featured in the one on one section of my first book, Pinoy Jazz Traditions.

Her maiden album released in 2003, Crying Days, is in the smooth jazz vein and features her silky black voice and her original works. She has just recorded a live album called, Marlene – Live with a little help from her friends - with esteemed trumpeter, Greg Hopkins. In March of 2008, Marlene performed spectacularly at the recently held 3rd Philippine International Jazz & Arts Festival at the Sofitel Phil. Plaza Hotel, where her ensemble opened for amazing Cuban pianist-composer, Omar Sosa and his African band.

***** Links –

1.) Take us as far back as your grandparents, your parents, your siblings, and where and how did music come into play in the family field?

“I’m afraid I don’t have any recollection of my grandparents-- three of them died before I was born and my maternal grandma passed away when I was two. However, ever since I can remember, music was pervasive in my family. My mom was a classically-trained pianist and had a few years short of conservatory training and had perfect pitch—she sight-read very well. I have very strong memories of her playing Claire de Lune, Malaguena and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1. My dad, on the other hand, was pretty much jazz through and through, and played completely by ear. He was quite proud of the fact he couldn’t read a single note! He did an amazing jazz rendition of “Flight of the Bumblebee” which I always requested him to play when I was a kid.

Besides both parents being musically inclined, the family businesses were also music-oriented: piano manufacturing and sales, music schools, manufacturing sing-along sytems. Dad was also a founding member of a well-known jazz band called, The Executives Band, and they were always rehearsing at the house.”

2.) What were your early teenage years like growing up around your father, Bert, and all the music activities that he was involved in with Trebel Music Corp?

“Because of dad’s business, we had several pianos in the house—around six or seven, which was something I was very proud of, along with an assortment of instruments which made it a favorite rehearsal space for both my dad’s band, and later on, my bands. Growing up was a whirlwind of parties. The Executives Band would frequently jam or rehearse at home. Because one of the founding members, Raul Manglapus, was a politician (Senator, and later Foreign Affairs Minister), the band had a revolving coterie of jazz lovers and performers in the diplomatic circle, and the house was frequently visited by ambassadors, foreign dignitaries (the house had been occasionally searched by US embassy agents—CIA ??? before said sorties), including the First Lady Amelita Ramos, who was a guest member of the band at some point. It was really very exciting.”

3.) When did you discover that you had a voice, and who were your main influences?

“In high school, I started thinking I had a good voice, but because I was really known as a pianist by friends and family, and my eldest sister was the one who was taking all the voice lessons, I played down this idea. I loved Angela Bofill at the time and really tried to copy her inflections. Seawind, Randy Crawford and Manhattan Transfer were strong influences as well. It wasn’t until I decided to do a Glee Club audition in 4th year and passed with flying colors (surprising schoolmates), that I realized I could really sing. I still remember, it was Irene Cara’s “Fallin” that I did for the audition.”

4.) In what capacity did you work as an officer in your father’s firm, Trebel Music Corp, what was the workload like being a music factory?

“My first job in Trebel, was to run the studio which produced minus-one tapes for our sing-along machines. I got trained by an American engineer to set-up one of the first MIDI studios in the Philippines—the job was excellent training ground for me to eventually produce my own music, not to mention the practicalities of sound set-up that every musician should know. Later on I handled exports of pianos and sing-along systems.

I think we kids in the family biz, were the hardest –working lot. That’s been ingrained in us. We worked 5 ½ days a week, plus there was no separation of work and rest when I lived with my dad, as he was on full work-mode all the time. That was a source of friction between us as I value my space quite highly and he couldn’t understand that. That led to me moving out of the house, which was quite rare for single women to do at the time.”

5.) You garnered several awards in Manila for writing music in the pop genre. Describe the creative process you undergo when developing a new tune?

“It varies. Competitions I joined often had a theme—that simplifies things for me because it narrows down my options. My entry for The Song for Children International competition in Japan, where I was the Philippine representative, had to be written for children who would perform it. Children are the ambassadors of hope and the future, so the tune I wrote, Children of The World, spoke of world peace. This was also performed for Pope John Paul II when he visited Manila several years ago.

Then there’s the outlet for heartbreak, unrequited love and all sorts of teenage angst. It just needs to pour out ---so I found that I was quite prolific during early college years…although I have to say, a lot of those lyrics are pretty sappy. Then again, some of those tunes ended up recorded by Manila’s top artists.

I’ve also written jingles and songs for musicals—in these cases, client stipulations of style, lyrics or other considerations are the guiding factors, similar to competition guidelines.

People always ask “what do you write first, the music or the lyrics?” For me there’s no set rule as I’ve done both. The most recent tune I’ve written uses lyrics I wrote six years ago. I sometimes write random lines down which I don’t throw away, and revisit them later on. There is one song I wrote in five minutes (music and lyrics), another one where I woke up with the theme line, and a few which were my instrumental projects at Berklee which I decided to put lyrics to. I have a rougher time with lyrics though as my internal critic (which I try to suppress) seems quite active in lyric-writing (too sappy, too trite, too cliché, etc., etc.)”

6.) From pop to jazz, how did this all fit in and where did your jazz influences come from on the piano, the voice, and the creative aspects of music?

“I grew up surrounded by jazz because of my dad—but frankly I wasn’t into Dixieland jazz as a kid, which was what his band played. I liked Joe Sample, Dave Grusin and Dave Benoit, but then I discovered Chick Corea and Return to Forever, and that changed everything, as I really loved that sound. It had a darkness and strangeness to it which I thought was really cool. I played a lot of his tunes by ear, and dad didn’t understand this kind of music and would always ask me to play “normal” or “standard” music (which people could understand), and I resented it at the time. It’s funny, because as a professional musician now, a lot of these “standards” are in my repertoire!

Towards the end of college, Sting’s music became a great influence in my song writing and arrangements. I also loved Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan. And on the jazz side, I listened to Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, and my favorite, Bill Evans.”

7.) Every musician has a funny story to tell. What’s yours when it comes to music?

“I’m not sure it’s the funniest, but it’s definitely the most recent. A few days ago, I had a gig for a corporate function with my quartet, and Greg Hopkins, probably Boston’s best trumpet player, who’s played with Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzie Gillespie, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder and so many other legends, was in my band. One of the guests came over to compliment us and request Coltrane tunes. Then he asked us what our day jobs were.”

8.) In 1999 you decided to take the plunge and go to Berklee College of Music in Boston. What were the first years like in terms of your growth as an artist?

“The first week was a reality check. Prior to Boston, I was practicing 1 hour a week and then I met my first friends in Berklee, a German and Korean, who practiced three and five hours a day. And when I saw Berklee’s practice buildings with their waiting lists, the gravity of the situation dawned on me-- I seriously lagged behind. Also, I always believed I had “great rhythm” because my dad said so. Well, I soon found out that that was actually something I seriously had to work on.

Berklee had an amazingly vibrant atmosphere—it was and is a melting pot of global talent, some students were already quite famous in their own countries. And of course, the faculty was a veritable who’s who. I had the great fortune of studying under Manhattan Transfer’s Cheryl Bentyn and also with Livingston Taylor (James Taylor’s brother) who are amazing teachers. I think it was inevitable being surrounded by so much talent and the expanded sense of possibilities, that my own standards for myself would change and push me to develop much faster than if I were left on my own.”

9.) What was supposed to be a year’s stay is turning out to be a lifetime decision. What’s the whole truth in your staying much longer as planned?

“I LOVED Berklee and Boston. I originally planned to study for just a semester, but because I really loved being in Berklee and Boston, I decided to complete the year. I took out a loan as I only had enough funds for one semester. When the year ended, I decided I wanted to be a professional jazz musician, and thought I had a better chance of making a career of it here than in the Philippines, because at the time it (RP) had such a small jazz market. I also made a lot of good friends over here and the lifestyle suited me very well.”

10.) You tied the knot with another artist such as yourself. How do you balance things out, do you compliment each others art form, or do normal differences of opinion come into play and how do you deal with it if at all?

“My husband, Jeff, is in a totally different genre. He’s a visual artist: a painter and graphics designer. But in addition, he’s also a wine connoisseur, antiques collector, and chef. I think it’s great that we both have artistic sensibilities yet express it in different forms, otherwise, our egos (which artists tend to have in large quantities) might clash. We both love to cook and whilst we generally pair well in the kitchen, there have been competitive moments.

Like all couples, difference of opinions will always come to play. The challenge is in being comfortable with the difference. I think if everyone could come to this conclusion, we wouldn’t have war in the first place.”

11.) You’re known to be one who doesn’t sleep on the wheel. Where are you driving yourself down the long and winding road?

“Funny you should say that. I literally was known for “sleeping on the wheel”, at least when I was in Manila. The traffic was so awful I’d fall asleep during the stops and would wake up to cars honking at me (I had my handbrakes on, of course). That aside, I see myself doing more of what I’m doing today. One is music. Thankfully jazz is one of those few fields where growing old is ok, and could even be an asset —that’s important to me because I started fairly late professionally and there’s so much that I want to develop in my music. I love performing and would love to keep doing concerts. However, my other passions lie in food and travel—I love gourmet cooking (and eating) and want to hone my skills further. Traveling is essential as well, and if I could combine them, such as performing abroad, and tasting exotic cuisine while I’m at it, together with my best travel buddy, Jeff, then that’s heaven!”

12.) Your words of wisdom to all the wide-eyed teenagers who are engulfed in a music filled world?

“Do what you love. If you are considering music as a career, forget American Idol. It takes discipline and work to do something well. Doing something you love is a reward in itself --when you’re happy, you attract all sorts of positive things in your life. If you do things because of an external reward such as fame or fortune, you’ll start to pander to it and do things you might not necessarily like and in the end, you may get the fame and fortune, but not the happiness.”

- Richie Quirino

"Philippine Daily Inquirer"

Girls Jazz Wanna Have Fun

MANILA, Philippines—Having conquered “American Idol,” the catwalks of Paris, and the summit of Mt. Everest, nothing, it seems, could stop the Filipina from stretching out her wings, doing her own thing, and soaring to greater heights.

Now, she has even conquered the cool, sophisticated world of jazz.

“I have over a hundred gigs a year, in clubs, festivals and private events in the US mostly, but also recently in South America,” said Marlene del Rosario, vocalist and pianist, composer and producer—the Filipina behind the Marlene Jazz Ensemble. “Sometimes, I have to pinch myself. Is all this real?”

It certainly is. Back in college, Marlene was such a favorite in Freshman Nights and other school concerts that no one was surprised when she continued to moonlight as a jazz musician, even while working as a telecommunications executive.

Even Zsa Zsa Padilla and Randy Santiago recorded her tunes, which included a pop chart hit. In 1992, she represented the Philippines in the Asian “Song for Children” songwriting competition in Toyama, Japan. Her entry, “Children of the World” (which won 2nd place) was subsequently presented by a hundred children to Pope John Paul II when he visited Manila.

“I grew up with the music of Apo Hiking Society, Ryan Cayabyab, Gary Valenciano, Pat Castillo, and Kuh Ledesma,” Marlene added.

Her father was a jazz musician as well. He had the good fortune to meet a lot of topnotch legends, including Duke Ellington and Earl Hines. Gary Burton once jammed at their house in Bel Air together with her father’s group, the Executives Band, which opened Frank Sinatra’s concert. Together with this band, she also performed for Princess Chulabhorn of Thailand as well as ex-presidents Fidel Ramos and Cory Aquino.

All that jazz

Now, after seven years in Boston, the college student with the sultry, soulful voice has come back as one of the few female pianists in the world of jazz who also performs as vocalist and composer.

“I’ve performed in a castle, in an aquarium right in front of the penguins, a carwash, and even in a museum,” said Marlene, who was a guest artist at the Philippine International Jazz Festival last week and opened for Omar Sosa, a world-renowned Cuban pianist. “But nothing compares to the excitement of performing in my country.”

It’s inspiring to hear this from someone who has had concerts and television appearances—and followers—in South America, the US, and Southeast Asia; as well as two CDS, “Crying Days” and “Marlene, Live! With a Little Help From Her Friends,” both under Blue Earth Music, flying briskly off the racks.

Though she hopes to see more Filipinos in the international jazz community, she’d rather think of herself as a musician in a global community.

“I’m not overly conscious of a particular role due to my nationality,” she said. “I’m more interested in developing as an artist—and that has nothing to do with my race. But we Filipinos love music and you don’t need to coerce one to sing a tune or two. We have a lot of excellent musicians!”

She returns home as one of them.

Catch her live at the 7th Note bar and restaurant, Makati Golf Club (Zuellig Loop), 7232 Malugay Street, Bel-Air, Makati tonight at 8:30 p.m. Joining her are Anthony Morris (saxophone), Colby Dela Calzada (acoustic bass), and Fritz Barth (drums). Call 8405731 to 45. - Troy Bernardo


1. Marlene LIVE With a Little Help From Her Friends (2008 Blue Earth Corp.)- currently on national and Canadian radio.
Tracks on radio: Blue Skies, Shoes for a Soul, With a Little Help From Her Friends

Marlene's new CD is a collection of jazz standards and originals performed by her stellar 5-piece ensemble. Marlene on vocals and piano is joined by New England's premier musicians, Greg Hopkins on trumpet, Patrick Mottaz on guitar, Dave Landoni on acoustic bass and Brooke Sofferman on drums.

2. Crying Days (2003 Blue Earth Corp.)- Marlene's debut album, "Crying Days", features a rocking rhythm section in this fully produced 11-tune album. It is a collection of mostly original pop/jazz/r&b funked-up tunes, which features soulful melodies in rich layers of harmony. This is intelligent pop with a really tight groove. Players are Marlene del Rosario on vocals and piano/keyboards, Patrick Mottaz on guitars, Keiichi Hashimoto on trumpet, Joe Goretti on drums and Dmitri Ishenko on bass.



Ms del Rosario draws you in with an uncanny grasp of the jazz, blues and soul idioms...Like Bill Evans and Miles Davis, the silences between the notes are always as emotionally telling as the words themselves."

- John Stevens (E-Jazz news)

Marlene del Rosario is a female Filipino jazz vocalist and pianist who won over audiences in her native country and has been building a successful music career in the United States. On her second album, Live! With a Little Help From Her Friends, jazz standards mixed with 3 original compositions reveal what an especially talented vocal and piano performer can achieve in a live performance. Marlene says, “I decided to go live instead of a studio recording because the dynamics of a live performance are so much more interesting. When you know that there’s an audience listening, it just makes the biggest difference. Performing for me is about interaction---not only amongst the musicians, but with the audience as well.” Del Rosario knows her audience. Performing in solo to larger ensemble settings, she engages audiences with a stylish and lively repertoire that mixes jazz, Latin, originals and re-arrangements of her favorite pop tunes.

A native of Manila, Philippines, Marlene enjoyed a dual life as a telecommunications executive while moonlighting as a jazz musician. She is now able to focus solely on her music career and performs hundreds of shows each year. Her Boston-based jazz ensemble includes renowned trumpeter, Greg Hopkins, who was a member of The Buddy Rich Orchestra and who has played with such legends as Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, and Tony Bennett. Marlene’s bands are regulars in the Boston jazz circuit, playing the 2005 and 2006 Boston Arts Festivals, Jazz in July concert series, and at a UN-benefit to remove landmines in Mozambique. On her own, Marlene has performed internationally, and has played the Philippine International Jazz Festival, opened for Omar Sosa (a world-renowned Cuban pianist), and entertained Princess Chulabhorn of Thailand as well as Filipino Presidents, Fidel Ramos and Cory Aquino. Marlene was featured by Cosmopolitan Magazine (Phils.) and was a cover story for Life and Times (Phils.) for her musical achievements.

Marlene also gives back to the musical community that has nurtured her. She teaches piano twice a week at ZUMIX, a non-profit organization that empowers youth through music programs. Marlene was connected to ZUMIX through a mentoring program at the Berklee College of Music, where she also studied under Cheryl Bentyn of Manhattan Transfer, and Livingston Taylor.