Meeting Fred Elizalde

by Alan Brigden

an account of a meeting in 1973

this page first published by John Wright, 25 March 2000
last update 25 March

A visitor to this website, Alan Brigden, asked me for information on Fred Elizalde. Alan had met Federico Elizalde back in 1973 unaware of his music career in England and the impact it had had on the whole popular music scene of the 1930's. I wrote back to Alan with a brief summary of Federico Elizalde's career, and Alan then gave me a very touching account of the meeting.

Alan Brigden wrote:
I wish I had had some inkling of his career when I met the man. This happened when I had a business visit to a Philippine TV station which was run (part-owned?) by a former US serviceman named Bob, who had a TV persona known as Uncle Bob. I was offered a tour of the studio and came across preparations for a show titled "The Maestro and Uncle Bob." The maestro was Federico Elizalde. The show had a very simple format, Don Federico played the piano while Uncle Bob leaned on it and chatted between numbers.
I do remember that Federico was playing "Malagueña" and stopped when my party entered the studio. I remember a somewhat frail gentleman, who I took to be an excellent pianist whom time had robbed of some mechanical ability. When he heard that I was born in London, he told me that he knew it quite well, and mentioned that he had "worked" at the Savoy. There was no mention of music and no clue about his earlier life.
Federico returned to the piano and embarked on a slow "Long Ago And Far Away" which I had never thought of as a jazz standard. Jerome Kern certainly hadn't written the chords he used, and Federico seemed quite pleased with the result, finishing with a quiet smile and a 'You know, there was a lot going on in there.'
Uncle Bob then mentioned time signatures (Time Out was just a hit then in the Philippines) and Federico opined that Brubeck hadn't got it quite right and demonstrated what he thought should have been laid down for Paul Desmond in "Take Five."
That was about it as I was ejected from the studio as showtime approached. Afterwards I made a point of watching the show every week but it was soon taken off as greater sophistication in programming set in. I mean, of course, stuff like the Dick Van Dyke Show!
I was still in the Philippines in 1979 when you say that Don Federico died, but I cannot recall any news or announcement about his death, but then of course Philippine politics were in turmoil and people spoke of little else.

John, thank you again for your e-mail which makes me realise at this late date what an honor I had nearly 30 years ago.

Alan Brigden25 Mar 2000

read a summary of Federico Elizalde's career

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