art + music by Nana Caragay

Ringlight Sessions: Nicole Tejedor

This saxophonist is out to break stereotypes and prove that yes, girls can play the sax—and play it well

Ringlight Sessions: The Neighborhood puts up-and-coming or in-the-moment local artists and musicians in the spotlight—or more accurately, ringlight—to show us what they’ve got. Next up: Nicole Tejedor.

Nicole Tejedor may not be a singer, but she’s got serious pipes. She picked up the clarinet when she was just 10 years old and was majoring in it at UP when her mentor, Michael Guevarra, came across her playing the saxophone. “He said, ‘Anong ginagawa mo dyan? You should come to my class.’” So she selected the instrument for her minor, even though she only got her hands on one for the very first time as a gift from her uncle on her 19th birthday. “It was a life changer,” she recalls.

Now she plays the alto sax and the tenor sax, although she’s still extremely proficient with the clarinet and flute. “My dad is a folk singer who plays the guitar. He was pushing my sister to get into music, but ayaw nya talaga,” she explains. “All of the instruments, I would be the one to pick them up and start playing.” Thanks to music, she managed to earn scholarships for both high school and college and currently makes a living as a musician full time. “I want to break stereotypes. There aren’t too many female saxophonists, and if you are, it shouldn’t be enough that you’re a saxophonist who happens to be female. Gusto ko, magaling dapat.” See her in action below. 

 

 


Describe yourself as an artist.
When I’m solo, I like playing jazz. I’m still at that stage where I’m looking for my own sound, but I like traditional jazz, modern, and funk. I want to blend them all and come up with my own genre, create my own identity. Right now though, people tend to associate me with jazz—smooth jazz.

Top 3 songs on repeat?
“There Will Never Be Another You” by Sonny Stitt, “This I Promise You” by *NSYNC—this is such a classic for me!—and “She Is” by The Fray.

One song you would recommend to anyone.
“My One and Only Love” by John Coltrane.

Is OPM dead or thriving?
I think it’s thriving. I play with local artists and a lot of my friends are in the indie scene, so I can see all the hard work they put in. It’s not easy, lalo na if you’re freelance and there’s not a lot of money in indie, but they keep it up and continue creating original music. It’s really admirable. Not everyone does that, and we’re lucky that the younger generation is doing it. I’d also like to come up with original music, but I’m the family breadwinner so I have to focus on work first and saving up… maybe later on, though. That’s really among my plans.

Dream collaboration?
I’ve always dreamed of collaborating with Dave Koz, sobrang seryoso ’yon. He’s a smooth jazz artist and I really like the way he performs onstage. I also like Candy Dulfer, but it’s my dream to go on tour with Dave Koz since he still tours and plays on cruises.

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Photography by Renzo Navarro
Art Direction by Mags Ocampo
Makeup by Bea Colet

NICOLE TEJEDOR PLAYS ONCE A MONTH AT ABV ON MONDAYS, STRUMM’S WITH GLASS ONION EVERY TUESDAY, WITH THE AMP BIG BAND AT SOLAIRE TWICE A MONTH ON WEDNESDAYS, AND TEA TIME AT SHANGRI-LA AT THE FORT EVERY THURSDAY AND FRIDAY. SHE IS ON FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM.
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Nana Caragay
Nana Caragay is a magazine editor, writer, voice over talent, and former gymnast. When she's not stalking cute dogs on social media, she's most likely shopping, working out, watching E!, or drinking iced tea. She's on Instagram @nanacaragay.
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