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Another Pinoy music great passes on

Guitarist Eddie Munji III, who recorded the groundbreaking "Pinoy Jazz Volume I" in 1978, died Sunday, Nov. 18, of a heart attack.

Munji  died at 7 p.m. at Queen Mary Help of Christians Hospital in Cardona, Rizal, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

Songwriter Jim Paredes, best known for being in APO, also announced the news on his Facebook page and on Twitter, calling Munji  "a great musician, arranger and friend."

Munji arranged some of APO's biggest hits, including "Panalangin," "Mahirap Magmahal ng Siyota ng Iba,"  "Lumang Tugtugin,"  "Salawaikain," and " Handog ng Pilipinas sa Mundo," among others, Paredes added.

Eddi Munji III (right) with Jim Paredes at Radio Republic (Photo courtesy of Jim Paredes)

"The man never went to music school yet his arrangements wowed everyone. He was a natural. He learned to read and write cuz he joined the school band. He knew how to turn a song to something that would surprise and delight. He loved the old jazz greats. I personally learned so much from him," Paredes wrote on Facebook.

Nowhere was Munji's propensity to surprise and delight more evident than in his first solo album, "Pinoy Jazz Vol. 1," a trailblazing record when it was first released in 1978. The album contained audacious jazz reworkings of nine Filipino folk songs, including  "Salidumay," "Bahay Kubo," "Pandangguhan" and "Sarung Banggi."

Paredes, who also produced the album (and played the nose flute in one track), exclusively told  Yahoo! OMG that record was released simply because "it had never been done" before.

"Jazz was nowhere near popular in the Philippines at that time but Eddie and I wanted to make albums we liked. We wanted to hear Filipino songs played in this genre. It turned out to be a milestone in OPM history," Paredes told Yahoo! Philippines OMG!

It also paved the way for a young Ryan Cayabyab to record a kind of sequel, his debut album "Roots to Routes (Pinoy Jazz II)."

Recently, Munji was a  guest at Paredes's online radio show "Past/Forward" at Radio Republic.  "We talked about arranging hits like 'Umagang Kay Ganda,' 'Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo' and many others…. It was the last time I saw him," Paredes wrote on Facebook.

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