Like usual, my obvious lack-of-updates in my blog is due to work the last couple of days. Well, I'd hoped to post some more personal insights and thoughts in my blog, as opposed to just gig updates and race reports. Not only that, I know that I wanted to post in a few more reports, like my Singapore-China trip the last couple of weeks ago, and a few others, but obviously never got around to it. At this point, I'm not even sure if I want to post it already, it's like too old news. Unless you REALLY wanna read about it, I will.
But anyway, the last four days, I was practically stuck in a TV recording studio called Green Cow Studios in the industrial area of Bandar Sri Damansara. Imagine having to drive there early in the morning (which means past 9am for me!) for the last four days and coming back at past midnight. I was involved in a TV recording of 13 episodes of a 30-minute music programme called "Jazz Café", produced by Freddie Fernandes, which is planned to go on air on TV2 in July (yet to be confirmed, of course). The initial background I got about this programme was supposed to be that me and the resident band, Soulfingerz, are backing up some jazz artistes... but it turns out that we're really backing up pop artistes trying to sing (what they perceive) to be jazz. The only exception to this were probably guests artistes David Gomes, Adam Farouk, and Harith Iskandar. More on that later. In addition, the programme also involved interviews with the artistes themselves, and interviews with local celebrities. What does all this have to do with "Jazz" you wonder? I have no idea myself. After the first day of recording, I didn't even bother questioning it, despite my own personal protests about what the producer hoped to achieve by putting the word JAZZ in the whole thing. So, suffice to say, it's just another not-a-very-well-thought-out musical program, with a good band and some local celebrities and musical artistes, which probably will mislead a whole lot of people about what jazz music is, at least to some extent.
Then you must be asking: ".. if you're b*tching about it so much, why do it?".
My answer: Not-too-bad money la.. duh! And as I found out later... good company.
Well, despite how the tone of my the last couple of sentences may sound, I wasn't bothered too much about what they were going to do. I already knew what to expect when I went in the jamming studio to rehearse with the artistes. I already knew that we weren't really gonna do any kind of actual jazz with MOST of the artistes. As a saxophone player, I already knew that I'm in many ways, just a novelty. As a lot of people seemed to imply: saxophone in the song means jazz music. Which is, of course, a whole lot of bollocks. Back to the original point, I was just gonna try to fit in to whatever music we're gonna play, and just have some of fun out of it. If I wanted to present some real good jazz music, I'd be playing in Alexis Bistro or Avanti's Restaurant, wouldn't I? Anyhow, the reality of the situation is, I'm just a struggling musician in KL, who is at the same time, trying to find the space to do his own thing as well. I'm a musician first, (learning) jazz musician second. It's not to say I will play in EVERY situation under the sun (I won't, by the way, not even for money), but this show is still within parameters that I can cool with. And I probably will have fun doing it as well... and get paid too! Work is work, right? I probably sound a bit anal right now, but really, it's just another good job for me, although musically it probably doesn't have any remote resemblance to jazz.
Back to the show... we were the backing band for all the artistes, Soulfingerz. The band comprised of myself on saxophone, Fariz Adlan on electric bass, Jimmy Tan (of Tempered Mental) on drums, David Patrick Juis on electric guitar, Jason Geh (former Asiabeat alumni) on piano/keyboards, and the beautiful, stunning, soulful Noryn Aziz on vocals, a steady feature in every episode. Each episode features one musical guest artiste, and one local celebrity, both to be interviewed. The host for the show is none other than the inimitable, unique-voiced Patrick Teoh! It also features Noryn and the band on at least one song at the start of the show.
Among the musical artistes involved were David Gomes, Adam Farouk, Liza Hanim, Dia Fadilla, Harith Iskandar, Hazami, Sutera, Burn (of Akademi Fantasia 1), Arniza, Shari (both also of AF, just dunno which one), Rem, and Leonard Tan. The celebrities who were present were Louisa Chong, Saw Teong Hin (director of Puteri Gunung Ledang movie), Indi Nadarajah, Edwin Sumun, Zaibo, Harith Iskandar, Yasmin Yusuff, Yasmin Ahmad (producer of the movie Sepet and the controversial Petronas LRT ad), the stunningly beautiful Carmen Soo (gawd, she's really hot... and really nice, too!), and some others (I can't remember already.. talk about short term memory loss!).
The first day of recording on Monday was probably just the prelude to a long, tiring day. Usually, the first day of shooting is the day the LEAST work is done, where recording is concerned. It's usually the day where all the teething problems are first encountered, and sorted out... things like lighting, sound, set design, camera shots, segment organisation, last-minute music arrangements, and pretty much everything else. We managed to record two episodes that day, with Arniza and Shari recording a tune each, and guest celebrities Louisa Chong and Yasmin Ahmad.
The second day, was probably the longest day of all the shooting days. We were doing four episodes, and in between shoots, numerous technical problems were still being sorted out, and we had to do several takes of the same segments on certain parts of the episodes. Guests on the second day shoot were Hazami, Rem, Leonard Tan, and Adam Farouk. Adam's stuff was pretty fun, we did an Austin Powers-like version of They Can't Take That Away From Me (a typical jazz standard) and Stevie Wonder's I Wish, a real funky one! Hazami's and Adam's takes were one of the best, as it only involved a single take for each tune they sang, so that was pretty cool.
The third day, surprisingly, was extremely expedient, even though we recorded four episodes. Most of the segments were done in one take, and a lot of the spontaneity of the show were preserved. It was also one of the best ones, as we had David Gomes as guest artistes. David is already a jazz musician, by right, and he also brought in a new composition which we rehearsed on the spot and played it right away. That was pretty fun. Indi Nadarajah also sang a blues tune with us, although it was really a spontaneous idea, and not part of the initial programme. Even Edwin Sumun was also inspired to sing a tune with us, he sang Fly Me To The Moon. I would think that after the first two days of trouble, the third day would be a little more comfortable for most of us, and it was. Everyone was in tune to what was going on, and what was to happen in each episode recording.
The fourth day we only recorded the last three episodes, and the guests that sang with us were Liza Hanim, Dia Fadilla, and the extremely funny man Harith Iskandar. Guests celebrities were Yasmin Yusuff, Zaibo, and Harith himself (both guest artiste and celebrity). Harith's episode was one of the best I've seen, where he did a skit involving the band, the interview with Patrick, and then jamming one tune with the band. We jammed on an A-blues, where he spontaneously sputtered out the lyrics for the spontaneously named Patrick Teoh's Blues!!! Not only that, he even played guitar, and at the end of the song I was trading blues licks with him and finished it with a typical blues half-time ending! Even though he doesn't play jazz on his instrument, he definitely thinks and acts like a jazz musician, and applies it into his comedy acts! Truly amazing guy he is.
Well, like any other venture, there's a good side and a not-so-good side to it. In this case, I was lucky that the band I was playing with are a bunch of friends of mine as well. And we had Patrick Teoh, who not only provided good conversation pieces throughout the show and in between sets, but also extremely funny ones! But we are thankful to Patrick for being such good company, for without him, the recording process would have been a real drag! I've only worked with Patrick once for David Gomes' Frank Sinatra show almost two years ago, and I'm really glad I got to work with him again. He really makes you feel that you've known him and vice versa for a long time. The production crew and the camera crew also were a bunch of funny people, thankfully, and they provided some really hilarious real stories and jokes. Oh yeah, not to mention... THE FOOD!! The caterer was indian, so we had some really good indian food... AND VEGETARIAN ONES, too!! I mean, they catered vegetable curry dishes as well, and chicken for the meat eaters. But it was a treat for me. Usually for these kind of gigs, I don't usually get food, other than the ones I have to provide for myself or I go out to eat. I didn't have to spend a single sen on lunch or dinner the last four days! Woo hoo...
....and not to mention, some booze, to lighten up some of the stress! Hehehehe...
Anyway, look out for Jazz Café on TV2 sometime in July (if it goes thru RTM, of course, knowing those bungling idiots who run the station there).
Ciao.. I'm gonna rest this weekend... so blardy tired.