Monday, February 20, 2006

What a weekend!!!!

Whoah, as I'm typing this, I'm reeling from this past weekend. To say the least, I think it was a real good one for me! I'll list them down and write about it:

1. Met a new friend

His name is David Muehsam. If you Google him, you'll find out he's a Yoga teacher, a very high level one. And he's a saxophone player. Thanks to a mutual friend, I got to hook up with him, as he was looking to meet up with some sax players in town. We had lunch, talked quite a bit, and we jammed a bit at his apartment. He had his tenor with him, and I got my alto, and we traded solos and stuff. Man, it's so refreshing to hear someone play, whose musical information and ideas come from the SOURCE, namely the jazz capital of the world, NEW YORK! But also, his musical inspiration and knowledge comes from those who grew up in the source of jazz music, Yusef Lateef. Whoah. Anyway, this cat is awesome, and he is such a real cool cat, just so generous with his knowledge. He just tells me stuff I should work on and things like that. I'm getting really inspired to practice more now. I hope to hook up with him more for these couple of weeks, while he's here. He'll be travelling some more to Shanghai and other countries to train Yoga teachers.

2. Gig mania - The Happy People Quintet and The JJ Jazz Ensemble

The Happy People Quintet:

I spent a lot of time the week before the gig just typing in charts in Finale 2005, one new song and several older songs. Working on Chick Corea's Blue Miles was a slight technical challenge. I was fighting with my saxophone (which isn't 100% well set up), as well as trying to get my rhythmic shit together!

I roped in a newcomer to play piano and keys for us, while Justin's out of the country. His name's Leonard, and he was formerly playing nightly at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel lobby lounge (Thank God he got out of that hell hole!). We rehearsed for two nights, although the first night was just me, Leonard and AJ (the rest couldn't make it). The second night rehearsal, was rather long, but quite fun. We rehearsed from 10pm to about 3am. We managed to run through and work out all the songs in one night.

I woke up rather late in the afternoon feeling like shit. One is never used to sleeping so late, after a tiring rehearsal, and expect to wake up feeling all rosy! But I pulled myself together, and made sure I do good for the gig, play the best I can. Meanwhile, at Avanti's in Sunway Hotel, we did the usual soundcheck, buffet dinner, relax in the room, get ready and do the gig.

There was quite a number of people that night. I only hoped they would stay at least ONE set of the show. The first set was quite awesome actually, we played our old songs like Early A.M Attitude, Not You Again, Song For DiFang, and Quiet Afternoon. To my surprised, people actually liked some of the stuff we did, based on their responses after we finished each song! Wow.. I surely didn't expect that. To quote Paul Augustin, when I told him about it, "Oh ye of little faith!". The second set was also quite nice, we started off with Blue Miles which had a nice band ending melody which is two choruses long, which really featured the entire band at its best. It was from Chick's Elektric Band II album, Paint The World, check it out! We also did Freedomland, and Mercy Mercy Mercy, a Joe Zawinul tune which Justin re-arranged really nicely. After that, I invited my new friend, David Muehsam to jam with us one two tunes: Wayne Shorter's Footprints, and also a nasty 6/8 version of Summertime. We ended the last set with our theme song, Kenny Garrett's Happy People.

My personal comments on the gig:

1. Leonard did really good, more than I had expected. He definitely played with some fire. The chemistry was still different, but he definitely showed his stuff.

2. The chemistry with the existing members was somehow renewed, it had that feeling. It felt really good to play with them again, with AJ, Charles, and Eddie. (Don't worry Justin, we still miss you lots! Your jazz shoes are hard to fill!). Although Eddie was tired even before the first set was over, he played with some fire, and the chemistry both of us have as horn players were apparent, especially during some parts where we traded solos, and had musical conversations we had with each other.

I had doubts of ever continuing with the band after this gig, but those doubts were undoubtedly doused! But also, after careful consideration, I think I want to keep this band running, also for the fact that I want to make it ONE of my projects. I intend to do other projects, other bands, but the musical focus will be different. When I get it up and ready, I'll let you know when we're playing!

The JJ Jazz Ensemble:

This was a last minute arrangement from Joseph with Avanti's. It's one of his loved projects, doing musical experimentations. This time he roped in a musical veteran, Ooi Eow Jin, to play vibraphone, or vibes with the band! Now that's something rather rare, one would hardly see anyone play it, if at all! Apparently he used to play them!

Anyway, I spent the night at the Sunway Tower Hotel (the cheaper one, but still nice), but couldn't wake up to do a run, I was quite flat out from last night's gig! Reeling, in a good way! I left at around 12pm as I had to teach a student. Went home, napped some more and headed to Avanti's at around 5pm. After running through a few tunes, we headed off to the Sunway Hotel Towers again.. the usual, room and buffet dinner. I didn't eat that much this time around, I just couldn't!

There was a LOT of people that turned up for this show! From students to diners. It was quite...exciting. A lot of nice looking gals too, and some of them were soundcrews for the show, students of Joseph, Chan, and even Juan Pablo. Anyway, the cats that played that night were myself on alto and tenor saxes, Joseph Arnesto on double bass, Chan CJ on piano, Prof. Ooi Eow Jin on vibes, Alex Douglas on flute and alto sax, Juan Pablo on acoustic guitar (and composer for some of the tunes), student Hock Chuan on harmonica, Martin Ngim, Moon and Ah Keong aka Gerald on drums and percussions. Quite a big band there. We did a whole spectrum of music, from latin, brazilian, swing (Prof Ooi's set), Chinese rhythms, and more. It was quite a crazy night! But the gig was awesome, and the response was great!

There you have it... two great nights of continuous good music and good gigs!!

Here's a prelude: The JJ Jazz Ensemble will be performing at Avanti's again on the 3rd of March.

3. A good LONG run!

I couldn't wake up this morning for nuts!!!!!!!!!! I was so flat out, I actually slept for TEN whole hours! So much for waking up early to run at the Lake Gardens.

But I managed to get an opportunity anyhow. I sent my Yamaha S08 to David Gomes in Bangsar for a church event. So I went for my long run anyway. I did the double hill route, from Bukit Aman to Bukit Tunku and out through Tugu Negara back to Bukit Aman. I think it was 10.8km, a very TOUGH 10.8km. I managed to do it in a measly 1:26, which is okay, for training purposes. I didn't want to push myself like it was a race.

Some stats:

Distance: 10.8km
Time: 1 hr 26 minutes
Average HR: 157 bpm
Max HR: 174 bpm (I'm fat.. so sue me!)

My preparation for KLIM isn't as great as I wanted it to be. But I still am quite hyped to do the 21K. And I intend to have fun doing it, whether or not I will PR (of course, I hope I can PR lerrr!).

Ahhhh... what a weekend!

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