Wednesday, March 29, 2006

M! reviews.. Letters From The Road.. and an epiphany!

Here I am at 4-frickin' something in the morning, supposed to be asleep but not yet.. but I'm actually just inspired to write something right now.

Let's get this first thing over with..

M! for more M!...

Out of curiosity, I've decided to Google around for reviews of M! The Opera. Yeah, yeah, I know what some of you are thinking, despite what I tell people, there's a part of me which has connection with it. Don't get me wrong, I don't feel that much for this show. But as I'm part of it, it's really as simple as that: I'm part of it. And being a musician (and a learning jazz musician, as well), I always try to relate and be part of whatever I'm doing at the time. That's also my own very nature. I cannot be disconnected from whatever I'm doing at a particular moment in time. That's the antithesis of jazz.

Anyway, after Googling and checking the obvious websites, like Kakiseni.. I was right about one thing: I expected very polarized comments and reviews for the show. There are some who hate it, and love it. And only a handful that states pros and cons of the show.

On one hand, you've got really nonsensical comments from (obviously cowardly) reviewers who go by anonimity of name and email address in the Kakiseni site... one objective review by Antares...

... and more sensible (almost, at least) straight-to-the-point blog reviews and comments - here, here, here and here.

I'm actually quite amused, after reading them! LOL.. can you blame me?

I may - on a less concerned level - agree and disagree with what some of them have to say about the show and the cast, but I will give credit to the cast for actually spending so much time and working hard on this production. And I think they did a wonderful job of it, anyhow.. irregardless of how the show went. Kudos.

Five more shows to go.

Reading (again): Wynton Marsalis, To A Young Musician - Letters from The Road...

I got this book sometime almost two weeks ago, while hanging around KLCC in between rehearsals for M!. It was recommended to me by my new-found soul-brother, sax player friend, David Muehsam. I've seen that book in Kino for quite a while, and thought briefly about getting it, but never got around to it until David mentioned it.

I finished the book in about 4 hours on the same day, hanging out at CM's place and finishing the last couple of pages just before the night rehearsal.

To say the least, it's such an inspirational book... especially for us budding jazz musicians. But it's really more than just a person's writings about jazz... but it's about jazz and life. And I could relate to some of the things that are mentioned by Wynton. And one of the things I subscribe to, on a very subconscious level.. is that life and jazz are one and the same! It's the quest for something larger than one's self, but at the same time, the quest to discover one's voice, and it's relationship to the world and the universe.

When I read the book.. I could relate it to some of my experiences over the past 5 years as a musician, not just towards music, but how experiences in life co-relate with the learning of jazz, and the very nature of jazz. I've mentioned before.. this music has changed me. It has definitely changed (and in quite a few cases, reaffirm) my view towards life.

For some of you who are really interested in jazz (and more than just a money making effort... although jazz and money are absolutely non-synonymous!), check the book out at Kinokuniya at KLCC.

Footnote: After checking out some books, I'm really psyched about getting back into some heavy reading. Looks like I might be spending quite a few bucks on books soon. I absolutely love reading.. although I'm not a real reading scholar like some others, but it's something I really enjoy doing.

An epiphany...

As I mentioned earlier, I just felt compelled to write about this, even at such ungodly hour.

I had a very interesting conversation with my good friend, soul-brother and trumpet player, Eddie, a few hours ago over several cups of teh ais limau and a cholesterol laden egg-cheese-planta thosai. We talked about some important matters, of real concern to me. I will not disclose the nature of our conversation, but it's something that has been brought up from time to time, throughout the course of our friendship - both personal and musical.

The nature of my epiphany is such that it's based on a very old simple concept - learning from mistakes, and increasing one's wisdom.

I used to voice certain concerns and issues with Eddie, but I have realized that the way I used to approach talking to him used to turn out rather condescending and rather patronizing. That's primarily out of my own ego.

Tonight, we talked about the same issue again. But I had spent a big part of the previous night thinking of a way to talk to Eddie and voice out my issues and concerns.. minus the ego and all of that b/s. And the only way I felt appropriate was to just tell him the truth about how I felt about it. Just plain honesty and sincerity. But all in all, we had such a great conversation tonight, and more! It's like we both connected very deeply, and I really feel that we were definitely both connected in our past lives, somehow, as well. And I feel really fortunate, and grateful for that.

What I'm plainly trying to say, is that I'm glad over a few things - a successful conversation that would hopefully result in a positive implication for the future, but also the fact that I am learning to avoid mistakes that I've done in handling certain situations. In a way, I think I've grown a little. And I would like to continue growing, and just becoming a better person.

Thanks, Ed.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Jazz rant..

You can just ignore this post, or you'll just have to read it and eat it all up.. if you wanna spit it out, go ahead by all means.. just not at my feet though.. I don't want to have to clean your saliva on my nice Chinese New Year CIANO shoes.. gotta keep it shiny!

As you all know, there's a new jazz club in town, called The Top Room @ Top Hat which has just finished its first week of live jazz in Kay-El (not Kal-El from the Superman series, thank you!) with the David Gomes Trio taking the first stage! All this is possible because of the hard work of two very esteemed individuals, David and Junji Gomes, as well as the support of the big kahunas of Top Hat, Mr. and Mrs. Danker. All of us [jazz] musicians know that we all need a place to play some real music, and not the pandering variety.. but no one has really taken the BIG step to actually realise that fact, save a few individuals. And now, for the second time (or third, possibly!), these two have done it again! They are the ones with the vision, tenacity, and the persistence to actually pursue such - usually futile (due to lack of support as well as un-supportly-ness - you know what I'm talking about!) - endeavours! There are several venues, claiming that they're offering live jazz bands, but they most certainly do not make the real cut.


Jazz-Mamma Junji Delfino has written an interesting lament about the state of jazz venues as well as jazz in KL - in general - and how corporate people use and cash-in on jazz, but at the same time presenting anything but jazz music!


Read all about it here... and get some brain cells worked up over it! I know I am.

Like her, I can't stand the fact that there are those who use the good name of jazz to make money and not actually put in a real jazz band, and when I mean a real jazz band, I mean those that play any elements of jazz music and those that play jazz out of inspiration and expression - not the kind that plays pop music and call it jazz, or even those who claim to sing jazz but are just singing standards and have no real idea what jazz is! Not even artistes that sing jazz standards that call themselves jazz artistes!

For me, a real jazz venue, is a place where there are no boundaries and expectations to musical expression, of which the stylistic medium is jazz. It's a place where the only crime a band can commit is to play music that the public demands and dictates them to play. There is no musical pandering. There are no song requests (unless of course, it's a song worth doing!).. no I Will Survive or Can't Take My Eyes Off You or even Titanic Theme Song (YES! There are those who actually request for that song, goddammit!). It's the place where one can express f*ck it.. this sucks, and people listen (or some leave...and thus should, if you can't take the heat!).. or even say I Love You in more ways than one, and people listen. It's a place where it's an option that the main act isn't a sexy, high heeled, garter-belted, spaghetti-strapped, 34-20-34 stats, booty shaking, can't-sing-to-save-a-life vocalist!

At least, I know now that there are at least two places to look forward to, for something like this.


And one of them is... and Welcome to The Top Room @ Top Hat !! Where all the cats are swingin' and the crowd goes purrin' along! Come on up, 'cause Everything's Swingin' at the Top!!!!

SUPPORT LIVE JAZZ IN KL!!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

M!...so far! And the first show of Top Room@Top Hat

In case some of you readers wanted to know what's happening at M! The Opera so far, here's a little take from me.

We just did the second day of M!, and it has been quite interesting! After all the craziness in the few weeks leading to the show, it has managed to pull through... from the music, the acting, and everything else. As Mike V (he did quite a number of arrangements for the orchestra and the asli group... very good and interesting arrangements, by the way) was saying, "We have a show!".

The opening show (yesterday Thursday) went quite well (give and take a few slight mishaps). And the second show today (Friday), was definitely much better, with the cast getting more comfortable in their role and being more in character, than the first night. The orchestra was also much more comfortable with their parts, and the fact that the sound guy didn't turn on the monitors in the Pit, during the first half, didn't stop us from playing.

My only bug was that I wish I could see what was happening on stage. As all the musicians are in the Pit, there was no way we could see what was happening on stage. So that leaves us with having to watch the conductor(s) and just using our imagination (through listening to the dialogue) to know what's going on... not to mention checking out some of the female cast.. *snicker* *snicker*.

In retrospect - in spite of all the funny things that happened leading to the show (which I will not disclose here) - I may have a slightly shifted, different view towards this production, and my feelings towards my involvement in it. One of the few key things, I have to say, is that it's largely a new experience for me, being part of a big production like this - and an opera as well! - and I'm learning quite a number of new things in terms of playing in an orchestral setting like this. At first I was almost indifferent to how the music and the story relate to each other, especially during the earlier part of my involvement, which was just about almost three weeks ago. But after reading, and later HEARING, the whole story, I think I may have greater appreciation for it... and the music that has been arranged for it. That's why I said earlier, that the only drag about the whole thing was that I couldn't see what was happening on stage. At least I can feel the music more if I can see the visual part of the show. I hope they'll make a video so I can see and hear it for myself later.

Secondly, it's probably the first time that there's a Malaysian production of an opera, that's not just an opera by itself, but it's uniquely Malaysian, as well! The show combines various styles of music - from classical, jazz, rock, and even asli music! I think it's quite amazing. Hats off to Saidah Rastam for such amazing music.

Thirdly, this show isn't for people who are "square-headed", ie. those who do not think out of the box. The story itself, and the concept in which it is presented, is quite stimulating... it's probably art-house, if you will. It seems like it is one of those shows which is meant to evoke emotion and offend, and not pander to typical theatre stuff. It's in this respect, that it may be quite interesting. Out of curiosity, I think I'll be expecting very polarized reviews to this show... either people will like it or they might hate it. Who knows..?

Hmm.. on a lighter note.. the sax section does quite a fair bit of waiting, there are parts which does not include saxophones. So what do we do.. eat Mentos, and practicing drum patterns. LOL! I'm thinking of getting one of those Sudoku thingies to crack my brain over, while waiting!

David Gomes Trio @ Top Room

After the M! show, Mike V, myself, Ben, Brian and Eugene from AllDatJazz.Com headed down to Top Room @ Top Hat to check out the David Gomes Trio and Junji Delfino. We managed to get there just before the second set, and it kicked off with Mike V and myself playing the first three songs! Talk about letting steam off after M! !! We just played like there was no tomorrow (and at the same time, getting rid of some really annoying LOUD and DRUNK guests!!).

There was David Gomes on piano/vocals, with AJ on drums and Roslan Imam on double bass.. and of course... the effervescent Junji Delfino on vocals!

Anyway, there's still TONIGHT, Saturday 25th March to catch the swinging trio. So if you're not busy, get your butt down at Top Room @ Top Hat, 7 Jalan Kia Peng and check out real good jazz music from the most happening, swinging, jazz musos in town (and the voice to boot!!)!

Music starts at 10:30pm, and cover charge is RM50++ two drink minimum!

You'll probably see me and few cats there again, as we're just fresh out from the M! show... so if you're around, do say hi!

Ciao!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Updates - GruvAvenue... Global Spirit.. Top Room..and M!

Hi everyone, again, I'd like to apologize for me being the invisible man for several weeks now! Anyway, I just want to update you guys on my whereabouts for the last couple of weeks (or at least it felt like that!). In short, I've been kept really busy with lots of work, with M! primarily and a couple of other things that took place since my last post. Okay.. here goes:

Friday 17 March - GruvAvenue..

Did the GruvAvenue gig at Avanti's Sunway on Friday 17 March. I think for most part it turned out well, although I messed up a couple of bits and piece of it! But it was fun. There was a lot of energy in the band! Unfortunately, I thought that we didn't really have enough time to work on the material at hand. If we did, I think the delivery and execution (especially on my side) would've been better.

The crowd that night, however, wasn't THAT great.. it was just merely okay. And like some gigs (and I mean that in a negative way) there's always some crooner who wants to come up and sing. Not to say it's a bad thing... but this wasn't a regular club gig. It was a SHOW!! Man... what would you think Michael Jackson, or say... Frank Sinatra would say, if you suddenly felt compelled to go up and do a feature on yourself when you went to their concert?? I think the security detail would've thrown you OUT the door!

For crying out loud, let us do our show and not spoil the whole thing just because some of you just feel compelled to sing and want to impress your friends! For your info, WE were invited and paid THAT night to impress people, not you.. like hello?

Let's just say, WE do the inviting, when WE feel like it's appropriate.

Malaysians....

Saturday 18 March - Global Spirit..

After the M! rehearsal in the afternoon, me and Chee Meng went over to Greg's place to hang for a short while before heading to KL Pac to check out their Global Spirit show. I couldn't wait to see and hear them play. The last time I saw that band play (minus Damon at that time of course) was about over 3 years ago at No Black Tie. Let's just say, it made me feel like I was in jazz capital... the music was just awesome!

At the KLPac, we got our tickets - thankfully, as we thought it might have been sold out - and just waited to go into Pentas 2. Simultaneously, the Hands Percussion Team were also performing in Pentas 1.

When we got into the performance hall, we were surprised (and elated) that it was pretty much full house! There's hope for jazz in KL after all!

The show itself was awesome. It was really interesting to see top notch jazz musicians play in a group together, playing some really good music.. and not easy music to digest, to say the least. There was Greg Lyons on sax, Damon Brown on trumpet, Jarmo Sarvolainen on piano, Christy Smith on double bass, and Lewis Pragasam on drums. Some of the more easier tunes were a blues written by Mike Stanton, and Body And Soul. Some of their original tunes include Greg's compositions such as Built To Last, I'll Tell You Later (a recent composition..and a crazy one at that!), Elbow Room, Damon's music such as Jousting in 3, Monkey Dreams, and Jarmo's tunes Two Tangents.

There were a lot of good moments in that Saturday concert, but also some not-so-good moments (although some may not have noticed.. but we're musicians, so we're more alert to these things anyway!). I think the band was tired from the travelling, or it could be the not-so-competent sound person who was handling the sound board - for some strange reason kept giving Damon lots of delay effect... very irritating - that may have caused some of the lapses in some playing moments. But like anything, it happens. Nevertheless, it was top notch band and top notch music, and I can guarantee you, you don't get to catch this kinda thing a lot. So that's why I keep telling everyone, if you have a chance to check out a good band play... do it!

Anyway, after that gig, we went for a nice post-gig supper at a Chinese tai-chow restaurant just nearby Greg's house.

The next morning, Greg and Damon flew out to UK for their current UK/Europe tour. I just wanna wish Greg... GOOD LUCK FOR THE TOUR!!! He'll be gone from KL for about a month and a half... and in that sense, some of us are really, REALLY happy for him that he's getting out there and playing his music!

Check out his webpage
www.greglyons.net for his schedule details and updates. I think he'll update his site with his UK tour (I hope) experience once a while, so do check the site out to see what's happening with him!

Monday 20th March - Top Room @ Top Hat launch!

FINALLY!! A new jazz club in town! It's located at Jalan Kia Peng, next to Wisma HLA and across from the KL Convention Center.

The launch kicked off with the David Gomes Quintet - David Gomes on piano, Charles Wong on drums, Vincent Ong on double bass, Isyam Swardi on guitar, and horny horns Julian Chan (me! me! me!) on sax and Eddie Wen on trumpet/flugelhorns!

The first show that will kick off the first week of live jazz (and not the hotel variety, thank you!) will be the David Gomes Trio featuring Junji Delfino. Check out Junji's website for pics and comments!


courtesy of Jazz Mamma's Captain's Blog

Our band The Happy People Quintet will play on the 20th and 21st of April... more on that soon!

Tuesday 21st March - M! The Opera... FINALLY!!

After so many rehearsals and multiple personality changes, the music as a whole is complete! We did the tech run (the whole show) at night, and for most part it was pretty much there. No doubt there'll be some changes still, but not major ones I think.

The media preview show will take place tomorrow night.. and we'll see what happens!!

Good luck!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

GIG SPECIALS! The Global Spirit Tour and GruvAvenue

GLOBAL SPIRIT SOUTH EAST ASIAN TOUR

The jazz quintet, Global Spirit, embodies the point at which the music of four countries meets. The language of jazz improvisation provides a sufficiently malleable art-form that can be used to communicate between musicians from vastly different backgrounds. These different but related styles unify into a collective voice that homogenises the otherwise dissimilar compositions of the ensemble's members create a unique blend of European and Asian expression.

The quintet is led by British saxophonist/composer Greg Lyons whose own background in Europe and America has produced a style derived from a combination of the 1970's jazz-rock scene, blended with contemporary bebop and then heavily influenced by Brazilian and Cuban music. More recently, his presence in Asia has infused his music with a new flavour and created a wholly personal take on world music witha hard-edged improvisational angle.

Add the phenomenal Finnish pianist/composer Jarmo Savolainen, whose dark modal style reflects his embrace of the most contemporary of US styles with a large dose of Scandivanian coolness. Jarmo spends much of his time in New York playing and recording with the cream of the contemporary jazz scene, and has also lately been touring frequently in Latin America.

British trumpeter Damon Brown has spent most of his life making a name for himself in the European jazz circuit. His playing reflects a debt to the great bebop trumpet players, but his bag of tricks belies knowledge of diverse styling from reggae to free-jazz. His compositions reflect a mix of hard-bop and modal.

Then consider the inclusion of Malaysian percussion master Lewis Pragasam, a highly regarded drummer and educator whose style displays the virtuosity and discipline of the Indian classical tradition as well as the freedom of modern jazz. He brings to the ensemble an incredible arsenal of polyrhythmic dexterity that feeds and builds the group’s improvisations to dramatic effect
.

The pulse of the band is with Californian bassist Christy Smith, representing the continents of both America and Africa. His incredible diversity as a musician is utilised here within the broad stylistic compass of this ensemble. His solid underpinnings are the perfect foil for the fervent polyrhythms of Pragasam and the two provide an intense and inspiring platform for the others.

When all five members of the quintet come together, it will definitely be quite a performance unlike any others.

Master Class with Global Spirit
18th March 3.00pm
Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre

Whether you’re a student of the art of jazz improvisation or just inquisitive about the processes that go into a jazz performance, then don’t miss this chance to hang out with some of the most accomplished contemporary jazz performers on the planet.

We will be conducting a two-hour master class involving the whole group where we will explain our viewpoints on what makes the music happen. This will be a chance for budding players to join the band on-stage to get an assessment of their musical prospects and to get a feel for what a great jazz group might feel like.

For those of you who caught Damon in KL or Singapore last April, and for those who witnessed my quartet with Jarmo 5 years back, the quality of what’s on offer is clear.

This is the most exciting and cutting-edge improvised music you will hear in a very long time!

Duration : 16 - 18 March 2006
Venue : Pentas 2
Price : RM50 (50% discount for students, the disabled & senior citizens)
Presenter :
Greg Lyons and KLPac

The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre
Sentul Park
Jalan Strachan
Off Jalan Ipoh
51100 Kuala Lumpur

Image hosting by Photobucket

General Line: 03-4047 9011

Box Office: KLPac 03-4047 9000 /
tickets@klpac.com or The Actors Studio 03-2094 9400 / ticket@theactorsstudio.com.my

More info, music and pictures at http://www.greglyons.net/

The Global Spirit Asian Tour is proudly sponsored by

For more information, please contact Greg Lyons at overtone@streamyx.com

Pictures and show synopsis courtesy of Greg Lyons and KLPAC

---------------------------------------------------------------

GRUVAVENUE @ AVANTI'S FRIDAY NITE JAZZ

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Local Jazz Band on the rise – GruvAvĂ©nue will rock the house. This time the group will take the elegant seductory sounds of smooth jazz and infuse it with the vivacity of pulsating drum beats. Rather than limiting itself to a purely nostalgic standard jazz music format, this performance will showcase an array of musical diversity from soulful ballads, traditional swing, R&B, Hip Hop, dance beats, to original compositions from their debut album.

GruvAvénue is Vincent Ong (double bass/bandleader/composer), Charles Wong (drums), Clement (keyboards/piano), and special guest Julian Chan (saxophones).

Brought to you by Black Machine Music Production and Avanti Italian American Ristorante this

March 17, 2006. 9:30 PM Onwards. Free Admission.

Band Links:
http://www.blackmachine.com.my/gruvavenue.html
CD Available: TOWER Records nationwide and selected ROCK Corners.
Band Enquiry: gruvavenue@gmail.com
Venue: Avanti Italian American Ristorante, Level G, Sunway Lagoon Resort Hotel.

Hope we can see you guys at either of the gigs!

SUPPORT LIVE JAZZ IN KL!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Busy like a bee...

M! The Opera

You'll have to excuse me, I won't be posting that often for the next several weeks. It's been a busy week... with M! The Opera and all... we're in for rehearsals and things, one in the morning and one in the evening, and maybe later in the week, afternoon and night rehearsals.

It's been busy enough, I couldn't catch up on my running (wierd phrase..). Not to mention the wacky weather.. rain and all. I was planning to run at Lake Gardens today, but I canned it and went into the boring air-conditioned slumber of the gym at Maxis building. Only did a 30-minute run and a 10-minute bike ride. Didn't even bother to take any stats down, I just wanted a workout. I didn't run since KLIM last week, only did a couple of swims here and there.

Rehearsals have been nothing but short of odd. Things aren't going very well as planned, so it's a little messy. Me, Ben and Chee Meng are just coasting along and making sure we aren't dragged into too much deep water. It's a little challenging, especially for me and Ben.. we're playing some fairly classically based stuff, and it's not really our area of expertise (not to say we're experts in jazz either!), so I'm learning to deal with things that I don't really deal with, from embouchure to note attacks, counting in funny meters.. a whole lot of classical technique as well. Chee Meng's helping us out a little in this area, so we're dealing, as best as we can.

GruvAvenue @ Avanti's

I'm subbing for Shazzy for this coming Friday Nite Jazz @ Avanti's, Sunway. It's bassist/composer's Vincent Ong's band, and we'll be doing a fair bit of original material from Vince, and also some crazy re-arrangements of some jazz standards, with some electronica and stuff! Should be a fun gig.. so do come over if you're free!

GruvAvenue is Vincent Ong (double bass/composer/bandleader), Charles Wong (drums), Clement (piano/keys), and guest saxophonist/flutist Julian Chan!

Venue: Avanti's Italian-American Restaurant, Sunway Hotel Resort
Date: 17 March 2006, Friday
Time: 9:30pm
Admission: Free (although drinks ain't cheap!)

Hope to see you guys there, or something!

SUPPORT LIVE JAZZ IN KL!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

KLIM race report!

What? KL International Marathon - 21.1k half marathon category
Where? Dataran Merdeka
When? Sunday, 5th March 2006, 6:30am
How? By hook or by crook, just ran until I finished!

~ Prologue ~

As I've mentioned in previous post, my training hasn't been anything but ready-made for the race. But I have trained enough to run fairly comfortably through the race, but not enough to really achieve some sort of good race potential. So, my only hope in this race that I do good enough to beat my half marathon record of 2 hours 47 minutes at Desaru. If I get to do that, I'm gonna buy myself a new shoe.. or maybe something else. Self-reward! AHaha..

~Pre-race~

I slept pretty early (for my standard!) at about 11.30pm (my previous races, I only managed to put in more or less THREE hours of sleep, so this is an achievement by itself, LOL!), and even managed to wake up about three minutes before my first alarm rang, at 4am! But then, I lied down again half-awake waiting for my second alarm at 4.15am! At least I was feeling rather good when I wake up, quite fresh. I did the usual routine of freshening up and getting race ready with my race kit, shoes laced with the race chip, water drinks, clothes change, toiletries and the usual checklist items. Downed half a choc peanut butter PowerBar (the other half I had the day before), and then headed out the door to pick up KT.

We reached the Bukit Aman parking lot at about 5.40am, with loads of time to spare before the race starts. Instead of jogging a warm-up to the race site, we took our time and walked there instead (we got 10km to warm up!), chatting. At the race site, we met some of the usual running faces, Ronsee and Rachsee, Albert from New Balance (that bugger lost so much weight, he runs pretty good now!), Rock Crab and Becholi (both of which I haven't seen for a long time!), KNN-man, and KT's friend Alexis, and then some. As we waited in non-trepidation (I pity the same lady MC that was trying so hard to work up a storm with the runners), we just stood around, chat and checked out some leng luis around.

~ Flag-off.. the race begins! ~

Right on the dot at 6:30am when Abang Ben (the clock tower lah!) rang - although my watch says 6:32 - we all started WALKING to the start line and then only toed off, as we had to step on the chip sensor mat. The three of us - me, KT, and Alexis - kept the same pace for about 2km or so, before KT picked up the pace, and I slowly overtook Alexis. On my side, I was running at a fairly comfortable pace, averaging around 7:10 min/km at about 82% of max HR.

The route started from Dataran Merdeka up to Jalan Istana and then down into Jalan Syed Putra via Jalan Sg. Attap.

~ The first signs of incompetence ~

The first water station - at 5km on Jalan Syed Putra nearing Mid Valley - we arrived in turned out to be just pathetic: They ran out of water!! Although I brought my water bottle with me, I had intended to save it for the later part of the race when I think I really needed it. It's absolutely pathetic, it's sad, and it sort of pissed me off during the race! The route then took us out of Syed Putra on to the Salak South stretch and into the North-South highway heading into KL town. We reached another water stop and sponging station, and AGAIN, they ran out of water! Man, talk about DIS-organization... totally disfunctional! Disses people off! Oh yeah, there was a PowerBar stop where those guys were giving out PowerGels... cool cats... but without water, it was definitely hard to swallow those gels! And chocolate isn't the best flavor to have on the run... maybe the strawberry or rasperry ones would've been better, or Tropical Fruit.

On the North-South Highway past the old airport, I met Wendy when she spotted me. It's her first half-marathon. Good to see ya running with us on tar, Wendy! At around this point, I think I started to slow down a little bit, but I was quite amazed I could maintain a running pace, i.e. not stopping to walk!

The route then took us back into Jalan Lapangan Terbang and then up into Jalan Dewan Bahasa Pustaka (and another empty water station.. useless excuse for a race organizer!), and into Jalan Hang Tuah, and all the way to Jalan Imbi and back out into Jalan Bukit Bintang. This time around, there was enough water at the water stops, and I finally stopped to walk for about less than a minute to recover and resumed running.

~ Running out of gas ~

The Jalan Sultan Ismail stretch was definitely a tough one for me. It felt like I was running out of gas. I wasn't sure if stopping to walk to recover was such a good idea. I had quite a runner's high for the first 15km. I run-walked several times in this stretch, and I almost felt de-motivated. I was practically playing music in my head and psyching myself to continue and not give up. However, seeing the "Nike Stretch" brought back some inspiration - the "Nike Stretch" is that short stretch where they put up inspiring signs and also a water cooler tunnel!

At that point in time, traffic police were stopping traffic and naturally there was a heavy traffic buildup. Lots of horns blaring. and everytime I pass a traffic light with traffic police and some prick blaring their horns continuously, I had this thought in my mind: F**K YOU MUTHAF**KERS, I'M GOIN' SLOW... HOW'D YOU LIKE THAT?? NAHHH!! UP YOURS!! Hahhahah!!!

The route then takes us into Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman and heading back into Dataran Merdeka... but wait... no... we had to reverse back into Jalan Raja Laut and do one loop back into Jalan TAR from Sogo... oh man!!! It's like a so near yet so far situation! At this point I had to summon all I had left in me and run and make it to the finish line!

I checked my watch - 2:43:54 (chip time)! Yippieee...!!!!

~ Post-race ~

After finish line, my legs were starting a cramp up a little, so I had to take it easy and stretch my calves and tibia. Suffering, man!!! As usual, post race is always lining up for Milo and 100Plus, and catching up briefly with other running kaki's - saw Jamie, Kenneth, Chen, Ronnie, Zailan, Karen, Albert, and a few others. Pek Fui and her friend JC also were there after the race, we chatted and parted ways.

Note: Thanks PF for registering for us... and please remember to pass me the pins next time! HEHEHE!

In fact, I was feeling rather upset about how badly organized the race was (okay, maybe I am over-reacting, but sometimes these mistakes and disorganization can make a difference in how a person would perform in the race). But something made my day - I saw Terence aka Penguin-6! He ran the half, and he was looking rather good, too! I went up to him and said hi, and told him I was glad to see him looking good up and about! That in itself had already brighten up my day and made me change the way I think and that all the feelings I had during the race were just trivial.

After all that, me and KT walked back to our cars in Bukit Aman (with our deadlogged feet dragging all the way there), showered and went for a nice meal at Kanna's Curry House at Section 17, PJ!

~ Epilogue: Race Analysis ~

Race statistics:

Distance - 21.1km (or so we think)
Time to finish - 2:43:54 (chip and HRM time), 2:45:13 (official gun time)
Max HR - 188 bpm
Ave HR - 167 bpm (possibly my lactate threshold, too)

Check out the official results http://www.klmarathon.gov.my/results06.php

Splits -
5k - 36:15 > 10k - 34:47 (1:11:02) > 21k - 1:32:50

Pros:

1. The running pace for the first 15km was very controlled and even, so much so that I didn't get fatigued or tired until the later part of the race. In effect, I was happy that my physical form wasn't at a low point, but neither was it at a high performance point. At that point, I was just adamant on finishing it strong, and hopefully with a PR. I'm generally happy with my performance, I just hope to do better.

2. Chip timing was a good thing, and not so expensive this time around.

Cons:

1, 2, 3, and 4. Race organization was absolute CRAP! To FTAAA and DBKL... shame on you!! Don't organize a race if you STILL don't know how to! That's typical of Malaysian standard... NEVER LEARN, NEVER LISTEN! You've got the Pacesetters to give you a run for your money. And for the price to pay for your stupid race, we get shit.

5. As always could've run better if I trained better.

That's all folks!! Can't believe I took more than 2 hours to finish this report.

Pics on the way, once I get some!

~ Addendum ~

Looks like the Malakoff Duathlon races are back! I'm tempted to join, but with only one month to train.. see how!! Check it out - www.duathlonseries.com.my.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Avanti's disaster.. M! The Opera.. And KLIM!

Avanti Disaster...

This is one instance of an okay gig ruined by a bunch of idiots who had no other business than to make other people's lives miserable!

The JJ Jazz Ensemble made another appearance last night at Avanti's Italian-American Restaurant at Sunway Hotel, only after 2 weeks from the last performance at the same venue. The band however was scaled down by a bit, minus Prof. Ooi Eow Jin, so featuring the main members of the band, arranger/composer Chan Cheong Jan on piano, Joseph Arnesto on bass, and JP on classical guitar (and composer as well). The addition to the band was basically myself on tenor and alto sax, Alex D on alto and flute, Hock Chuan on harmonica (or commonly known as harp), Martin Ngim and Moon on drums and percussion.

The turnout was lesser than our last show two weeks ago, and it seemed that some of the patrons were from the Ford (yes, the car manufacturer) Conference at Sunway Convention Centre just adjacent to the restaurant. After the first couple of tunes, some may have left or changed seats, which is better for us, if they can't take the heat from the music (warning: incoming rant...but we'll save that for another day!).

We started the first set without much of a fuss. Everything was working alright until towards the end of the set, we were told to finish that set before even playing the last song. It was definitely a rather abrupt stop to the show. And judging by the feel of things, something wasn't right, I could feel that vibe around. So we just took our break, and later I found out that officers from the Immigration Department have come over to Sunway Hotel. In the history of Friday Jazz Nites in Avanti's, there hasn't been a single visit from the Immigration Department (ID), so this was definitely - or at least it really felt like - an abberation! Judging from ID encounters of the past by foreign musicians (other than Filipino bands or those hotel show bands), something like this would usually occur when SOMEBODY ratted out to the ID people! And as we found out later, this was also true in this particular instance!

The ID officers came to Avanti's and sat down to watch. Two members couldn't play the rest of the set, and they remained - luckily - inconspicuous enough to not get caught. At the end only Chan, myself, Hock Chuan, Martin, Moon, and later Joseph (the poor cat had a bad case of diarrhoea!) finished the set. But I think for most part, the flow and the mood of the second had already been ruined. But we still tried to salvage what's left.

So, on behalf of JJ Jazz Ensemble, we'd like to apologize to patrons of Avanti's who came down to watch us on 3rd of March. The show didn't go as well as planned due to external circumstances.

But nevertheless, there will be more shows coming up for JJ Jazz Ensemble. So keep a lookout for us, as we'll be bringing more interesting music soon enough!

M! The Opera...

I got a call from M! The Opera music composer Saidah Rastam early this week, and she wanted to get me involved in the show. After some SMSes and phone discussions, I was made a good offer to do the show. So basically, I'll be playing together with the NSO in this musical production.

The production will run at Istana Budaya from the 23rd March to 1st April (except 27 and 28 March). For more details check out the website - www.mtheopera.com

KLIM...

Finally...

Tomorrow morning's the KL International Marathon race. Me and a few other fellas will be doing the half marathon distance (21.1k) and some others doing the full (some from the PM and Pacesetters gang!).

So I would like to wish all of you guys, the Pacesetters guys, Pacemaker guys, Penguin guys, and team Julian (myself, KT, PF and friends)...

GOOD LUCK FOR THE THE RUN!! HAVE A GOOD ONE (HOPE TO GET PR TOO)!!