Anyway, just some updates of myself for the last couple of weeks since my last post and I would like to share them with you. Suffice to say, the schedule's been pretty hectic before New Year, and even after New Year, as shown by my lack of posts. A lot of stuff happened in January, gig-wise, at least. A lot of interesting gigs that took place. Some of them include:
50 Cents Jazz Club Reunion @ Bangkok Jazz
This is been Hardesh Singh's pet project for several years now. For those who are unaware, Hardesh does a variety of musical and even film projects (he's also a very good sound engineer), including the infamous (and apparently, very controversial) Lelaki Komunis Terakhir. Anyway, 50 Cents Jazz Club (50CJB) is an experimental jazz/world music band, showcasing original material written by Hardesh and Rozhan. Rozhan Razman, bassist extraordinaire (Groove Unction, Metalasia), was back in town for his winter vacation from Berklee, and it was a good opportunity to play with him as well. After all, he was definitely one of the original members of the 50CJB.
The gig went well, for most part, but the sound stage during the show wasn't that great. I was a bit uncomfortable, so I didn't think I played as well as I could have because of it. We did some crazy stuff that night. Hardesh expanded on some of his older material, such as Cool Chews, and played some tunes from the previous repertoire (from our show almost two years ago). There were a lot of odd metered stuff, which we memorized over two nights of heavy rehearsals.
Dayang Nurfaizah @ Planet Hollywood's Sunday Nite Live
This one of the few times I got to play at Planet with a horn section for a mainstream artiste (the last time was with Ning Baizura a few years back). Anyway, Dayang performed two shows, the first on 14 Jan, and the second one on 28 Jan. Musically directed by Jenny Chin, it involved the usual rhythm section (Aji - guitars; Jenny Chin - keys; Sze Wan - 2nd keys; Kelly - bass; Fendi @ Sotong - drums; Ameer - percussions) and the addition of the KL Horny Horns, or now known as KL TOWER (after Tower Of Power), namely me on saxes, Eddie Wen on trumpet, and Roger Chee on trombones! This month was definitely heavy on the horn section gigs involving the three of us! This was definitely another fun gig to do. Eddie and I also recorded two tracks on Dayang's latest album. When it comes out, don't forget to check it out!! Another nice one to add to our musical resumé, don't you think?
I think there'll be another gig coming out in July, so watch out for it!
Btw, Dayang kicks butt!! Her vocal technique is amazing, compared to most local mainstream artistes! She's probably one of the best mainstream pop singers in town, and I feel really glad to be able to work with her! The rest of you half-past-six artistes who think you can even pull a tune properly, could learn a thing or two from her!
Thomson Big Band
I got to play with the Thomson Big Band from Singapore, for the first time, this month. I've heard a lot about over the past several years, probably one of the best amatuer big bands in the Malaysia/Singapore region. Comprising of full-time and part-time musicians, they rehearse every weekend at the Thomson Community Center, and they play various big band repertoire, from the Ellington songbook, Basie, and even some of Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band pieces.
Anyway, my gig with them was for this Negri Sembilan royalty wedding anniversary, or something like that. Didn't really pay attention to it, found it quite skanky for my taste. Anyway, the gig didn't really go down too well. It was okay, for most part, but the stage sound mix was terrible, we couldn't really hear each other properly. The stage was too small, and it was too dark to see the charts to play it properly. Although the theme was "Roaring 20s" or something like that, it didn't really turn out like that at the end. What a drab, this function! But I got to meet some really nice musicians from that band. Cool cats. Hope to play with them again soon.
Jonathan Lee World Tour Concert @ Beijing
Yay! I finally get to travel to Beijing for another edition of Jonathan Lee's Tour concert! This time around, the three of us KL Tower horns flew there a few days earlier, and we got to experience winter chill for the first time. It was around -7°C to 5°C when we were there. It was really cool to get to experience winter like that for the first time. But at the same time, it was a real pain, too... everytime we have to go out we have to wear layers of clothes to protect ourselves from wind chill, and putting lip balm and moisturizers every few hours or so! We did a lot of walking this trip, and we managed to visit places like Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the most spectacular sight of the trip - The Great Wall of China.
Of all the sites we've seen, I was most impressed and taken with the Great Wall. Eddie arranged for us to go to one (of seven) starting points, called Simatai. It wasn't as crowded as Ba Da Ling site (which is the most popular visit for most tourist groups), but it was more fun, too. We managed to climb up about seven stops, or mini-forts. We were literally climbing a mountain! If I have time I'll post some pictures in the next post for you to whet your visual appetite, for those who are curious about our Beijing trip.
The concert itself went well, although towards the end of the concert, I was feeling really flu-ish. I somehow came down with sinus and flu towards the end of the trip and the concert, I couldn't even stay up long enough to enjoy the post-concert party.
This was definitely a good trip. Beijing-ites are generally more friendlier than the Shanghai-ites. Imagine our surprise at the imigration point, after processing our passports, we said "Thank You" in Chinese, and the officer replied "No problem!". How's that for courtesy? In addition, at numerous restaurants and eating houses we went to eat, the waiters were generally more helpful and courteous! Very good service for most part!! Of course, there's still one thing we find really unacceptable in China - the toilets!!! Our trip to the Great Wall involved a two-hour drive. We had a pit stop, and the toilet was one of the most disgusting sights we've ever seen! There are no urinals, no toilet booths. Just watering holes (literally!), and shitting holes. Don't even get us started on the smell! We even heard from Jenny, that the women's toilet is worse... sanitary pads piling up the shit holes!!! Sorry if I just ruined your breakfast/lunch/dinner! Oh well, it was definitely an experience!
Oh one more thing, Jonathan's doing a concert HERE in Malaysia, on March 17 at Genting Arena Of Stars!! YAY!! We can't wait for it!! There's nothing more proud that playing a big concert like that in your own homeground!
And to end January..
Reshmonu's album launch - Superfine @ The Curve
Yeah, our funky, corn-braided hair friend has released his new album, Superfine, with a two-hour concert at The Curve, next to Cineleisure. The concert was fun, lots of happening, funky tunes, and outrageous clothes, sponsored by Key Ng (yes, we had to wear them too!).
Buy the album.. ORIGINAL... support local talents!!
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Here are also some upcoming updates to look out for.. some really happening gigs coming up!
- Sam McNally @ Java Jazz Fest, Jakarta. I'll be playing with Sam for this three-day festival, with lots of happening jazz and fusion acts happening. Check out http://www.javajazzfestival.com/2007/ for more details.
- Boplicity @ Top Room. We're gonna be playing two nights at the best jazz club in town! Stay tuned... you'll be hearing some kick ass jazz you've never heard before in KL!
- Jonathan Lee World Tour Concert @ Genting Arena Of Stars. Finally, after one year of touring around China region, he's coming over to Malaysia to do his own concert!! I'm really looking forward to that!
- Johor Bahru Jazz Festival. I will update when I get more information!!
It's gonna be an exciting year for me. There'll be more things happening, and I will write when it goes through! So stay tuned! Of course, my main goal - to get my sorry a$$ to New York at the middle of the year!!