Monday, June 18, 2007

Genting Jazz Fest - Part deux!


Hi all, I know I'm supposed to post the second part about the Miri Jazz Fest, but I'm gonna take the lazy way out, and just have you read Jazzmamma Junji's account of it, which basically covers most parts of it. So to read Miri Jazz Fest part two, click here. By the way, Junji has also uploaded some cool pics of our trip to Miri, so check it out too!

Genting Jazz Fest - Part Dua!

The second day started with some anticipation for me! I got up fairly early for breakfast, and had some time to blog about Day 1 at the Starbucks Coffee @ Highland Hotel. I skipped lunch, and went back to the hotel room to practice for about two hours before heading to the venue for our band soundcheck. I'm glad I had the chance to squeeze that two hours of practice, and that really warmed me up for the night! Good thing about Genting (I'm not a big fan of Genting Highlands, by the way.. too congested!), is that I won't have problems practicing in the hotel rooms, as most people are out at the amusement parks or the casino, and everything is relatively noisy, too!

The band soundcheck went relatively well, it gave us some time to work out a few kinks in the songs (we had such a short time to really put in rehearsals). However, the stage sound wasn't all too great. I had doubts about the monitoring engineer that EQ-ed our sound, especially for my saxes and the guitar. The balance was fairly okay as well.

After soundcheck it was back to the room again, but unlike Miri, we didn't really have time to relax for a few hours. We had to standby at the hall in less than two hours. Managed to chill for about half an hour, got ready, and went down for dinner. I was feeling pretty anxious, contrary to what some of my friends might think, that I should be used to the limelight. I'm always anxious before a big gig like this. I feel it's a good thing, it keeps me on the edge! Usually after we get on stage it disappears, and the music takes over!

Our show itself was a blast!! Although there were a few slip-ups from some of us (myself included), overall the performance was a very satisfying one for me!! I think we all really played hard and well that night, my favorite tune we did was the rendition of Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground. It was sort of a feature for me, and I sort of dug deep into the Kenny Garrett hip-hop/R&B/funk thing when I was playing that, and I enjoyed every minute of it! The band was really tight! We did a few originals from John and TK's, and a couple of nice covers like Spyro Gyra's Parati Latino, Dave Weckl's High Life, and also Ellington's Caravan, which featured Fu Wah (from Shanghai Jazz Ensemble) on flugelhorn! We did a trade solo thing which was really fun, as we fed off each other's ideas, and I really enjoyed playing alongside him! I was reeling from that experience hours after that!

After our show, we stuck around to watch the rest of the bands play, and it was quite an experience in itself!!

Acoustique (Wales) was a quintet with vocals, that played some original stuff and some covers! The singer had an airy sort of approach to singing the tunes, and the tone of most of their material were quite spacey, and relaxed, which was a nice contrast to our groove-heavy material.

Sakesho (Caribbean) is a Caribbean Jazz band featuring Andy Narell on steel drums! This band was probably the most awesome band I've seen in the festival. I was really delighted and awed to get the opportunity to watch Andy Narell, and also to listen to a real steel drum up close and personal! The pianist Mario was CRAZY!! He had so much ideas, and he builds his solos so up there, you could feel yourself flying to space and back!! And the band was super-tight! It seemed totally flawless, and the band was playing so effortlessly! Their arrangements were totally incredible as well, tapping into various Caribbean rhythms, intersecting with different poly-rhythms with jazz harmonies. I'd love to see this band again!!

Hazmat Modine (USA) was an experience in itself. Their set started with their leader coming out solo and playing his harmonica/harp like there's no tomorrow! He had such excellent control of the harmonica, it's mind-blowing. When the rest of the band came out, they all played totally different grooves and styles, from the blues, to country and folk, hillbilly, and other stuff totally unknown to me! At one point, the bandleader was reciting poetry!

Cubanismo! (Cuba) was the last band to play, and it got everyone dancing like nobody's business! Their set lasted for two hours, and they played so much, and with such blistering energy, even the audience didn't have the energy to dance anymore! Even I danced until I couldn't dance anymore, as I didn't have the energy to continue. I was totally famished after that!!

Genting Jazz Fest was a real musical treat for me, personally! I really enjoyed the bands that played, and I enjoyed the musical experience as well, being able to watch and listen to some really amazing and interesting music, that most people would not be able to, in KL.

Kudos to Jun Lin and gang for two jazz festivals well done! Being able to have the opportunity to play in both, I couldn't be more grateful.

And now, some photos:

For more pictures, click here.


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