Sunday, December 28, 2008
Well, over here in America they call it hotpot, we at home call it steamboat. But I'll call it steamboat here, because there were some friends on Facebook who thought I had a POT party.. hahah.. that was hilarious. But you know, with that many Malaysians around like what we had on Christmas night, it might actually look as though it was one! LOL!
We had our party on Christmas night, and we invited quite a few friends over, some Japanese, Taiwanese, and of course, Malaysians who are based in NY at the moment. But it turned out that we had SEVEN Malaysians who came by, and it was quite a rowdy one, too! I mean, Chern Hwei and myself are rowdy as it is, but with the others it was like... oh well.. we Malaysians know what it's like when we hang out at the mamak for late nights, right? So we had Eugene Pook who came down from Rochester (that is another story, which I might or might not tell), Chee Shen (a tenor singer studying at Mannes), Wen Onn (a composer studying in NYU), Nicholas Ong (an amazing pianist based here in NY), Adriane Palikat (a drummer from Kota Kinabalu), and the two of us. Hah... all musicians. And it was a riot.. it was like home-styled mamak session! But best thing was, everyone was nuts in their own right, and I think it probably surprised the other non-Malaysian guests. We even had our M'sian styled drink cheer.. the yam seng!
Quite a good night I might add. It was a first time for some of us to have met each other for the first time ever, being in New York. But at least it's comforting to know we have more Malaysian friends here.
I played a gig at a black church in Jamaica, Queens, last night for Leon Lacey's Day After Christmas concert. It was a part concert, part worship, kind of thing, so I got to experience first-hand, the African-American church culture. It's something I do want to experience at least once, as it is highly related to what I'm studying here in the first place, ie. Jazz. I mean, those who have read about or studied the historical roots of jazz would know that one of the major influences in the development of jazz as a distinct musical form comes from the African-American church culture.
For one thing, there was ALWAYS singing, and music at the background. Someone would always be playing the organ, or a keyboard (usually with a church organ sound) and accompanying the on-stage speaker or preacher. Then while making a testimony or preaching about something, they would build up the intensity and then would launch into a worship song (which could be either one which everyone knows, or sometimes improvised!), and just keep singing and the whole congregation would sing along, or even shout in response to a call (hence the call-and-response) or a statement. And this would go on for hours and hours, and I was there for about four hours, so it was pretty long. But the music never stops, someone would always be playing. Me and another saxophone player that night would also be playing some lines or just improvising at the back, reacting to the call-and-response of the singing, during the worship session. This was in between the short sets of which we would be playing Leon's tunes.
It was quite an energetic, uplifting, and very interesting experience for me. And I count myself blessed that I got to play and attend and experience one of this kind of church services.
Before I sign off, I'll just say that I'll post some pictures soon (when I get my off my lazy butt to upload them off the camera), so stay tuned.
Happy New Year, y'all!
Friday, December 26, 2008
My first Christmas away from home. Well, I don't celebrate Christmas as much as most Westerners do anyway, but still, it's always a time where we get to spend it with some company, whether with family or friends. This time Xmas eve was pretty much alone, most of the housemates were out playing Xmas eve shows, mass, etc. I was chilling out watching Buffy episodes online and drinking egg-nog (too bad the non-alcoholic one). But today we're doing a nice dinner session, where hotpot (or steamboat in Malaysia) is the main theme! We're getting some Malaysians and some Japanese and Taiwanese people to come over, and most of them.. no, ALL of them are musicians. So we're gonna have some fun tonight.
And too bad (or good, depends how you look at it), it has stopped snowing. It was pretty sunny today, so it was kinda nice! Snow maybe interesting for the first day or two, after that it can get rather depressing! Hahaha..
Well.. whatever it is..
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I'll say it out here loud and proud...
BN GOVERNMENT IS F*&KED UP!!!
Monday, November 24, 2008
Anyway, I wanted to share some pictures I took during a long run I did about two over weeks ago, my first long run in a long time. I did about almost 10k, out in the fairly cold weather, and I ran from my house at 89th St and 37th Ave all the way down 37th to 111th St, and went over to Corona Park. It's probably the nearest park to my place. If you didn't know Corona Park is basically where Flushing Meadows is, and it's the home to the Tennis US Open which takes place in September every year. The park itself was a nice run, it was full of trees and fields, and there were so many fields that I even saw people playing football (ie. soccer in OUR world), and some of the fields were occupied for actual football matches. There were trophies and stuff. But most of the players there were Latino (no surprise there, eh?). Anyway, I'll let the pictures speak for itself.
Well, running in Corona Park was simply awesome... beautiful. I wish KL had more of something like that. At least there's still Lake Gardens.
I did my first paying jazz gig on Friday with a Japanese guitarist, Yujin Amano, at a club called RJ's Bar Lounge and Grill in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Bay Ridge is at the edge of Brooklyn, just overlooking Verrazano-Narrows Bridge which connects to Staten Island. I got this gig thanks to my buddy Rozhan actually! He was in town for a couple of days with his soon-to-be wife, Rie, and while meeting him up for a hang out, he hooked me up with Yujin. He was looking for a sax player for his gig at RJ's.
The gig turned out pretty nice, actually. It was a small set-up - sax, guitar, electric bass and drums. We played some funk/jazz/smooth jazz kinda stuff (almost similar to my old GJ days - if you know what I'm talking about), but less of the self-gratification, so that was pretty fun for me. We did some Stevie stuff, and even some electric Miles. Best thing was, it felt nice to be playing after so long, and (hopefully) making some music!
That's it for now.. will update later!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
You know, I've seen or read some pretty stupid things about what's going on in my home in Malaysia, but I think this one takes the cake (at least the BIG slice), I could be wrong, but I think it wouldn't get anymore FOOLISH and IDIOTIC than this:
PENANG, 29 Oct 2008: The National Fatwa Council will come out with a ruling related to yoga exercise soon.
The announcement would be made by the council's chairperson, Prof Datuk Dr Abdul Shukor Husin, said Department of Islamic Development Malaysia deputy director-general (operations), Othman Mustapha.
He told reporters this after opening the two-day seminar on Islamic Jurisprudence and Eternal Islamic Thinking at Universiti Sains Malaysia.
Yesterday, lecturer Prof Zakaria Stapa of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's Islamic Studies Centre advised Muslims who have taken up yoga to stop practising it for fear that it could deviate their beliefs.
Wow.. I really wonder what goes on in these people's head? Do they have one in the first place?
What? You bozos actually stopped using your head and your heart when you're reading the Quran now?
Pitiful. Misled from a very young age to become village idiots.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
It's been over 2 months since the "Let's Go Mamak!" show by our new Malaysian ensemble (a stellar crew of musicians and artists, by the way), INNER VOICES.
For some of you, I know you want to hear and see something from it... so... check out the website again. Ken Hor has uploaded some audio and video of the show. More will be forthcoming.
So, click your browsers at "Let's Go Mamak" by Inner Voices.
Feel free to leave some comments and emails. Enjoy!
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
It was wierd when I was typing it. My mind was in a total state of confusion. I was probably at a mental disarray, if you will. Wierd thing was, I hardly experience something like this.. if at all. Must be one of those rare days, when the planets align against me, causing me to go haywire for no good reason.
I'm fine now, by the way.
It was a fairly productive day today, not music-wise though. Went to school early to practice and prep for lessons, and I only realized that it was a holiday in school. No wonder it was so quiet when I first got there. Antonio wasn't even around. So I got back home early, ran some errands, like send my brother's birthday gift (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRO!!!), and bought some supplies. Weather was great. On the way back from the post office at 78th St (I stay in 89th, so that's 11 blocks away), I got 'distracted' and bought a few things that I needed, and I came across a health store that I never got a chance to visit, but I knew was there. It was pretty interesting! They had a lot of interesting organic food, and even vegetarian/vegan food products as well! Couldn't buying a pack of vegan bologne slice and a ham slice, which were on sale, as well as a pack of granola cereals!
When I got back, I even cleaned up my room, for real. I didn't get a chance to thoroughly clean my room since I got back, so this was a good time than not. I rearranged everything that needed to be, cleaned the blinds (I think it hadn't been cleaned for AGES!), and re-packed everything.
Made dinner... a nice sambal vege fish with buttered brocolli and mushroom, fried egg over buttered rice! LOL! You might drool if you saw my dinner! God knows I did. Watched "Incredible Hulk" on my computer, while eating.
Then came the moment I've been waiting for... repairing my Macbook! My DVD SuperDrive and Bluetooth had been out of commission for a few weeks now. The SuperDrive I wrecked from putting a half-sized CD inside, and got it stuck... and the best part... it happened RIGHT BEFORE I came back to New York. The Bluetooth.. well, that has been failing for a little while before I got back here. I initially sent it to a Mac Support store to see if they can fix it. But the prices they charged were RIDICULOUS, and it would take AGES for them to do it. So I took back my Macbook, ordered the parts I needed from this AMAZING website called www.ifixit.com, and I decided to fix it myself, and this for almost HALF the price of sending it for repair.
Today I managed to find the time to fix it.. but man.. it was a pain! Whoever designed the laptops is either a real genius, or a pain in the neck! The screws were SO SMALL, it was really hard to get around it sometimes. But each set of screws were really unique and meant for a specific part of the laptop. After a couple of hours going at it (and almost getting hung up over ONE particular screw which was a tad more stuck), I managed to fix both the bluetooth board as well as replace a new SuperDrive! Now they both work fine! Man.. I could work at a Mac store to do repairs, like this! Ahahaha..
Oh well. Time to go.. will spend the whole day tomorrow practicing..
Friday, September 26, 2008
It's getting chilly.. and the presence of rainy weather affirms it.
Just to digress a little, I'll probably write a bit about these few weeks first. My apologies for not being diligent enough to write. Things have been fairly busy since I got back, with school starting and all. And I guess, I just didn't have the energy to write about it too.
First week of my return is pretty much as what I expected. Errands to run to get back into the groove of things - school, household, and everything else. Mentally I finally settled in after the first week. I still miss home and my life there. Some days more than others. But I guess it's settled in much more by now. One thing is for sure is that some things had to change from my first six months here. Break some old habits, and make new ones, where school is concerned. Put simply, just develop routines so that I have to work a little harder for school.
I haven't caught much jazz shows in NY that much yet, as I had spent quite a bit of money the past few weeks, so I'll save up for next month. Among other things, Kenny Garrett will be playing at the Iridium with his new quartet, and new CD, and I wanna go check it out. Oh, my good friend, and (what I would surmise as) my "past life brother" David Muehsam came to town for a couple of weeks to visit his mom. We got to hung out a bit, and it was a bit refreshing in many ways for me. We talked a lot about a variety of things - horns, music, life, politics, food, music, horns, life, food - and of course, not just verbally, too. Musical conversations were not excluded too!
I did a gig with Michelle Marie's band not too long ago. She organized a jazz fest at the Hudson River Cafe, and had three acts - percussionist Felle Vega, her trio (with me and Chern Hwei as guests), and Antonio Sanchez Trio (with bassist Scott Colley and saxophonist Steve Wilson)!! I played on three of her songs, and it was pretty scary, but exhilirating, too! I got to play in front of these great musicians! I hope I didn't screw up too badly. Antonio Sanchez is a mofo on da drums!!
Anyway.. back to Autumn..
Maybe it's one of "those days" kinda thing, but I woke up feeling crappy. And it's probably the second time it's happened this week. Then couple it with a mild headache. One thing led to another, I ended up feeling rather flustered and confused about everything at the end of the day. CH says I should stop watching Naruto online, as it could mess with my head. He may be right, or am I just using it as a form of 'escapism' from my life here? Could it be all that blowing from practicing causing lack of oxygen going into my brain? I don't know. I'm confused and frustrated about something, and I don't know what it is. I'm still trying to figure it out.
I don't know anything anymore. And it's really getting to me. I always thought I knew what I wanted. Maybe I still do.. but it gets a little more cloudy as the days go by. It's really odd. Before I came here for the first time, it was something I was really clear about (that's why I'm here in the first place), and there was probably only one aspect of my life that I was lacking. But now, its totally reversed. What I lacked when I was back in home, I have now.. and what I thought I was sure of, I'm not anymore. And when I think of the bigger picture, I get even more clouded. Doubts arise. It's really getting to me. I'm praying for some guidance.
Maybe it's just the season shift... I heard that the change in season affects people in different ways..
... then again, I don't know.
Friday, September 05, 2008
Wow.. I can't believe 2 1/2 months passed by in a blink of an eye!
First, I'd like to apologize to my readers about lack of personal updates where my activities are concerned. If you didn't know by now, I've been back in Malaysia since middle of June, and I've been SOOOO busy with work that I didn't really have the time to update the blog. How busy, you ask? Well, let's put it this way, the next day after I got back, I already had a gig lined up! That was how busy I was. I was virtually working non-stop since I got back here in KL.
I'm now back in NY, I just got in about 10 hours ago, and I haven't slept yet. So I guess this is a good time than never to update my blog. Anyway, this time I'll be here for the whole year before I come back to Malaysia for summer holidays again. So I won't be seeing all of you for the whole year *sob sob*.
Anyway, I'm just probably gonna write a little bit of what I've been doing the past 2.5 months here in Malaysia.
Gigs! Gigs! Gigs!
Yeah, that's what I've been doing the most, really! The following day after I got back to KL (18/6), I was playing for Junji's gig at Groove Junction (19/6), and the next day with UK jazz singer Peter Grant (20/6). They decided to rope me in for the rest of the show, so the following weekend after I got back I was playing at Alexis with Peter Grant, from Thursday through Saturday (24-26/6).
The first weekend of July I was at Ipoh for a video shoot for Tourism Malaysia (I still haven't got paid yet, those bastards!), and then the weekend with my band Boplicity at Bangkok Jazz (4-5/7). That was a real fun gig, as I haven't played with the band for so long, and I was itching to play!! The second night even had Malaysian drum legend Lewis Pragasam sitting in with us for a fast blistering bebop tune!
I totally forgot I got KT to register the both of us for the Siemens Run race! So with only 3 hours of sleep after the heart-burning Bangkok Jazz performance with my band, we both went for the Siemens Run (which was about 8.8km and not 10), and I clocked about 1:06, which I thought wasn't bad, even with no training. I managed to maintain a steady running pace all the way, and even sprinted to the end!
Oh yeah, right after the race, I also headed up to Penang (with Eddie and now-wife, Sharon) to do a workshop with the Areca cats. Talk about crazy... two nights of heavy gigs, race the next day, and then up to Penang for a jam session and workshop! The jam session was pretty nice, it was at G-Spot, at G Hotel, Gurney Drive. There was LOADS of people.. something we totally didn't expect of a jazz jam session! Good job Areca fellas. The sax workshop itself was small, but pretty cool, although I'm not sure if I confused anymore people or not! Ahah..
Got home to KL on Tuesday, and played on the weekend with Daniel Foong's band Giant Timeline at Groove Junction (10/7) and then Eric Li's Jazz Latino at Alexis Bistro (11-12/7).
JB Arts Festival, Mamak, and more Boplicity!
The following week was really crazy, as preparations for the David Gomes Sextet to play at the Johor Bahru Arts Festival (17/7) was on the way. At the same time, I was also busy trying to handle a multiple amount of things with the "Let's Go Mamak!" show, that was to be held at KLPac beginning of August. The JB Jazz Festival was a blast.. and was really tiring.. everyone played well and played hard! The band had David Gomes on piano and vocals, me (alto sax), Eddie (trumpet), Vincent (double bass), Martin (drums), and Benjamin on tenor sax.
We rushed back the following day for a Boplicity club date at Alexis Bistro (18-19/7). It went well, too, although everyone was almost burned out, so although we still gave our all, our energy level just wasn't enough to make it really powerful.
Mamak and Sheila Majid, and a Sedaya workshop.
The following week, preparations for the Mamak show was definitely on its more final and complex stages. It wasn't as organized than I would've liked it to be, so it led to a lot of complicated scheduling. At the same time, we had intense three-day rehearsals for the Sheila Majid concert in Kuantan on that weekend (26/7). Just before we left for Kuantan, I even managed to squeeze in a band workshop at Sedaya College with Chern Hwei. It was fun to see them kids playing and doing their thing with a little more enthusiasm than I remembered.
The Sheila concert itself was fun, although due to lack of promo from the promoters had less people in the audience than it should. But the band was tight, and we were just kickin' ass on stage! Woohoo.. I felt really lucky that at least I had once chance to perform with Sheila!
Also got to know a new friend, and amazing singer, Winnie from 2V1G.. a new group that just released an album. Check them out at 2v1G.
Let's Go Mamak!
This was the final week for preparations for the Mamak show at Pentas 2, KLPac. Everything was quite a mess, to be honest, and I still wasn't even sure if the show will turn out good, so I was worried as hell! But I had to make sure that it turned out as well as it could, despite the harrowing circumstances. But in the end, thanks to the amazing musicians that played for the show (and probably some divine intervention as well), the show turned out really well and everything somehow came together. Opening night had almost full occupancy, and the following two nights was totally full house (KLPac had to refuse a few people on the Sunday night show!). Thank God!
We had some pretty good reviews from people who came to the show, they all had a good time, and some were even emotionally touched by the message that the show intended to spread.
James Flynn @ Alexis
After the Mamak show, I managed to wind down a short bit, and squeezed in some hard practice days. The second weekend of August, I did a show with Aussie singer James Flynn with the Michael Veerapen Quartet at Alexis.
The week after the James Flynn show, I had my folks arranged a nice short holiday in Phuket. All I did was just chill out good.. get some sun, swim in the pool, and just simply relax! Too bad it was only for three nights (and it went by fast too!). More would've been nice. But it was a well-needed relaxing trip. My ideal vacation - beach, sun, relax.
David Gomes @ Bangkok Jazz
The night I got back from Phuket, I was at Bangkok Jazz playing my last gig (for a long time) with jazz pianist-vocalist great, David Gomes at Bangkok Jazz. Backing David was myself on sax, Daniel Foong on bass, and Jon Jacobs on drums. It was a kick-ass night, as well, and playing with David has always been a fun one, where you can really stretch out and he's always behind ya. Now that he'll be in Bangkok for the next four months, looks like KL will have to do without David for a little while, and it's their loss, for most part. That's less one Malaysian jazz great to listen too.
WV Trio @ No Black Tie
Another highlight of my summer break gigs, is playing with this awesome trio, consisting of Tay Cher Siang (piano), Adam Osmianski (drums) and Jon Cavendish (bass), or else known as the WV Trio (the three of them studied and played together in West Virginia University). They did a fair number of Brazilian music, with such kick-butt grooves, it was simply just intoxicating. They played a few interesting rearrangements, such as The Bad Plus' rearrangement of Tears For Fears' Everybody Wants To Rule The World. I played with them for the next two Tuesdays at No Black Tie and it was a real kick ass experience as well, having to sight read-and-transpose their music. Even so, it was one hell of a rhythm section!! The three of them lock so tight, it feels like like you're floating on air. Hope I'll get a chance to play with them again!
Good time with them juniors..
The second-last weekend of August saw me performing with my musical.. juniors.. at Bangkok Jazz, ie. Giant Timeline, led by Daniel Foong. The rest of the band were Cheah Wei Li (keys), Faz Aznam (guitars) and Steve Naris (drums). I actually got them to play Eric Marienthal's Easy Street, a tune I've been hearing for 10 years but never got a chance to play till now. And these guys did a good job, although the crowd for most part were a little less enthusiastic. But I had fun playing with them, and they're on the way to kick some major butt in the music scene.
Hmmm.. Bangkok.. now that was a good, albeit short trip. ;) Just found it interesting that something could develop under such circumstances, and I welcome it.
Final gig for the summer...
... was at Laundry Bar with Eddie's band Urban Tribes, for the Merdeka Eve party. Ina Fabergas sung with us, and we had THREE subs in the band, namely me on sax, Hiro on bass, and Arthur on drums. Eddie and Justin were the only original cats! The band was kickin', and the music was funkin' all night... but too bad the venue sucked, and so did the crowd. Stupid sound enginee..no, technician. But the band had fun playing!
Birthday cum farewell...
This time celebrations were small, just a nice dinner with my folks and relatives. My bro got me a new phone!! After that, I had a small farewell hang out with me music buddies in Bangsar (if you're a FB-er you could see some pics there). One thing I'll miss while being here is the closeness and camaraderie with your best mates who also happen to be your colleagues.
Last but not least..
I had a great summer.. wish it didn't end that quickly. But alas, time does fly when you have lots of fun. Back to the reality that is NYC! Gonna miss all of you cats and dear friends... so please, make sure you buzz me on MSN, Yahoo, and also Skype! At least got some online company, during the times when I get real bored here.
Till the next time.. more New York stories.
PS: Miss ya SCSY..
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I got it from my Mamak!
What traditionally started out as a simple road side stall has evolved into an important Malaysian social institution! Mamak stalls are a true multi-racial melting pot, a place where everybody meets for a snack or a drink with friends, business clients, breakfast or just watching football at night!
aims to serve you up a slice of that Malaysiana through music!
Monday, July 14, 2008
My sincerest apologies for not publicizing our gig at Bangkok Jazz recently, I've been swamped with work since I got back from New York... and yes, I'm back from New York for the summer holidays.
We did a kick-butt gig at Bangkok Jazz two weekends ago. Daniel Foong replaced Vincent for one set on Friday night, and kicked butt as well, he held his own real good. The second night was also a killer night, with Lewis Pragasam sitting in on one tune on the second set, as we did a Kenny Barron tune called Voyage. We did a couple of new tunes in addition to our existing hardbop repertoire, and we had a ball doing it too.
Anyway, here's a plug for our upcoming show:
BOPLICITY Live! @ Alexis Bistro and Wine Bar
Date: 18 and 19 July 2008 (Fri and Sat)
Time: 10.30pm onwards
Admission: Free (but call to reserve seats so you don't have to stand!)
Venue: Alexis Bistro and Wine Bar, Great Eastern Mall, Jalan Ampang KL
SUPPORT LIVE JAZZ!
Friday, June 27, 2008
LIVE @ ALEXIS BISTRO & WINE BAR
“Barely out of his teens, he has proven he can hold the stage at Ronnie Scott’s …" Clive Davis at Ronnie Scott’s
"... and whose stage act bears an uncanny resemblance to Harry Connick Jr’s.” The Sunday Times, UK.
Peter Grant, who was recently tipped by The Times UK as a star of 2008, is a young British talent whose vocal style has been compared with the likes of crooners among others, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett while his music has the energy and jazz feel of that of Jamie Cullum.
His first album New Vintage was released in April 2006 when he was just 18 years old and entered at No. 8 in the British Album Charts, largely thanks to his chat show appearances with Michael Parkinson, Davina McCall and GMTV, where he made his TV debut.
There are not many young lads like Peter Grant and his debut album is literally astounding. Peter has used that voice to give an ultra cool lounge makeover to songs like Barry White’s “My First, My Last, My Everything” and the Scott Walker’s “Joanna” with under-appreciated classics like “On Days Like These” from The Italian Job and “The Fool on the Hill” slipped in between.
“I love these songs,” says Peter, who also loves listening to singer songwriters to soul through to hip-hop and free jazz. “No one ever told me to listen to this kind of music. It’s just what I listened to. I also write my own songs. I don’t want to be a pop star, I want to be a singer of great songs.”
His second album Traditional was released on 17 September 2007. Promotion of his 2nd UK album saw Peter perform on GMTV, This Morning and The Alan Titchmarsh Show all on ITV1.
Following that release, Peter went on to sell out 5 performances at Ronnie Scott's in October and December 2007.
Book now to experience Peter Grant “Live in KL” exclusively at Alexis Bistro.
Cover charge Rm35. Dress code applies.
Thurs 19 & 26 June Showtime 9pm
Fri & Sat 20, 21, 27 & 28 June Showtime 10.30pm
For more information, please call 4260-2288
or email email@example.com
Alexis Bistro Ampang
Great Eastern Mall
303 Jalan Ampang
Friday, June 20, 2008
17 hours on da plane.
Watched 3 movies - Spiderwick, 10000 BC, Warlords, and loads of jazz music pipe-in. Naps.
Waited almost 4 hours for next flight.
Parents. Hugs hugs, kiss kiss.
Thosai with family and close buddy!!
Nice good shower!
No dry toilets.
Home Sweet Home!
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
Yeah, I'll be back in Malaysia for the 2 1/2 months summer holiday. And while I'm back I gotta play mah a$$ off in and around town. And hopefully, squeeze in a nice real vacation while I'm at it too.
Then you'd be thinking.. "..this kid ain't gone that long. So fast come back ah?". Ah well.. what to do? Things turned out that way.. so that's that... too lazy to explain. But of course, after I come back to the US after the summer hols, then I'll really be away for the whole year.. missing Chinese New Year and all.
Anyway, I won't miss the opportunity to play while I'm back home.. so I've posted a couple of gigs on my calendar on the sidebar. So do check it out. And hope to see you at some of the gigs, and don't forget to say hi.
Friday, June 06, 2008
Courtesy of Malaysia Today.
What awful truth it is.
The tragedy of Umno, it would seem, has been the lack of intellectuals from the beginning, observes our special correspondent. Umno has never been known to engage in the battle of the mind to solve political, social and economic problems. Umno’s solutions to national problems have always been perceived to be cosmetic.
When people in advanced countries talk about talent pools and think tanks, they refer to the collective brainpower of intellectuals with a great capacity to think rationally and analytically and find creative and imaginative solutions to problems. They demonstrate pure intellect at work, uncoloured by bias and prejudices.
If one places the so-called Umno talent pools and think tanks beside them, some may conclude that they are literally empty! It is almost three months since 8 March and Umno is clueless about what hit them. Their analysis is that Umno has not lost Malay support, that the Chinese deserted the MCA and Gerakan, and Indians withdrew their support for the MIC and PPP. They claim that Umno had no part in the loss of non-Malay support for BN. This is apparently the analysis of Umno’s clueless clods, “headless chicken running around” (to borrow Raja Petra’s description) who help the party to live in a state of denial.
The tragedy of Umno, it would seem, has been the lack of intellectuals from the beginning. Tunku could not seriously be considered one though he had other admirable qualities. He was a man of honesty and integrity and a true nationalist and patriot. Razak and Hussein Onn could be a bit so but they were caught up in the Umno web of racism and religious bigotry. Therefore, Umno has never been known to engage in the battle of the mind to solve political, social and economic problems. Umno’s solutions to national problems have always been perceived to be cosmetic.
If we examine past and present living Umno leaders it would reveal their apparent lack of intellect. Whatever IQ Dr M has, it would not permit what is perceived to be his warped mind to rise to be a true Malaysian and a genuine patriot. He had this fallacious belief that only elected people could speak on behalf of the rakyat and no one else. So he successfully destroyed every independent institution – the judiciary, the ACA, the Election Commission, the Registrar of Societies, the trade unions and so on.
His brain could never grasp the difference between party and government. The civil service, the police and other coercive apparatus of the state, RTM, the print media and government agencies became tools of the government. To him, the Constitution was a mere piece of paper to be shredded at his autocratic will. He armed himself with draconian laws like the ISA,the OSA, the UUCA, the Printing Presses and Publications Act and a whole host of repressive laws, not subject to judicial review.
The 1983 Constitutional amendments took away the powers of the Agong and his brother rulers. The 1988 Constitutional amendment successfully destroyed the secular democratic nature of the 1957 Constitution.
Under him corruption galloped while nepotism, cronyism, and bootlickers galore flourished. He was the monarch of all he surveyed and few dared to question his autocratic rule and consequent abuse of power. A grateful nation, however, bestowed a Tunship on him for his meritorious service!
His vindictive and revengeful nature has come into full play. He wants to get Abdullah to step down from the helm of Umno, a party, which despite his mixed origin, gave him and his children power, wealth and popularity. He laid the foundation for the tsunami. I have no doubt that had he been PM on 8 March, he would have lost the Federal Government to the Pakatan Rakyat.
A brief resume of some of the current Umno cabinet members will bring into question their quality:
Abdullah Badawi – made so many glorious promises but his performance has been dismal. Only someone with precious little intelligence will screw up the huge mandate the rakyat gave him at the 2004 polls. His choice of cabinet ministers shows lack of IQ and wisdom.
Najib – contributed substantially to the tsunami. He often speaks with a forked tongue and his racist and bigoted talk about Ketuanan Melayu no longer sells. Do not link him to any Mongolian woman lest you should face sedition charges. When will Umno accept the fact that he is a liability?
Keris-kisser Hishammuddin - did not possess the IQ to know how badly his keris-kissing and threatening words would affect the non-Malays and non-Malays. Another clear liability.
Nazri – the Minister of Law in the last government, is a disgrace. He did not know that there was no Witness Protection Act! Only a fool like him would say that the separation of powers among the judiciary, legislature and executive is a luxury that Malaysia cannot afford. When the Bar Council talked about the crisis in the judiciary, his response, “What crisis?” When the PM appointed the Royal Commission to investigate the Lingam Video Clip, it was a slap on his face. His statement that Singapore is not a country was laughable. A non-country got the island, we got the rocks, eh!
Tengku Adnan – implicated seriously in the Lingam scandal, is in the Cabinet. The Royal Commission did not buy his stupid answers because they were obviously convinced he was lying. He does not have the IQ or decency to quit the Cabinet until he is cleared.
Tan Sri Muhammad – perceived by some as allegedly corrupt, immoral and a currency smuggler brought into the Cabinet through the back-door. Abdullah Badawi’s choice of him is mind-boggling.
Rais Yatim – his PhD thesis was a severe attack on the ISA; but when he was recycled into the Cabinet by Dr M, he supported the ISA fully. He claimed that his thesis was merely an academic exercise. So much for the man’s principles, honesty and integrity.
Azalina – despite the mess she made of Brickendonbury and CYC, was appointed into the Cabinet.
In other countries people recycle garbage, but in Malaysia, Umno recycles political garbage – people seen as discredited, discarded and disgraced politicians. Like Dr M, Abdullah Badawi knows full well such recycled politicians will forever be grateful boot-lickers. People like Tan Sri Muhammad and Rais Yatim are two classic examples.
Outside the Cabinet, there are outstanding examples whose lack of brainpower contributed to the tsunami.
Khairy – proves quite often that he is an `ox’-head graduate. His influence-peddling severely damaged the BN and his father-in-law. His political stupidity exposed the BN to insult and ridicule in Parliament. It is widely believed that he provided the Minister with the supplementary questions which further revealed his lack of political maturity.
Bung Mokhtar – Despite the appeal from the women’s groups not to select sexist MPs to be candidates for the election, Abdullah Badawi chose him. He comes across as someone surely bocor in the head.
Tengku Razaleigh – a discarded politician is trying to resurrect himself and is now co-operating with his once arch enemy. Remember, Dr M and Rahmat effectively used RTM to destroy his credibility by flashing every few seconds an image of him wearing a Kadazan head gear with a supposedly Christian cross and dancing with Kadazan girls? Dr M had donned the same head gear earlier and danced gleefully with Kadazan damsels! How could Razaleigh now work with him?!
Toyo – questions regarding his alleged corruption and abuse of power are legendary. How much IQ and judgement must he possess to announce that he will ensure ‘zero’ opposition in Selangor. Now a hero has become zero!
Mukhriz – ably supporting his father to undermind Abdullah Badawi. He aspires to be PM one day. Any takers for another 22 years of Mahathirism?
Rahim Tamby Chik – infamous for his alleged statutory rape. Now he is offering himself as a Umno Vice-Presidential candidate. Given his wealth, influence and the fact that Umno politics is essentially money politics, there is a possibility of his becoming PM.
Ali Rustam – his stupidity in saying that Umno does not need the support of the non-Malays to govern the country contributed to the tsunami.
- Ghani - superior leader of a “superior race”, has ruined the Johor environment and turned a motorway into a waterway. Now, he has orchestrated his Umnoputra cronies to say that it was a mistake to have given citizenship to the Chinese and Indians.
Today and tomorrow (Friday), Umno Supreme Council members are on a retreat – what an apt labelling of their meeting. Umno is so badly damaged it is reeling and retreating. It is almost three months since 8 March and Umno is clueless about what hit them. Thus far, because their analysis is so horribly wrong, their solution is marshalling Malay support and frightening Malays into believing that non-Malays are taking over Tanah Melayu and that the Malays have lost political power – a downright lie as there are more Malays in this Parliament than the last one! There is no end to Umno talk about Malay polity and Ketuanan Melayu. Umno claims that non-Malays are questioning Malay rights and privileges and also insulting race, religion and the Malay rulers. The mini brains of the Umno leadership can only think of these as solutions to their declining political power!
An ex-Umno Minister of Education, an ex-Vice-Chancellor of USM, was a racist and implemented fully Islamo-fascist policies. Out of about 24 schools during his tenure, there was not a single non-Malay as Dean or Deputy Dean. A severe brain drain ensued and it was rumoured that promotion of his cronies was done on the golf course! Though USM stands at well past the 300 mark in world university rankings, he praised himself for taking the university to great heights. He further said that he earned praise and congratulations worldwide in making USM a centre for R&D. Yet the same USM did not want to participate in the Hamburg Exhibition at which the world’s best universities were represented. USM’s sideboards are filled with medals and trophies from Geneva! Yet, he said (in self-praise), “But I cannot find my failure here. It would be interesting if anybody can give me one and why it is the greatest failure for me.” This about sums up Umno’s blindness to reality. The retreat will at best be a sandiwara, at worst a goon show!
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Yeah.. can't believe how time really flies (oh the cliche!)!! Anyway, just wanted to write a little bit about New York and share some photos I took fairly recently.
I've been here for about just over 4 months now.. not that long a time to get really acquainted to life in NYC. My experiences here have been brief, and I know that there'll be more interesting things in the future. After all, I will be here for the whole year once I return from the summer holidays. Oh if you didn't know already, I'll be back in Malaysia for the summer holidays, from mid-June to the first week of September. I've already got some gigs lined up back home.. so I can't wait to be playing with me mates again!
Anyway, just a little sum-up of likes and dislikes of the different facets of NYC. Of course, the list would be rather flexible.. it's probably how I'm feeling about it at the moment. Things change, right?
Here's the short list (in no particular order):
- *Update* Ah-hem.. my good buddy and fellow cheebye Malaysian mate, Chern Hwei (happy now, b*tch?) of which he helped me a lot when I got here!
- MUSIC!!! Great music scene, especially the jazz scene. Always something happening every single day.
- Nice weather during the spring.. cool, sunny, etc. My mom would like it.
- Nice food (when there are some)
- Great running spots. It's so convenient to run anywhere here!
- Friendly people... for most part.
- Netflix... although I wish I had more time to watch them DVDs
- Fast internet connection (DIE, STREAMYX, DIE!!)
- Beautiful scenery, in the city, out of the city.
- My collegemates
- Friendly musicians that I get to meet.
- Subway system. Very convenient to get around, for most time (when there is no construction happening, that is). And it's 24 hours.
- Free food everytime some events happen in the music building, like some major concerts, etc.
- fellow Malaysian buddies that are here.. not a lot but still are.
- expensive. Everything.
- 7 train
- dirty americans. They just throw stuff around on the street with no civil regard. Expects trash workers to collect it, which they will.
- dumb americans... you can see a lot of it every day. And too many things to rant here! LOL!
- "Bathroom/Washroom for clients/customers only". Which means, if you are out on the street and you gotta piss/shit real bad, you can't go in to any store with a toilet unless you buy something.
- Wastage. Americans love to waste stuff.. because of their health regulations. It's also odd that these are the very same people who will churn out "Save the environment" campaigns. From food to plastic bags.
- Sink and tap designs. Whoever designed them should be shot.
- Subway system, when something is under construction. Service gets interrupted.. BAD!
- "CB" staying next to me.
There are more stuff on both ends. But this is what I'll write about for the meantime. Meanwhile, here are some pics I've taken with my trusty ol' Sony Ericsson K610i.
From top to bottom:
1) Artwork @ Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). Andy Warhol
2) Some cool heritage houses at New Paltz, NY
3) Signs of springtime. Taken at 34th Ave, Jackson Heights, just a few blocks from my house.
4) My crib in NY
5) The legendary Jimmy Heath and his big band, The Queens Jazz Orchestra at Flushing Town Hall. It was the inauguration of that big band.
6) Chelsea Market - interesting little place.
7) Bleecker St., West Village
8) More Bleecker St.
9) The infamous John's Pizzeria on Bleecker St.
10) Bleecker St.. photo taken at 8pm!
For more photos, check out my Flickr side (click the Flickr link on the sidebar).
Till then.. have fun!
Monday, May 19, 2008
Anyway, I'm currently working on a big band arrangement of On Green Dolphin St. Of course, it's an academic chart, not a real working big band chart. Even so, I am finding great difficulty in finishing it. I don't know why, I seem to have great trouble finding ideas and putting it down on paper. I suppose I also don't have that much exposure to big band music, and I have not really dealt much with big band arrangements and all. Anyway, I'll let you know how it goes.. this week is the last week to finish it, and have it played this Thursday. Wish me luck...
On a brighter note..
Last weekend was literally legendary for me... and I'm not quoting Neil Patrick Harris' character on "How I Met Your Mother" TV show.
I'll let these two things sum it up:
Last Friday was the inaugural concert of the Queens Jazz Orchestra (QJO) at Flushing Town Hall. The QJO was led by the legendary Mr. Jimmy Heath. Mr. Heath was even commissioned to write a new piece for the Orchestra, which they played, among other tunes, ranging from his own compositions and arrangements as well as some other older big band tunes ala Basie, etc. Among the members of the orchestra included both my school professors Mike Mossman and Antonio Hart, of which they played killer solos, too!
If anything that can be said about the show.. is that the band oozed out jazz tradition down to its very core!! The audience was virtually transported back to the glory days of the jazz big band.. from Basie to Ellington and more... and with Mr. Heath at the helm, there's no doubt that the sound from the band comes directly from the source!! Truly inspiring.
Not only that, the great Roy Haynes was also present at the show. If you didn't know about Roy Haynes.. think Charlie Parker and John Coltrane.. because he played and recorded with them.. a walking legend in his own right!
After the concert, we went to look for our professors, spoke to them a bit, and we got to take pictures we both Mr. Heath and Mr. Haynes!!! Antonio introduced us (the QC students) to the both of them..and as he told Mr. Haynes what instruments we played, he said (referring to the alto sax players in the group), "Alto sax players, huh?? These cats know I played with (Charlie Parker) Bird???". Oh man....what a night! Mr. Heath also spoke to us, and gave us some great inspiring advice... man... truly privileged are we! As my good buddy Eugene told me, "Looks like you made the right choice going to QC". Damn right I did.. and this is definitely a blessing from above!
Anyway, I'll try to post some stuff once I get some time to do so. I'm waiting for the professional photo pictures of the QC jazz Masters students with the real MASTERS of Jazz!! I'll post it up here once I get them!
Monday, May 12, 2008
Friday, May 09, 2008
Did I tell you how much I miss playing?
Anyway, got some inspiration and affirmation today about myself, musically, when my head prof gave me a little thumbs up, on it. Needless to say, being in NYC, with the immense amount of fantastic players here, notwithstanding rhetorics, there were days that I really feel I suck real bad.. like I don't know if I'll ever be that good. So that affirmation at least still tells me, I may still have something inside of me... just need to hang in there, as a lot of people back home have told me. Not a pat on my own back, I just hope I still have some in me! Ahaha..
But I'm quite thankful, that I got to come here to QC, my mates have been nothing short of encouraging, a lot of healthy competition. I mean, our jazz program is really small, but most of the cats in the program don't have airs around them. If it's big, I don't think we can get that kind of camaraderie between us. Actually, I took some of them out for Malaysian food at Flushing after ensemble class.. I think they loved it... which is cool! Even my piano workshop professor, David Berkman joined us for dinner, and he's definitely a super-cool cat to hang out with! Will go and see him play with Marty Ehrlich this weekend.. Marty is a crazy cat. I'm waiting for a chance to see him and his band play. I haven't got much of his stuff, yet, but I've heard some, and it'll be interesting music too.. not your typical jazz kinda cat.
Okay.. enough wasting time on blogging.. gonna try to do and finish my arranging homework as much as I can!
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
It's probably one of the well made Marvel Comics movie adaptation so far. I wished they did Ghost Rider similar justice, as well.
Robert Downey Jr, man.. that guy is awesome. Definitely adding him as one of my more favorite actors.. even for a comic adaptation. He really played Tony Stark to the core! But what is good is that the directors and screenwriters stuck as much as possible to the original Iron Man backstories, as in the origins, etc.. well for most part anyway.
And the armor.. OH MAN! The people in the visual effects department really did good on this one. I mean, the armor depictions in the comics is pretty nasty already, but to see them really identify it in the big screen?? Wow! Amazing, man! This is definitely one comic book movie you don't want to miss.
It's the summer season... and more comic book adaptations are coming out.. The Dark Knight, Hellboy, Watchmen, The Incredible Hulk.. watch out kids!!
Gonna watch Iron Man again, when I get home to Malaysia!!!
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I'm right now in a hallway in the infamous Berklee College of Music, typing this post on a public computer.
Me and Chern Hwei came over to Boston on Thursday, and we're bunking at one of Chern Hwei's string quartet members' place. It's almost the end of spring break for me, so I decided to tag along with CH to come over here to just chill out for a couple of days. CH's got some stuff happening with his string quartet, so while he's doing that, I'm here in the college practicing a little bit in one of the unlocked practice rooms.
Boston is a pretty interesting place. My first impression is that it is less crammed unlike New York. There's just more 'space' everywhere, and buildings are spaced out much more. It's like half a city and half a town. Not as intense like NY. It also gave me an impression that this town is more, 'classy' than NY, where the surroundings are much more pleasant, and well taken care of. Oh yeah, the running community here is large, very obvious. You can't miss the sight of runners everywhere, and every five minutes you'd see one or several passing by. Boston is so beautiful and well-structured that it's no wonder that Boston Marathon is such a successful, popular race. I'm gonna try to see if I can at least do one run tomorrow morning with a friend, a Singaporean drummer who's studying in Berklee.
Berklee itself is an interesting place. There are just SO MANY students here. It's interesting to just walk around the place checking out cats practicing in their practice rooms or playing in an ensemble room. There's always something happening here, or someone practicing/playing, even on weekends. I took the opportunity to just use one of their unlocked practice rooms to work on my horn a little bit.
Anyway, I'll be posting some pics soon, so stay tuned.
Will write more when I can. Till then, see you later.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Tonight was a night full of great music for me and Chern Hwei.
First stop was The Stone, in the Lower East Side. Chris Speed's band was playing, backed by Cuong Vu (trumpet), an accordionist, bassist and drummer (Jim Black, I think). Quite crazy music, but smoother... very interesting compositions and arrangements, experimental, you might say! But very interesting experience... different musical flavor than the usual straight-ahead jazz stuff. It was also very powerful, and in-your-face, but with lots of subtlety, and collective improvisation.
Second stop was the Iridium, to catch the Headhunters (minus Herbie of course) and Kenny Garrett. The band was Kenny (sax), Mike Clark and Lenny White on drums, Bill Summers on percussions, Geri Allen on keys/rhodes, and Richie Goods on electric bass. It was funk-jazz all the way... old school, but powerful nonetheless! And Kenny.. oh my god.. what can I say?? He "kills" all the time! LOL! But it was also interesting to watch Geri Allen, the only female musician in the group, play! I have heard (or read, rather) a lot about her. She's also the other half for the amazing Wallace Roney, the trumpeter (a killer player in his own right!).
After the end of the set, we managed to talk to Kenny a little bit (and spoke some Mandarin to him as well... he's learning Mandarin, too!), and also took some pictures. He is one seriously cool cat! That's like three dreams fulfilled for me... meeting Kenny was one of them!
Anyway, here are some pics for ya!
For more pics, go to my Flickr side, and click on "Snapshots of New York".
Saturday, April 19, 2008
"Jackie Chan is all over the news. And not in a good way. It seems the martial-arts master went to a rock show in Hong Kong recently and stormed the stage in a drunken stupor, demanding that some singer named Jonathan Lee duet with him right there on the spot. According to reports (because I don't personally make it a habit to attend concerts in Hong Kong), Chan then bragged about being wasted, attempted to conduct the band, and kept making the musicians start over again for no apparent reason. Oh, and then he began insulting the folks in the audience, who by this point were heckling Chan for his behavior.
I have a few points to make about this, to a few different parties. We'll start with the audience. What's wrong with you people?!? An international film star bum-rushes the stage, and you boo him? This man is an entertainer, and you cannot possibly tell me that this whole scene was not entertaining. And it's not like he was busting up a Beatles reunion or something — this is some dude named Jonathan Lee! Now, I'm not trying to dis and dismiss the Taiwanese singer-songwriter, but...well, he's a Taiwanese singer-songwriter, for crissakes! (By the way, he could be an American singer-songwriter, French singer-songwriter, hell, even a Cambodian singer-songwriter, and I'd say the same thing. The term ''singer-songwriter'' just generally makes my skin crawl.) And another question for the audience: What the hell did you expect? Have you never heard of the Drunken Master film franchise, in which Chan played a dude who achieved awesome powers after getting completely drunky-skunky? Granted, his powers at the concert could be deemed slightly less awesome, but still, the pattern is clear: The guy can drink. And you better not mess with him when he does.
And now a message to my fellow members of the press who have been piling on poor Jackie for this lack of discretion: Please, keep it up. Seriously, this whole encounter may be a bit unseemly, but it is far less embarrassing than some of his more recent movies, like The Medallion The Tuxedo. Anything to distract us from those debacles can only be a positive, at least until Police Story 18 comes out.
And now a word to Jackie Chan: I don't really have anything to say to you about this whole episode, but while I have your attention, could you please stop making those crappy Diet Pepsi ads with Jay ''Remember When I Used to Star in Movies With Tom Cruise'' Mohr? They're depressing and they make me want to get drunk and storm stages, telling thousands of people to shove it or they'll be on the receiving end of a death claw to the throat. In any event, I loved you in Rumble in the Bronx (even if the Bronx did sure look a hell of a lot like Vancouver) and hate to see you reduced to shilling for a lame diet beverage with the former host of Last Comic Standing. Let's talk about a new career plan. Over drinks, which seems to be your preferred method of operation."
I don't what you guys think, but as far as I know, this is a classic example of the ignoramuses that the U-S of A produce on a daily basis. Here's my reply to Dalton's article:
Dear Mr. Ross,
.. first thing's first.. in this part of the globe, Jonathan Lee is as BIG as the Beatles, in many different respects. He wrote so many beautiful, meaningful songs, that launched many star careers in South East Asia. I don't see you doing, that? He's made a lot of money, and also gained great recognition. What about you? If you ask some the successful artistes that came out of the South East Asian region such as Taiwan, Malaysia, and even China, they'll tell you how respected the man is.
Secondly, you said you're not trying diss and dismiss Jonathan Lee... but by saying all of that shit, you already did. So spare us your contradictory b/s of (not) saying what you mean. Oh yeah, it also shows how much you know about Mr. International Film Star.
And from the audiences' point of view, it's definitely not entertaining. The flow of the concert was disrupted to the point beyond reproach. If you care to spend a few hundred bucks on a Beatles reunion concert, and have some asshole actor/singer coming on stage drunk and spoiling the concert, then you tell me otherwise.
On a similar note, my friends, the Mac Chew band, just finished a full-house Jonathan Lee concert at Nanjing. I can't be there to play the show this time around, as I'm here in NYC. But I guess, my heart was there with them. Definitely miss playing in that band, and with 大哥. Been listening to his music and the concert recordings as well, and I'm filled with great memories of the last two years playing in that group.
Hope to get to play with them again, soon!
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I just got off iChat with my good buddy and trumpeter Eddie, who at time of writing is in Nanjing with my other comrades from the Jonathan Lee concert. And the stadium he was playing at had wi-fi, so he got us hooked up on iChat, and I managed to watch their rehearsal and say hi to everyone there!
My mentor and good friend Thomas was playing the sax/flute part this time around.. definitely one of the best, soulful saxophonist in KL!!
Man, I really miss those cats there.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Arturo O'Farrill Big Band @ Symphony Space - March 27
Arturo O'Farrill, pianist, and son of the late latin jazz legend Chico O'Farrill, has been making a big name for himself in NYC. One of his projects is the Big Band, where he performs compositions and arrangements of latin jazz nature. My professor and head of QC Jazz program, Michael Mossman, is also one of the main members (and lead trumpeter) for that group.
Their show at Symphony Space was an interesting showcase, as their premiered or featured works of contemporary arrangers/composers, from Paul Shapiro, Michael Webster, Fernando Otero, and more, all arranged in a latin jazz vein but with more edge! Latin jazz of the future, if you will!
One of the more outstanding soloist featured in the show was Badal Roy.. master Indian percussionist, who played tabla that night. Man... that was crazy.... no wonder all the Western percussionists/drummers are digging that stuff from the East.
James Moody Benefit - March 31
Just an update from the last post... this was the gig that Jeremy Monteiro was in town for. And thanks to him, I got to see this show (without causing a black hole in my wallet!) and see some legends play! By the way, this was a benefit concert organized by Mr. James Moody to raise scholarship funds for students in Purchase College SUNY. Every year he will award one of these to one student who qualifies, and of course, the beneficiary is subject to certain terms and conditions (very interesting, that one!).
Some of the cats performing in that gig were real big-wigs, and some of them legends - James Moody, Jon Hendricks (Junji.. you'd freak out!), Jon Faddis, Roy Hargrove, Renee Rosnes, Bill Charlap, Jeremy Monteiro, Todd Coolman, Howard Alden, John Lee, Russell Malone, Antonio Hart, and Paquito D'Rivera, and of course last year's and this year's award recipients. I don't know about those kids, I'd be freaked out playing with them on the same stage!
It was quite a crazy night. Although it was more like a big, happening jam session than an actual artiste showcase, it was still a very enlightening one, especially seeing some of the older cats who are legends in the jazz world, play. Even my professor, Antonio Hart, proceeded to slip in a lesson while he was at it (LOL!).
After the show, we even headed down to Village Vanguard to check out the Vanguard Big Band. By that time, I think my head was already at the brink of exploding from all that good music! LOL! Can one ever have too much?
PS: Thanks again Jeremy!
Jimmy Heath Big Band - April 3rd
Another living legend of the saxophone, Mr. Jimmy Heath, performed with his big band at the Iridium last weekend. Among the line-up included both my professors, Antonio Hart and Michael Mossman. I went down there with a couple of my course buddies (some killer sax players and brass players, too!), and checked out the late set. Another inspiring experience, to see another legend play as well. I think he's in his early to mid 80s (?), but still playing like a young man but with a load of experience and music behind every single note. Of course, with his notorious big band arrangements, it amplified the experience even more!
Rozemaryz Babiez @ Studio A.I.R - April 5th.
My first new band in NYC.. it's a trio consisting of myself on sax, Fung Chern Hwei on violin, and Brian Lindgren on laptop/samples/electronics. Mainly CH's idea, he wanted to put up a group that collaborates live instruments with electronica. This was our first gig as this new band, at a nice little loft cum performance space in Brooklyn, called Studio A.I.R. We did a 15-minute piece we composed (or rather.. cook up) as a group, called "The Butcher". It was a more sound piece than a harmonically composed piece, where we play with different sound effects based on a certain storyline or movement.
We're on MySpace, so check it out. More stuff will be posted soon, I reckon.
Check out an interview I did for Vision KL via e-mail, about the jazz scene in KL. Click here to read it.
..that's it for now!
Monday, March 31, 2008
Singaporean Jazz pianist/composer/educator Jeremy Monteiro and Tama Goh (another drum luminary from Singapore) is down in NYC for a week. JM is to be playing (at time of writing) at the James Moody Scholarship Benefit concert at BB King's on Monday, March 31st. I was hanging out with the both of them the last couple of days.
When they arrived on Wednesday, I met up with them to watch the Endangered Species Big Band, playing the music of Wayne Shorter, at the Iridium. Was nice to see some familiar faces from home region!
Met up with them again on Saturday, with a friend of theirs (who's staying in NY), and we drove upstate to New Paltz, NY, to look around the countryside and meet up with one of NY's finest bass player, Jay Anderson, for lunch. Jeremy have been good friends with Jay for a long while, and the latter last went to Singapore to play the Jimmy Cobb concert at the Esplanade with the former (a show I regretfully missed).
Later that night, we went to check out Joe Locke's band playing Henry Mancini's music, at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola the Jazz @ Lincoln Center. Joe (vibes) was backed by Geoff Keezer (piano), George Mraz (bass), Clarence Penn (drums), and had guest vocalist Kenny Washington (who incidentally are good friends with Jeremy and Tama, they go back over 10 years!). The arrangements of the Mancini tunes (including the well-known Pink Panther theme) were contemporary, and with flawless execution by these powerhouse musicians, it was a real music treat (to say the least!).
Today, I met up with Jeremy and Tama again, and we had a Malaysian lunch at the infamous Penang Restaurant (there are several branches here in NYC), nearby their hotel. After that we went to a rehearsal studio and jammed some tunes for two hours, just the three of us! Man, it was real satisfying, as I haven't played anywhere near that intensity for a few months now, since I got here.
We headed to Jazz @ Lincoln Center after that, as we intended to meet up with trumpeter Marcus Printup (also a powerhouse trumpeter, and longtime LCJO band member). They were rehearsing for an upcoming show at J@LC, and Mr. Wynton Marsalis was conducting the rehearsal. Marcus brought us in, and we stayed and watched the rehearsal until they finished. Wynton then came over to talk to us, and we said HI, and when I told him who I was and when we met a few years back in KL, he immediately remembered! He actually remembered who I was, even after over five years. Man.. that was something! It was really nice to see Wynton after so long, and he was still as warm as we remembered, and he has a great memory too!
We met up again with the friend that took us upstate, and we went to New Jersey for dinner... my first time in New Jersey, too.
Thanks Jeremy and Tama for the great hang!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Friday - The Malaysian and Singaporean Tourist
But before that, just a little tourist-y update. PW and I went on Friday to Times Square, and I, not realizing that it was also Good Friday, had to deal with the humongous tourist crowd that gathered in the Big Apple. And when I mean crowded... it was REALLY crowded! If you put a crowd like that in KL, we might assume it's a demonstration! Anyway, we went to Rockefeller Center for breakfast and she bought us combo tickets to go to "The Top of the Rock" (ie. top of the Rockefeller Center), and the Museum of Modern Arts (MoMA).
The "Top" is probably an equivalent of our KL Tower or the top of our Twin Towers. We could see Manhattan, and even Brooklyn and Queens to distance, rooftop view. It was remarkable, to say the least. One of the more interesting aspects of the tour up there, besides the strict security checks, were the small little things:
1) the down-to-the-minute well-planned organization of the queues. The crowd is separated to three rows. And for the duration of the queue, there's big video presentation of the Rockefeller Center, and at the end of each presentation, it tells you which row is to go up next!
2) The moment the elevator door closes when you enter it, another video presentation lights up on the ceiling of the elevator. And the timing is so precise that the presentation ends when you arrive at the destination floor.
3) Strategic placements of certain technical artworks at certain places in various parts of the rooftop.
The rooftop itself has three levels for scenic view, each upper level with floorspace smaller than one below. The first two has glass panels placed all over the edges of the rooftop so that pictures can be taken without any obstruction (if you don't consider the tourists tho!). The topmost level has a slightly higher wall, but no glass panels, so you could see the view of the city the clearest here. But there's one thing you have to try to resist, the cold, strong wind blowing at you. Wind speed was really strong that even I could feel the strong push when it blows.. the kind that wrecks umbrellas like breaking toothpicks.
Dumb thing was I forgot to bring my camera (or so I thought.. I realized later it was in my bag all along! ARGH!), so I took pics with PW's camera. So I might have to wait awhile before I can get them.
After the Rock, I took the opportunity to get some stuff from the music store, and also get my horn adjusted slightly. PW also bought tickets to the musical Legally Blonde, at the Broadway Palace Theatre. After that, we had lunch, and we headed to MoMA.
MoMA was interesting, as it had a lot of different artworks from different periods and styles, from the more traditional works of Picasso, Van Gogh, to modern works of Dali, Warhol, and others. Artworks range from paintings, sculptures, architectural designs to trinkets of various sizes. I'm not so knowledgeable of visual arts, but it was certainly an interesting experience to have seen a whole bunch of different artworks! I have to say, I was intrigued with some and others I didn't really dig a whole lot.
Saturday - Legally Blonde the Musical (LBtM)
Spent most of the day working on my assignment, and only went out to meet both my cousin sisters at the Broadway Palace Theatre to watch LBtM. LBtM was really entertaining, but what was interesting to note was how well produced it was - from the sets to the dance choreography, the music (!), the actors of course (including the two very well-trained dogs!), and the change of scene choreography! The cast were all fantastic singers and dancers, and the overall sound was also very well done (the sound engineers here are amazing!), too.
If you've seen the movie, you probably know what it is about. But to see it done as a musical, was something else. The storyline was simple, at best, but it was extremely entertaining. Read the NYTimes review of the show here. For me, I just enjoyed the show was it was, and being my first musical in the musical capital of the world (at least to some), it was an experience just worth having.
Again, thanks PW for the tickets!
PS: Pics of artwork at MoMA coming soon!