Monday, January 31, 2005
Wed 26 Jan:
Woke up super early to go to KLIA, took a flight to Langkawi. I played a show with Ning Baizura, for an MAS function. It was a jazz kinda show.. or so I thought. The flight we took was full house... I realised that I was in the same plane with a bunch of team riders who were taking part in the Le Tour De Langkawi!! I was sitting next to the team manager for the Panaria riders. Cool... now I really feel like getting a bike.
Got to Langkawi, we checked into our hotel... the Four Seasons Hotel Resort! It's a 6-star resort hotel, and it was still unopened. They set it up just for us to stay, because of the MAS function. I was told, that the room that we stayed it, the Melaluca Suite was USD$410 a night! Whewww!!! Talk about burning a hole in your wallet! But the place was really nice! And the staff were really, really courteous and friendly! So... un-Malaysian... which in this case, it's great! They seem so happy to do their job.. amazing. The rooms were really beautiful, too, with two sliding glass doors on two sides... computer switch control consoles (for the lights, air-con, etc)... an open air shower/spa... separate toilet and bath (with both hand shower and overhead showers!).. and separate sink and dressing mirrors. The resort stretched pretty far, so we had to move around the areas on buggies.
We did our soundcheck/rehearsal at about 2.30pm in the afternoon, and my... it sure was hot and sunny. And it stayed that way until we finished at around 5 something. Then we went to Tanjung Rhu beach to eat lunch/tea. Went back to our rooms, slept until 9 something. We got ready to play, and we actually waited until 11.30pm to perform. Once we finished we went back to our rooms and just slept... the rooms were so niicceeee!!! Woke up next day and flew back home.
Thursday 27 Jan:
It was pretty busy, I went to teach, and then had a rehearsal with my band until 4am! Crazy.
Friday 28 Jan:
Another busy day, woke up around 11, and hurried to do a video shoot for a possible regular gig. Finished that, I went to teach a student from 2 to 3pm. Then I hurried to Alexis to do our soundcheck. And myself, AJ, and Justin were just hanging around KL, and killed time until our show at 10:30pm
Turnout for our show at Alexis was awesome! A lot of people... including our japanese fans/friends. Even some good friends of mine came for the show, Kay Ti, Bala, Yew Chen, and then some. We played tunes like Yellowjackets' Freedomland, New Rochelle, Kenny Garrett's Happy People, Song For DiFang, our re-arrangement Mercy Mercy Mercy, and a special one... Justin wrote a song called Consequently! Our first band original! The gig went really well.. not bad for a 4-month hiatus. We had a good time.
Went back home at almost 5 again... ughh.... can forget about running the next morning.
Saturday 29 Jan:
Lazed around all day... practiced a bit.. then went to Alexis.
The crowd this time around... LAGI more people, man! Wah liao! My parents also came this time around. And some other friends as well. This time, we had Noryn to sing a couple of songs like Isn't She Lovely, Don't You Worry About A Thing, This Masquerade (another re-arrangement we did), Jill Scott's It's Love, Alicia Keys' If I Ain't Got You, and she guest-sang on Happy People as well. That song, Happy People, seems much more interesting now with the vocals.. we did some interesting stuff like trade solos and things like that. This time, we did a long second set, and I almost didn't realise it until we actually re-counted the songs we did...10 songs!! My... it seemed so short! But I know I had fun... hahaha..
Went back late/early again.. almost 5am... too much mamak. Ugh.. definitely forget about running again.
Today 30 Jan:
Lazed around whole day again.. wanted to run in the evening, but it rained. Ended up napping. Sh!t.. any more of this, and I'm gonna grow fatter again.
Went to my good friend, Kay Ti's house for his surprise birthday party. He didn't expect that we were coming. Hence, a surprise. Got to meet up with our regular Kajang kaki's.. the KKFC!!! It was nice... talk kok and everything else! We don't get to do that much of that nowadays, now that everyone's busy working and stuff.
Will run tomorrow evening at Lake Gardens. I'm gonna start my training. February isn't that busy for me, except for CNY... so I'm gonna train long runs. Forget speed, I'm still too blardy heavy.
Friday, January 28, 2005
We're back in action!
The Happy People Quintet is back, after a 4-month hiatus, where our last big gig was the Sunrise Jazz Fest 2004. This time, we're performing at Alexis Bistro, Ampang on Friday and Saturday, 28 and 29 Jan.
Happy People Quintet
We'll be performing some really cool jazz tunes from contemporary composers such as Kenny Garrett, John Scofield, Bob Mintzer, as well as re-interpreted jazz standards. This time around, we have a "surprise" tune. If you wanna check it out, do come over this weekend!
The Quintet are:
Julian Chan - saxophones and flute
Eddie Wen - trumpet and flugelhorn
Justin Lim - piano/keyboards
Nazrin a.k.a "A.J" - electric bass
Charles Wong - drums
Joining us on Saturday night will be the lovely and sensuous Noryn Aziz on vocals.
Happy People Quintet Live! at Alexis Ampang
Venue: Alexis Bistro and Wine Bar, Great Eastern Mall, Jalan Ampang
Time and Date: Music starts 10:30pm, Friday and Saturday 28 and 29 Jan
Admission is free
For more info and bookings, please contact 03-4260 2288 or email: email@example.com
Hope to see you there!
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Friday and Saturday - 21 and 22 January:
Did the first night for the Farid Ali and Friends show at Alexis Ampang. We did a soundcheck in afternoon, and I hung around with Farid for a couple of hours. It's quite an experience hanging out with some of the senior musicians in town, and especially one who's amiable as Farid. As a young, supposedly up-and-coming musician, I definitely look forward to times like this, because these are the times you get a lot of knowledge and advice from them, on-stage AND off-stage.
The show on the first night was a hit! There was quite a lot of people at Alexis that night. The band setup was fairly small, almost acoustic: just Farid on guitar and gambus (middle eastern traditional lute), myself on saxes and flute, AJ on bass, and Md. Noor on various percussions (from tabla, cajon box, and more). We played a lot of Farid's songs from his new album, Turning Point, Gambus Goes Jazz. It isn't really out in the Malaysian music stores yet. He launched the album in Singapore late last year, and he'll be launching it officially this early March at Avanti's Restaurant, Sunway. If you get his album and take a listen, you can see that his songs are written with meaningful messages, and it was apparent in songs like We're All The Same, Love You More, Ayah dan Ibu (Father and Mother), and Peace and Friendship. Do get it when it comes out in March.
The second show was even better! There were more people that night! It was quite a blast. And the fact that the music was so nice made it quite a boost for me too. Eric Li joined us on piano, and Md. Noor played a bit of drums too, so the band sounded a little fuller than the first night. One thing's for sure, for a weekend of playing good music, it sure was tiring.
So, I missed the PACM Peer Program run the Sunday morning.. drats. I only got home by the time they started! AHahaha...
Sunday - 23 Jan
Woke up pretty late and tired still. But I was playing for Ning Baizura at Planet Hollywood that night. In fact, I was already not in the mood to play. So I sort of went in there with only 50% of energy, and I tried to max it 100% as well.
I went home straight into bed after the show.
Monday - 24 Jan
I spent the whole day transcribing some tunes for my band. We're backing Sean Ghazi and Izlyn Ramli for a show we're doing early next month. And we rehearsed a bit that night as well. Tired.
Still feel a little bummed out. Wanted to practice, but I was thinking: just take a break only la. Going out to run after this. Haven't ran since Friday.. drats.
I'm going to Langkawi tomorrow to do a function with Ning again. Probably some "jazz" stuff. Gonna just wing it.. was supposed to rehearse with them yesterday afternoon (at short notice, no doubt), but I couldn't make it.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Farid Ali and Friends feature Farid Ali (guitar and gambus), A.J (bass), Md. Noor (drums and percussion) and Julian Chan (saxes and flute).
Read about Farid Ali here.
Venue: Alexis Bistro, Great Eastern Mall, Jln. Ampang
Date and Time: 21 (Fri) and 22 (Sat) January 2005, music starts 10:30pm
For info and reservations, please contact 03-4260 2288 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Parking is available outside of the bistro from 9pm onwards, the Great Eastern Mall basement carpark closes at 12am)
Hope to see you there....
Monday, January 17, 2005
Live at Sugar Club every Tuesday from 18th January. 9:30pm - midnight
Given the current state of live music in Kuala Lumpur, we have a real reason to celebrate the start of the regular Tuesday night occurrence of some real kick-ass contemporary jazz. The band will feature Greg Lyons on saxes, Lewis Pragasam on drums and Andy Peterson on bass – all world-class performers that haven’t been willing to commit to any kind of regular gig in KL for years – plus young upstart Justin Lim on piano/keyboards.
They will be playing songs from Greg’s CD “Island to Island” and other new and old originals plus great songs from both the standard jazz and more contemporary songbooks. The main focus will be on developing a really solid group sound and working new material for the next recordings to the point where it is very fluent and natural.
There is also the strong likelihood that you will see the larger “Nonet” sometimes take the stage to develop material for the upcoming CD recording. On top of which there will be plenty of stellar musicians joining the group from time to time.
How long this lasts is mainly up to YOU! The only way that this can be made feasible/sustainable is if YOU support us so come down and be part of this rare opportunity for real jazz lovers to have a night out.
Sugar Club is the brand new club in the same premises as the old “Tin Mine”, to the left of the lower lobby of the Crown Plaza Mutiara (formerly Hilton) on Jalan Sultan Ismail. Tel 03-2143 0020
There will be no cover charge!
Support Live Jazz in KL!!
If you haven’t already, and wish to purchase a Greg Lyons – Island To Island CD, please contact Greg at email@example.com for your copy! Or get one at the show!!
Sunday, January 16, 2005
Later in the evening, I went to my runner friend, Ronnie See's wedding ceremony at Overseas Restaurant, Wisma PGRM, Cheras. The rest of the usual runners were there, from the Pacemaker teams to the Penguin teams, and even some of the cats from the triathlon scene like Eugene Chan, and his dad, Chan Chee Seng (a triathlete trainer.. marathon record of below 2:30.. and currently unbeatable). Quite a fun day.
As I'm typing this, I'm so knackered and flat out, I can't wait to go to bed.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
I'll be performing with Farid Ali, an awesome guitarist from Singapore but have been in Malaysia for quite some time, at Alexis Bistro, Ampang next week on the 21 and 22 of January 2005. It'll be a quartet gig, with Farid on guitar and gambus, Md. Noor on drums/percussion, David "Ah Wah" Yee on bass, and myself on saxophones and flute.
Just a little info on Farid:
Farid Ali is no doubt one of the finest jazz guitarist in the region. An 'old soul', at a tender age of 5, Farid was already singing Frank Sinatra's ‘Strangers in the night’ in a Singapore radio show. Whilst his peers grew up listening to Hendrix and Deep Purple, Farid was listening to the likes of Sinatra, Nat King Cole, the Carpenters, Perry Como etc. He first laid his fingers on a guitar at the age of eleven and began performing soon after in school talent contests and at small parties. Farid's parents had hoped that their youngest son with an inquisitive mind to be a lawyer. However, Farid's destiny changed at age 16, the moment he was introduced George Benson's "Weekend in LA" album. Shortly after, he began listening to Jose Feliciano, which led Farid to turn his attention on his guitar. Farid's greatest influences include Chet Atkins, Earl Klugh, Toninho Horta, Joe Pass, Pat Matheny and of course, Benson, amongst other guitar greats.
These days Farid listens to anybody and everybody especially to World music and music of his origin. The last few years saw Farid embark on playing the Lute or known famously “Gambus” in Malaysia. Farid is constantly doing research and developing a concept of the Jazz Gambus. In February 2004 Farid performed with Bobby McFerrin at the Singapore Esplanade, That performance had boosted his confidence with the instrument and had sparked his decision to record his very first solo CD featuring his Gambus.
Farid left for the US at the age of 19 to attend music academic training at the Guitar Institute of Technology, California. With a Diploma in Performance in hand, he made his way to and gained a music degree at the Berklee College of Music, Boston, USA. With his penchant for learning, Farid continued his ‘education’ during the next nine years, performing around Boston and in the music, arts and jazz festivals around the US. The catalyst to his career took place in 1988, when he won the best arranger award at the Curacao international song festival. Invitations to perform at festivals around Europe and the USA continued thereafter. Farid has added to his accolades a few prestigious awards, such as, the Distant Accord Award at the Wiltern Theater, Los Angeles, conferred by the World Festival Organization. In 1992, he was awarded the World Peace Movement Award in LA.
For the past decade and the half, Farid has performed and recorded with many known names in the business internationally and regionally. They are: Grammy award saxophonist Ernie Watts, Eric Marienthal, Bobby McFerrin, Steve Thornton, Lee Jeung Sik of Korea, guitarist Randy Branson, AsianSpirits, Face First, Elfa singers of Indonesia, Jeremy Monteiro…the list goes on. To date, Farid has performed in over forty international festivals world wide - The Boston Globe, Montreal Jazz Festival, Pori Jazz Festival, Curacao International Song Festival, Schveningen International Song Festival, Los Angeles Art Festival, Miami art festival, Tour of Canada jazz concerts. Farid's presence is beginning to be felt in regional and local festivals such as the Bangkok Jazz Festival, Jakarta Jazz Festival, Kuching Jazz Festival, Malaysia International Jazz Festival and countless other small festivals regionally and locally. Farid currently continues to receive invitations to perform in festivals regionally and internationally.
Hope to see y'all there!
Some other notes:
The deal for the regular gig at a club in town didn't work out. It was supposed to be a sax + DJ + percussion kind of gig. The owner of the club probably wasn't keen on the terms and conditions of which I will work in the place. Oh well, that's just too bad.
On the other hand, another deal has been underway as well. This one's a little more interesting, where I'll be playing with a (fantastic!) jazz pianist and vocalist in one of the big star hotels in town. Cross your fingers and pray that I can get this one, at least.
I just went to Putrajaya at the Botany Garden Park this morning with a friend to run. We went to reconnaisance the place as well as go for a run. But the place turns out way short of expectation (for me at least). I don't look forward to going there again in the near future. I haven't seen the other Parks yet, like the Taman Putra Perdana. That place seems pretty hilly, will check it out next time. At the end, I probably only ran for 10 minutes. It got pretty sunny and hot as well. I'll probably hit KLCC park to run later.
KLCC regulars.. see you later!
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Well, I decided to get it, because it was pretty much about time for me to. I've had my old alto horn (a Yanagisawa A-901) for about 4 years, since I came back from my accounting studies in Perth, Australia. I've used it to practice and work my way into the music scene, and it has served me well. But the A-901 was a low-end professional horn. It may have fulfilled my needs the past four years. But now, the need to get a better sound on the saxophone has surpassed what this horn could provide. For the sax-savvy, the A-901 was a "light" horn. The brass was well made, but made light, where it has more overtones, so it tends towards a bright sound. What I want is a warmer, darker tone.. edgy, but with a fat "bottom end". In other words, I need a "heavier" horn. After considering AND searching for a long time, I finally found this horn (by chance, actually). My usual sax supplier has had this horn for at least over a year or so now. And it only occured to me after my trip to Bangkok. So I decided to try it out, and I fell in love with it. And after thinking about it for almost a week, I decided to buy it... a real good investment!
My first gig with this horn, oddly enough, was that gig two days ago at Rossini's, Ritz Carlton.. where I also met our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi and Datin Seri Endon. What a way to anoint a new horn! EHehehhee... cool, eh?
And the second gig was yesterday night at Planet Hollywood, with Ning Baizura. The sound engineer was also quite surprised with the sound that I got out of that new horn. Very good investment indeed. Money well-spent!!
Selmer Super Action 80 Series II black lacquer - ain't she a beauty??
Why I chose black lacquer??? Well, that was the only horn the supplier had.. and I LOVE black lacquer. Sleek.. I love black. To quote USAHorn, ".. a real attention grabber. Blackbird singing in the dead of night... ".
Hmmm.. I'm like a kid with a new toy... and that I am!
Monday, January 10, 2005
I received this real life account from a friend relating his experience with his father. You know my stand on this issue but now you decide whether it applies to you or something that you can take to convince your family and friends who are in this category to stop for the sake of their loved ones. This is unlike those ridiculous "Tak Nak" ads you see. This is stripped of all marketing gimmicks. This happened to a real person. I've masked the name for reasons of anonymity.
"Today I would like to share the story of a smoker in his last days before he died. He was my dad. He died on 21 December 1999. Can't even make it to Y2K. He was 69. I can't really remember when his health took a turn for the worse. I only remember that's when I quit smoking for two years after seeing that. He had been smoking all his life as far as I can remember. It started with breathlessness. I noticed he had difficulty breathing and it went on for quite a long time without much alarm. He would pant whenever we or the neighbours are cooking, especially stinging smell like deep frying or sambal belachan. As it went on, he became weaker and weaker. He would sit or hunch as he work to get enough air in his lungs. In other words, he had to struggle to breathe! And I could see how tired he got. Then late one night, it got so bad that he turned pale and was struggling very hard to breathe. My brother called the ambulance and guess what.......... it crashed into a poth hole and punctured a tyre before it arrived! So they had to call for back up. Another ambulance arrived like 40 minutes later. Mum called me in Serendah where I was living then. Said dad's in the hospital. I visited him in the morning and he looked much better then, I was told. My friend came later in the evening. Then I noticed there was a small hose sticking out his hospital pyjamas.
My brother briefed me about what happened. Dad's lungs collapsed. Meaning? There were holes in his lungs. Punctured! Don't worry. This only happens to smokers mostly. So when he inhales, air escapes into the ribcage outside the lungs and trapped there. It doesn't come out when he exhales! The more he inhale, the bigger the bubble gets and pushes against the lungs so they can't expand and take in anymore air! He was drowning! It must have been a harrowing experience for dad. They took an x-ray of his lungs and then cut a small hole on his chest and inserted a tube for the air to escape. I don't know what they did to seal the holes but he was ok and discharged a few days later and lived for another few years(only two years I think) before the second big attack. He stoped smoking since the first attack but I guess it was too late. He used some kind of breathalizer spray all the time then.
The Second Attack: This time it came without warning or should I say we failed to see it coming! I was told that his eyes was red like "Nosferatus" the day before it came. It was late at night and everyone was asleep. Dad was sitting alone in the living. Then my sis heard him called out loud once. She came out to see him panting very hard. She asked "Dad, are you very "sun-foo"?". He could only nod. Sis went into the kitchen to get him a glass of warm water. When she returned, he was already falling apart. Saliva and white bubbles flow from his mouth as he fought for air. He was falling into a coma. My brothers took him to G.H emergency ward where they did a CATS scan on dad immediately. Mum called me again and this time she sounded scared and told me dad might not make it! I rushed to the ICU in KLGH that morning after sending my ex-wife to the office because I thought it wasn't that bad. Then I could see the look on everybody's face when I arrived.
Brother told me dad had some capillaries ruptured deep in his brain (brain hemorhage). The doctor told him they had to wait for the head surgeon to arrive later to perform an open surgery on dad to remove the clot but warned that he might not make it due to his age. Actually he knew dad's not going to make it. Only one person was allowed to see him at any one time. I went in. He was on oxygen. Unconscious but I could see him breathing with much difficulty. I put my hand on his and whispered to him "Dad, I'm here. I'm your son, xxxx. Don't worry dad. Everything will be ok. Don't worry about us. We are all grown up now. You don't have to worry about us." What else can I say? A lot actually. But now...? When he can't hear me anymore...?!!! Then I went out and joined the rest of them at the waiting area.
Two hours later, they pushed dad to a normal ward as we continued waiting. Then the doctor came again and told my brother to have us see him one by one for the last time because he don't think dad's going to make it. So we took turns again to see him. I was the last one to go in. I went in before my sis came out but I could not find dad. I saw tears in my sister's eyes as she pointed to a covered body on a trolley bed. I didn't cry but I was unwilling to see dad covered above the head. I asked a nurse loudly "Kenapa tutup kepala dia?" She came over and pulled down the sheet to show the face under it. "Ini bapa u kah?" she asked. "Ya" I replied. "Dia sudah mati lah", she said quite abruptly. I looked at dad a little longer and like a common Chinese, I whispered and told dad to walk slowly and don't worry about us.
My dad suffered COPD for about ten years before the stress of fighting for air took him. Although the cause of death was brain hemorhage, I believe it was all the stress of having to fight for air and when he can't fight anymore, something just ruptured in his head. Scared to read this? You better be. Especially if you are a smoker.
The moral of my story: DON'T SMOKE! Tar from cigarettes accumulates and remain
in the body. It can't be flushed out in any way. "
The rehearsals however weren't so great. I think I can say unabashedly, until the last day of the rehearsals (FOUR rehearsals, a bit too much, really), a lot of us didn't really get the tunes in, or rather, familiarise ourselves thoroughly with it. Lotsa technical problems. But oddly enough, most of it fell into place by the time we did the soundcheck at 3pm this afternoon. At least we pretty much nailed it almost perfect this time around. I think, with any more rehearsals than the 4 we already did.. would've been absolute overkill! Heh, that's the problem with some of us musicians who play a lot of jazz.. we don't particularly fancy rehearsals. We accept the value of having them, but never more than 2 rehearsals the max! We'd get really bored, pissed off, and peeved... impatient lot we are!
But I did something I'm a little ashamed of, especially yesterday during the last rehearsal. I was at a little irritable mood that day, dunno why. I think it's a combination of things. It had been a busy, long, week for me.. with rehearsals for both Reshmonu and Ning (and most of them on the same day, too!). And I wasn't running as much as I used to as well.. so there's some pent-up tension (which usually drifts out after a good run!) along the way. I sorta dissed the musical director (MD), during the rehearsal... although it was also partially sparked by his manner of conducting the rehearsals (he's a bit of a disorganised bloke). Gave him a sarcastic remark in response to something he asked me to play (a new song I've not heard of, and no charts for me). But I realised after that, it was quite uncalled for. Although I think at some times, he deserves it, but I'm not in the position to do that to him.
So Alywin, if you actually do stumble along this blog and read this... My sincere apologies, man! I'm not particularly fond of certain ways you do things, especially for the rehearsals, but I definitely should not have been rude!
Well, after that rehearsal, I went of a quick run of one round around Lake Gardens, I felt good after that. And even went to play a gig at Rossini's, Ritz Carlton after that! Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi was there too.. it was his daughter's birthday or something. Got to meet him as well, up close. Cool...
Oh well, that's the end of my first busy week of 2005!
Friday, January 07, 2005
For those who want to catch some good jazz music (probably the best in KL, anyway), drop by Avanti’s Restaurant at Sunway Resort Hotel, this Friday 7th January. Avanti’s Restaurant presents the Greg Lyons Quartet, featuring Greg Lyons (saxophone), Lewis Pragasam (drums), Andy Petersen (bass), and up-and-coming young (and really awesome) piano player (and a member of my band, too!), Justin Lim (keyboards and piano).
You’ll be seeing and hearing some really stellar jazz music coming out from stellar musicians from KL…probably the absolute best in Malaysia…and of course, a small part of London. They’ll be playing some stuff from Greg’s new album, ISLAND TO ISLAND, as well as some really awesome tunes from John Scofield, Charlie Hunter, Eddie Harris, and then some!
By the way, if you haven’t got a copy of Greg Lyons: Island To Island, this would be a good time to get it!!
So here are the details:
GREG LYONS QUARTET @ AVANTI’S RESTAURANT, SUNWAY RESORT HOTEL
Date and Time: 7 January 2005, Friday; 10pm
Hope to catch you there!
Support Live Music… Support KL JAZZ!!
footnote: If you're interested in purchasing Greg's ISLAND TO ISLAND CD, you can get them from KL record stores like Tower Records. Alternatively, you can email Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can contact me at 012-2732378 or email email@example.com, and I can help get you a copy.
The gig was pretty fun. I had the opportunity to work with some of KL's best sessionists, and also the opportunity to lead the horn section this time around. I learnt, or rather, get to work out new things, such as having to transcribe tunes and horn parts for the horn section.
Nice gig... loads of fun! Great band.. great music!
Monday, January 03, 2005
It's up to you to decide..
Me and AJ in '99
Me in 2004
By the way, if you think I've lost weight... IT'S BECAUSE OF THE RUNNING LA.... duh.. hehehe..
Sunday, January 02, 2005
Footnote: There's also a work-in-progress arrangement for me to play at a fairly cool nightspot in the heart of KL on a regular basis, from Tuesday to Saturday nights, for about 3 months. So cross your fingers and hope I get the gig. I will update more on that as and when there is progress.