Friday, May 27, 2005

Happy People Quintet @ Avanti's Restaurant... again!

Hey all,

It's a late post, but I've been pretty caught up with work the last couple of days, from recordings with RTM (gawd, that was a total bore.. thankfully, Farid Ali and Salamiah Hassan was there as guests artistes!), and rehearsals for this gig and some other stuff coming up. But anyway, better late than never, so here it is:

We're back!

The happy people Quintet Live! @ Avanti's Restaurant

We're back... and the five crazily happy guys bringing you some really exciting music, from cool to hot stuff from Yellowjackets, Bob Mintzer, Kenny Garrett, and even some originals. If you missed our show previously, come check us out next Friday night at Avanti's.

The Happy People Quintet are:

Image hosted by

Julian Chan - saxophones, flute
Eddie Wen - trumpet, flugelhorn
Charles Wong - drums
Justin Lim - piano and keyboard
Nazrin "AJ" Nasir - electric bass

with guest bassist Wan Asfarezal on double bass!

There'll be a bit of surprise to what we're doing this time around, so do come down and check it out!

The happy people Quintet

Venue: Avanti's Restaurant, Sunway Resort Hotel
Date and Time: Friday, 27 May 2005; from 10pm onwards
Admission: Free
Reservations: call 03-7492 8000 ext 3176

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

New Balance - Pacesetters 15K Run...


I didn't train properly for this race, as I wanted to. My only excuse is only that I was pretty much busy with my music work for the last couple of weeks. However, I've definitely done some running every week, enough to keep up my stamina, build some endurance base, and general fitness. I wasn't even sure if I could do this race

Collected the bibs on the Saturday evening before the race, just short of 6pm, before the Pacesetters guys close shop for the evening. Did a short run after that too, to perk up my body for the race. I had to play at Alexis that night (and on the Friday as well), so I definitely wouldn't expect to get much sleep before the race. But I tried to rest as much on Saturday morning, to afternoon. Did the gig at Alexis, came back like 2-something in the morning, and slept only at about 3.

5:30am - Woke up sluggish, like always, when I don't have enough sleep. Called Kay Ti to wake him up. Plan was to leave at 6, 6-something, get there by at least 7am, and do the race at 7:30am. But I was shocked to find out, or rather DIDN'T find out, that the race starts at 7am!!! Pacesetters are smart fellas, they know what time is the best time to start a race!! So, I basically started to rush a little bit and picked KT up at around 6:15am.. already late.

6:45am - Reached Lake Gardens, took a while to find a parking space. But managed to slip my smaller sized Satria car into a corner. Got ready with some running stuff: my heart rate monitor, my Nike Hydration Pack (with a full bottle of Accelarade), putting on bibs and the reporting cards. We also had to pass the bibs to two other friends of Kay Ti, who were already at the start line.

3 minutes to flag off - Kay Ti and I were running to the start line, it's already like a slightly harder warm-up run, trying to run downhill to the Lake Gardens Boathouse.

Start of the race:

Baaammm!!! They flagged us off at 7am sharp!

Very organised, these guys are. And it's no surprised, they've learnt from the mistakes made by Malaysian race organisers, and definitely from other countries, like Singapore (who last organised the StanChart SG Marathon.. very well done, too!). It was really well organised, from bib collection, distance markers, water stations, etc. Even the bibs were done nicely. They weren't just rough cloth bibs, they were made with synthetic, anti-absorbent, plastic cloth, similar to the SG Marathon ones.

Back to the race.... they flagged us off RIGHT AFTER me and Kay Ti got into the start line at the back of the pack. While KT helped the girls with the bibs, I had already started running at a slow pace with the back of the pack. The three of them caught up with me a short while later. But it was already a challenge for us. We already had to start climbing the slope up the boathouse to Jalan Perdana, out back into the Bukit Aman car park, which eventually heads out to Jalan Parlimen going to Bank Negara.

Bank Negara to Bukit Tunku:

After climbing up the round-trip detour up the Bank Negara road, after the 3rd km marker, I stopped a while to stretch my calves, hamstrings and quads. I did it to avoid further complications in the later stages of the run, and definitely to try to increase the flexibility of my legs. The route then took us up Bukit Tunku road, which is a steady hill incline all the way up till the Bukit Tunku flyover, about almost 2km. They put up the first water station, with both mineral water and PowerBar Endurance sports drink. I took it even though I still had Accelarade. Then there's the short downhill slope which flattens out until the Laman Tunku road turn, which is virtually a steep uphill climb for at least 2 - 3km!! That, as I found out is what's known as the Double Hill route!

Post-Bukit Tunku:

At the 10km mark, the route had us out of Bukit Tunku, and headed back into Jalan Sultan Salahuddin, where the Agricultural Department was. That itself was another steady uphill climb. The route then turns into the road which leads to Tugu Negara, and at the end of the road, the route comes out back into Jalan Parlimen (the 12km marker), and right-turned to go into the Carcosa road. The Carcosa road is also another hilly part, also steady incline-decline.

The Last 1KM:

I was struggling a little bit, as I have begun to feel a slight tinge of fatigue. But I had taken several one-to-two minute walk breaks to help recover. But as I descended the downhill slope at Carcosa Road, back into Lake Gardens, I picked up the pace, but only to the point where I felt I could maintain it all the way to the finish line.

As I neared a few hundred metres to the finish line, I started picking up the pace almost to my sprint pace, and crossed the finish line with a strong finish!! My clocked time was 1:57:09. Not too bad for an inadequately trained fatso. I got the Finisher medal... Pewter, no doubt!

Saw one of KT's friend, Swee Ee, who finished slightly earlier than me. His other friend, Alexis finished a couple of minutes after me. And later on, KT, who had some recurring knee problems, but managed to finish the race as well! Congratulations y'all!!


I gladly helped myself with water, sports drink, Milo, cereals, tau foo far, and some gift bags. Got myself a pair of socks from the New Balance booth. I also met up with the rest of the Pacemaker gang: Ronnie (pm1), Justin (pm19), Azwar, Ryan Teoh, Tey, Sim Boon Haw, Kenneth the KNN man, Ajeep, Rohaizad, Vincent Wong, Jason Lim, and a few others. Got our pictures taken, chat a lot, etc. Good to meet up with some of these guys again. And considering the schedule I had for the last couple of weeks, it was definitely a pleasure to meet them again.
After shower and lunch, I headed straight home and straight onto my comfy bed, before waking up to work at a wedding on that night itself.

Post-race analysis:

Timings for the race:
1km - 8:52
2km - 7:16
3km - 15:20 (took a a walk break or two with Kay Ti, and some stretches, just to be safe)
4km - 7:40
6km - 16:58
7km - 8:24
8km - 7:16
10km - 9:11
12km - 15:14
13km - 8:17
14km - 7:26
15km - 5:12

1. Started out rather conservative, with a fairly easy pace. And only increased the pace slightly when it felt okay to do it, and during downhill slopes.

2. I strategized the race by dividing the distance into 3k blocks, where I took a minute walk break after each 3km, making it a five block of 3k's each to deal with. Psychologically, it was easier to handle it as five 3k blocks rather than one whole 15k block.

3. I use Accelerade as a sports drink when I train AND race.. didn't have to use any Powergels, so far.

4. I did the race without any expectations, and it definitely helped me enjoy the race a whole lot more that morning.


See you next year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! New Balance is sponsoring the 15K 2006... yay!!

Hardbop Quintet @ Alexis...

The 20th and 21st of May, marks the first time this band is playing together.. The Bruce Hurn/Julian Chan Hardbop Quintet (featuring Maria Angela on vocals). Our first gig: Alexis Bistro Ampang.

It was an opportunity for me to put up a band that plays mostly jazz repertoire ranging from the 40s - 6os. I wanted to do this for quite a while, but somehow the timing just wasn't there yet. But it definitely came last week. A couple of factors helped me on this. The main one being Bruce Hurn. He's a Canadian trumpet player who's been playing jazz trumpet for a long time, and he's learnt and played the stuff since he was young, so he's very knowledgable with the American jazz tradition. I, on the other hand, have only barely touched the surface of it.

Bruce and I took about two weeks to decide on the songs that we were going to do, and we both split leadership duties: He handles the musical aspects, ranging from arrangements and repertoire, and I do the rest.. usually the administrative and business side of it... and of course, practicing the material!

Finding the band was also a challenge. I needed to find people who will have not only the technique, but the musical impetus to make the music work. I've already decided on getting Justin to play piano from the start. For the drummer and double bass player, I decided to try out John Thomas and Wan Asfarezal, respectively. However, due to some unavoidable circumstances, both John and Wan were unable to make the Friday gig. So, I had to find other guys to do Friday, and have John and Wan for Saturday. After making several calls, and thinking about WHO I can get to play, not only to get the job done, but do be able to move the music as well, I decided on AJ and Joseph Arnesto to play drums and bass, respectively. (YES, my bass player, AJ, also plays drums!).

After finding out all the band members' schedule for last week to arrange for rehearsals, which itself was an arduous task (I had to use an Excel spreadsheet just to do that!), I managed to arrange two rehearsals on Tuesday and Thursday.

The music we were to play, were primarily from the Cannonball Adderley songbook, from Work Song, Unit 7, Del Sasser, Our Delight, Blue Daniel, and some more, as well as some bebop tunes, such as Charlie Parker's Confirmation. Maria Angela's tunes were mostly from the Nancy Wilson repertoire, some from the Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley album, tunes like Save Your Love For Me, Happy Talk, and Never Will I Marry.

For the Friday gig, with AJ on drums, Joe on double bass, and Justin on piano, the band was absolutely swinging that night. There were a couple of teething problems, as this was our first time playing together in that setup. AJ was actually pretty nervous, because I think it was his first SERIOUS jazz gig on the drums! We also didn't have enough time to work with that band setup. But for most part, the band was really swinging. I was absolutely surprised with AJ, and how he took his role as the drummer seriously, and he played what was required with the music for that night.

On Saturday, there were also a few teething problems during the show, mostly from the music arrangements. John was on drums, and Wan on bass. The show also went pretty well that night. However, towards the end of the last set, there were some people who tried to request for some tunes or wanted to jam with the band, at very short notice. As I've learned again, it's usually not worth entertaining when it's on short notice, and sometimes turns out rather disastrous, as it was. Luckily, by that hour, most of the audience had left, as it almost went a little later than it should. An exception was having indonesian pianist Eddy Sambuaga to jam with us. We already knew Eddy, so it was fun to have him jam with us a tune. He basically tore up Confirmation, a very, VERY fast bebop tune, that night.

I think, overall, the gig went very well. And I'm really happy with how the band and the music turned out. I could only do it, mostly because Bruce is in the band, as he's the one with the most experience and knowledge AND the playing ability to do it. As most of us musicians in KL are only "second-hand" students of the music, Bruce isn't. So it was really refreshing to hear someone who can play like that in KL. The other interesting thing is, I doubt that there's really any other band in town who has attempted playing this material, and of similar vein. I've certainly not seen any, for sure. I'm sure there are many people who are at least familiar with the bebop and hard bop era of jazz, but I'm pretty sure they've not seen anyone in KL really attempt playing that music. A short term goal, I would think I have, is to really present that music to the people in KL, and to present a very important historical aspect in the musical development of jazz. It also serves to illustrate that there's more to jazz (and something closer to the historic pivotal aspect of the music) than Michael Buble, Norah Jones, Joss Stone, or god forbid, Kenny G! They aren't even really jazz, mind you!

I'm looking forward to the next gig with the Hardbop Quintet!

I'm looking forward to have you in our company to appreciate the music, too!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Gig update: The Bruce Hurn/Julian Chan Hardbop Quintet @ Alexis Ampang

Hey everyone,

I’ve set up a new band altogether (but still up and running with Happy People, of course!), and we’re doing completely different stuff. And we’re playing at Alexis Ampang this weekend

The Bruce Hurn/Julian Chan Hardbop Quintet featuring Maria Angela

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

The “Hard Bop” Quintet features Julian Chan on alto saxophone and Bruce Hurn on trumpet and flugelhorn (and musical director). This dynamic group plays bop classics from the 60’s and 70’s, with the group’s main influence being the great “Cannonball Adderley” quintet. Other members of the band include Justin Lim (piano) Wan Asfarezal (bass) and John Thomas (drums). Also appearing with the band, as vocalist, is the soulful, effervescent Maria Angela, who will be covering some of the great songs made famous by singer Nancy Wilson in her famous 1962 recording with the Adderley quintet. Sit back, relax and enjoy the traditional “hard bop” styles of the past presented by this newly formed group.

Don’t miss out on this new jazz adventure, probably one of the first for the KL jazz scene! It’s all happening at Alexis Bistro, this weekend, on Friday and Saturday!!

Date and Time: 20th and 21st May 2005, Friday and Saturday. Music starts 10:30pm
Venue: Alexis Bistro and Wine Bar, Great Eastern Mall, Jalan Ampang
Admission: Free
Reservations: call 03-4260 2288 or email

Support Live Music and Live Jazz in KL!!

Sunway, Sunway, and more Sunway..

Just a little update on last weekend.

I know that look on your face... you're like trying to tell me... "why aren't you updating your blog as often like you used to?". Newsflash: Busy la... and trust me..that's a GOOD thing for me! Means I'm busy working... performing... and of course, earning some money! AHhaha..


Friday 13 May (FRIDAY DA 13th..muahAHHhAH!! *sccreecchhh*):

Did the Avanti's show with High Wired. It's a band led by Jordan Rivers (affectionately known as the George Benson of KL!). We played some fusion tunes as well as some jazz standards. The gig went alright.

Saturday 14 May:

Wanted to get up early to run at Lake Gardens.. but tak jadi... came back like 3am last night. My running has gotten way less and less the last couple of weeks. I didn't even train for the New Balance-Pacesetters 15km. I'm just wondering how I'm going to do it.

Went to Sunway again, this time at the Elephant Walk part of Sunway Lagoon. There was a Chivas Regal promotion, and they got Greg Lyons' band, the Biophonics to play it. So that was pretty fun. Lots of drunk chicks hanging around, and stuff. AHhahaa... it was a hot day to start with and a hot one to end with.

Sunday 15 May:

Wanted to run but also didn't get up early enough. Did nothing the whole day, and just pigged out in front of the TV. Oh well.

Looks like I'll just have to do the 15K nice and easy.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Gig update: High Wired at Avanti's

Hey everyone, just an extension of the upcoming performances, and I'm playing this one, too:

This weekend!!

HIGH WIRED @ Friday Nite Jazz at Avanti's

Led by dad and son team, guitarist Jordan Rivers (affectionately known as the George Benson of KL) and upstart drummer Steve Nanda, HIGH WIRED throws some really hot fusion jazz at your face. A groove and jam oriented group, it will feature additional musician friends, Khairil Azli (piano and keys), Julian Chan (saxes), and AJ on bass. They'll be performing various contemporary jazz tunes to kick-start the weekend!

Venue: Avanti's Restaurant, Sunway Hotel Resort
Date and Time: 13 May 2005, 10pm
Admission: Free
Reservations: Call 603-7492 8000 ext 3176


More coming... stay tuned

Monday, May 09, 2005

Upcoming shows!


Please check out the Upcoming Performances section on the RIGHT column below... more details will be posted on the blog, too.

This will be a busy month (YAY!!). Not only that.. it will also be an interesting one, at that. More on that as the month goes along.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Brief update la...

I know, I know.. been a while since I updated my blog.. so I'm putting a brief one, before writing up full ones, yeah? Been really, really busy la.. it's a busy month of April, and it's going to be a busy one in May. More on that later..

And now..

April 18 (Monday) - went to do a rehearsal for the Mingus Big Band workshop with the RTM Combo. Not much of a rehearsal, really, a bit of a waste of time. Just briefly ran thru some charts.. not very seriously, unfortunately.

Went to see Mingus Big Band at Petronas Phil Hall... awesome band.. mind-blowing music. Very deep stuff, too. It's still jazz, but it's more involved compositionally. It was a one, long 90 min set. I wonder if most of the audience members followed them all the way, or not? I am not familiar with Charles Mingus material, but I was totally engrossed.

April 19 (Tuesday) - Went to the DFP again, for the workshop. That was really fun.. the RTM combo was crap, but I didn't mind, it was an upclose learning experience for me and Chee Meng, at least. Oh yeah, Eddie (my trumpet player) and Bruce (another trumpet player from Canada, very good) were playing too.

Saw the band again that night... SUPER happening. Craig Handy, tenor sax and musical director, did a killer sax solo on Goodbye Porkpie Hat. Met Damon Brown, a Brit trumpeter but based in Paris, and Greg's friend. He was due to play at Alexis that weekend. Hung out and talked a lot that night

April 20 (Wed) - did a rehearsal with my Happy People band, and played at Senja Restaurant, at Hyatt Subang later that evening.

April 22 (Friday) - went to Avanti's to soundcheck. Rushed over from Sunway to Mandarin Oriental KL to check out the Boh Cameronian Arts Awards.. or at least to see my colleagues there la. On the way there, it was freakin' jammed, and it was raining beasts and trolls! Took me a bloody whole hour or so to get there. Anyway, just before the ceremonies started I had to leave back for Sunway. Took a quick shower and did the Happy People Quintet gig.

Anyway, the gig went fairly okay, but in all honesty, I played like the absolute shit! Either I was tired, or the fact that I wasn't practicing as much as I should might come into play. But I played like shit, with bad form mistakes in some of the songs and stuff.

Read about it here (courtesy of sMack).

By the way, we (the I Have Dreamed with Sean Ghazi team) got TWO awards: Best Production and Audience Choice Awards... Hurrahhh!!!

April 23 (Sat) - Went to watch Damon Brown and Greg Lyons band... Damon was awesome!!! He's such a soulful trumpet player... very forward moving musician, but very rooted in the jazz tradition. Plus Greg, already a power player and composer in his own right, both of them smoked the house!!! Woo hoo.. can't wait to catch them in Singapore the following weekend.

April 26 (Tues) - Caught an early morning bus to Singapore, with Bruce and Eddie. Reached Singapore at around 1-something, met up with our agent that's bringing us to Shanghai. Dropped our luggage, and shopped for the afternoon. Came back at around 9pm, and later took a taxi to Changi Airport to take a China Eastern Airlines flight to Pudong Airport, Shanghai at 1am.

April 27 - 30 (Wed - Sat) - China gig trip.. it was for the BMW Asian Open Tour as well as the special launching of the BMW New 7 Series. Will write more about that trip later.

April 30 (Sat) - Came back to Singapore, with some mis-adventures (more on that on the same story later). Dropped my stuff at my aunt's place and headed straight to Jazz @ Southbridge at Boat Quay to check out Damon and Greg's show again.

May 1 (Sun) - Went to send Eddie off early in the morning to the bus terminal (he left for KL at 7.30am). Went to sleep for a couple of hours, then went shopping. Went to THREE clubs for jazz jam sessions (more on that later, too!), went back home at 6am.

May 2 (Mon) - Met up with Greg and got a lift back home to KL by his car.

So much for now... I'll be writing full stories with pictures later la, when I have time. Till then, more updates coming soon.

Got quite a number of shows this month.. very exciting for me. Stay tuned.