Sunday, July 31, 2005

Recovery mode... and jazz fest!

I'm on the road to recovery from the dengue fever I had almost a week ago. I'm still not 100% yet, but I'm definitely feeling better today, compared to the last week. The after-effect of the dengue fever, was the low white blood count, and also low blood pressure. What this does is that it gives you the feeling of being spaced-out, and detached from the world. The last two weeks I felt like I was on another planet. It's like getting high from smoking weed, but minus the smoking weed itself!

Also, I think I lost at least 6kg the last two weeks since I got sick. Ask KNN-man, Kenneth. He saw me on Friday at the Sunrise Jazz and Rhythm Fest and get his testimony on how I lost a lot of weight. Not to say I don't enjoy being the slimmest ever in my life for the next couple of weeks/months, at least. But losing weight out of sickness... wow... not a nice thing to go through! But then again, I hope I can maintain this weight after I get better.

In fact, the past week was a pretty busy week for me. I had to get up back on my feet and gone for rehearsals for the jazz fest, as I was playing with Alonso's Jazz Latino, featuring Amir Yussof, on Friday 29th (which was yesterday night). Also, I had to do play a property developers' award night on Thursday, and also rehearsing for a gig I did today with Farid at the Malaysian Tourism Centre. The early part of the week, especially for rehearsals, was slightly tough for me, as I still felt slightly week from the low white blood count and low blood pressure. So I got tired really fast, and lethargic. Even doing the Jazz Latino show at Sunrise on Friday night was quite a task, as I was feeling really out of form, feeling tired from the low blood pressure. I had to muster up as much strength I had to play with such a power-house latin jazz band. Trying to recover after that gig... now, that took like almost an hour, man! I was feeling so light-headed, I thought I was going to faint!

Today, was much better. Although still NOT 100%, and I still didn't have the playing strength I had before I got sick, but I didn't feel light-headed and weak compared to the last couple of days. I did a workshop thing at Avanti's in the afternoon, and then went to MATIC for the soundcheck with Farid's band, and later on play the gig at night. In fact, after the MATIC gig, which was really a food fair organised by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, I went over to Sunrise, Plaza Mont Kiara, to check out Groove Unction. I was even called up on stage to jam with them, which was sort of a surprise for me. But I still felt alright to play, and didn't have that light-headed, woozy after effect. So I guess, I'm feeling a little better now. Yay!

I'm looking forward for next week's shows: Greg Lyons Nonet on Friday, 5 August, and Farid Ali, "Mr. Gambus" on Saturday, 6 August. All this is happening at the Sunrise Jazz and Rhythm Fest next week. Will be posting more on that as the week progresses.

Lastly, I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to all who showed me kindness and well-wishes when I was sick with dengue, and also well-wishes for my recovery. Thank you very much for your kindness and concern! I'm glad to say, again, that I'm feeling much stronger today, and I'm getting some energy back as well. And I'll try to play with my best for next weekend's shows!

Hope to see you all there, then!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Week of Hell...

I've had that flu since I last wrote. And it didn't seem to get any better. The fever comes then goes, and comes back again! To top that, there were several events along the way to make it worse.

Friday 15 July
I had to miss the Mercedes gig I promised to do, with Fariz's band, because I could even barely pick myself up. Luckily, Kevin was able to sub in for me!

Saturday 16 July
Still felt like shit. I could hardly move around without feeling woozy, on the verge of blacking out. Stayed in bed all day. I was supposed to play in Cotton Club that night, but I called in some replacements.

Later on that night, I woke up and I found I had multiple missed calls from my agent, with a message saying there was no drummer and no singer. Another terrible headache. I called John to find out if he found a replacement for the night. And he didn't. Later he found one. I get a call from my agent's boss, and basically got the low down on the dire situation at the club, and the stupid management people at the club was giving them a hard time as well.

Sunday 17 July
Had to get up and drive to Hulu Langat early in the morning for the soundcheck for the Kampong Fest gig. Still felt like shit, I wasn't even sure if I could play. So while waiting for set-up, I just tried to rest around the area. When it was soundcheck time, I took out my horns, and I found out I didn't even have the strength to press the keys on my horn, much less play. Told Alonso I had to leave to rest, and I have to miss the soundcheck. If I didn't get home to rest I wouldn't be able to play at night. So, I drove home to rest some more.

Woke up in the evening, and still feeling like shit, I had my Dad send me instead to Hulu Langat. It was raining. By the time I got there, they've moved the band indoors into one of the huts to play. When we finally started playing, I could barely play properly, but I just tried to muster as much energy as possible. In fact, during one or more of the songs, I could've almost passed out, I just put my horn down and sat down instead to avoid passing out and getting knocked out.

Luckily, Alonso kept the set fairly short. We packed our stuff and I waited for my dad to pick me up. I could barely keep myself conscious for most part. Once I got home I just headed straight to bed.

Monday 18 July
Woke up thinking I'm feeling a little better, but was wrong. Still felt like shit, the fever comes and goes. Decided to just sleep and rest for most part, or just chill out at home.

Oh yeah, I got a call later from my agent, and my band got terminated from Cotton Club, due to several problems including Saturday's fiasco. So that's it for Cotton Club for me.

Tuesday 19 July
Went to see the doctor again, and she suggested I went to the hospital for a blood test to see if it was dengue fever. So my parents brought me to Pantai Cheras Medical Center, did my blood test, and I got admitted for suspected dengue. Although the initial blood test said it was negative, but the doctor said it probably will become dengue after the next day. I also had very low white blood count. So there I was with a needle up my hand with a drip, and I had to stay in the ward for observation.

Wednesday 20 July
Bored at the hospital. My parents brought in my iPod and the DaVinci Code which I was halfway through. Thanks for that.. so I wouldn't get so bored. Still had low white blood count.

Thursday 21 July
White blood count gone up but still very low for normal. But the fever's gone. I got discharged. But I still feel weak. My brother now got admitted instead for suspected dengue also.

Luckily it wasn't the serious dengue fever, man. But I've already missed so many gigs including the Sunrise gig this weekend and also the Nonet gig with Greg at Alexis. Sigh. I just hope I get better by next week. I have to start practicing for the other coming gigs.

PS: Thanks to der pacemaker guys for the well wishes while I was at the hospital.... and also all those who sent theirs too! Thanks a lot, I really appreciate it all.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Bad flu...

I'm down with a flu... a BAD one, at that too.

I'm not entirely without blame. Wednesday was a long day for me. Went for a nice run at KLCC park, and then later on I had to work at Cotton Club. My mistake: Staying up too late.. I went home at 6:30am in the morning. But the worse part, I had to get up by 12pm to go to a rehearsal. That's when the flu bug hit, started off getting chills.. then slight body aches.. later on came the headache. And I had to work yesterday night as well at Cotton! I was almost collapsing, at least it felt like that, towards the last set. Luckily there wasn't anyone left when we did our final set, so I decided we stop a little early. But when you're having a flu like that, the whole night of playing felt EXCRUCIATINGLY long. Then I went home and tried to sleep through the throbbing headache, fever, body ache, and even a throat inflammation.

I had to miss a gig today. Was supposed to do a Mercedes function with Noryn's band, but I had no choice but to pull out last minute. I still feel like shit this time in writing.

Oh god, please heal me quick! Got to work the next two days!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

More gig updates..

I've just updated the Upcoming Performances section. So please do check it out, and come for some of the shows. I'm personally involved with these shows. Here are some highlights:

Julian Chan Quartet @ Cotton Club, July Week 3:

13, 14, and 16 July (Wed, Thur, and Sat) - More straight-ahead jazz from bebop, hardbop to jazz standards from me and my band, with special guest singer each day. So come and check it out.

17 July - Kampong Fest @ Desa Blonde, Bt 12, Hulu Langat:

I'll be playing with Alonso's Jazz Latino group in this interesting little gig outing, in the middle of the kampung area in Hulu Langat. There'll be more acts from traditional acts, jazz, latin, and more. Click on the link above to check for more details.

Sunrise Jazz and Rhythm Festival:

23 July - Noryn and Soulfingerz
Expect some really funky jazz and R&B music from this cool group.

29 July - Alonso and Jazz Latino
Burning latin jazz music from this group led by Alonso Gonzales.. the real Colombian deal!! They'll be featuring Amir Yussof as well.

5 August - Greg Lyons Nonet
A 9-piece ensemble, with six horns and rhythm section, performing tunes from Greg Lyons' original repertoire and others. Expect some real cutting edge jazz from the top saxophonist/jazz musician in town!

6 August - Farid Ali "Mr. Gambus"
The Malaysian George Benson?? Not anymore.. the man has come a long way to his own voice, his own identity! Check out what the does with the Malaysian traditional instrument, and how he blends it with his own jazz influence! Oh yeah... buy his album, Turning Point, and listen to what Malaysian jazz is!

Just a plug for my friend...

6 August - GruvAvénue
Formerly known as Black Machine, this new band is led by bassist Vincent Ong. Finally another musician who has come to his own, and he's just released his new self-titled EP. Listen to some chill-out music from this group. Buy their EP as well, and listen to the cream of the crop of the new blood in the jazz world of KL!

PS: Thanks Farid for them corrections... that's what happens when you're half-asleep updating your blog..

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Dogs, gas, and Sunrise Jazz Fest..

Guess I was wrong... almost, anyway. So here it is, it's self-explanatory:

Sunrise Jazz & Rhythm Fest 2005

Here are the shows I'll be involved in:

23 July, Saturday (11 - 12.30am) - Noryn and her Band (Soulfingerz)
29 July, Friday (11 - 12.30am) - Alonso and The Jazz Latino feat. Amir Yussof
5 Aug, Friday (11 - 12.30am) - Greg Lyons Nonet
6 Aug, Saturday (11 - 12.30am) - Farid Ali, "Mr. Gambus"

More info later on.

Come over and enjoy and support live jazz music in KL!


Went for a dog training session at Section 5, PJ today to send my dog, Sparky, to obedience class. Sort of MY first day there, my parents went there for the basics class the last couple of months ago. It was a rather interesting experience, seeing so many different breed of dogs and their owners, the personalities of the different dogs around, and of course.. some of the pretty gals that were there la. Ahahhaa... if I knew there were pretty owners with dogs, I would've gone for dog training class from day 1 before! LOL!

Seems to me dog training class has started to become a favorable weekend past time for a lot of families. It's kinda cool.


On the way back from dog training class, my car broke down on the highway (Cheras highway). Was running on empty (read: no more fuel). Was feeling pretty stupid.. hahaha.. I overestimated how much fuel I have left in my gas tank. But at least now I know fairly accurately how much gas my car uses.

Lucky for me, it broke down not too far from a nearby Petronas gas kiosk on the opposite side of the highway. So I just had to walk my way there with an empty 1.5L bottle and filled gas, walked back, filled it in my gas tank. The car managed to start, and I slowly drove to the same station to pump full tank.

Funny part about the whole fiasco, most people will be going bazookas over a situation like this. But I felt cool.. unperturbed. I suppose it's just that I know I've experienced worse than this. My dad once owned an Audi CD 100 series 1985 re-con car. But it was so plagued with problems from spare parts breaking down one at a time. At one point a few years ago, I was driving it around for a week without any problems, except the air-con, maybe. And I was driving it to and fro, from Kajang to Shah Alam for several days for a string of gigs. After that gig was over, I was happily driving that car to catch a show at No Black Tie one evening. I stopped in front of Phoenix Plaza in Cheras (there were traffic lights in front of that place, previously, but it's taken down now). I was in the front of the traffic light, in the middle lane. Next thing I knew, the car went dead. I couldn't start, and the battery meter had no indication. And it was as hot as an oven in the car. I couldn't move the car because it was so heavy, and it was an incline slope! I looked back after several minutes, and found that I'm one of the major cause of a traffic hold-up almost all the way back to the toll plaza! I was helped by a cop and a motorist slightly later to move the car up-slope to the side of the road where I eventually called for a tow truck. It was a harrowing experience for me, and after that I absolutely refused to drive that car, even if you gave me a million dollars. I dubbed it the Devil Car!! It's still scrap somewhere in one of my dad's friend's workshop! I can truly empathise with car owners whose car breaks down in the middle of the road and all. You won't know what it's like until you experience something like that! LOL!

What a nice Sunday...

Have a good weekend, y'all!!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Jazz Café and then some..

I just found out yesterday that the musical TV program I was involved in last month, Jazz Café is out on TV2 on Tuesday nights. Cool. Now you can see mah fat face blowing all over the screen on Tuesday nights.. HAhahaha..

Read about my
accounts in the making of this half-hour program.

Jazz Café airs on TV2 on Tuesday nights 12am (or maybe techincally Wednesday 12am?). Read an article on The Star recently on the first episode and a brief synopsis on the show


Here's a little heads up:

The Sunrise Jazz Festival will be back from the middle of this month to mid-August (I think). But you probably won't see news of it until... latest, a week before the whole thing starts. Why? I don't know... that's how they are. Just like last year.. pretty much disorganized.

I'll be definitely involved in several shows throughout the festival, but I regret to inform that my band, the Happy People Quintet will not be playing this year due to some unforeseen (and rather stupid) circumstances. I know for sure some friends and followers of the group would expect to see us up there, but not this time around. I don't know if we'll get to do a show sometime soon, but if not, I think that'll be pretty much the end of the band for a while. At least for most part anyway. One of our most precious (well, I think all of us are anyway) band members will be leaving for the US of A for further studies in August. If I get things done right, and with God's blessings, I will be going too.. aiming for next year. The existing band guys and myself will still be working together (until I leave, at least) for sure, but it probably won't be known as Happy People. That, of course, is still tentative. We might keep the name, but the dynamics of the band will definitely not be the same anymore. If we do get to do a show, we'll let you know, I hope you'll come and catch us play for one last time as this group.

I will be updating more on my involvement in the festival again soon, on the artistes, and the schedule of performances soon.


I've got a (or several, really) question(s) for you local music fans in KL and Malaysia in general:

When you hear "jazz", or think about "jazz", what's on your mind? What is your impression on the music? What do you expect when you go check out a "jazz" show?

I was in a meeting yesterday, talking to several people in a club I'm working in, and we were discussing the issue of musical content being presented. One of the things mentioned was that the club gets calls and was asked by patrons, "Which band is playing tonight?". It was implied rather obviously that several patrons of the club will call and find out if a particular singer is performing on a given night before making a decision on coming to the club.

Let's be forthright here: It's understood and not unbeknownst to us jazz musicians that a lot of patrons of live music in KL seemed to prefer watching a live band with a female singer (not that they give a sh*t whether it's jazz or not), belting out Michael Buble numbers, or Norah Jones numbers, or Diana Krall (the Look Of Love kinda thing not her older stuff) numbers. Not to say their stuff was bad, but it's more of a novelty. It's a vicious cycle... local musicians re-gurgitate all these popular numbers to try to "attract" audience, audience dig that not knowing there are more to it than that, and then musicians have to do it over and over again until the cows come home.

I can almost surmise that people who go check out jazz shows aren't even there to check out the music. Some go there to see a pretty doting singer, or some expect to hear Rod Stewart, Buble, Diana Krall, or Norah Jones wannabes. Even if they are, they're there because they have a certain expectation of what they want to hear. I don't know, I may be just generalising too much. But being in the biz for four short years, I'm already frustrated with what I'm getting. And I believe it's not just me. I can conclude that people who say they know jazz, don't really know jazz.

There are a lot of really good jazz musos in town not getting their due (not here at least). You know what's worse.. a lot of music "outlets", or even better, jazz "outlets" don't help that much either.. and they have this idea that they're helping to promote the music. I'm not dropping names, but I speak in general to some of the lesser outlets I've played (including shows llike festivals). The problem is that they try to dictate what a band should play. That's so anti-thesis of a jazz band. A real jazz band should be left to their own devices, giving them the avenue to experiment, play some real improvised music, arranged music, whatever lah! Why force something un-natural to something as natural as jazz?

I've got lots of rants like this, and I can even talk until the cows come home. Brickbats.. please click "comments" at the end of this post and write your views and let me know. I would love to have more insight from other people.


Buffy The Vampire Slayer DVD....

I just finished the final season (season 7) of Buffy The Vampire Slayer on DVD. After watching all seven seasons, I definitely feel heavy hearted watching the final season, and its ending episodes. I watched it on Astro when they were showing last year, and I just got the DVD just last week and watched all 22 episodes, almost back to back.

I've been following the series from the beginning, and it's about a high school girl, Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) who was bestowed the power and skill to fight vampires, demons and other evil menace in the small town of Sunnydale, California. By the way, Sunnydale happens to be on a Hellmouth, a mystical doorway between this dimension and the underworld Hell-dimension, where all evil lies.

Buffy is the "Chosen One", a Slayer. It was foretold that in "each generation, a Slayer is born, a girl with the powers and skill to fight vampires and evil". With the aid of a Watcher, the Slayer is trained in martial arts, and learns the knowledge of vampires, demons and other forms of evil.

Along the way, she managed to find friends in high school to help her in her battles against evil: Willow the witch, Xander the rather helpless lad who gets saved everytime (but with the insight to see things as they really are, objectively... and becoming an emotional "anchor" to the self-named Scooby Gang), Rupert Giles (Buffy's Watcher in Sunnydale), Angel (a good-looking vampire with a soul that became Buffy's lover, but left for LA after awhile) and later on, several other members such as Anya (a former Vengeance demon, who grants scorned women wishes against their male counterparts), Tara (another witch, and Willow's later lover), evil-turned-good vampire Spike, and finally Dawn, a sister who was actually a "Key".. a mystical energy portal which was molded into human form to become Buffy's sister (previously non-existent) to be protected from the evil god Glory.

Buffy manages to save the world from several Apocalypses and villains, from the evil Vampire Master (Mark Metcalf), Angelus (evil Angel) played by David Boreanaz, Mayor Wilkins, Adam the android, Glory, Dark Willow, and finally The First... the ultimate evil! Not only that, she's actually died TWICE and came back to life... to save the world again and again.

I just love the series (SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR!!!), not just for her la... but also that the story and character developments were just awesome. Writer Joss Whedon did an amazing job in doing the whole series. I'm definitely a fan for life.

Must check it out..

That's it for now.


Monday, July 04, 2005

This Weekend: "GruvAvénue™" @ Alexis Ampang

Hey all,

Here's a show to go for:

“GruvAvénue™” – featuring Ms. Rachel Guerzo

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“GruvAvénue™”, formally known as “Black Machine”, is founded by double bassist and band-leader Vincent Ong in June 2001. The rest of the line-up includes the finest young names in Kuala Lumpur’s ever growing jazz circle – Charles on Drums, Clement on Keyboards & Shazee on Saxophone.

Their performance repertoire consists of original compositions as well as re-arrangements of standard jazz and pop tunes. It aims to showcase jazz music in a wider spectrum, by creating interesting arrangements, as well as injecting elements of urban and elegance with a contemporary twist. Fabulous veteran songstress Ms. Rachel Guerzo would be joining the “GruvAvénue™” for their Debut EP preview at Alexis. A prodigy blessed with sultry voice, she frequented the local jazz clubs and lounges since the 90’s and has remained a staple in local jazz circles. The “GruvAvénue™” will perform at Alexis Bistro & Wine Bar, Great Eastern Mall on the 7th & 8th July 2005. A preview of their up-coming self-titled EP would be included exclusively for Alexis’s patrons.

Support local jazz!!!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Updated Cotton Club dates..

Just updated some more dates for both bands at Cotton Club for the first week of July. Please refer to the Upcoming Performances section on the right panel of the blog, under July 2005.

Do come by, if you're musician, bring your horn/axe and jamming a song or two can be arranged. If you're not, come listen and watch us play. Cotton Club is located at G1, Maju Junction Shopping Complex, Jln Tunku Abdul Rahman, before Pertama Complex.


New shoes.. YAY!!

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New Balance 890

Check it out babehhhh.... check it out... mah new spankin' rubbers... umm, I meant running shoes:

They're New Balance 890 shoes, cushioning shoes. It'll be my first time trying out a shoe which is not a stability shoe or a motion control shoe. For the jargon-illiterate, stability or motion control shoes are running shoes meant for those feet that pronates a bit to a lot (over-pronation). Pronation (roughly) explained, is the "roll" of the foot, when it lands on the ground, to absorb impact and distribute it evenly. Check out this
site for some more detailed explanation.

You see, I'm a flat-foot. Typically, flat-footers are over-pronators. But it seems in my case, i'm not a severe over-pronator (I think), as I've not had the typical problems faced by over-pronators. Usually I buy shoes which are either stability-based or motion-control, but mostly stability based. The shoes I've bought were previously Reebok Premier Roads (good, but heavy), NB 765 (good stability shoe), NB 717 (stability/motion control for moderate to severe over-pronators), and the NB 766 (stability/motion control; NB 765 upgrade, the best i've had so far). Anyway, I went to Albert's at BB Plaza to check out some shoes, and he recommended the NB 890, it's a new stock. I was a bit apprehensive at first, because it wasn't a stability shoe, but I decided to try it out. Ran on the treadmill and it seemed okay. Tried another one, the NB 754, and it was almost the same, expect a little more firmer and lighter in weight. Dunno why I decided on the 890, maybe it looked more cooler??? AHahha..

Read about NB 890 here at the Runners' World Shoe Reviews page. Read about the NB 766 here.

Anyway, I gave it a try today at KLCC park, but I'd try them with my Foot Solutions orthotics. I ran for 4 laps = 5.2k, plus one lap warm-up of 1.3k. All I can say is, the shoes are fast babe!!!! To put it in an analogy: It's like driving from a 1.3L car to a 1.8L car! The shoes are much lighter than my other shoes, and it felt so easy and responsive during the toe off! It is almost too fast to handle at the mo! But they felt nice and light. I think I will definitely save them for races, and occasional training.

I would have to try them with the normal insoles to see what happens, too. It might or might not work for me, who knows... wah.. talk about a big risk buying a shoe! And you'd think buying a running shoe was that simple! But when you know about these things, and you see other (less knowledgable) people run in, god knows what kind of shoe, you'd think twice too! And I've heard of people who've bought the wrong shoe and ended up suffering for it, with knee injuries, illitobial band, or whatever.

Anyway, met up with Jamie, Newton (who wasn't running due to injury), Yong (whom I met at SJ 10K) and Justin at KLCC as well. The weather was soooooo nice to run in. KLCC park is a bit warm usually, due to the surrounding buildings and lack of greenery, and there's a certain section of the track right after Exxon Mobil heading towards the mosque, before the 700m, that has a "heat wall". Where the wind stops and all you feel is this blanket of heat for a moment. Wierd.

Yay.. new shoes! Hehehehe...

Later matey!