Sunday, August 28, 2005

Lazy to blog.. and Greg Lyons @ Avanti's review.

Yes, I've begun to feel lazy to blog. I can understand why some bloggers have huge chunks of lost time in between some of their posts.

I don't know what to write also.. my life isn't as interesting as you might think....

......Oh well, okay, so maybe it is, for some of you guys.. haha.. sorry, no hard feelings.

Another thing I have to admit to myself, that it does take quite an amount of time just to type out thoughts, post pictures, or links, etc. And it can take some considerable amount of time to do more important things.

But anyway..

Greg Lyons Quartet @ Avanti's Review:

Went to see Greg Lyons Quartet at Avanti's on Friday after teaching a class, and later meeting my friend KT for dinner.

It was nice to see Lewis Pragasam play drums with Greg again. He's got so much power, and musical authority to his playing, that he can just lift the whole band up, giving it so much life and musical flight. He plays with such intensity, even on ballads. Special guest Eddy Sambuaga, pretty much tore it up on the piano... at times, his ideas will be sweet and beautiful, and others he will go nuts and tear the tune inside out... amazing cat, he is! And of course, not forgetting Mr. Popshuvit AJ, holding the groove and bass ostinatoes on his electric bass!

I came in a few minutes after they started their first tune, Up To You, a 3/4-meter tune (a composition of Greg's), which has been his staple quartet tunes in his shows. Before I even entered the restaurant, I could hear the band, and instantly I knew it was Lewis who was playing drums, hence my statement above.

Then a bossa-laced Giant Steps followed (albeit a faster than usual tempo), and the mood was brought down with one of my favorite ballads, Old Folks. It's definitely one of my favorites, one I will learn to play as well. Playing ballads are my favorite, much more than "burnout" tunes, because of the amount of space there is, to express yourself, and to create such intensity, albeit subtle. Both Eddy and Greg played with such subtle intensity, and melodic expressiveness, that it hits you emotionally (or at least it did me).

The quartet then funked it up with a funky, fusion-like version of Eddie Harris' (one of Greg's fave sax players!) Freedom Jazz Dance, popularized by Miles Davis. This is one of those times, that you'll hear the band really tear the song apart inside out, being a modal tune. Even AJ wasn't spared!

The first set ended with Pat Metheny's Travels. It's a beautiful tune, almost pop-like in nature, but more interesting melodically and harmonically.

Second set started off with Greg's 3/4 latin-funk arrangement of Duke Ellington's Take The A-Train. And the funk continued on with his composition Elbow Room (which will appear in Greg's upcoming Nonet album). One of the highlights of the tune was AJ holding on to the ostinato bassline while Lewis plays his rhythmically-mad-screw-you-inside-out solos... and after a while even AJ finally drops out and lets Lewis take the whole drum solo lead.

The mood changed, when Greg played a latin-induced You Don't Know What Love Is, a minor-key standard ballad, and brings it down with another beautiful ballad The Nearness Of You.

Greg then ended the last set and for the whole show with Suraya, another of his compositions which is featured in his album Island To Island (which can be ordered here).

And of course, the post gig makan... hahaha... (my favorite parts of a show).

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Dunno what title..

Ahahha.. I'm so malas to come up with titles to put on the start of each post. But anyway, just a brief (hopefully) post about the last couple of days, that I want to blog about..

Tuesday -

Messing with my bike..

Messed around with with my bike's front derailleurs (the gear that shifts the chain around where the pedals are). I was messing with it, cos some of the gear combinations were noisy, where the chain actually touches the derailleurs. And guess what.. I totally messed everything up. On the front derailleurs, there are two screws to adjust, one for high gear, and one for low gear. Problem was, I didn't know which was which? At least the rear derailleur had an 'L' or 'H' marked onto it, the front derailleur didn't! Had to stop halfway cos I had to go teach a saxophone class.

Greg Lyons interview on Traxx.FM...

The class ended in time for me to head back to my car (I make housecalls too) to listen to Greg's interview. I drove all the way back listening to the station and the interview, hung around in my car (I don't have a decent radio in my house) to listen some more, and then finally went on the internet broadcast instead (wah.. RTM actually got internet broadcast.. I thought they'd never make it!).

Interview went good! I was so glad to hear Greg's tunes from his debut album as a leader, Island To Island on national radio. I hope this will lead to better tidings, where Greg's music is concerned. And not to mention some really great jazz music selections that was played on air, from Branford Marsalis Trio The Dark Keys, Kenny Garrett with What Is Thing Called Love (from the Standard Of Language album), Norman Brown, Sade's Sweetest Taboo (to pay Traxx.FM's bills, according to Maya...*LOL*) and some more. Greg's musical selection from his CD collection included two tracks from his album, Suraya and Out from the Shadows, Wayne Shorter's Schizophrenia, Oliver Nelson on The Shadow Of Your Smile from his Sound Pieces album (check out the beautiful soprano tone and playing!), Freddie Hubbard's Red Clay with the distinguished saxophone player, the late Joe Henderson. John Scofield's I'll Take Les (with the late Eddie Harris) closed off the show. Great job, Jezza and Maya of Traxx.FM!

Check out the interview write-up here (courtesy of

By the way, don't miss out Greg Lyons' performance at Avanti's Restaurant Sunway, with the Greg Lyons Quartet, this Friday night.

Wednesday (yesterday) -

Messing with my bike, part 2..

Woke up (late) fresh, and started on my bike gears again, after my breakfast. Eventually I actually managed to get it adjusted fairly nicely to ride. So, just before afternoon set it, I geared up and took the bike out for my first short workout ride!! Yay!

I took it out from my house, onto the Cheras-KL Silk Highway. I initially planned to hit only until Saujana Impian (which is about just 3km from my house), but adrenaline got the better of me, and I rode out onto the highway all the way to the Sg. Long interchange (5km ++ from my house), and doubled back to Jalan Cheras (old way), then turned in to the Saujana Impian exit and headed to Saujana Impian. Exited out into the Sri Jenaris-Sg. Kantan exit (a part of my running route as well), and rode home. Took about slightly over 45 minutes in total and covered about 10+ km. It was pretty fun, and exhilirating! I just didn't like the traffic though, hard to cross the road. Traffic in Kajang has gone from bad to worse these days, and Malaysian driving etiquette didn't help much either.

Fantastic Four @ Mid Valley..

After a quick job in Uptown, PJ, in the smack of peak-hour evening, I decided to head to Mid Valley to kill time instead of going home, and waiting in the peak-hour jam. Tried my luck and headed up to the cineplex, and guess what, I was just in time to buy a ticket for the 7.30pm show for Fantastic Four (it was the only screening that day).

Show was fun, not that big a deal. Just plain fun. Good for the kids. And adults too, apparently.

I was sitting next to a bunch of ladies (late 30s probably), very housewife-y type, I think. I think one of them was pregnant too. I was looking around, and I saw quite a number of people. They looked like either they were just off-work, or they're out of their house (if they work) in their available spare time for the day. I guess this might be the best time for anyone to check out a movie. While watching the movie, she was making comments throughout the show, apparently quite surprised by some aspects in the movie... like Reed's elasticity, Johnny's fire antics, etc. Usually I might have been irritated, but the more I heard her, I realised that she was really, REALLY genuinely surprised with it (even though the Nokia ad prior to the screening always says... Don't engage in dialogue with the cinema screens!!.. or something like that). It's like they have never seen anything like it before. How amusing... :)

Oh well, there are definitely worse people la.. especially those who don't switch off their mobile phones (at least put on the damn silent mode la, a-holes!), and talking LOUDLY when answering their calls WHILE the show is still on!

Oddly enough, no mobile phones rang during the screening! Wierd..

* * * * *
Okay.. not so brief after all... so sue me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

This week's jazz gigs: Greg Lyons..

Greg Lyons will be appearing on Traxx.FM (Klang Valley frequency 90.3) tonight, Tuesday, for their Jazz Selekta program at 9pm. The interview starts at 10pm. So for all Malaysian jazz enthusiasts, tune in to Traxx.Fm, and find out more about KL's top saxophonist/jazz musician.

For a live feed, click here.

* * * * *
Also on Greg..

Greg Lyons Quartet @ Avanti's Restaurant, Sunway

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Greg will be performing with his quartet at Avanti's Restaurant, Sunway Hotel and Resort this weekend. He'll be bringing you lots of jazz music with a dose of contemporary European style, Brazil and Afro-Cuban influences. Don't miss it!

Venue: Avanti's Restaurant, Sunway Hotel and Resort
Date: 26 Aug 2005 (Friday)
Time: Music starts 10pm
Admission: Free
For bookings call 03-7492 8000 ext. 3176
SUPPORT JAZZ MUSIC IN K.L (or Sunway in this case!)!!!!

If you wish to receive updates of shows that I am part of, as well as shows worth watching from my own recommendation, please email me at jcsax78 [at] yahoo [dot] com with the subject header "I want jazz updates" or "Add me!!!!", and I will add you to my regular mailing list.

My new bike!

I did it... I've gone crazy!

I just got a new road bike today, from Joo Ngan's Bicycle Center. It's a TREK 1000 model, an entry level road bike. FYI:
TREK is the main sponsor, and the bike of choice for Tour de France seven time winner, Lance Armstrong. Here's how it looks like.

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I will not divulge on how much I paid for it, but suffice to say, I'm now unofficially broke lah. So that will put a hold on my gadget craze for a very, VERY long time. But I'm glad I bought it. I will finally get into cycling again, but this time, even more seriously. I hope to be able to race with it too, with duathlons and hopefully one day, triathlons as well.

Greg went with me this afternoon to get the bike, and he showed me basically how to dismantle the wheels and put the frame in the back seat of my car. Quite a tricky procedure in itself. When I got back home, I was waiting in bated breath to assemble it myself.

Front wheel... no problem. Just put it in, lock the brakes quick release lever, and lock the wheel.

Back wheel... BIG problem! I don't know how to fit the back wheel back with the chains! Eventually, I managed to fit the wheel back with the chains into the sprockets, and that itself took me 15 minutes! I had to study the picture of the road bike, from a book I bought called The Complete Bike Book written by Chris Sidwells. It's a good book for beginners and intermediate riders on bike anatomy as well as maintenance.

Then, without further ado, I took it for a short ride around my taman (which is basically one small little loop). It took me a few rounds before I got the hang of starting off pedalling, playing with gears (that I still have to practice some more), braking and just the general feel of riding a bike again. Ahhh, the feeling was nothing short of exhilirating! I can't wait to take it out for a longer ride in the next day or two! The bike itself was such a nice ride, but I'll still need to get used to the light-weightedness of the bike (compared to the bike I used to have back in high school). But that's the nature of these entry-level road bikes, with greater technological advances, bike manufacturers can use lighter materials for the bike frames.

Well, since I'm unofficially broke, if anyone got some gigs (paid ones only please!) that need a saxophone/flute, don't hesitate to call me! Thank you very much! LOL!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

It's not about the bike... every second counts!

I just finished Lance Armstrong's It's Not About The Bike just a minute before I started typing this. Man... what a great inspirational book. Now, gotta get his next one: Every Second Counts.

Go get this book!

Now, to go for a run...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

It's Not About The Bike...and NB 15K cert

Was over at KLCC after meeting Greg from Joo Ngan's (*hint hint* for those who know what I'm talking about, it's a hint for something I'll be getting into in the very near future) shop in Ampang, and got myself a copy of Lance Armstrong's It's Not About The Bike. I've read the introductory pages, and I'm already psyched to read the whole book!

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If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's basically a book written by Lance. For those who do not know the Lance Armstrong story, here's a brief account: Lance was already an accomplished athlete, but was diagnosed with testicular cancer when he was 25. He fought the cancer, it went into remission, and then he worked his butt off and won seven Tour De France's... yes, SEVEN!!!! So, this book is his account on what he has experienced, and what drove him to seven TDF victories.

It's a must read for all Lance fans, cycling fans, and basically anyone who has been inspired by his story.

(Note: This year's TDF is his last, as he announced his retirement from the TDF as well as a professional cyclist, so that he can spend more time with his family and kids.)

* * * * *
Look what dropped in my mail today...

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It's my New Balance Pacesetters 15K certificate! The PACM people are really cool. I've mentioned that this is the best road race I've ever participated in. This is definitely one of the big reasons why I said so.

You will hardly ever see a race certificate with your pictures, your stats and everything else!

So, if this isn't incentive enough, join next year's NB 15K for more goodies!

* * * * *

I actually went for a swim today!

I didn't swim too long, as it started to rain. I spent the whole hour just doing the first two and three drills of the Total Immersion swimming technique. They were basically drills to learn balance on with your torso on horizontal (flat on your back), as well as your balance when your body is vertical position (on your side).

I don't think I'll be doing some serious swimming until I've completed all the drills needed for me to master the Total Immersion technique.

Refresher: The Total Immersion technique is a swimming technique that enables a swimmer to swim a longer distance with less effort through less strokes. It teaches how to swim by making your body hydrodynamic, and letting the water propel you rather than forcing your way through the water like a barge.

I haven't swam for more than a year now. Feels good to be in the water again.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Haze... Farid Ali.. and then some..

Thursday 11 Aug

Today, the haze was one of the worst ever days in the Klang Valley. I was totally knackered once I woke up from my bed! It was awful, smelling nothing but smog. And i spent the whole day pretty much at home, doing some computer stuff, and attempting to practice a bit. I even cancelled my evening student 'cos I was just feeling so off from the haze. But I finally managed to get my butt off my couch to get out of the house. Went to KLIA to send
Justin off.

Then, I rushed to Alexis to do the soundcheck for the Farid Ali gig the following two nights. Haze was still really bad, until Farid couldn't sing properly from coughing. Even my chest felt heavy and stuffy. Left home to sleep.

* * * * * * *
Friday 12 Aug

Woke up late... in the afternoon.. AGAIN! Decide to go the gym right away to run on the treadmill. All that haze is really getting to me, sapping my energies. I managed to cover 7km on the treadmill while watching the episode of
Oprah Winfrey with special guest Lance Armstrong. I was quite inspired with Lance and his tribulations and victories with cancer and Tour De France.

Best thing was, I felt really, REALLY good after that workout. Felt like I could take on the world.

After post-workout lunch, rushed home to pack my stuff to head to Astro. I had a recording session for Reshmonu for the Astro Amplified program. Yes, I'll be on it. Me with Eddie Wen on trumpets and Roger Chee on trombone. The Horny Horns section!! Heh heh heh. So watch out for it on.. err.. Channel 15? I dunno when it's coming out la.. but it'll be out.

The recording started very late, everything got pushed. It was supposed to start at 8, but got pushed to 9.30pm!! I was getting pretty worried, as I had to go to Alexis to play the Farid Ali gig at 10.30pm!! Thankfully, the recording is a ONE-SHOT recording. So by the time we finished, it was about 10.35pm or so. I quickly rushed and got all my stuff back into car (I was carry 4 horns and stands!). And I sped like a mad man on the Middle Ring Road 2 to Ampang exit.

Managed to get there at 11pm, but Farid had already started. So I went in anyway, went to the table next to the stage, and set up my stuff anyway. And the customers sitting on that table were like looking at me pretty strangely, so I just smiled and asked if I could use their seat to set up my instruments. It took me almost 10 minutes for me to set up ALL my horns.. the alto, tenor, soprano, and flute!

But I just went in anyway, and continued with the band on the next song. The first two or three songs, I was pretty tense, due to the rush. My legs were like shivering a bit each time I was playing and standing on my toes or whatever (that's how I seem to be physically doing when I'm playing or taking a solo). After that, I began to feel more relaxed.

By the way, the crowd at Alexis was happening that night! Noisy, but they were responsive to the band and Farid's music.. which is absolutely great! Read
Bryan's blog about his experience listening to us (with pics). We even played some really nice blues stuff, like Mustang Sally and *something* Sunday blues. We did quite a number of Farid's tune from his Turning Point album, such as Peace and Friendship, Gift Of Life, Thank you and Goodbye, Deep Within Me, and one of his more recent compositions called Deep Water, a gamelan influenced tune. We did some other covers like Summertime, Ain't No Sunshine, and bebop numbers like Billie's Bounce and more.

After the gig, we hung out at Lotus Jln Ampang, until 5.30am. Oh gawd..

* * * * * * *
Saturday 13 Aug

Woke up in the afternoon AGAIN! Ahhh.. the life of a musician. Good or bad.. depends. Woke up just in time to pick up my Saturday student and go for lunch. After his lesson, I prepared my horns and reeds for the night's gig at Alexis. Showered and took a really short nap, before I left for Alexis.

The show at Alexis tonight was quite okay. Crowd wasn't as happening as the night before. We had a sub drummer in tonight, Chee Hoong. He did Greg's Nonet gig three weeks ago, when I was still down with dengue fever. A fairly green drummer, but was already figuratively put in the deep end of the pool for the last couple of weeks... playing in Greg's Nonet (not easy for an inexperienced rhythm section with all that odd meter crazy stuff that Greg writes) and playing for Farid with some of the more different grooves and music. But the best part, he's had absolutely NO rehearsal with the band! I only ran through the charts and music with him. For most part, he nailed all the important parts in the music dead-on! Very impressive for a first-timer with no rehearsals!

Give it up for Chee, y'all...
* * * * * * *

Sunday 14 Aug

Chill day.. or at least half a day.

Went for a nice semi-long run in the evening.. about 7km also, but it's outdoor. Another big housing area adjacent to mine, with hills and all. Feels good to run outdoors again, with no air pollution! My stamina's getting better again, so I'm feeling really perked up.

Met up with Farid for dinner at Saravan Bhavan at Bangsar. By the way, you should check out that place, especially if you're an indian food enthusiast, like myself (I have this theory I was probably indian in my past life!). It's a nice, nifty, vegetarian indian restaurant, just adjacent to McDonald's. The food's great there! Even for non-vegetarians. Try some of their nice curries, just mouth-watering. One of my fave dishes was the curry cottage cheese... just went crazy over it.

Last agenda of the day, went over to ss6 and met up with the Horny Horns Eddie Wen and Roger Chee for a studio recording for local R&B acapella group VE. Did one song for them, for their upcoming album. Sounds really nice.. disco feel... tickling funny as well. Hear it when it comes out (don't know when, though).

* * * * * * *

Is chill out day for me! I'm sitting on my computer typing this out. And I'm having a nice vege pizza from Domino's.

Oh yeah, Eugene from
AllDatJazz.Com did an interview with me recently. He's just put it up on his website. You wanna know a little more about me and what I do, check it out here.

Looks like I won't be having that much things going on where gigs are concerned. Good time to recover a bit, chill, and practice much more. Of course, back to my running and training. Got to get back into active motion again. Join me for a run, anyone??

Have a good week, y'all....

Update: Check out Eugene's AllDatJazz.Com for upcoming gigs for this week. Still lots of stuff happening this weekend, so don't miss it.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Farewell Justin Lim a.k.a SuperChowYunFatt!

If you didn't know already, my, no... our pianist, and close friend, Justin Lim will be leaving for the US of A tonight, 11 Aug 2005, to further his studies at Pennsylvania State University. He'll be studying for his Masters in Composition. He'll be there for at least two years.

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Me and Justin

We're going to miss him... badly! AHahhaa... but it'll be great for him, for sure. And we're definitely happy for him for that. Most of us probably know, he'll stand to learn more and get much more out of going to a place like US than sticking around KL at the moment.

Okay, so it's just 2 over years, nothing to be too sad about. But that's how it is, a departure, for quite a while. Sad, but happy as well. But anyway, I first met the cat way back in '98, after I got to know my bass player AJ. AJ was still studying in UPM then, and he's already got to know Justin, so I was introduced to him after that. I think we started jamming and stuff. But it was only after I got back from my studies in Australia in 2000, that I actually had met up with him more, especially when the band I was playing in then, Vincent Ong's Black Machine, "recruited" him to play in it as well.

It was after that, things started rolling musically for all of us. I also "recruited" him to be with our band, Happy People Quintet. And we did a lot of nice, interesting stuff the last 3 years or so. We played them festivals like Sunrise Jazz Fest, Fete de La Musique, and Johor Bahru Jazz Fest, and other smaller shows in No Black Tie, Alexis Bistro, and Avanti's. A few more jazz gigs we used to do were Café Flam in Sunway, and the now defunct Jazz Bar @ Orange Pub.

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The Happy People boys!

But at the same time, we also got him to do other gigs with us, and later on he with other bands and other musicians. Later on, after really kicking in his chops (his musicality and "soul" has always been there...can't teach something like that for sure), he got "recruited" by the many-young-musicians' teacher, saxophone player and jazz musician, Greg Lyons. And he's been staple in his band ever since. At the same time, he's also played with other various jazz icons in KL.

He's also have had other projects of his own, like his Christian pop-rock band Her Reverie. From piano and keyboards, to guitar, he's did it, man!!

He's always managed to inject his soul, and tastefulness in any band he plays in. A real who's really adept in listening and adapting to the situation. As a musician, he's got beautiful taste and it shows in his playing, and how he adapts and complements the band. Even when he's improvising, you can see and hear how tasteful he is. He knows when to play, and when not to, and what to play, and that shows you how much he listens to everyone.

But out of the music spectrum, he's also a great friend. If you're on his Friendster list, or if he's in yours, check out his list of friends... and their testimonials! From my own personal experience with him as a friend, he's a great listener (in and out of music), patient, sensitive, objective but yet focused on his own goals. You might think he's a quiet, sombre guy the first time you meet him. But I can TELL YOU... he's da DEVIL MONKEY SUPER CHOW YUN FATT in disguise!! AHahah... well one way to know for sure... feed him some wine (and for once, last sunday, Guiness Stout! Shhhhhh!!). He's fast and witty, and comes up with the most crack-you-up lines!

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Justin and Debbie

But most of all, he's one of the most honest and sincere person I've ever met! Dude, I really enjoy some of our mamak conversations we've had!! Thanks for putting up with my endless rants and my sometimes overbearing character! Haahaha.. but also, thanks for some of the advice and thoughts you've given me to solve some of those know what I'm talkin' about!

To Justin: Anyway, we hope you'll come back to Malaysia, for sure. At the same time, I hope you don't come back TOO quickly, too. If you have the chance to be doing some really interesting stuff even after your studies, do it, man!

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The Brady Bunch

*sniff sniff* We're AAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL gonna miss you, man!!!

Do keep in touch with us, and I know you will. Keep us up to speed with what's happening with you there. Or even better, do up a blog, man! At least you can update us, and don't have to send a single mail, doing it! Well, of course, except for you know who lah.

Good luck for your studies and adventures in the US, bro... we wish you all the best!!! I hope to be seeing you next year (if I get my sh*t together) in NY or Penn State.


P.S: All the pictures you've seen were taken at Kam Kee's Seafood Restaurant in Section 5, Petaling Jaya. The restaurant is owned by our good friend and trumpet player Eddie Wen's dad. We would like to thank Eddie for graciously hosting Justin's farewell dinner last Sunday on the 7th August. By the way, the food there is GREAATT!!! Y'all gotta go try it. I'm a vegetarian, but the stuff his dad can cook for me already is awesome!

P.P.S: We'll be sending Justin off at KLIA tonight.

P.P.P.S: Forgive me for looking like a lobster in one pic and looking like I had shoe shine on my face in another.. that's me on my first full glass of Guiness Stout (nicer to drink than beer, mind you).

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

This Weekend: "Mr. Gambus" Farid Ali @ Alexis Ampang

If you missed us at the Sunrise Jazz and Rhythm Fest last weekend, here's your chance to catch Mr. Gambus again, in this free entrance gig.

So here it is:

"Mr. Gambus" Farid Ali @ Alexis Bistro, Ampang

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Read about "Mr. Gambus" Farid Ali

"Mr. Gambus" will be backed by Eric Li on piano and keyboards, John Thomas on drums, Wan Azfarezal on double bass, and Julian Chan on saxophones and flutes.

"Mr. Gambus" Farid Ali @ Alexis Bistro, Ampang

Date: 12 and 13 August 2005 (Friday and Saturday)
Time: 10.30pm
Venue: Alexis Bistro and Wine Bar, Great Eastern Mall Ampang. Located at 10, Ground Floor, Great Eastern Mall, 303 Jalan Ampang, 40450 Kuala Lumpur
Entrance: Free
Reservations and info: Call 03-4260 2288

Hope to see you there.


Haze Wars: The Haze Strikes Back

I was just driving towards PJ for a saxophone class with my student. And it's just one of those days I really, REALLY do not feel like going out. Just because of the haze. I took some pics with my PDA phone while I was driving on the way.

Haze at the East-West Interchange Highway (Metramac) after Connaught
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It's really bad.. I couldn't see 500 metres away.

Haze after Mid Valley to Kerinchi Link
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It's like back in 1998, when the haze from the Indonesian forest fires started and smoked Malaysia. That was really, really bad. And the smell was just pure arid and smoky.

I really hope it clears up by the end of the week.

Oh yeah, The EDGE Rat Race was supposed to be on yesterday, it got postponed. No way, anyone's gonna run in this haze! Start hitting the gyms, white collar boys!!! You still got time to train! HEhehee..

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Gym... running on treadmill

Went to the gym, Fitness First, a couple of hours after an almost heavy lunch with Justin and Vincent and wife, Sun, at Chilli's at BSC. Wanted to go to the Wisma John Hancock one, which was nearby. I went in, parked my car, went up the lift, only to find out I do not have my gym membership card! I searched in my wallet and my card wallet, but no luck, it wasn't there. Then I began thinking back on when I was last at the gym.... oh yeah, the evening I was running at KLCC Park, on the day just before I started getting the dengue fever. That meant I was last at the Menara Maxis Fitness First... which was like THREE weeks ago! Wow.. I left my card there that long?

Then I thought back again... am I sure I left it there? Decided to try my luck. So I drove all the way to KLCC Park, parked at the mosque (parking's cheaper mah!!!), and walked with my gym bag to Menara Maxis. Once I got into Fitness First, I asked the counter girl if I've left my gym card there. And true enough I did! This is like the SECOND time I left my gym card at FF Menara Maxis.... blardy hell! Oh well, at least I left it there, and not somewhere else, right?

So I proceeded to change and begin my workout. Went on the treadmill and started running. Did a slow 5K which took me slightly over 40 minutes. I ran and regulated my heart rate to around 80 - 82% of HRmax. And not running for so long, I would expect that my HR would go up pretty fast, and I didn't want to push it. So, I kept the treadmill at around 7 - 7.5kph. Managed to run through the whole thing without stopping.

Then, after the 5K I stopped and did some of those weight training machines (*snore*). After about half an hour (could be less... weight machines are so boring lah), went back up the treadmill again and finished off my workout with another 2K, but ran it at a slightly higher pace just to get a slightly harder workout.

Slowly.... slowly getting my running form back (and making full use of the rm100 over I'm paying for that damn gym... which I use more as a shower facility than actual workouts! Damn.). Now I'm just waiting for the haze to really clear so I can start running outside.

Sunday, August 07, 2005




Thanks to those who came for the Sunrise Jazz performances this weekend, for Friday with Greg Lyons Nonet, and last night with "Mr. Gambus" Farid Ali. I hope you've enjoyed the shows.

I have to say, this weekend is probably one of the more interesting and happening weekends this year (or this month, at least!). To be playing two happening and musically interesting gigs in two consecutive nights is quite a surreal experience! Also, feeling like this after recovering from dengue fever... I feel so refreshed! I feel like I'm back in this world again!

One of the best parts of Friday's gig and last night's gig was that there was still a considerable number of audience who stayed throughout the whole show! And there were listening to the music and enjoying it! It's such a pleasant experience... to say the least! It's quite a rarity, for sure. Maybe the audience want to catch something interesting, musically, this time around??? Either way, we had a great audience these two nights.

Personally speaking, I think this weekend is probably the most musically interesting weekend in the entire festival! I'm not saying this because I was playing in both nights, but in terms of the musical content! Both bands, or rather, all THREE bands, including GruvAvénue™, played almost all original material! And all of them interesting!!

Oh yeah.. congratulations to GruvAvénue™ for a kick ass show!! Great job guys! Keep it up.

(oh yeah.. now I can rest for a couple of days and recuperate from this weekend!! It's been quite a hectic week)

Just a quick gig plug:

Next week: "Mr. Gambus" Farid Ali at Alexis Bistro, Ampang! Stay tuned for updates!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Sunrise Jazz and Rhythm Fest... this weekend!!

Hey everyone!

Come over to the Sunrise Jazz and Rhythm Fest at Plaza Mont Kiara this weekend for some good music! Check out these bands, I'll be playing with two of them: Greg Lyons Nonet and "Mr. Gambus" Farid Ali. By the way, entrance is FREE! But be there early to get your seats, as the previous weeks were full of people.

Won't say much, so here it is:

5 Aug, Friday 11pm - The Greg Lyons Nonet:

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Greg Lyons on saxophones

The Greg Lyons Nonet is a 9-piece ensemble, with 6 horns plus rhythm section. Horn section includes myself on alto sax and flute, Eddie Wen and Bruce Hurn on trumpets and flugelhorns, with baritone sax and trombone, and Greg on tenor, alto, and soprano saxes. The rhythm section are Justin Lim on piano/keyboards, AJ on electric bass, and Zahid Ahmad on drums.

The Nonet will be performing Greg Lyons' original compositions as well as arrangements, from his album Island To Island, as well as new compositions from his upcoming Nonet album. Expect nothing but cutting-edge compositions and improvisation from Greg and some of the Nonet members.

6 Aug, Saturday 9.30pm - 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!

GruvAvénue™ is Vincent Ong on bass, Charles Wong on drums, Clement Siow on keyboards, and Shazee on saxophones. Special guest on vocals Rachel Guerzo.

6 Aug, Saturday 11pm - "Mr. Gambus" Farid Ali

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"Mr. Gambus" Farid Ali

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 Middle Eastern traditional instrument, the oud, or more popularly known as the gambus and how he blends it with his own jazz influence! Oh yeah... buy his album, Turning Point, and you'll get to hear the taste of Malaysian jazz!

Joining Mr. Gambus will be Eric Li on piano/keyboards, John Thomas on drums, Wan Azfarezal on double bass, and myself on saxophones and flute.

Hope to see you at the fest!!



Update: Just got the new Dave Holland Big Band album, Overtime, under Dave's own label Dare2Records, at Tower Records KLCC for RM49.90. Quite a steal, and since Dave's not under the ECM label anymore, the price of the record will definitely be much lower. That'll be in my CD player for a while.

It's got interesting arrangements from Dave Holland, and played to beauty by soloists like Chris Potter, Robin Eubanks, Antonio Hart, Duane Eubanks, Steve Nelson, Billy Kilson and more. Not to mention a hot horn section: Saxes - Chris Potter, Antonio Hart, Mark Gross, baritone sax maestro Gary Smulyan; Trombones - Robin Eubanks, Jonathan Arons, Josh Roseman; Trumpet/Flugelhorns - Taylor Haskins, Alex Sipiagin, Duane Eubanks, and rhythm section Dave, Steve Nelson on vibes, and Billy Kilson on drums.

A must check out!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Running again...

I tried running yesterday at Lake Gardens. Reached there around 6.30pm from Sri Hartamas (surprising no jam at Jalan Duta... amazing!). The moment I got out of my car, all I could smell was haze, haze, and more haze! Asked myself if I should continue with my run. I did.

Just FYI, I haven't ran for over two weeks now because of that damn mild dengue fever I had. I wasn't sure if I was up for it, but decided to run anyway, just to get my muscles back up into form.

Starting my run after some mild stretches... I ran rather slowly. I didn't feel heavy, but breathing felt a bit labored, and my legs felt like putty. Maybe the weight loss was really muscle loss... bloody hell. Heart rate goes up fairly quickly after a while, so I decided to do a 6min run/1 min walk kinda thing. But based on heart rate alone, it wasn't easy to maintain a 6-1 run/walk because after a while, my heart rate goes above 80% of max fairly quickly. Instead, I chose to run/walk based on my heart rate, where I tried to keep it 80% of max and below (the route I took in LG had some slight hills, hence the increased heart rate). I wanted to keep my workout as easy as possible, as it's my first time running after so long.

It took me about over 30 minutes to get through 4km.. shows how much regressed I've become since I got sick. But since I've got a lifetime of running, I decided not to let that get into my head. I'll be training again, until I get some optimum fitness.

Gonna head to KLCC later to run, hopefully can squeeze 5k in.