Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Gig updates: The KL Hardbop Quintet and Greg Lyons Band! HOT! HOT!

Hey everyone!

It’s been a busy two weeks for me. I thank GOD for that! I’ve been busy playing and stuff, I hardly even had time to go exercising!

This next two weeks, I’ll definitely be busy as a bee, so here’s why!

The KL Hard Bop Quintet @ Avanti’s Friday Nite Jazz

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Date and Time:
25 Nov 2005, Friday. Music starts 10pm onwards

Avanti’s Italian-American Ristorante, Sunway Hotel, Sunway.

Admission: Free

Contact: 03-7492 8000 ext 3176 for reservations.

The KL Hardbop Quintet, a newly formed dynamic group, will be the first few groups ever to play bop classics from the 50s – 70s, with influences ranging from the great Cannonball Adderley Quintet to Horace Silver. In addition, they will also inject modern stylistic influences into the music, creating a palette of traditional and modern expression. They made their performance debut in KL at Alexis Bistro, Ampang earlier in the year. So if you’ve missed that show, don’t miss this one!

Led by Julian Chan on saxophones, he will be backed up by some of KL’s most stellar musicians around, including David Gomes on piano, Wan Azfarezal on double bass, Charles Wong on drums. Also get ready for some special guests performers to sit in with the band!

Sit back, and enjoy the “HARD BOP”- style sound presented and re-interpreted by this newly formed quintet.

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The Greg Lyons Band @ Alexis Ampang

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Greg Lyons is back in Alexis for this weekend, and he’ll be backed by his numero uno stellar jazz all-star band, with Michael Veerapen on piano, Lewis Pragasam on drums, and Andy Petersen on electric bass. He’ll be performing his original tunes from his Island To Island album (which you can purchase at the gig), as well as other jazz standards. Expect nothing less than beautiful, riveting music from this world-class jazz quartet!

Date and Time:
25, 26 Nov (Friday and Saturday). Music starts 10:30pm onwards.

Venue: Alexis Bistro and Wine Bar, Great Eastern Mall, Jln Ampang.

Admission: Free

Contact: 03 4260 2288 for reservations.

Don’t miss it! Head down to Alexis this weekend to finish off your weekend with great music from a great band!

Having said that…

Next week will be full of preparations, rehearsals for the upcoming Penang Jazz Festival, at the Bayview Beach Resort on 3rd and 4th Dec. I will be updating more when I return from my Jazz @ Southbridge gig in Singapore tomorrow, and after the Hardbop gig.

So stay tuned!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A jazz band... a perspective.

What is jazz?

Long answer, go look it up yourself, if you have time. I can use an entire Blogger server to try to explain it. In fact, I'm still trying to figure it out, and learn it as well. So the "server" in my brain is still trying to digest the 100-year history and the significance of jazz. But I'm not getting into that... what I'm getting into, is about being in a jazz band.

What's it like being in a jazz band?

The answer to that varies. I've played in jazz-based bands which are kick-a** and I've been in less than mediocre ones. The good bands I've played in have all one thing in common: respect. And also the spirit of teamwork.

Okay, so that's two things. Actually there's more lah.

This past five years have been quite interesting for me musically. I've listened to more jazz than the first eight years of my sax-playing life. And as each year passes, I come out having learnt and understanding more things than before, about jazz and playing music.

Playing jazz isn't about mindless, masturbatory soloing and showing off your chops (not to say my chops are great... I'm still working on it). Playing jazz is about playing any music... it's about making music. Every musician in a jazz band (or any band for that matter) has an important role in the band. A musician in a jazz band isn't isolatory... a jazz band is a single entity, and each component in the entity must function with the rest of the group to able to create music and make sense out of it. The moment one person in the band starts to lose sight of that, the equilibrium and the synergy of the music will fall apart. It becomes a one man show. Can you imagine what happens if one of your body parts, say, your HAND, starts to have a life of its own? Scary right?

Yours truly have been guilty of such indiscretion. Of course, at one point, every learning musician will go through this. It's a rite of passage, in a way. If you're lucky, you'll have people telling you off. If you're unlucky, no one will.. and you might spend the rest of your life thinking you're the greatest thing since sliced bread.

What's jazz?

Where a band is concerned, it's about a group of musicians, with same understanding and respect for the music, coming together and trying to work together to make a statement, to create something beautiful together.

The drummer - he's the very foundation of where the band lies, the primary responsibility isn't only to keep time, but to lay the groove. The drums are the platform where the band stands on. It has to be firm, but also complementary to the rest of the band members.

The bassist - he's the backbone of the band. The bass player has a dual responsibility of laying the groove AND playing the root of the harmony of the song. His time, groove, and harmony must be firm.

The pianist/guitarist - the primary source of colors for the band. The chord and harmony players. They also provide some of the rhythmic colors in the band. Unless they're taking a solo, they're usually accompanying, or comping, the soloist. Comping usually involves playing the chords, in a rhythmic manner, which complements what the soloist is doing. In addition, the chord players also provide rhythmic or harmonic ideas for the soloist to feed off on, and the soloist will take it someplace from there. On SOME occasions, the pianist will reply a melodic idea from the soloist, and if the soloist reciprocates, the pianist will do the same (but probably with another idea), hence creating a "conversation" between the band members.

The soloist (singer, horn player, sometimes guitarist, instrumentalist) - he's the frontline of the band. For most part, they're usually in charge of playing the melody. If there's more than one frontliner, then there are usually separate harmonic voices playing the melody, creating a richer melody of the song. Their main role is to state the melody nice and clear, and augment and create more melodies in their solos.

It takes a certain amount of empathy, alongside musical understanding to try to complement each other in a band. There are times when a particular component in the band will have an idea, and if based on his musical empathy, the player feels that the idea can make the music more interesting, he will play it at the right time to feed ideas into the live musical process. This serves as possible interesting ideas for the particular soloist at the time, and he can feed off it, and take the music into a more interesting area.

Each of these components have their place in the band. There's a time and place for each members to play certain things. If any of them starts to go beyond a certain boundary, or to proverbialize it... stepping on others' toes... then, the whole thing becomes rojak! A real mess. When the soloist is playing or improvising, if the piano player starts to play and improvises melodies (than comping) more than the soloist, it gets in the way of the soloist, and not giving space. First thing - it's terribly irritating, and secondly it's basically taking away the only space the soloist have in trying to tell a story.

Imagine a coffee table conversation: one person talks, telling his story. While that person talks, another person tries to talk simultaneously, but not to complement or give ideas to the main person talking... but saying totally incongruent, irrelevant topics. Rude or not?

This concept applies to everyday dealings. If you work in a team, and a member in your team starts having illusions of glory and not thinking about the project at hand, he/she is going to be a liability in the the team, and you're not going to achieve your team goals. And most importantly, it's total disrespect and inconsideration to the rest of the team members. Next thing you know, you get fired!

Jazz... is about cooperation and respect, in line with fulfilling the same goal and objectives: Creating beautiful music.

It's not about showing how well you play or sing. Or showing off to your friends.

It's about making music.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Gigs this weekend...

I won't be going to Singapore this weekend, as Hong Kong guitarist Eugene Pao will be performing at Southbridge. Greg Lyons (my sifu) will be there, so if you happen to be in Singapore, go to Jazz at Southbridge to check them out!

But on the local front, check out these gigs:


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Date and Time:
18 November 2005, 10pm onwards.

Bangkok Jazz Thai Bistro, Lot B1, Chulan Square, 92 Jalan Raja Chulan 50200 KL

603 – 2145 8708 for reservations.

Cover: Free admission!!

GruvAvenue is Vincent Ong (bass and leader), Charles Wong (drums), Clement Siow (piano and keys), and Shazee (saxophone).

For more info, check out:
Band website here.
Band updates page.

* * * * *


Date and Time:
18 and 19 November 2005, music starts 10:30pm

Alexis Bistro and Wine Bar, Great Eastern Mall, Jln Ampang

Free admission

02-4260 2288 for reservations

This time around, bandleader and pianist cum lawyer by day Suflan will be backed by Julian Chan (saxophones), Fly (electric bass), and Steve Nanda (drums).

On guest vocals will be Sari (sp?) from Akademi Fantasia, where he'll be belting out some Stevie Wonder, James Ingrams and some interesting R&B favorites.

Catch you there!


Sunday, November 13, 2005



I can't believe my story on me being pickpocketed became such a hit!!

I really appreciate the consolations, etc... but I really have to say that it wasn't a race issue! Actually, I only wrote some of the stuff I wrote out of anger of things that HAPPENS in KL. And also it's perpetuated and made worse by some of the lacksadaisical attitude of public servants, and I dare say the typical Malaysian (I didn't say MALAYS)... the fact that the majority of public servants are Malays isn't the issue. However I can't deny that most of the Malay public servants seemed to have that kind of attitude, most would associate with what former PM Tun Mahathir identifies as "The Malay Dilemma".

But I don't think it's a racial issue.. it's an environmental (and not of the green variety, thank you!) issue. The typical Malay of the new generation (born post-1970s) are spoiled by their predecessors who are now in positions of power in the government. They are "overprotected" if you will, and we all know what happens to a person when we get overprotected. We don't have to look far.. just look at Proton.. and the quality of the cars it's been making the last 20 years! Not all Malays will be spoiled... some of them are aware of the situation in Malaysia, and they work hard not to fall into the trap. They are trapped in the situation where they're thinking has become such where, "oh, I don't have to work so hard lah.. why work so hard.. not much difference also.. i'm content on just working my share and then going home to eat and sleep". There's no room for self-improvement, or rather, one would find thinking about the future WAY too much trouble! All this manifests into whatever I or any other blokes, Malay or non-Malay, would've experienced, having encountered public servants.

My friends Azwar and Ajeep are definite part of the latter.. and a few of my Malay friends too! My current next-door neighbors too. Very hardworking, forward thinking people.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, not all public servants have that attitude, and I've certainly encountered them. But they're only a small handful. Those in the private sector would have more to worry about, to earn their keep. They're made to work hard and work well, so that they get promoted, or get more pay, or even a better reputation. This is the same for non-Malays.

Now.. the Chinese.. wow! That's another story. Our environment is such that, because we're not bumiputra, they are a lot of matters that non-bumiputras have to face, that pushes them to work hard and make sure they don't fall behind. However, after a long period of having being in that situation, we've become more materialistic, and have this "keeping up with the Joneses" attitude. Some may even be kiasu. We focus our lives into gathering of material, and making sure we have plenty for the future (which is not a bad thing), but to the point it has become the SOLE purpose for working! Like Boney M... it's MONEY, MONEY, MONEY... or Poetic Ammo... IT'S ABOUT DA MONEY...

... just look at the Singaporeans! But I think the Singaporeans have it worse... it's like.. it's almost a non-choice for them!

Azwar: BTW, Singapore has plenty of Malays... but I think, being the minority, they're actually in the same situation as us Chinese here in Malaysia!

The only difference between Malaysians and Singaporeans... the Chinese aren't "protected" by the government. Anyone who resides and works in Singapore are equal in terms of footing.. be it Chinese, Malay, Indian, or foreign ethniticity! Work hard, or eat nothing!

I'm ranting here.. I don't think TOO hard about this! Where I'm concerned, there are things I don't like about Malays, Chinese AND Indians in this countries. But most importantly, I definitely don't like some of the TYPICAL Malaysian attitudes, like the "tak apa" kind of bollocks. There's plenty of that around. And I'm also guilty for it, but only for certain situations where it's not appropriate.

But even most importantly... I appreciate the multi-ethniticity (am I spelling this wrong?) in our country. It makes our country one of the most liveable countries in the world! I like my Malay friends, my Indian friends, and certainly my Chinese friends.

So cut that crap about all this racial bullshit... it shouldn't even be there. There are no room for racists in Malaysia. If you are, you're probably no better than the Nazi's!

Like Russell Peters said.. we're all gonna be brown or beige.. so let's start "mixing" now!!! Any ladies wanna mix with me?


Tuesday, November 08, 2005


That is the sound of an electronic teeth drill! I just got back from the dentist's office. I had four teeth patched up.

I never had the liking for going to the dentists' office. But then again, who in their right mind does? I don't.. but believe it or not, dentists play such an important role in our lives, whether you know it or not. I was sitting on the chair waiting to to be operated, and some of the small epiphanies that I got was that the whole world is like a giant machine. Or each individual is a smaller machine running the bigger ones. As a self-contained machine, we do things in our life as we do them, but sometimes there are small, unnoticeable things play a part which can enrich the process or wreck them. A rotten teeth is the latter, while having a dentist is the former! Even though we (supposedly) go to the dentist only TWICE a year, but it is this small inconvenience and sometimes pain, that makes the rest of our lives comfortable, and we can do the things we have to do in our daily lives.

So, despite hating going to the dentists, I take my hats off to you! Good job, guys..

* * * * *

I'll be heading over to the NEW No Black Tie later!

YES! No Black Tie is back... the most musically-charged club is back in town! Expect nothing less than top notch inspiring music from this place! A lot of us have been waiting for this to happen, and now it's here. Despite what a lot of people said about the club in its previous form and its owner, that's the closest you can get to some real good music and some real art and expression. It takes such a person of real passion to be able to run a good jazz club!! It takes a person of real passion to really create that vibe that you get in a good jazz club.

So, when it opens up officially, go and support the club, and you're supporting the local music scene in town

NO BLACK TIE is at 17 Jalan Mesui, off Jalan Nagasari, behind Istana Hotel. Music starts 10pm

* * * * *

If you haven't read the news on it on Sunday, let me update you a little bit:

PENANG JAZZ FESTIVAL 2005 is happening on the 3rd and 4th December, Saturday and Sunday. There'll be six acts a night, and the ticket prices are going for RM35 a night. Among the local acts will be David Gomes Trio, Greg Lyons Nonet, Mr. Gambus Farid Ali band featuring Chie Hanawa, and Penang Arcea Ensemble. The international acts will be Jaja (Japan), Randy Bernsen Band (USA), Lazy Monday (Korea), Steve White (USA) and some others.

For more information visit the Penang Jazz Fest 2005 website and AllDatJazz.Com.

See you in Penang!!


Saturday, November 05, 2005

Singapore...and more!


I just got back from Singapore yesterday evening, from my Southbridge gig. If you don't know already, I'm playing with the David Gomes Trio at Jazz @ Southbridge (JSB) on Thursday nights for the month of November.

David is the resident pianist/bandleader at JSB every alternate month, and he's backed by house rhythm section Eddie Jensen on electric bass and Tan Boon Gee on the drums. I'll be playing on Thursdays this whole month except on the 17th, where guitarist Eugene Pao from Hong Kong takes the weekend there. Other than that, Wednesdays feature Singaporean guitarist Andrew Lim (really nice cat and jazz guitarist!), Fridays and Saturdays feature Junji Delfino on vocals.

Wednesday 2nd:


I hitched a ride with David and Junji on their van, as the decided to drive down instead, to beat the festival rush. We left at 4am and got there around 10am, and to our delight, it was still clear from traffic! Then, we had a late breakfast in a nice little coffeeshop, kopitiam-style, and we crashed at our respective accomodations. I stayed at my aunt's place in Bedok.

Jam session...

I woke up a short while in the late afternoon, only to sleep again after about 20 minutes. I didn't know I was that tired. Woke up again, finally, at almost 6.30pm, soaked my reeds and practiced a short while. Then I headed out to JSB to check out David, Andrew and the rest of the band. I also got to jam with them, or rather, finish both the second and third set with them. It was quite a pleasure listening to Andrew play AND jamming with him as well. A very Wes Montgomery, Grant Green kind of style, it's the kind of guitarist that I enjoy listening to... tasteful, and melodic, and not overindulgent when it comes to improvising.

Arab Street...

After the gig, I joined some of the young cats, like Andrew, Boon Gee, and a few other friends from Singapore, and went to Arab Street to have supper. We went to this Middle Eastern restaurant, and I ate something called foul, some kind of beans usually used for chili (the Western-style chili not the Asian spicy-hot type). It's made into gravy, and he also added fried egg on top of the foul (I think it was cooked on top of the foul), and served with arab bread. Oh my god, it was such a delight! I've never had anything like that here in KL. I'm gonna make it a point to drop by again next week! Anyway, after 2-hours of talking and bantering, we headed home to crash.

Thursday 3rd:

Bus tickets..

I woke up late morning, and I headed out to town to get my bus tickets from Golden Mile Complex, Beach Road. I was a little apprehensive about getting tickets in light of the festival rush, but I managed to get 1pm tickets for Friday. I then had some spare time and headed down to Borders to check out some books and CDs, but didn't intend to buy anything... no budget! Headed home to rest before the gig.

First night at JSB..

I got up about 7-ish, got ready and had dinner before heading to JSB. Although not my first time playing there, I was still rather nervous, as it's my first official night at the club.

We started off playing Footprints, several other jazz standards, such as Body and Soul, and some vocal tunes from David for the first set. During the break, my sifu Greg Lyons and wife, June, came to the bar! Now that was double-y nerve-wrecking! My sifu going to see me play. Anyway, the second set started with Invitation, and David invited JSB-owner Eddie Chan to play a couple of tunes on vibes. We jammed on Just Friends and Chick Corea's 500 Miles High. Then, David invited Greg (gulp!) to play on stage. We jammed on Miles Davis' Four, and I proceeded to let Greg have the stage to finish off the set with Here's That Rainy Day and It Could Happen To You. Wow.. lucky night! In the third set, after a couple of tunes, David invited Singaporean pianist Wei Siang to jam on a couple of tunes. We played Bye Bye Blackbird and finished off with a blistering fast (my fault.. for play-counting it off real fast) version of Cherokee.

Supper and more..

As usual, it was suppertime. David, Junji, Boon Gee and myself headed to this nifty place called Mustapha's somewhere near Arab Street. It's really a shopping complex, and Boon Gee describes it as the whole Orchard Road in one building! After a quick supper, we checked out Mustafa's and it seemed like they almost have EVERYTHING.. from blood-pressure monitors to sports equipment, and everything in between! And the prices weren't too bad too, not necessarily much cheaper, but some things are.

Did I mention they open 24 hours?!?!

I managed to buy some stuff there, and use up a third of my night's pay! Hehehe.. but mostly stuff for my family. You can't get Gardenia's flavored grain bread (Fruit and Nut Loaf, or even California Raisin) back here in KL. So I had to get a few to freeze-keep and we'll have stuff to eat for breakfast and sometimes in between meals!

Headed home in a taxi, while it was raining cats and dogs.. a nice night to sleep tight!

Friday 4th:

Warning: The following passages will contain explicit language. If you're easily offended by it, please do not continue reading. It's rated PG-15 (L).

I woke up late morning again, and just enough time to pack my things and head down to the bus station. I managed to find a vegetarian stall in the Golden Mile foodcourt opposite the bus station that served really nice mee rebus on Fridays! Wow, talk about a nice meal!

Boarded the bus, and had an uneventful ride back to KL.

I reached KL, and I arranged a ride with my bud, KT and rendezvous with him at Kelana Jaya Putra station. So I took a Star LRT train and headed to Masjid Jamek stop to grab the Putra line to Kelana Jaya. And like usual, it takes ages for the train to come and it such a pain to transit in between service lines. Just a little note, that I was carrying my horn on my back, another backpack, and a heavy bread-filled skycap luggage! And some of the escalators weren't working! Biatch..

Again, the mass rail transit system in Singapore is so effective and efficient, you won't have problems getting around town. And the trains and the stations are so user-friendly, you don't have to scratch your head finding the transit stops.

I got onto the Masjid Jamek train, and I couldn't believe it was so packed with people. I noticed that it was packed with people who weren't local as well.. lots of foreign people, who I presumed were either from Indonesia, Thai, Burmese or some others. Instead of politely getting into the carriages, they happily BARGED themselves in the train pushing all others in the process.

Because I was carrying so much stuff, and jammed packed like sardines in a can, I didn't pay full attention to that nugging feeling in my ZIPPED pocket. When the train stopped at Central Market, some of the crowd in the train dispersed and exited there. I only realised then, when there was a sudden lightness in my right side of my pants, that I had been pickpocketed!! Some motherf*cker took my wallet!! I couldn't really do anything at that point, as the thief may have went out at that last stop, and I decided to exit out at KL Sentral station. I called KT and told him what happened, and he came over to KL Sentral to pick me up. I also made the necessary calls to cancel the credit cards I had on my wallet and told my parents (who were in Port Dickson). I also reported with the KL Sentral authorities.

Police..?? What for...??

KT and HS came over to Sentral, and we proceeded to find out which police station I have to go to, to report this. I asked the cop who was outside at the station, and he took me to the pondok polis (police hut/branch) at KL Sentral. They then forwarded me to the Jalan Brickfields station, and made the report. I was only told then I found out that to report a stolen wallet (crime-based reports) I have to go the Jalan Tun H.S Lee station at Jalan Stadium! The officer actually called the KL Sentral police hut branch and told them off, for "forwarding" this report to the wrong station. Oh yeah, they had the cheek to charge me rm2 for issuing a missing driving license report!

WHAT THE FUCK?????????

I just got my fucking wallet stolen, and they wanted me to pay rm2? Where the fuck am I supposed to get rm2?? From my asshole ah? Abso-fuckin-lutely stupid idiots! That's MALAYSIANS for you, ladies and gentlemen!

NOTE: Thanks KT and HS for helping me out on the short term money problem!

Oh yeah, then I was forwarded to the Jln Tun HS Lee station to hand in the report. I got there, only to find out that I didn't have to! But those lazy fucking idiots at Jalan Brickfields were to fucking lazy to report it themselves! The officer at the Tun HS Lee station had to apologize to me for having to go all the way there.

What the fuck is wrong with this system??? If you wanna report a crime, you have to go to this station. If you wanna report a car accident or road-based reports, you have to go to that station? Absolutely fucking stupid idiots of Malaysian government! Might has well just get rid of the police in the whole?

Calm of the storm...

I apologize for the blatant anger in this one. If you met me in person yesterday when this shit happened, I was a whole lot more calmer and composed than I sound. I didn't see a point of getting all raged up. The deed is done, and there's nothing much I can do about it. I'm only using this blog as a conduit to vent out them frustrations in me, which I will not do it out physically.

The rest is all just bad karma. And I'm willing to take it in as just part of life experience, and as retribution for my bad deeds in the past lives or so.

To the thief who stole my wallet:

If you die today or in the next couple of days, or ever....

...I hope you die out of a car accident, or you get shot, or you get mugged, or you die from diabetes, hepatitis, herpes, syphillis, STD or AIDS, get fucked in the ass by some ass-lover from the lockup who makes you his bitch, and whatever method you like!

But I forgive you. I consider this as retribution for the wrong I did to you in my previous incarnation.

If you ever return or leave my wallet somewhere and take the cash, please leave my essentials behind.

Oh yeah, this will be the last time I'm ever taking public transport in Kuala Lumpur. I'll say it once and I'll say it again... the public transportation system in KL is ABSO-FUCKIN-LUTELY HOPELESS!!!! I thank God in its infinity for my car. I'll even spend the extra cash for a taxi.

FUCK YOU PUTRA LRT and STAR LRT! I hope you bankrupt and let the goverment take over fully! Then again, the government wouldn't even do a good job doing it as well! Forget it, you all are doomed muthafuckas!!


After making all that police reports, we had some dinner at PJ, and KT sent HS and me home. I went out for a 30k bike ride at 11.30pm at Putrajaya to sweat out some of this deep aggression.

It's like a totally different reality here in KL. Especially just coming out of Singapore, it feels like I'm in a totally different dimension from the last one I was at. Maybe I should have stayed a couple of days more..