Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Penang Bridge Run.. n' More!

I did it!!

I finally did the Penang Bridge Run!! This run is a momentuous event for me, in more ways than one!

1) It's my first race in a year and a half (my last race being KLIM '06 half marathon distance)

2) Doing the Bridge is something I've been wanting to do for a long time. And it'll probably be my only PBM for a long time (if I go off to US, then it'll be a few years before PBM can happen for me!).

Anyway, here's a short report of my account in Penang, for the run and extra-curricular activities!


Penang Bridge Run (PBM). A race I've wanted to do for years, since I started joining races. When I could, they stopped the race for two years, I think. And when they started the race again in '06, I couldn't do it at all, as I had not trained for it due to lots of shows and traveling overseas.

I registered for myself and KT, and we were training a bit over the past several months for it. However, we weren't fully trained for it, as we didn't even cover a long run that went past 15km. But what the heck, we wanted to go for it anyway. KT had a business trip to Singapore, and he was due to join me in Penang on Friday at night, and he'll return to KL with me.

Friday (22 June):

11am - Bombshell-1 hits me: KT sms-ed me and told me he couldn't run, as his ankle hasn't healed, but will join me in Penang.

1pm - Left my house for Penang, making about two stops for toilet, and one for ice-cream (Baskin Robbins.. yumm!! Feeling hungry very fast the last few days).

5.30-8pm - Reached Penang Bridge... kau kau jammed! Headed straight away for Queensbay Mall to collect bibs and t-shirts. Took wrong turn and had to U-turn back... basket, I hate it when that happens. Collected running kits, walked around the Mall. Got lots of interesting shops. Had pancakes for dinner. Tempted to eat even more, too! Bombshell-2 hits: KT sms-ed me and told me he couldn't join me in Penang, as he was late to get into the terminal, and SIA refused to let him in (even though he was there 30mins before take-off! wtf?)!!! Great, means I have to run alone, and bear all accomodation expenses on my own, too! Sigh.

8pm-9.30pm - Looked around town for the YMCA, but I got lost around town, trying to find it. I'm such a "hero", thinking I could find my way. But eventually I did find the place, after making a call to YMCA, and making several rounds around the same street and going off some other streets. Checked in and took a nice warm shower.

10.15pm-2am - Left YMCA to town area near Penang Road to this place, Spice & Rice, where my friend Jonathan Yee (fellow sax-man) was playing with his band. Had some nice indian food (makan again!), and jammed with those cats. After I finished their last set with them, we headed over to Audee's Jazz and Wine Bar to see another Jonathan play. This one's Jonathan Chen, who plays electric bass. Btw, Jonathan Chen and I were schoolmates from Kajang High School, and we met through a variety show we did way back in '94. That time he was playing violin. We jammed some more after they finished their first set, and we had their usual supper session (didn't eat this time!). Went back YMCA and crashed.

Saturday (23 June):

9am - Woke up kau early, dunno why! Maybe too nervous about the race? Anyway, I was supposed to wake up at 9.30am, so I could do a short 20min run, just to loosen up my joints. But since I woke up earlier, I just went for one anyway.

10.15am-2pm - Met up with uncle for breakfast, and hung out with him at his place until afternoon. Headed back to YMCA, picked up my horn and my Macbook and went to Gurney Plaza, where I had some lunch at Dome and checked mail on WiFi. Jonathan (sax player) met up with me, chatted a while, and went off to teach.

4pm - Rendezvous-ed with uncle again to go to his friend's music shop to jam with this guitarist bloke. Went back to YMCA to bath and relax.

8pm - Met up with uncle again to for dinner.. had a nice pasta and mushroom soup at Food Loft @ Gurney Plaza. Nice dining concept, but not enough variety.

10pm - Back @ YMCA, packed my running gear for the morning - Asics Gel Kayano 13 shoes, running shorts and vests, Nike Dri-fit socks, bibs (official bibs and "In Memory of Terence Leong - Penguin 6" bib), Accelerade, PowerGels, PowerBar, and slept at 11.30pm.

Sunday (24 June - RACE DAY!!):

Read all about it here!

9.30am - Managed to get back to YMCA to shower and scream over my chaffed thighs!

10.45am - Went out to brunch with Jonathan and wife at a nice Indian restaurant!! Nothing like good Indian food (not the mamak variety, mind you!) after a heavy race!!

12.30pm - Went with them to check out the Fete De La Musique at Upper Penang Rd. Jonathan's band, Q Jazz Collective, played a 30-minute set. Had lunch with them, Wilson Quah and his colleague, Willis (MORE eating!).

3pm - Took a quick ride to YMCA, collected my horn, changed, and went back to Upp Penang Rd again, where I was gonna sit in with Wilson and his Areca Jazz Ensemble, to play a 30-minute set as well.

That was a fun deal... met Adil who also sat in with us, so there were THREE sax player up on stage. Me and Jonathan on alto, and Adil on tenor. Other musicians included Jonathan Chen on violin, Frankie on bass, Jon Skali on drums, and Calvin on guitar, with Wilson on piano. We jammed on three tunes - Au Privave, All Blues, and So What. It was pretty fun, I must say, we enjoyed ourselves to the max! But weather was hot like mad!!

4.30pm - took a nice half a mug o' cold Tiger beer (and a nice iced chocolate drink after that!) at Segafredos while hanging out with the cats.

6.30pm - dinner at the nasi kandar place with Wilson, Adil and his dad. They both left for KL shortly after that. I went back to YMCA to refresh and chill. Dozed off slightly.

9.45pm - Jonathan came to pick me up again, and headed back to Upp Penang Rd to catch Jonathan Chen's band, Ocean Of Fire, play the last set. Hung out a bit at Segafredo's again, until about 11pm. Jonathan and his wife left after a while, while I hung around some more with tissue stuck in ears watching some of the amateur rock/metal bands clown around singing inaudible lyrics and distortion guitars.

12.15am - Ocean of Fire finally came on, and they were a breath of fresh air from the rock bands, and they played their brand of instrumental rock, and pretty much kicked everybody's butt!! LOL!

Side note: OOF was the runner-up of the Yamaha Asian Beat competition last year, I think. They won some best instrumentalist(s) awards too.

1.30am - We hung out at the nasi kandar mamak place, and Jonathan Chen sent me back to YMCA, and I pretty much knocked out after that!

Monday (25 June):

I was supposed to return back to KL on Sunday, but I figured it'll be to crazy for me to drive back right after the race, so I stayed an extra night. Woke up almost in the afternoon, and when I got ready, I checked out from the YMCA, and met up with Wilson Quah for lunch at a nice economy rice vegetarian shop in town. Took a trip to Air Itam, and back into town for some really nice mango ice kacang and water chestnut drink, while chatting about a whole slew of topics on music! We also met up Paul Augustin and the organizer of the Penang Fete De La Musique. We chatted for an hour or so, before Wilson sent me back to YMCA.

After that, it was a nice, but relatively fast, 5-hour drive back to KL.

Even had a chance to stop by Tapah Dunkin' Donuts to use their open wifi network to check mails and post a quickie blogpost.

Ahhh.. I had a great time in Penang. Two vacations in two weeks!

Till the next race!!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Penang.. here I come!

Ok folks,

I'm off to Penang in an hour or so... I'm goin' there to run 22.3km in the Penang Bridge Run!!

Wish me luck..!!

SUFFER.. !!!!

Woo hoo... my first race in a year and a half!! I'm not expecting a PR.. just a good completion of it! If can get PR considered good already, man! AHahha...


Wednesday, June 20, 2007


My first REAL vacation.. ever!

Prelude... Day 1

After the very exhilarating Genting Jazz Fest, I left for home on Sunday morning, as I had a plane to catch to Langkawi. After sending John Thomas back home, I returned home and packed my stuff and Dad sent me to the LCC-T. Met up with Eddie, Bryant, and Oliver (and also Chee Meng who was also on the way back to Bangkok, as he was in KL for the weekend), as the four of us were going for the wedding in Langkawi.

By the way, we're on the way to Langkawi to primarily attend a Japanese friend's wedding, Aya Takahashi. She was one of the group of Japanese girls who are real jazz and music fans, and always used to come to check out our shows in KL. I can say that they're probably one of our biggest fans! At the same time, I thought of making this trip a possible vacation for myself. Since I started working as a musician, I haven't had a vacation and time-off from work for myself... in other words, I haven't had had a vacation for almost 7 years. Guess it's time to have one.

The flight itself was uneventful. Had a good chat with Oliver, whom we also met through the Japanese girls during our shows, and only got to meet once in a blue moon. After touchdown, we were refreshed at the sight of clear blue skies, and clean air in Langkawi island. I was already starting to feel relaxed! We took a cab to our accommodation, Malibest Resort, which was located at Pantai Chenang. Credit to Eddie who chose a real nice spot to stay in for the next couple of days. Along with our resort, Pantai Chenang is a street full of little shops, ranging from eateries and restaurants, to selling beach wear and street clothes. And further down the road was the popular The ZON duty-free shop.

Our accommodation, Malibest Resort, was a resort full of brick-housed chalets along the beach, and they range from deluxe 2-bed rooms (including tree-top chalets for 2) to family-sized chalets for four! For a price we were paying for a family room, it's FRICKIN' cheap! Again, kudos to Eddie for finding such a nice spot. After getting comfortable and settled in our chalet, we headed out to the beach to enjoy the sunset, and to walk around the beach taking some really cool photos. The beach was really beautiful, not as polluted as Port Dickson, with almost-white sand, and the sea just stretched out so nice, with some other nearby islands not too far from where we were.

Once we got hungry we decided to walk around the stretch of road to find a nice restaurant to stuff our faces in. There were a few Chinese seafood restaurants around, and while some catered to foreigners (judging from the price they were charging), there were also smaller, cheaper alternatives. We chose one seafood restaurant from across our resort, where we thought the price was very reasonable. They also catered for vegetarians like myself, and the waitress was also very experienced in making sure that they catered for my vegetarian requirements, as well! Cool. We warmed up easily over some brew, Oliver and Byrant had beers (they were drinking them like fish), whilst me and Eddie attempted to stoke it up over half a bottle of Guinness Stout. From then on, it was unstoppable, uncontrollable laughter from the dynamic horn duo, and pretty much all four of us after that.

After a nice hearty dinner, we walked around a little bit more looking for some convenience store, and we bought some supplies like water, junk food, and of course, liquor. Bought a few cans of beer, and Kampai, so we can dunk them when we head to the beach later at night. Back at the room, we chilled a short while, and decided to go to the beach with horns, and both me and Eddie started jamming while the night progressed. There were three Singaporeans right outside our place, and they were also chilling out, one of them with a cajon, while the other two were playing fire chains like those fire acts in a circus. Without knowing it, two hours passed while we were jamming, and personnel from the desk office came over and told us we'd have to stop by 12 so we won't be bothering other tenants from sleeping. That was that, and after chatting a little bit more, we decided to crash it in, so we could wake up early for the wedding in the morning.

Day 2 - the wedding and the waterfall...

Wedding bells...

Except for Oliver, we woke up earlier than usual... very unlike us. But the morning was just too nice to go wasted. Walked on the morning beach to enjoy the daylight, and then had some breakfast at a near by breakfast bar. Breakfast was so-so, I could make better scrambled eggs, though. But coffee was ok to start the day with. We decided to rent a Toyata Avanza 1.3 at a tourist station next to where we had breakfast. For RM130 a day, it was a good price to pay for, since there'll be an additional two persons joining us for the next two days.

We drove to Kuah town, taking turns to drive the Avanza... it was a real nice drive, even for a 1.3 automatic shift. We picked up Roger who came by ferry from Penang, and we headed to the Westin Langkawi Spa and Resort, where Aya was getting married. Man, that place oozes luxury holiday in paradise! It's next to the ocean, which is so clean and blue. Anyway, we were one of the last few to arrive, it seems that including us, there are only 16 guests in her wedding!!! OMG... really feel like guests of honor (
arigato gozaimasu, Aya!!). Her wedding ceremony took place at a small little boat pier that extends from the beach for about 100-200metres. There was champagne and wedding cake, and also flower petals to sprinkle on them when they finish the ceremony and walk back to the hotel.

The ceremony itself was really simple and sweet, with the couple exchanging vows in English (!). The poor groom was having a little difficulty with some of the English words.. I thought they could've just done it in Japanese or something. LOL. But it was still very sweet to watch. Then it was the cake cutting, and the traditional Japanese toast, "KAMPAI!". Of course, we couldn't finish without the traditional Malaysian Chinese wedding toast! So in order to "educate" the Japanese relatives, we did one round for them with Aya. You'll know what to expect...


Champagne: RM200 a bottle
Flowers: RM500
The look on wedding couple's parents and relatives' face when we made the toast:

So to get them in the loop, we did it for the second round, and this time the couple and their parents and relatives joined in loudly as well!

After the toast and speeches, all of us adjourned to the hotel coffee house for lunch, and we had a really nice course dinner. Aya even had vegetarian dishes all special ordered for me too! Thanks again!

Splish Splash...

After the wedding, and a quick change of clothes (plus a few lewd photos), we headed around town area to look for some beach clothes, and headed off to the Durian Perangin waterfalls, where we climbed up the highest possible spot where the waterfall was. After an hour plus of fooling around in the water, taking photos, splish-splashing around, we cleaned up and headed back to the Westin to pick up Aya's friend and her mom for dinner at Kuah town, and later some duty-free shopping.

Most of us were quite bummed out after a full-day outing. Oliver and his friend crashed out pretty quick. Didn't do much after that night, so most of us crashed pretty early too.

Day 3... running..scooter rides, cable cars, and crappy restaurants!

I woke up early to run (still have to train for the Penang Bridge Run!), and I managed to run about 8k from our resort to halfway towards the airport. That took me about an hour. Before I got back Bryant, Eddie, and Roger headed off to Kuah town for more duty-free shopping, while i freshened up and rendezvous-ed with Oliver for breakfast just across the road from his room, at the Breakfast Station, where they made really much better breakfast.

The rest of the fellas came back after a while, and joined us. When we finished, it was almost noon, and we rented some scooters. Luckily, half of us had motorbike licenses, and so we rented three scooters and piggy-backed, two-to-a-scooter. Before we headed out, me and Eddie took our horns and jammed a bit with Oliver taking some photos of us, while the other three chilled in their rooms. We headed out, after having some lunch at an expensive, not-worth-the-money indian restaurant at our resort, to Telaga Tujuh, where former PM Tun Dr Mahathir opened up his Japanese-style bakery, The Loaf. Before that, we went up the cable car up the Machinchang hilltop. It was pretty interesting, and scary for me.. as the cable car angled up pretty steep somewhere past the halfway point to the first hilltop Station 510 feet above ground. After taking some photos, we proceeded up another 200 feet to the top Station, where there was also a short connecting suspension bridge between two nearby hilltops. Because it was a partially cloudy day, we got to experience clouds blowing at our faces! So that was pretty fun. At the top hillpoint, we chilled out until the clouds cleared, and a beautiful view of the ocean and some nearby islands opened up to us (and getting ourselves REALLY tanned along the way).

We got down after 2 hours plus, had some ice-cream, and rode out to Telaga Tujuh. We checked out The Loaf, and prices were pretty steep. We bought some pastries take-away and we ate them in the restaurant, at the couch just next to the entrance. Guess what? We got chased out, saying that we cannot eat there if we're taking away... EVEN AFTER buying some breads from there! Well.. guess what? I'm not going back there anymore.. period! Who gives a shit if it's the former PM's place. If that's the way you treat customers, well... I wish you no good luck for your crappy business. I'm telling everyone to boycott that place. If you're not into bullshit, up-nosed kinda place, The Loaf is NOT for you.

We proceeded to the nearby Russian restaurant, aptly named U.S.S.R Restaurant, and had our meal there instead! What turned out to be a light meal turned out to be an early dinner for us. Beautiful food.. really good service. Shows how much bad Malaysian businesses really are. Well, "UP YOURS!!!", The Loaf. YOU SUCK!!

After that hearty meal, we rode back to our resort, and took some beautiful sunset pictures along the way. Didn't do much at night, except had some supper a few hours later and crashed.

Day 4...waves... more duty free.. and goodbye!! *sniff*

Woke up slightly later than the previous day, and had breakfast at the same place again. They had really nice food! Oliver sent his friend to the airport, as he had a morning flight back. When he returned, we rode our scooters to the Zon which was at the end of Pantai Chenang road, and we looked around for some more duty free stuff (I got a bottle of Cafe Boheme!! Yippee!). Me, Eddie, and Bryant then rode around to nearby Awana Porto Malai resort.. another nice resort.. and then headed back to return our scooters.

We headed to the beach again this time with full-force and the sun's out, and this time we were really playing around in the waves, under the nice hot sun! We thoroughly enjoyed the beach, letting the big waves hit us and push us around to the shallow parts of the beach! It was so fun, and the waves strong, that even after all of that, the effects of the waves pushing me around stayed for a couple of days! When we sit down, we could still feel that floating feeling from the waves pushing us.

After all that fun, we had lunch at the first Chinese seafood restaurant again, and after sending off Roger, we headed back to the resort, packed and checked out. We hung out at Oliver's room for a couple of hours, jamming at the shaded side of the beach again, until it was time to leave for the airport.

I managed to get home by taking the LCCT bus to KL Sentral, took the Komuter train (decrepit and croweded as always, even the LAST train), and took a cab home by 11.30pm.


This was really a wonderful vacation for me, at least it felt like that to me. I haven't felt this good and refreshed in the previous holidays I've had. Looking forward to the next one.

Pictures coming up soon!

Monday, June 18, 2007

To my brother Justin Lim!

Welcome back home...!!

And a very Happy Birthday!!

I look forward to playing with you again, soon!!

Genting Jazz Fest - Part deux!


Hi all, I know I'm supposed to post the second part about the Miri Jazz Fest, but I'm gonna take the lazy way out, and just have you read Jazzmamma Junji's account of it, which basically covers most parts of it. So to read Miri Jazz Fest part two, click here. By the way, Junji has also uploaded some cool pics of our trip to Miri, so check it out too!

Genting Jazz Fest - Part Dua!

The second day started with some anticipation for me! I got up fairly early for breakfast, and had some time to blog about Day 1 at the Starbucks Coffee @ Highland Hotel. I skipped lunch, and went back to the hotel room to practice for about two hours before heading to the venue for our band soundcheck. I'm glad I had the chance to squeeze that two hours of practice, and that really warmed me up for the night! Good thing about Genting (I'm not a big fan of Genting Highlands, by the way.. too congested!), is that I won't have problems practicing in the hotel rooms, as most people are out at the amusement parks or the casino, and everything is relatively noisy, too!

The band soundcheck went relatively well, it gave us some time to work out a few kinks in the songs (we had such a short time to really put in rehearsals). However, the stage sound wasn't all too great. I had doubts about the monitoring engineer that EQ-ed our sound, especially for my saxes and the guitar. The balance was fairly okay as well.

After soundcheck it was back to the room again, but unlike Miri, we didn't really have time to relax for a few hours. We had to standby at the hall in less than two hours. Managed to chill for about half an hour, got ready, and went down for dinner. I was feeling pretty anxious, contrary to what some of my friends might think, that I should be used to the limelight. I'm always anxious before a big gig like this. I feel it's a good thing, it keeps me on the edge! Usually after we get on stage it disappears, and the music takes over!

Our show itself was a blast!! Although there were a few slip-ups from some of us (myself included), overall the performance was a very satisfying one for me!! I think we all really played hard and well that night, my favorite tune we did was the rendition of Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground. It was sort of a feature for me, and I sort of dug deep into the Kenny Garrett hip-hop/R&B/funk thing when I was playing that, and I enjoyed every minute of it! The band was really tight! We did a few originals from John and TK's, and a couple of nice covers like Spyro Gyra's Parati Latino, Dave Weckl's High Life, and also Ellington's Caravan, which featured Fu Wah (from Shanghai Jazz Ensemble) on flugelhorn! We did a trade solo thing which was really fun, as we fed off each other's ideas, and I really enjoyed playing alongside him! I was reeling from that experience hours after that!

After our show, we stuck around to watch the rest of the bands play, and it was quite an experience in itself!!

Acoustique (Wales) was a quintet with vocals, that played some original stuff and some covers! The singer had an airy sort of approach to singing the tunes, and the tone of most of their material were quite spacey, and relaxed, which was a nice contrast to our groove-heavy material.

Sakesho (Caribbean) is a Caribbean Jazz band featuring Andy Narell on steel drums! This band was probably the most awesome band I've seen in the festival. I was really delighted and awed to get the opportunity to watch Andy Narell, and also to listen to a real steel drum up close and personal! The pianist Mario was CRAZY!! He had so much ideas, and he builds his solos so up there, you could feel yourself flying to space and back!! And the band was super-tight! It seemed totally flawless, and the band was playing so effortlessly! Their arrangements were totally incredible as well, tapping into various Caribbean rhythms, intersecting with different poly-rhythms with jazz harmonies. I'd love to see this band again!!

Hazmat Modine (USA) was an experience in itself. Their set started with their leader coming out solo and playing his harmonica/harp like there's no tomorrow! He had such excellent control of the harmonica, it's mind-blowing. When the rest of the band came out, they all played totally different grooves and styles, from the blues, to country and folk, hillbilly, and other stuff totally unknown to me! At one point, the bandleader was reciting poetry!

Cubanismo! (Cuba) was the last band to play, and it got everyone dancing like nobody's business! Their set lasted for two hours, and they played so much, and with such blistering energy, even the audience didn't have the energy to dance anymore! Even I danced until I couldn't dance anymore, as I didn't have the energy to continue. I was totally famished after that!!

Genting Jazz Fest was a real musical treat for me, personally! I really enjoyed the bands that played, and I enjoyed the musical experience as well, being able to watch and listen to some really amazing and interesting music, that most people would not be able to, in KL.

Kudos to Jun Lin and gang for two jazz festivals well done! Being able to have the opportunity to play in both, I couldn't be more grateful.

And now, some photos:

For more pictures, click here.


Thursday, June 14, 2007


Hey all.. here's a gig update..

Boplicity is playing the Top Room again this weekend!  So do come by and check it out!

*trust Junji to come up with something interesting to write on the Top Room blog each time!!  Thanks Junji! ;)*

What caption would you create for this photo of Julian Chan?

A contest? That means got prize also right? What prize? Umm... how about a chance to blow on Julian's horn ... err ... using your own mouthpiece, of course. Aiyak! Somehow that didn't come out right. Ok, forget that one... how about free keropok all night at Top Room? [Eh, dey, Jazzmamak! ... keropok IS free at Top Room lah].

Erm... oookay... how about... a free photo op with the band for posting on The Top Room site and Julian Chan's site and Boplicity's site?? Ha! I think I'm well connected enough even to be able to swing a copy autographed by the five band members just for you! How about that?

But that would mean that you have to be at Top Room this Friday and Saturday when Boplicity swings along. And that would also mean that you would have to actually send your caption in before Thursday, 14th June, so that our panel of judges [that is... I, me & myself :)] can go through the entries and pick the most inventive/creative caption of all! And should it be a tight contest, rest assured that the one that reduces Julian Chan to peals of unstoppable laughter will be declared the winner.

So don't forget... Boplicity is back at The Top Room this Friday & Saturday. First set starts at 10:30 p.m. Cover charge is RM20nett. Ring 03-21428611 for reservations.

See you at The Top!


Langkawi... oh, cintaku Langkawi...


I just got back home from Langkawi. I have to say, I had such a great time there.. I almost didn't want to come back.

My first REAL vacation.

Will write about it, soon.. when I get the energy... I'm gonna crash..

Good night.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Live update: Genting Jazz Fest!

Hi all,

Here I am again in Genting, wifi-ing from Starbucks Coffee @ Highlands Hotel, and live-blogging about the Genting Jazz Festival. The first night is over, with five bands playing some really good music (and more to follow tonight!).

The bands that were playing last night were James Boyle and The Ragged Tigers (M'sia), Cape Jazz All-Stars (Cape Town), Shanghai Jazz Ensemble (Shanghai), Tangalgo (New Zealand, Italy, Scotland), and the Gangbe Brass Band (Benin, Africa).

James Boyle and the Ragged Tigers
from Malaysia, kicked off the first set with some Jimmy Boyle originals (and re-arranged by James), and some funk/latin jazz standard numbers. They put up a really good show, and are commendable because of the fact that James got real young cats in the scene to play for him - Dennis on violin, Hiro on electric bass, and Elliott on drums! I can imagine it being such a challenge for those guys!! Good job.. you guys made KL proud!

Cape Jazz All-Stars kicked off the second set with their brand of cool South African and Cape Town-ish grooves, melodies and arrangements! A lot of it were very danceable (like most African-based rhythms anyway!), but it was a real band feature rather than each individual, although each of them had solo spots at some songs.

Shanghai Jazz Ensemble
came up next, with their re-arrangements of old chinese 1930s classic songs! Our good friend and pianist Eric Li (a Shanghai native by the way) played piano with them as well, and knowing Eric, he always puts up a good show. John Thomas was featured on two tunes as well. The show was good overall, although they were some weak parts on certain tunes. Most notable in the band were the vocalists Coco Zhao Ke and Erica Lee who sang the tunes with such passion and conviction, it was a joy to listen. Who'd think that these old chinese classics could actually sound so good?? The violinist Pang Fei was also impressive.. he'd give local violin players a run for their money!

is a piano trio (piano/double bass/drums) of musicians from New Zealand, Italy and Scotland, and their music was nothing short of amazing! Imagine different tango rhythms and complex arrangements, incorporating jazz and classical characteristics, giving each song a very narrative sound! Each tune is a story in itself, with changing rhythms and dynamics at different points in the song. Their virtuosic skills enable them to execute ideas and passages with such ease it makes their story telling even much more effective! I got goosebumps listening to them!

The final band for the night was the Gangbe Brass Band from Benin, Africa. A naturally good choice for the closing act, the band was a natural party band... playing their cultural African rhythms and harmonies, with a real kick-ass horn section - three trumpets, one sousaphone, one tenor sax and a trombone player - and backed by a percussionist. I had a good taste of what the African musical culture is like... I just couldn't stop moving and dancing!! And for those who know me well, you know how little I dance, if at all! But that's what music is.. GOOD MUSIC, that is... it makes you move uncontrollably! I realize I can react to live music.. and something as simple and spiritual like African dance rhythms (and other danceable rhythms from other countries like New Orleans, Afro-Cuban, etc) is one of those things I can not resist! I would really love to see and listen to more of it!
Anyway, that's a short review of it.

Next, is a plug:

It's a bit late, but better late than never, right?? If you can, come tonight to the Genting Jazz Fest, I'm also playing with John Thomas' THE FUNK MOB at 7pm tonight. Tickets are still available. So take a nice drive up Genting and revel in some good music tonight!

THE FUNK MOB @ Genting International Jazz Festival Venue: Genting International Showroom Date and Time: Tonight 9 June 2007, 7-8pm Tickets: check out http://www.gentingjazz.com


- A driving pulse with interplays of improvisatory rhythms -

The Funk Mob is the brainchild of drummer John Ashley Thomas, whose credits includes working with Grammy award-winning flautist Nestor Torres and touring the Blue Note circuit in Japan with Motown legends The Three Degrees, and played at numerous jazz festivals including Arts Alive! Jazz Fest in South Africa and Jarasum International Jazz Fest in South Korea. The Funk Mob was formed in mid 2006 and boasts a stellar line-up of Malaysia’s finest young jazz musicians including Tok Khon on the keys, Eric Li on the piano, Fly on bass, Wan on guitar, and Julian Chan on sax.

Tok Khon
has played with numerous Taiwanese and local Chinese and Malay artistes and is also a prolific producer. He is an experienced and versatile musician who has played with many stellar musicians, including renowned drummer Lewis Pragasam.

Eric Li
has played at the Huahin International Jazz Festival in Thailand, the Mosaic Jazz Festival in Singapore and the Arts Alive! Jazz Festival in South Africa, among others. He has also worked with the likes of Hong Kong pop king Andy Lau.

is also a veteran of jazz festivals and has showed at the Bangkok Jazz Festival in Thailand and the Jarasum Jazz Festival in South Korea. His credits include working with pianist Michael Veerapan, Mr. Gambus Farid Ali, guitarist Jose Thomas and saxophonist Greg Lyons.

Guitarist Wan has worked with numerous local jazz artistes including songstress Noryn Aziz and recently played with Mr. Gambus Farid Ali in China.

Julian Chan
is a promising young saxophonist who has played at numerous jazz festivals, the most recent being the Java Jazz Festival in Indonesia. He has worked with Taiwanese superstar Jonathan Lee, Sam Macnally and percussionist Steve Thornton, among others.

Being so recently formed, the Funk Mob has only played at the Sunrise Jazz Festival and for the Heineken Live Sessions at Bangkok Jazz. The Funk Mob will be showcasing mostly original material in the jazz, funk and Latin genre and is looking forward to recording their debut album in the coming year.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

no pon.. no pon...

Can you believe it?

I left my phone at home the whole of yesterday!

I went out early in the afternoon, meeting up with Eddie and some friends to watch Shrek 3 at 1 Utama. Halfway out at the highway, I wanted to check my phone, and I realized then that I totally forgot to bring it with me. Talk about split second dilemma of deciding whether to go back and take my phone and be late for the movie (or not go at all), or just forgetting about the phone and just go without for the whole day. In the end, I just decided on the latter... although I know I have to suffer some kind of consequences.

Shrek 3 was a nice watch.. but I kinda preferred the first one though. It was funny, but the storyline was a so-so for me. Then again it wasn't funny enough to really get me super-cackled up (my friends ALL know what THAT'S like..). Now.. just have to find the chance to watch Pirates....

About the phone, what was funny was that I haven't had to use a public payphone for AGES... it was a really long time ago that I last used one. I had to call Eddie at the 1U payphone to tell him I arrived and I'll be meeting him at the cineplex. After the movie, of course, it was nice not having to deal with calls and sms-es, while I was window shopping around there. Later I met up with KT (had to call him using Eddie's phone) at Lake Gardens to do a run with him. It was a nice 8.5km run, in preparation for Penang Bridge Run, of which I've registered to do the 22.3km run. Wooo hooo.. can't wait for that.

After the run, and a rojak dinner, I was waiting for John and gang to start rehearsals at Ricky's studio. I was there since 9pm and at 9.3opm there wasn't anyone. I thought I might have gone to the wrong studio. That resulted in a half hour drive to search for a blardy payphone to call anyone about what's happening with the rehearsals. Can you believe how hard is it to find a public payphone in town these days?? I mean, I used to remember them lying all around town, even though one out of four actually works. What a real pain.

Eventually, I managed to find a phone somewhere in Damansara (the first two I found near the studio couldn't work... how farkin' typical!!), I called my friend/keyboardist Eric, who told me the rehearsal was postponed to about 10.30pm. And we finally began rehearsals at 12.15 because the studio owner double-booked the studio again!! Not the first time by the way. The previous band was booked until 12am.

Went home a zombie at quarter to 5am.

That's my day without a phone.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Gig update: Boplicity @ Chill Wine Bar

Hey everyone,

We're back playing again this week, but this time at a more chill-out place at Chill Wine Bar, Plaza Damas. Since it's a chill-out place, we're gonna be playing at a more chilled out pace. Expect some usual tunes from our repertoire and some more jazz standards to enjoy your wine and dine. Join the band - Julian Chan on saxophones, Eddie Wen on trumpet/flugelhorn, Cher Siang on piano, Vincent Ong on double bass, and Martin Ngim on drums - for three swinging, boppin' sets for two nights on Friday and Saturday.

Also, we'll have special guest on vocals, Junji Delfino, to sing a few songs with us in our three-set show both nights. Expect some sultry, powerful, soulful jazz from one of three only jazz singers in KL, and probably one of the best ones, at that!

In addition we're also gonna have young, upcoming pianist, Wei Li sitting in for Cher Siang on Saturday night (as Cher Siang would be preparing for his wedding reception on Sunday). Wei Li's a new cat on the scene, still studying in music college, but give him a couple of years, and he'll be one of the more hip up-and-coming pianist in town!

So do come by and hang out and listen to the band this weekend!


BOPLICITY @ Chill Wine Bar

Venue: Chill Wine Bar, Plaza Damas, Sri Hartamas (just before the Starbucks)
Date and Time: 1 and 2 June 2007 (Friday and Saturday), from 9.30pm
Admission: Free