Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm fine..

Hmmm.. interesting read, the last post. Even for me.

It was wierd when I was typing it. My mind was in a total state of confusion. I was probably at a mental disarray, if you will. Wierd thing was, I hardly experience something like this.. if at all. Must be one of those rare days, when the planets align against me, causing me to go haywire for no good reason.

I'm fine now, by the way.


It was a fairly productive day today, not music-wise though. Went to school early to practice and prep for lessons, and I only realized that it was a holiday in school. No wonder it was so quiet when I first got there. Antonio wasn't even around. So I got back home early, ran some errands, like send my brother's birthday gift (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRO!!!), and bought some supplies. Weather was great. On the way back from the post office at 78th St (I stay in 89th, so that's 11 blocks away), I got 'distracted' and bought a few things that I needed, and I came across a health store that I never got a chance to visit, but I knew was there. It was pretty interesting! They had a lot of interesting organic food, and even vegetarian/vegan food products as well! Couldn't buying a pack of vegan bologne slice and a ham slice, which were on sale, as well as a pack of granola cereals!

When I got back, I even cleaned up my room, for real. I didn't get a chance to thoroughly clean my room since I got back, so this was a good time than not. I rearranged everything that needed to be, cleaned the blinds (I think it hadn't been cleaned for AGES!), and re-packed everything.

Made dinner... a nice sambal vege fish with buttered brocolli and mushroom, fried egg over buttered rice! LOL! You might drool if you saw my dinner! God knows I did. Watched "Incredible Hulk" on my computer, while eating.

Then came the moment I've been waiting for... repairing my Macbook! My DVD SuperDrive and Bluetooth had been out of commission for a few weeks now. The SuperDrive I wrecked from putting a half-sized CD inside, and got it stuck... and the best part... it happened RIGHT BEFORE I came back to New York. The Bluetooth.. well, that has been failing for a little while before I got back here. I initially sent it to a Mac Support store to see if they can fix it. But the prices they charged were RIDICULOUS, and it would take AGES for them to do it. So I took back my Macbook, ordered the parts I needed from this AMAZING website called www.ifixit.com, and I decided to fix it myself, and this for almost HALF the price of sending it for repair.

Today I managed to find the time to fix it.. but man.. it was a pain! Whoever designed the laptops is either a real genius, or a pain in the neck! The screws were SO SMALL, it was really hard to get around it sometimes. But each set of screws were really unique and meant for a specific part of the laptop. After a couple of hours going at it (and almost getting hung up over ONE particular screw which was a tad more stuck), I managed to fix both the bluetooth board as well as replace a new SuperDrive! Now they both work fine! Man.. I could work at a Mac store to do repairs, like this! Ahahaha..

Oh well. Time to go.. will spend the whole day tomorrow practicing..


Friday, September 26, 2008


Yes.. it's officially Autumn in New York.

It's getting chilly.. and the presence of rainy weather affirms it.

Just to digress a little, I'll probably write a bit about these few weeks first. My apologies for not being diligent enough to write. Things have been fairly busy since I got back, with school starting and all. And I guess, I just didn't have the energy to write about it too.

First week of my return is pretty much as what I expected. Errands to run to get back into the groove of things - school, household, and everything else. Mentally I finally settled in after the first week. I still miss home and my life there. Some days more than others. But I guess it's settled in much more by now. One thing is for sure is that some things had to change from my first six months here. Break some old habits, and make new ones, where school is concerned. Put simply, just develop routines so that I have to work a little harder for school.

I haven't caught much jazz shows in NY that much yet, as I had spent quite a bit of money the past few weeks, so I'll save up for next month. Among other things, Kenny Garrett will be playing at the Iridium with his new quartet, and new CD, and I wanna go check it out. Oh, my good friend, and (what I would surmise as) my "past life brother" David Muehsam came to town for a couple of weeks to visit his mom. We got to hung out a bit, and it was a bit refreshing in many ways for me. We talked a lot about a variety of things - horns, music, life, politics, food, music, horns, life, food - and of course, not just verbally, too. Musical conversations were not excluded too!

I did a gig with Michelle Marie's band not too long ago. She organized a jazz fest at the Hudson River Cafe, and had three acts - percussionist Felle Vega, her trio (with me and Chern Hwei as guests), and Antonio Sanchez Trio (with bassist Scott Colley and saxophonist Steve Wilson)!! I played on three of her songs, and it was pretty scary, but exhilirating, too! I got to play in front of these great musicians! I hope I didn't screw up too badly. Antonio Sanchez is a mofo on da drums!!

Anyway.. back to Autumn..

Maybe it's one of "those days" kinda thing, but I woke up feeling crappy. And it's probably the second time it's happened this week. Then couple it with a mild headache. One thing led to another, I ended up feeling rather flustered and confused about everything at the end of the day. CH says I should stop watching Naruto online, as it could mess with my head. He may be right, or am I just using it as a form of 'escapism' from my life here? Could it be all that blowing from practicing causing lack of oxygen going into my brain? I don't know. I'm confused and frustrated about something, and I don't know what it is. I'm still trying to figure it out.

I don't know anything anymore. And it's really getting to me. I always thought I knew what I wanted. Maybe I still do.. but it gets a little more cloudy as the days go by. It's really odd. Before I came here for the first time, it was something I was really clear about (that's why I'm here in the first place), and there was probably only one aspect of my life that I was lacking. But now, its totally reversed. What I lacked when I was back in home, I have now.. and what I thought I was sure of, I'm not anymore. And when I think of the bigger picture, I get even more clouded. Doubts arise. It's really getting to me. I'm praying for some guidance.

Maybe it's just the season shift... I heard that the change in season affects people in different ways..

... then again, I don't know.

Friday, September 05, 2008


.. is over.

Wow.. I can't believe 2 1/2 months passed by in a blink of an eye!

First, I'd like to apologize to my readers about lack of personal updates where my activities are concerned. If you didn't know by now, I've been back in Malaysia since middle of June, and I've been SOOOO busy with work that I didn't really have the time to update the blog. How busy, you ask? Well, let's put it this way, the next day after I got back, I already had a gig lined up! That was how busy I was. I was virtually working non-stop since I got back here in KL.

I'm now back in NY, I just got in about 10 hours ago, and I haven't slept yet. So I guess this is a good time than never to update my blog. Anyway, this time I'll be here for the whole year before I come back to Malaysia for summer holidays again. So I won't be seeing all of you for the whole year *sob sob*.

Anyway, I'm just probably gonna write a little bit of what I've been doing the past 2.5 months here in Malaysia.

Gigs! Gigs! Gigs!

Yeah, that's what I've been doing the most, really! The following day after I got back to KL (18/6), I was playing for Junji's gig at Groove Junction (19/6), and the next day with UK jazz singer Peter Grant (20/6). They decided to rope me in for the rest of the show, so the following weekend after I got back I was playing at Alexis with Peter Grant, from Thursday through Saturday (24-26/6).

The first weekend of July I was at Ipoh for a video shoot for Tourism Malaysia (I still haven't got paid yet, those bastards!), and then the weekend with my band Boplicity at Bangkok Jazz (4-5/7). That was a real fun gig, as I haven't played with the band for so long, and I was itching to play!! The second night even had Malaysian drum legend Lewis Pragasam sitting in with us for a fast blistering bebop tune!


I totally forgot I got KT to register the both of us for the Siemens Run race! So with only 3 hours of sleep after the heart-burning Bangkok Jazz performance with my band, we both went for the Siemens Run (which was about 8.8km and not 10), and I clocked about 1:06, which I thought wasn't bad, even with no training. I managed to maintain a steady running pace all the way, and even sprinted to the end!

Penang? Crazy!

Oh yeah, right after the race, I also headed up to Penang (with Eddie and now-wife, Sharon) to do a workshop with the Areca cats. Talk about crazy... two nights of heavy gigs, race the next day, and then up to Penang for a jam session and workshop! The jam session was pretty nice, it was at G-Spot, at G Hotel, Gurney Drive. There was LOADS of people.. something we totally didn't expect of a jazz jam session! Good job Areca fellas. The sax workshop itself was small, but pretty cool, although I'm not sure if I confused anymore people or not! Ahah..

More gigs.

Got home to KL on Tuesday, and played on the weekend with Daniel Foong's band Giant Timeline at Groove Junction (10/7) and then Eric Li's Jazz Latino at Alexis Bistro (11-12/7).

JB Arts Festival, Mamak, and more Boplicity!

The following week was really crazy, as preparations for the David Gomes Sextet to play at the Johor Bahru Arts Festival (17/7) was on the way. At the same time, I was also busy trying to handle a multiple amount of things with the "Let's Go Mamak!" show, that was to be held at KLPac beginning of August. The JB Jazz Festival was a blast.. and was really tiring.. everyone played well and played hard! The band had David Gomes on piano and vocals, me (alto sax), Eddie (trumpet), Vincent (double bass), Martin (drums), and Benjamin on tenor sax.

We rushed back the following day for a Boplicity club date at Alexis Bistro (18-19/7). It went well, too, although everyone was almost burned out, so although we still gave our all, our energy level just wasn't enough to make it really powerful.

Mamak and Sheila Majid, and a Sedaya workshop.

The following week, preparations for the Mamak show was definitely on its more final and complex stages. It wasn't as organized than I would've liked it to be, so it led to a lot of complicated scheduling. At the same time, we had intense three-day rehearsals for the Sheila Majid concert in Kuantan on that weekend (26/7). Just before we left for Kuantan, I even managed to squeeze in a band workshop at Sedaya College with Chern Hwei. It was fun to see them kids playing and doing their thing with a little more enthusiasm than I remembered.

The Sheila concert itself was fun, although due to lack of promo from the promoters had less people in the audience than it should. But the band was tight, and we were just kickin' ass on stage! Woohoo.. I felt really lucky that at least I had once chance to perform with Sheila!

Also got to know a new friend, and amazing singer, Winnie from 2V1G.. a new group that just released an album. Check them out at 2v1G.

Let's Go Mamak!

This was the final week for preparations for the Mamak show at Pentas 2, KLPac. Everything was quite a mess, to be honest, and I still wasn't even sure if the show will turn out good, so I was worried as hell! But I had to make sure that it turned out as well as it could, despite the harrowing circumstances. But in the end, thanks to the amazing musicians that played for the show (and probably some divine intervention as well), the show turned out really well and everything somehow came together. Opening night had almost full occupancy, and the following two nights was totally full house (KLPac had to refuse a few people on the Sunday night show!). Thank God!

We had some pretty good reviews from people who came to the show, they all had a good time, and some were even emotionally touched by the message that the show intended to spread.

James Flynn @ Alexis

After the Mamak show, I managed to wind down a short bit, and squeezed in some hard practice days. The second weekend of August, I did a show with Aussie singer James Flynn with the Michael Veerapen Quartet at Alexis.


The week after the James Flynn show, I had my folks arranged a nice short holiday in Phuket. All I did was just chill out good.. get some sun, swim in the pool, and just simply relax! Too bad it was only for three nights (and it went by fast too!). More would've been nice. But it was a well-needed relaxing trip. My ideal vacation - beach, sun, relax.

David Gomes @ Bangkok Jazz

The night I got back from Phuket, I was at Bangkok Jazz playing my last gig (for a long time) with jazz pianist-vocalist great, David Gomes at Bangkok Jazz. Backing David was myself on sax, Daniel Foong on bass, and Jon Jacobs on drums. It was a kick-ass night, as well, and playing with David has always been a fun one, where you can really stretch out and he's always behind ya. Now that he'll be in Bangkok for the next four months, looks like KL will have to do without David for a little while, and it's their loss, for most part. That's less one Malaysian jazz great to listen too.

WV Trio @ No Black Tie

Another highlight of my summer break gigs, is playing with this awesome trio, consisting of Tay Cher Siang (piano), Adam Osmianski (drums) and Jon Cavendish (bass), or else known as the WV Trio (the three of them studied and played together in West Virginia University). They did a fair number of Brazilian music, with such kick-butt grooves, it was simply just intoxicating. They played a few interesting rearrangements, such as The Bad Plus' rearrangement of Tears For Fears' Everybody Wants To Rule The World. I played with them for the next two Tuesdays at No Black Tie and it was a real kick ass experience as well, having to sight read-and-transpose their music. Even so, it was one hell of a rhythm section!! The three of them lock so tight, it feels like like you're floating on air. Hope I'll get a chance to play with them again!

Good time with them juniors..

The second-last weekend of August saw me performing with my musical.. juniors.. at Bangkok Jazz, ie. Giant Timeline, led by Daniel Foong. The rest of the band were Cheah Wei Li (keys), Faz Aznam (guitars) and Steve Naris (drums). I actually got them to play Eric Marienthal's Easy Street, a tune I've been hearing for 10 years but never got a chance to play till now. And these guys did a good job, although the crowd for most part were a little less enthusiastic. But I had fun playing with them, and they're on the way to kick some major butt in the music scene.


Hmmm.. Bangkok.. now that was a good, albeit short trip. ;) Just found it interesting that something could develop under such circumstances, and I welcome it.

Final gig for the summer...

... was at Laundry Bar with Eddie's band Urban Tribes, for the Merdeka Eve party. Ina Fabergas sung with us, and we had THREE subs in the band, namely me on sax, Hiro on bass, and Arthur on drums. Eddie and Justin were the only original cats! The band was kickin', and the music was funkin' all night... but too bad the venue sucked, and so did the crowd. Stupid sound enginee..no, technician. But the band had fun playing!

Birthday cum farewell...

This time celebrations were small, just a nice dinner with my folks and relatives. My bro got me a new phone!! After that, I had a small farewell hang out with me music buddies in Bangsar (if you're a FB-er you could see some pics there). One thing I'll miss while being here is the closeness and camaraderie with your best mates who also happen to be your colleagues.

Last but not least..


I had a great summer.. wish it didn't end that quickly. But alas, time does fly when you have lots of fun. Back to the reality that is NYC! Gonna miss all of you cats and dear friends... so please, make sure you buzz me on MSN, Yahoo, and also Skype! At least got some online company, during the times when I get real bored here.

Till the next time.. more New York stories.


PS: Miss ya SCSY..