Sunday, December 28, 2008

Steamboat & Black Church!

There's no relationship between the two, in case you were wondering. Just two things I was gonna blog about today.


Well, over here in America they call it hotpot, we at home call it steamboat. But I'll call it steamboat here, because there were some friends on Facebook who thought I had a POT party.. hahah.. that was hilarious. But you know, with that many Malaysians around like what we had on Christmas night, it might actually look as though it was one! LOL!

We had our party on Christmas night, and we invited quite a few friends over, some Japanese, Taiwanese, and of course, Malaysians who are based in NY at the moment. But it turned out that we had SEVEN Malaysians who came by, and it was quite a rowdy one, too! I mean, Chern Hwei and myself are rowdy as it is, but with the others it was like... oh well.. we Malaysians know what it's like when we hang out at the mamak for late nights, right? So we had Eugene Pook who came down from Rochester (that is another story, which I might or might not tell), Chee Shen (a tenor singer studying at Mannes), Wen Onn (a composer studying in NYU), Nicholas Ong (an amazing pianist based here in NY), Adriane Palikat (a drummer from Kota Kinabalu), and the two of us. Hah... all musicians. And it was a riot.. it was like home-styled mamak session! But best thing was, everyone was nuts in their own right, and I think it probably surprised the other non-Malaysian guests. We even had our M'sian styled drink cheer.. the yam seng!

Quite a good night I might add. It was a first time for some of us to have met each other for the first time ever, being in New York. But at least it's comforting to know we have more Malaysian friends here.

Black Church

I played a gig at a black church in Jamaica, Queens, last night for Leon Lacey's Day After Christmas concert. It was a part concert, part worship, kind of thing, so I got to experience first-hand, the African-American church culture. It's something I do want to experience at least once, as it is highly related to what I'm studying here in the first place, ie. Jazz. I mean, those who have read about or studied the historical roots of jazz would know that one of the major influences in the development of jazz as a distinct musical form comes from the African-American church culture.

For one thing, there was ALWAYS singing, and music at the background. Someone would always be playing the organ, or a keyboard (usually with a church organ sound) and accompanying the on-stage speaker or preacher. Then while making a testimony or preaching about something, they would build up the intensity and then would launch into a worship song (which could be either one which everyone knows, or sometimes improvised!), and just keep singing and the whole congregation would sing along, or even shout in response to a call (hence the call-and-response) or a statement. And this would go on for hours and hours, and I was there for about four hours, so it was pretty long. But the music never stops, someone would always be playing. Me and another saxophone player that night would also be playing some lines or just improvising at the back, reacting to the call-and-response of the singing, during the worship session. This was in between the short sets of which we would be playing Leon's tunes.

It was quite an energetic, uplifting, and very interesting experience for me. And I count myself blessed that I got to play and attend and experience one of this kind of church services.

Before I sign off, I'll just say that I'll post some pictures soon (when I get my off my lazy butt to upload them off the camera), so stay tuned.

Happy New Year, y'all!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

My first Christmas away from home. Well, I don't celebrate Christmas as much as most Westerners do anyway, but still, it's always a time where we get to spend it with some company, whether with family or friends. This time Xmas eve was pretty much alone, most of the housemates were out playing Xmas eve shows, mass, etc. I was chilling out watching Buffy episodes online and drinking egg-nog (too bad the non-alcoholic one). But today we're doing a nice dinner session, where hotpot (or steamboat in Malaysia) is the main theme! We're getting some Malaysians and some Japanese and Taiwanese people to come over, and most of them.. no, ALL of them are musicians. So we're gonna have some fun tonight.

And too bad (or good, depends how you look at it), it has stopped snowing. It was pretty sunny today, so it was kinda nice! Snow maybe interesting for the first day or two, after that it can get rather depressing! Hahaha..

Well.. whatever it is..


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let it snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

What started out as light rain, became light and then heavy snow. Took some videos while we were outside walking to have lunch.

Let it snoooowwww....!!!