DiverseCity 2015 – ASEAN Jazz Festival 2015

First off, please pardon my lack of updates on my website, especially in the blog section. However, I do update my Twitter and Facebook a lot more, so do please check my FB page when you can, for more recent updates.

Secondly, I’d like to talk about the festival I just performed at with my band, WVC – the ASEAN Jazz & Percussion Festival. It was one of the the festivals under the month-long DiverseCity Arts Festival 2015 (www.diversecity.my), held at one of Desa Sri Hartamas’ longest running F&B outlets, SOULed OUT. Of course, the music portion for this festival was curated by one of Malaysia’s most respected musician/pianist/composer/arranger, and the head-of-state for jazz in this country, Michael Veerapen. Naturally, as a jazz musician at heart, the ASEAN Jazz and Percussion Festival (as well as the No Black Tie and Alexis Sessions) would be his pet projects for this festival.

I remember having this conversation with Michael over teh-tarik about him wanting to put up a city-wide, month-long festival that would encompass the entire arts community in KL – dance, music, comedy, theatre, etc. Goes without saying, it would have been a MAJOR undertaking. And guess what? He did it! Despite facing a major setback in sponsorship cut, he managed to save a big part of the Festival – the Pub Festival, Alexis & No Black Tie Sessions, and of course the Jazz & Percussion Festival. I would’ve loved to see the KL Pops Symphony concert though.

Having worked with Michael for quite a while now, I am very well aware of his style of doing things. With no exception, this festival stays true to Michael’s quality of work, and I’m quite sure the other bands would testify to that too. He managed to put together a really great show together – from the artiste line-up to the technical part of the team (sound, lights, backline, etc). You want to know how easy it was for us for WVC? We went up for soundcheck, and it only took us 20 minutes to finish it! Everything was so smooth, the sound mix, EQs and monitoring were all done so well in such a short period of time.  As far as WVC was concerned, the sound mixing was good enough that we could almost make full use of our dynamic range that we have in our tunes, comfortably.

The festival itself, was a blast, for both the audience and the performers, from what I have observed. Overall, there were all the necessary elements a festival of this kind needed – food, drinks, a relaxing open air ambience, great sound, and awesome emcee in the form of Malaysian’s jazz mamma, Junji Delfino, (who also managed to sing a few tunes, standing in for Dasha Logan) and of course, a really good programming of performances. Practically every detail was taken care of, down to the screen projectors that were placed so systematically so that people at different parts of the restaurant could watch the show. The programming of the performers were also done with great thought, and each band put up one hell of a show (including us, of course!). It was a real JAZZ festival, at least in my books! Even though the acts that were invited to play all had their own strong musical identities, we all had one thing in common – JAZZ. Enough said. All the bands that played were amazing – The Steve Nanda Group (with Patrick Terbrack on sax, WeiLi Cheah on keys and Daniel Foong on bass), Singaporean group The Steve McQueens (with my buddy Fabian Lim on sax, Joshua Wan on keys, Eugenia Yip on vocals, Aaron James Lee on drums, and Jase Sng on bass), and of course Koh Mr. Saxman and the Sounds of Siam (Uhh, I won’t even bother trying to list out their band members Thai names). I had such a great time watching and listening all of them play. I’m also glad to call them my friends, as well, as I do know all of them personally.

I’ve mentioned it on FB and all that, but I’ll say it right here again: The ASEAN Jazz Festival was one of the best jazz festivals I’ve played in KL, or in Malaysia, in a very long time. I’ve played in many festivals before whether with WVC or other bands, but this tops the list of one of the best, if not the best.

Congratulations, Michael Veerapen and his team, for putting up such a wonderful and successful event, and also inviting WVC to be part of it! I personally hope this will be able to continue and grow in the following years to come.

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