Youth and Jazz…Asian Youth Jazz Orchestra

Last night’s (7 Oct) Asian Youth Jazz Orchestra (AYJO) concert at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas was really an enjoyable musical feast. Congratulations and well-done to Japan Foundation for putting this together. I’m jealous because I’m slightly more than 10 years too old to qualify for it! HAHA!

Being a musician for a quite a while now, and a professional one for the last 15 years, it is always inspiring to see younger musicians in situations like these. And most of us musicians understand what it’s like, because we have been that young and full of energy to play. It is not to say that we don’t have that kind of energy now, but we’re just getting better at knowing HOW to use it.

There’s something to be said about watching a youth band play “old people’s” music. In contrast, watching my elders and established musicians & jazz artistes has always been a musically fulfilling and also educational experience, because one gets to see upfront, the masters at work. There’s a certain kind of elegance and Zen to their music and playing, and when it reaches into the deep corners of the soul, it has a lasting and profound effect.

However, watching a good youth band play, there’s definitely a different kind of energy output. The combination of musical discipline of playing this music, coupled with the fire of youth, ever ready to be blasted out into the open air, is an interesting one. There’s a lot of energy, but one does not release it all in one go. Rather, it has to be tempered with by training, and there’s a time and place to ‘let go’ of all that pent-up energy in the music. A good music arrangement will help deal with that. But above all that, I think it gives us (the ‘older’ musicians) some kind renewal of fire, and helps us to glimpse back at the time when we were also full of energy to play, and why we love to play in the first place.

Nevertheless, the Orchestra isn’t an orchestra that any kid can join. One has to be at a certain level of playing to be able to do so.  These kids have worked their butts off real hard to get in. And they performed excellently at their last stop of their Asian tour (and I’m sure, of their other stops). Congratulations to Muhammad Abdul Karim for being the only Malaysian to qualify to enter into the Orchestra, and making us Malaysians proud. You did real good. Also, congratulations to my Singaporean little brother, Rit Xu, for also doing so well in the Orchestra, and for being able to contribute one tune in their repertoire.

I think we all look forward to the progress of these excellent young men and women in the Orchestra in the years to come. Hopefully with the right guidance, hard work, and affinity, they will go places in their lives.

Kudos to JAPAN FOUNDATION for putting the Orchestra together, and Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur for bringing them here for the Malaysian audiences.

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