Sunday, January 15, 2006

All that Jazz @ Bangkok Jazz

If there were one word to describe the showcase, it would be playful. Brilliantly playful. There were no stoic-like choir, no military-band march- even the stiff-necked pianist one would usually see at the hotel lounge was not in sight. Everything was au naturel, from the giggles to the naughty winks to the brilliant musical teases-they were such sheer sight to see, even so; beautiful to hear.

The five talented individuals that performed in Bangkok Jazz Thai Bistro, Chulan Square- Rozhan Razman on bass, Kevin Choo on saxophone, Tok Khon on keyboard, Sudin on drums (although John Thomas was the anticipated drummer) and that ever-lovely Mia Palencia on vocals, whipped rich cream out of plain milk. They obviously had the capacity and energy to do that and beyond- being distinctive on their own, yet none of it being taken away from one another in this understated joint-performance.

The band gave the showcase a kick-start with two numbers, heavily-laden with tricky finger-styles on whatever musical instrument that was in their hands. By the time Mia Palencia took centre stage with her vocals, the show had begun to take flight; and behold, high did they soar!

Mia’s dark-chocolate-y vocals were so lovely, not even Diana Krall could de-lovely her. Interestingly, she started off with a difficult number, Summertime- a classic, originally by Ira Gershwin. Few whom I have heard could conquer it well- the song would usually leave its singer drowning with stretches of minor keys. Yet, one could say she did it, she made it; she pulled it off- magically. I don’t know how she did the song the way she did it, it was like watching a magician pull tricks right in front of your eyes; only in this case, your ears were the fools.

I was especially mesmerized by her rendition of Chega de Saudade, a Jobim composition. Bossa nova must have been too hard to resist, with a voice like that. She began with extra- velvet-like sultry Brazilian, and the band gave a nice, slow tempo to it- not too edgy, not inching towards samba; but just easy-listening for a good winding down-session. How one wished she would have done Triste and Girl from Ipanema as well.

However, the highlight of the showcase had to be none other (not even Mia’s) than the jamming make-up of the “Sensational Trio”- Rozhan Razman on bass, Eric Li on piano and John Thomas on drums. Once on stage, they showed the crowd what it meant to be “a class above the rest”.

Watching Eric Li’s fingers glide across the keyboard was like meeting a good friend after some years- both simply knew where to pick up after what has been left off. Rozhan also had his finest hour then, though I must admit that even in his brilliance; he paled in the shadows of Eric Li and John Thomas. (He came back with a vengeance during his mischievous endeavour with “Fly”, a guest bassist) The show stealer, however; was John Thomas; despite making only a short appearance on the show. His rhythm and tempo were all over the place, but never out of place. Together, they formed a formidable team of Malaysian jazz giants.

The showcase ended with the original band and Mia coming onstage again, belting out a Stevie Wonder medley. It was well past 1 am, but the band did not give one ounce less of when they first started. The crowd were clearly having a lot of fun; jiggling with Rozhan and gang- with drinks or none. One wondered if the climax would ever drop had the bistro not call the night a day. Again, there was a lot of mischief going around the stage. Rozhan even strummed the first bar of Let’s Groove Tonight, just before the band took the number to a final high; much to the band’s chagrin. Good one, Rozhan; and what a show it was!

This was certainly a night worth remembering- the strong coming of young Malaysians from cocoons into beautiful butterflies- of jazz.

Jazz enthusiasts, you’ve been warned.

*For good updates on the Malaysian jazz scene, visit
*Poster courtesy of


Blogger jedibaba said...

Ah.. Jazz is definitely to be prescribed for people recovering from flu! :)
I am a piano man myself prefering the melancholy tinkling of the late Bill Evans. But I do the occasional Charlie Byrd plays Jobim.

10:54 AM  
Blogger tehtarik said...

Haha, indeed it does. But not without an overdose of vitamin C, Clarinese and sleep the day before. :)

I also discovered that jazz also double up as a shot of expresso. Keeps one awake even on an early Sunday morning service...

Charlie Byrd plays Jobim? This is getting interesting...

11:00 AM  
Blogger discordant_dude said...

Hmmm... fr the way u described it, maybe u shud really consider giving up theology for jazz ;)

Kiddin... thanx for the invite, it reinforced my regret of not taking up piano lessons.

12:20 PM  
Blogger jedibaba said...

Why not both? There are similarities between theology and jazz. Both are rooted in something unchanging (agora?) yet thrive on improvisation (emergent?).

2:39 PM  
Blogger tehtarik said...

Do I smell a proposal for synthesis? =D

2:57 PM  
Blogger jacksons said...

Better than Diana Krall? Sure or not?

-Angry Diana Krall fan-

9:44 AM  
Blogger tehtarik said...

Diana Krall is a living legend, no dispute!

However, you must listen to these local gems.

I am blaming post-colonisation for downplaying the potentials of local creativity.. hehe.

2:20 PM  
Blogger jedibaba said...

Hmm... Diana Krall? I think ok only-lah. She more pianist. But Laura Fygi's voice.... ah!
I am glad this blog is now focusing on really important stuff!

3:38 PM  
Blogger tehtarik said...

Jedibaba must have really expensive taste to say Miss Krall is ok-la.:)

Well, I am glad no one here thought Richard Clayderman played jazz, for the record!

Elis Regina, anyone?

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Double cheese burger? Are you guys speaking in tongue or I'm from another Planet, i.e. the NORMAL ppl's world.


10:18 AM  
Blogger jacksons said...

Laura Fygi? Wah, i must learn from the uncle lah! Jack, what's wrong, this is all stuff that would make it light and easy - what!

12:57 AM  

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