Monday, December 28, 2009

New Directions

      There are some new directions for me in my tattered path in music in year 2010. Recently I'm working closely with an indie label Music Toxin, and even came up with an idea of recording some excellent talents we have here in Malaysia. We have many talented classical pianists who are well known in the international stages, and there has not been a record company that are interested in documenting their voices. The record companies seem to be more interested in some male version of Vanessa May, or something like that. Not to blame them since they are in the business to make money. Prelude with techno beatz played by scantily clad violinist (male!) sure will make more money than Chopin played in the way it is supposed to be played.

Thus I will be producing a series of piano recordings by our local talents in 2010. So far I've approached several pianists in Malaysia. They all showed tremendous interest in this project, and first recording session is scheduled in the first week of 2010! What a great way to start a new decade!

       Secondly, I've been working with Chui Ling on this project called JZ 8, for Pop Pop Music. We cover some memorable Chinese pop songs in jazz style. I am happy to announce that we are at the last leg of the recording, and it should be scheduled to be released in Feb 2010. This project has been going on for almost a year, due to both our hectic schedules. Chui Ling is the most sought after back-up vocalist in the international scene, thus she has to fly all over the world to sing back up for many big names in the music scene. The studio that we are recording in wasn't ready and was way past the due date. But finally, we are about to complete the meat of the whole project. Can't wait to hold the CD in my hand!


 Thirdly, I became a part of this vocal quartet plus piano trio group called Caipifruta (after a song that I wrote, recorded in our WVC TRiO + 1 album EVELEN). We are still pretty much in the beginning of a relationship, but I am looking forward to write more for this group, as it is another challenge to my ability as a composer and arranger. Gambate!

I'll be damn busy, that's for sure. I guess I need to be busy.

Hello 2010.


The Beginning of Unit Asia

So, this is how Unit Asia came about. Oooohhhh, I didn't know about that until now.
I think this is written by the manager of Unit Asia Mr. Hommura.

The Beginning of UNIT ASIA

Autumn 2007, I received a request from the Japan Foundation "To
create a new Asian Jazz, we would like to form a group of Jazz
musicians in Asia comprised of Japanese musicians. We also
plan to organize a Southeast Asian Tour for the new group."
For an organizer who had organized many
tours in Asia like me, this project was "what I had dreamed of".
I really wanted to make it a success, so I started to choose
musiciansto participate in the project.

Isao MiyoshiFrom the very
beginning when I
heard of this project,
I already decided
that the musician who
will be the center
of the group
must be "Isao Miyoshi".
Miyoshi is the musician
who participated in
"Asian Fantasy
Orchestra" ASEAN Tour 2003,
starting from Bangkok (Thailand), Yangon (Myanmar),
Vientiane (Laos) and Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam).

The concert was organized to celebrate the relationship between
Japan and ASEAN.
He is certainly a skillful earnest guitarist with a variety of music
styles. Moreover, his endurance is exceptionally admired.
He was one of the key people who made AFO ASEAN
Tour 2003 successful. I was thinking that, someday I
want to organize a concerttour with him as the main role.

Hiroyuki NoritakeI discussed the project with him.
He immediately agreedand said
"Please allow me to join this project".

So the next step was to choose a
drummer and bassist. We agreed to
choose "Hiroyuki Noritake" as
Noritake is a member of the fusion
group called "T-Square". He is a
very famous and colorful Japanese drummer. His drum is
soft and precise with a widerange of skills in jazz, fusion, pop,
and classic.

For bassist, the name of "Shigeki Ippon" was proposed by
Noritake. According to Ippon's studio and
behind-the-scene work for musicals and plays, even
though he has limited experience as a bassist,
his ability is promising. He really is a rising
star of Japan at the moment.

Shigeki IpponFrom the beginning, I had the idea that
I would let Japanese musicians
play a main part in the rhythm
section. To widen the possibility
of music for this group, we needed
musicians who showed a power
to respond and I had
confident in these 3 powerful musicians.

Regarding the group name, ever since
the time that the Japan Foundation
proposed this project, (though it seems so ordinary) I already
named the group as"UNIT ASIA". When I discussed with the 3
musicians, they all agreed and said "Isn't it good?", so
we decided to use this name.

After that, we started to ask the Japan Foundation in each
country around Asia to submit the list of musicians to
participate in this event. Finally we came up
 with 13 musicians, their performance CD, and profile.
We all watched those performances together.
It was a tough decision to choose teammates from
all these fantastic musicians. However, we finally
decided, for the saxophonist, to choose
a famous Thai superstar Koh Mr. Saxman
who has a powerful emotional performance technique
with beautiful voice.

For pianist, we decided to choose Tay Cher Siang
from Malaysia, who has a clear piano touch,
lively and charming performance. We promptly
reached them and explained the project to them.
They both showed eagerness to participate and
said "I am interested in the project and please let me in".
That's how we finally got 5 members for UNIT ASIA.

Tay Cher Siang

Koh Mr. Saxman

UNIT ASIA Southeast Asian Tour 2008

October 16th 2008, all the group members and concert staffs
gathered together at Training Room, Philharmonic Hall in
Kuala Lumpur where the first rehearsal of UNIT ASIA started.

Miyoshi was the center of the group who collected various
music styles and ideas from each member. Since they are
the top selected musicians, although sometimes they got lost,
at the end of the second rehearsal day they already created
a framework of each song. October 20th, we departed
to Singapore for the first concert. Lasting for 1 month,
Southeast Asian Tour already got started.

October 22nd,
the memorable first
concert of
place atSingapore
Conference Hall.
All of the members
showed their excitement
while walking
onto the stage.
However, after
the first song,
"Song of UNIT ASIA"
finished, a big applause
and appreciation
from audiences
gave them the
confidence to
perform an incredible
first concert
beyond our
imagination. After the encore song, "For the Children",
they were given a standing ovation. The warm applause and support
from audiences that night encouraged members of UNIT ASIA
to work to the utmost ability.

After that, we organized concerts in Manila (Philippines),
Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia),
and a final performance at Chiang Mai (Thailand).

Every time, they were warmly welcomed by the audiences.
For every concert, they developed a new music style and
deepened the friendships amongst each other.

Although they differ in countries, birthplace, childhood,
 circumstances, music learning processes, and
career path, 5 different musicians encountered
their teammates in this Southeast Asian Tour
(some people said they were destined to).
With the precious experience gained from this tour,
we areconfident for the promotion of UNIT ASIA and their future.

Having members with confidence in their teammates,
warmth in sharing, powerful performance, gentle expression
through their music, and strong intentions toward UNIT ASIA,
these compositions urged their performances
to be unique. The integration of rock and pop
music under jazz's principle goes beyond music's
boundary and create the "New Asian Jazz" with their
own originality and scale.

Later activities of UNIT ASIA are not only to broaden the
possibilities of Asian Jazz, but also, hopefully, to
represent a promising future of Asian jazz musicians.
Regarding the show in Bangkok, we wished to perform
a show full of energy which can bring warmness
through our audiences' hearts.
We are waiting to see you at the concert.

November 2009 / Planet Arts
Hommura Ryonosuke (Producer)

About writer: Mr. Hommura Ryonosuke has long worked as
management staff at "PIT INN," the place which has been the center
of the Japanese Jazz scene for years. He is active in producing music
events such as "Japan and Korea Music Festival" featuring famous
Japanese drummer Mr. Eitetsu HAYASHI and internationally famous
South Korean Samul Nori ensemble led by Mr. Kim Duk-Soo.
He has also designed and produced international music tours like
Asian Fantasy Orchestra's Asian tour in 1995, 1998 and 2003, the
South East Asian tour of famous Japanese Jazz musician Mr. Satoru
Shionoya's group in 2007 and Unit Asia's South East Asian tour in 2008.

Unit Asia will perform in Bangkok on Monday 29th March 2010, 8 pm.
at Main Hall, Thailand Cultural Center!

Oh Ya, we will be performing in Bangkok in 2010.
I heard that we might be in Malaysia again in 2011. That's another year away!
But no worries, it is still a year before 2012.

Howdy Ho!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Goodbye 2009, Hello 2010

When I get older, the feeling of time flying past is more and more obvious. No kidding. I used to lament how slow the time past when I was in primary school. Now, just sitting there doing nothing, the time just flies by. Damn.

2009 has been a turbulent year for me. Looking back, it seemed like I've done a lot, but at the same time I felt the emptiness of not doing enough. Some personal matters also affected me greatly this year. I hope after this great shift in life I will learn not to take things for granted. Easy said than done, but fallen hard on the ground is really painful. Very very.

Some books that I've read this year touched me greatly. John Irving's Until I Find You, The World According to Garp are the two great read for 2009. 龙应台的大江大海, is another great read of the year. Highly recommended. Haruki Murakami's 1QH4, translated by 赖明珠 is another must read. But it is not finished yet. Supposedly Mr Murakami will finish the third book next summer.

Great movies are hard to come by, since I don't go to cinema that often. Some movies that left some impacts are The Watchmen, Julie and Julia, French movie Le Prophet, Japanese movie The Departures. Can't remember them all. Sorry, hopefully I will make more effort in taking notes in movies I've watched.

Music wise, I've come across some Brazilian music that interest me a lot. Maria Rita being one of them. The releases by Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau this year were great. Went to their concert in Singapore and MPO Hall too. Discovered some really great musicians that are not well known. Saxophonist Daniel Zamir, Maria Kannegaard, Yuri Honing, Wolfgang Haffner, Yaron Herman etc. Other musicians that I've been listening to put out some great music this year: Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Paulo Fresu, Tord Gustavsen, Tomasz Stanko, Enrico Rava, Stefano Bollani, Richard Galliano, Ralph Towner, John Zorn, Gilad Atzmon. There are just too much to listen to!

This year I've been involved in many projects that I am proud of. Looking forward to next year as a few recording projects that I'm working on this year will be released next year. As recording industry came dwindling down, to plunge into this field seems suicidal. Hopefully there are people who are serious about the music they listen to, and will buy these recordings that we spent much blood sweat and tears, with a lot of ideas and creativity to produce.

Walking pass the darkness, there is light in the end of the path. I am walking towards the light.


WVC TRiO + 1 Tour 2010 in preparation

WVC TRiO + 1 is planning for the year of 2010. As of now, we are still confirming the some of the venues, but at this stage we are happy to say that we will be performing in many new territories. The tour will take place in March to Mid April, covering five to eight cities in Malaysia, eight cities in China, and Singapore. We will also have another concert premiering our original compositions in Kuala Lumpur. Hopefully we will manage to record another album.

So, Gambate!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Unit Asia Special Concert in Tokyo, Aug 2009. Travelogue Hida Takayama

到了高山站Check In 之后,马上就上街走走。这次住的酒店是Hotel ACTY,日本住过的酒店,同等级,有独立浴室,厕所,浴缸的宽敞酒店房间中最便宜的,甚至还包早餐呢!(新宿那间早餐承惠1000圆!)



当 天的晚餐当然少不了飛騨牛,叫了飛騨牛手握寿司刺身,以及猪肉铁板定食,1800圆,饱得就要爆掉。在这间由两位老夫老妻的经营的餐厅外面看餐单时就听到 了惊人的香港人广东话以120分贝的声量传出来,还在考虑要不要进去呢。不过香味飘出来,还是进去吧。后来香港人一会儿也就走了。飛騨牛刺身,想象可能会 很硬,不过还好,吃起来咬劲是有,不过还好没有生肉的腥味,也不会咬不断。很饱。





Cold Storage,请赶快进台湾的巨峰葡萄吧!


Unit Asia Special Concert in Tokyo, Aug 2009. Travelogue Hiroshima

到了广岛时间是大约4点多,正打算要不要Check in,想想,反正我是轻装上路,还是去走走再说。于是灵机一动,改变行程,去问问到宫岛怎么去,然后就用美妙的JR Pass,坐上前往宫岛的电车,甚至连渡轮都是免费的呢!因为是日本铁路公司经营的。





老实说,我对手信这个东西已经彻悟了,尤其Globalization 后,你在任何地方买的手信大有可能都在中国组装或制造,手信的意义已经丧失无存了。宫岛似乎还在守候传统,而他们的传统手信是,饭勺。。。。





忍 不住吃了雪糕,太热了嘛!这是巨峰葡萄口味,非常美味啊!自从上回在Cold Storage 买到台湾的巨峰葡萄一试,迷上了这个味道。直到这个品种从日本移植过去台湾的,是以来到日本后都在找,可是在新宿看到的都很贵!(榴莲也看到,要价 2650圆,大约马币110!还是很糟糕的,不好吃的,不够香的泰国金枕头!)


我在广岛订到很便宜的酒店,才2850圆,叫做Hotel Hiroshima 28。我的房间外面的景色,还。。。不。。。错。。。。

然 后发现,啊!没有房间里面的淋浴间,只有公共大澡堂。。。这是第一次,我鼓起勇气到澡堂去,还好没有什么人,只有一位阿伯在洗澡。我拿着毛巾进去,找不到 挂毛巾的地方,就只有问阿伯,阿伯不太明白。。。。才搞清楚,原来毛巾都要放在外面,裸体进去澡堂的。。。。照片就免了吧。


我住那里,有看到几间Jazz Club,都是播放爵士乐的,Bird 则不定期有现场演出。那晚去没有演出。