When I was preparing for the tour, I told some friends about the places we are going. "No kidding!" was the response I got from most people. Really. No kidding. This is like the missionaries in the 19th centuries, deep into the heartland of China trying to spread the good news. We were doing the missionary of Jazz, spreading the love into the nowhere land in terms of jazz in Malaysia.
So we visited these places:
Penang (not so much hinterland of jazz, but whenever I played there, there were this weird taste in my mouth. Maybe our brand of jazz- for it fusion, straight ahead, modern or whatever never suited Penag-ites taste?)
This is where we performed in Penang:
Wawasan Open University, Lecture Hall I.
There were some bands opened for us, Fuyoh, damn happening like that! The musicians are students and teachers from the organization (music school) that organized the concert. So it felt like we're some big names, with bands opened for us. No lah.
Then we lost (or forgot, then you know lah, here you forgot, means gone la) a whole set of drum Mics. Adam, with his American naivity, thought that some good hearted person will help deliver the lost item (to us, it's gone) back to us. But as of know, the good hearted person is still to be found. (one thousand bucks gone!)
After the Penang concert, we actually get to jammed in the G-spot, the premiere jazz spot in Penang.
On the second morning, we traveled up North to Alor Star. Actually I found out that Alor "Star" is "Star", not "Setar". According to local wisemen, it was originally "Star", from Pokok Star by a stream. Thus, "Alor" (stream) "Star". Then some smart-ass wanted it to sound, or look more Malay, by spelled it "Setar", Then later on it changed back to "Star". Great job, actually think about it, it is more Brand-able! There is a "Star-Gate Mall" near one of the highway exits! Kudo!
All the possibilities of having cool sounding names (albeit a bit anglo-fied) on post offices, government buildings, shopping mall, hotels, Karaoke, hospitals etc.
Alor Star, Star City Hotel Ballroom. Those Seats in front with white cover, those are RM50 seats! They were filled that night! Amazing!
In Alor Star, we were playing at the ballroom of Star City Hotel, where we stayed. Quite nice, reminded me of Pay Fong Highschool's auditorium, in Melaka, where we played a concert in 2008.
The reception was great, the organizers (nice guys, Mr Ng, and Mr Tham) told us that this is the first time Alor Star has a jazz concert! Our Pleasure!
After Alor Star, we headed back to KL. After Ipoh, the tyre actually exploded. We thought it was the road that made the van shake, but then not long after, there were black smoke coming out from the tail of the van. Damn, the whole tyre just went out! Luckily we didn't sacrifice our lives for jazz, although it will be an honor to rank up there with Clifford Brown, who died in a car crash on his way to gig.
Kota Kinabalu, City Mall, outside of Celyn Hotel, with a lot of curious passerby done with their shopping from Giant Supermarket, wondering "What the hell!"
We flew to KK for a concert (with workshop before the concert), just the Trio.
It was held in City Mall, outdoor! Due to the temperature, it was one of the hottest concert I've ever played! But the organizer was very very supportive, that made up for the water lost throughout the concert, definitely an experience.
After KK, next stop was Batu Pahat. Yes, the Batu Pahat in Johor. According to the organizer, yes, this was also the first time they have a jazz concert in Batu Pahat (same with our next stop, Kulai). If this is not spreading the good news of jazz, I don't know what is.
We played to a crowd of around 150 people, in Zhong Hua High School's auditorium. Reminded me of my high school years, all Chinese High School (Du Zhong) have that feeling, somewhat dampened, dim, and depressing auditoriums. But it don't mean that we didn't have fun, I had a lot of fun playing music (albeit badly) back in my high school days. At the time, I wasn't afraid of making a fool of myself (not that I am afraid now, just more careful) thus I jumped at any chance I get to play piano in front of people.
The piano (real piano!) I played on was old, but luckily wasn't really Honky Tonk-fied yet. It was great experience introducing jazz to people. Maybe only half the audience get the message, maybe among them, half liked what they hear, that's enough for me. Jazz is never meant to be a popular thing, but more people know about it, more people will like it. At least that's what I am hoping.
Batu Pahat Hua Ren High School Auditorium, Julian is showing off his drumming skill
Foon Yew High School, Kulai, Auditorium
The concert in Kulai was held in Kulai Foon Yew High school auditorium. It is definitely one of the richest, most kick ass high school in Malaysia.
Funny thing about this concert is, they called it “爵士情人”,literally means Jazz Lover! I hope the audience weren't dissapointed that we didn't play any sugary tunes (we did, but jazzified. We did a version of I Will 我愿意, and Moon Represents My Heart 月亮代表我的心）
Or maybe they got compensated by looking at Adam.
It is definitely hard work to be on the road, driving ourselves around the country, not enough sleep, under the stress of having to adapt ot a new environment, playing to an audience that we have no idea what they like (kind of hostile environment, at least in my mind), also trying to make it as interesting as possible.
But if you ask me, will I do it again? Are you kidding? I'm planning for it now!