And The Beat Goes On

And The Beat Goes On

by Johan Alias

First staged in 2006, the Borneo Jazz Festival – originally called the Miri International Jazz Festival – has grown steadily since its inauguration from 2,000 spectators to over 8,000 today.

The Borneo Jazz Festival 2016 took place on May 12 and 13, on the grounds of the festival’s home for these past 11 years, the Park City Everly Hotel which overlooks a beach cove on the South China Sea.

One of the most anticipated performers this year, saxophonist Yuichiro Tokuda and his band Ralyzzdig from Japan, regaled the crowd with a set of smooth jazz that ran from easy-listening soul-inflected numbers to doses of heavy funk.

Representing Malaysia & India, A.P.I cleverly used their diversified culture and produced fusion jazz with extraordinary outcome. Raw Earth from Singapore thrilled the crowd with their Old School music styles from the 50s to 70s such as blues, rock and roll, funk and soul. Succinct yet cutting solos peppered their sets, with insistent rhythmic grooves—both hot and chilled—much to the delight of the audience.

O Sisters! from Spain livened up the crowd with their cute and chirpy toe-tapping 20’s swing music and set the mood for the rest of the night.

Manou Gallo Groove Orchestra , an international group of 4 women and 4 men from Ivory Coast, Belgium, France and Denmark and fronted by a cool female bassist Manou Gallo. The group played afro jazz with infectious energy and passion, each member showing mad skills on their respective instruments.

The Rad Trads, who are based in New York City, have quickly gained reputation as one of New York’s most entertaining live acts and this was reflected by their performance at the festival on the second night, pumping the crowd with the sounds of New Orleans brass band and R&B grooves, inspired by the popular band Chicago.

Master organist, Hin Ee Jeng and Miri-born guitarist, Dean Sim, displayed a well-known soulfunk-jazz with their all-Malaysian band Funkatorie. They proved that not only the roots of jazz are strong and far-reaching but that the future of the genre is bright in Malaysia.

Klazz Brothers & Cuba Percussion seduced the audience with their distinct and unique sound, uniting the classical European music with swing, merengue and AfroCuban jazz in a contagious way.

The festival was first organized with the prime objective of creating another signature event in Sarawak particularly in Miri, to promote the city as a ‘Resort City’. It has since then become a popular addition to the myriad festivals that the East-Malaysian state has to offer.

For most, this growth is a reflection of the successful planning and promotion by the Sarawak Tourism Board and an indication of the Malaysian public’s hunger for on a broader level, it shows another sign of the growing appeal of jazz music in Asia.

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