Jazz hero: Catch Michael Veerapen and a host of other pianists at No Black Tie’s Malaysian Jazz Piano Festival from Jan 16 to 18.
Key in to jazz at the inaugural Malaysian Jazz Piano Festival.
WHAT could possibly connect a bunch of musicians today to an invention made in the 17th century? Practical thinking would suggest little, but that’s just the beauty of the piano. The instrument’s current incarnation was first put together as far back as 1698 by Italian Bartolomeo Cristofori, and continues to be enjoyed in that very form to this day.
The grandfather of all musical instruments is receiving a tip of the hat from six players this Thursday to Sunday, as part of No Black Tie’s (NBT) Malaysian Jazz Piano Festival. File this under the “by local, for global” label, by all means.
“It is indeed a proud moment for us that we have in our midst a new generation of jazz pianists who are dedicated to their art, and shaping the cultural landscape of Kuala Lumpur with their original sounds, improvisations and forming their own ensembles,” said Evelyn Hii, NBT club owner.
According to her, the festival promises to be one brimming with musical treats, not just for jazz fans, but all music lovers. As the leading jazz piano exponent in the nation, Michael Veerapen needs no introduction at all. The man has not only earned his stripes in the jazz genre over the past few decades, but was involved in the success of the late Sudirman Haji Arshad as well, playing musical director during the singer’s victory at the Salem Asian Music Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1989 for the song One Thousand Million Smiles.
Tay Cher Siang, too, is a big name, having fast become a festival favourite at regional jazz jaunts like the Penang Island Jazz Festival, Taichung Jazz Festival, Thailand International Jazz Fest and Manila Jazz Fest, among many others. His pursuit of jazz has led him to form his own bands WVC TRiO +1 and Unit Asia, a multinational jazz supergroup.
John Dip Silas, on the other hand, indulged in his love for rock and pop music early on, before plunging head first into jazz while studying at the Australian International Conservatorium of Music. The young musician has since absorbed the flavours of Gavin Ahearn, Wynton Kelly, Oscar Peterson, Chick Corea and more, to come up with a blend of styles all his own, wowing audiences at popular jazz haunts in the Klang Valley in the process.
More than just having his lines on singer-songwriter Pete Teo’s sophomore album Television, Justin Lim has rendered his services to a range of artistes, including the likes of Malaysian Idol winner Jaclyn Victor, Indonesian pop artiste Kris Dayanti and Korean folk legend Kang San-ae.
Kuala Lumpur-born Hin Ee Jeng credits his jazz exposure to Keith Jarrett and Michel Camilo. And instead of heading down the heady road of pure jazz, Hin has pushed the envelope with his love for all things contemporary, throwing in musical genres like neo-soul and hip hop to come up with a unique sound.
Rounding up the festival highlights is Wei Li Cheah, who knows the route around the black and whites like any other jazz pianist worth his salt.
The Malaysian Jazz Piano Festival includes workshops and clinics at UCSI University, Universiti Malaya, as well as NBT during the day, and evening performances at the club featuring the six pianists as soloists, duos and trios, culminating with each of them leading a jazz trio on the final day of the three-day event.