Pe­nang is­land Jazz Fes­ti­val

The Pe­nang Is­land Jazz Fes­ti­val, as one of the most well-loved and well-re­spected mu­sic fes­ti­vals in the re­gion, is set for an­other un­for­get­table chap­ter next month.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By DARYL GOH

THE crowd stood hushed and mes­merised as Brazil­ian jazz gui­tar duo Paulo Bel­li­nati and Cristina Azuma car­ried on in the dark on stage with a dig­ni­fied and il­lu­mi­nat­ing per­for­mance de­spite a set ham­pered by light­ing prob­lems. Un­sung as it was, that has to be one of the many en­dur­ing mem­o­ries of last year’s Pe­nang Is­land Jazz Fes­ti­val.

Au­di­ence ma­tu­rity and pro­gres­sive-minded mu­sic pro­gram­ming has seen the fes­ti­val grow in stature. It is now the most beloved in­de­pen­dent Malaysian mu­sic fes­ti­val.

Un­like other big­ger Malaysian mu­sic fes­ti­vals, now sadly syn­ony­mous with rowdy crowds and sub-stan­dard acts, the Pe­nang Is­land Jazz Fes­ti­val has kicked on re­siliently to keep the jazz genre alive and to sus­tain a strong com­mu­nity spirit with each edi­tion.

In the span of seven years, the fest, with­out the lux­ury of govern­ment grants or lu­cra­tive spon­sor­ship, has made it­self known as a highly rep­utable re­gional event with its in­ter­na­tional pro­file steadily in­creas­ing.

Though the Pe­nang Is­land Jazz Fes­ti­val’s line-up these days en­com­passes many styles of mu­sic out­side of what’s gen­er­ally con­sid­ered “jazz,” it’s still a huge des­ti­na­tion for mu­sic fans.

Next month sees the event press­ing ahead with its sev­enth edi­tion at the lush grounds of Bayview Beach Re­sort in Batu Fer­ringhi from Dec 2-5.

Twelve acts will be di­vided over two days for the fes­ti­val’s main stage pro­gramme – the Jazz By The Beach per­for­mances on Dec 4 and 5. The fes­ti­val has a set of lead-up ac­tiv­i­ties, start­ing on Dec 2, with din­ner shows, ex­hi­bi­tions, fo­rums, fringe stages and work­shops.

A lot has changed since the fes­ti­val’s early days of smooth jazz, and this year, there are plenty of artistes and gen­res on the ros­ter you don’t want to miss.

“This year we have 200 mu­si­cians in­volved in all our events – the main stage and fringe. It is the biggest, busiest line-up yet for the fes­ti­val and you could safely say that we are push­ing the lim­its with the amount of va­ri­ety and di­ver­sity on the cards,” said Paul Au­gustin, the fes­ti­val’s di­rec­tor.

“It’s ex­cit­ing as well as chal­leng­ing to see how the fes­ti­val has grown. Most im­por­tantly, it puts Pe­nang on the map. The best thing is, the fes­ti­val at­tracts an au­di­ence with an open mind who want to dis­cover new mu­sic,” he added.

The Am­s­ter­dam-based trio Boi Akih – meld­ing jazz, folk and Nu­san­tara rhythms – is as es­o­teric as they come on a mu­sic fes­ti­val stage while the ap­pear­ance of Ger­man vo­cal group Stouxingers and ac­claimed Aus­tralian gui­tarist Tommy Em­manuel will push up the en­ter­tain­ment quota.

Sub­lime and riv­et­ing gui­tar ac­tion will def­i­nitely be at the fore­front of next month’s Pe­nang Is­land Jazz Fes­ti­val with Brazil­ian vet­eran gui­tarist Celso Machado – armed with his Afro-jazz-meets-clas­si­cal com­po­si­tions and Sabah-raised six-stringer Roger Wang – lead­ing out his own group.

SC Yun, one of South Korea’s young ris­ing jazz mu­si­cians, props up the Asian jazz con­nec­tion and ap­pears with his pi­ano-led trio – which merges con­tem­po­rary, art­ful jazz. A rare taste of jazz and eth­nic flavour from Azer­bai­jan comes cour­tesy of the Rain Sul­tanov Quar­tet.

The ex­per­i­men­tal edge – which has be­come an in­te­gral part of the fes­ti­val’s con­tem­po­rary ap­peal – ar­rives with PELbO, an un­con­ven­tional trio from Nor­way, which livens up any stage with its jazz rock and in­die lean­ings de­liv­ered with vo­cals, tuba and drums.

Am­s­ter­dam-based multi-na­tional out­fit Elec­tric Bar­bar­ian, which is a riot of nu-jazz, turntab­lism and hip hop, is bound to be a hit with the hip­sters in the crowd with its bound­ary-break­ing grooves. Com­pris­ing

Catch jazz out­fit Boi Akih, fea­tur­ing Niels Brouwer (left), Sandip Bhattcharya (screen) and Mon­ica Ak­i­hary (seated), at the Pe­nang Is­land Jazz Fes­ti­val next month.

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