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 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.