We Love Jazz in Thailand!

THAILAND INTERNATIONAL JAZZ CONFERENCE 2017

The annual Thailand International Jazz Conference took place on 27th January to 29th January 2017. I have to say that 3 days of being immersed and surrounded by Jazz was amazing. We were blown away by the staggering amount of talent, passion and unwavering support that filled the beautiful Mahidol University during our 3-day stint.

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Out of the great mix of local and international acts, we managed to catch Silpakorn University Jazz Orchestra, Nop Ponchamni & The Groovetomatix Band, Silpakorn Faculty Jazz Ensemble, Julian Lage Trio, Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra Ft. Donald Harrison Quartet, Jack Thammarat, Denny Euprasert Quintet and Shai Maestro & Desmond White Group. Apart from performances, TIJC 2017 offered workshops during the day in their auditorium. We participated in workshops conducted by Zaccai Curtis (Piano), Magos Herrera (Voice), Jorge Roeder (Bass) and Julian Lage (Guitar).


Highlights of Day 1, Day 2 & Day 3

Day 1: We reached TIJC 2017 on Friday just in time for the evening session. On our way in, we heard students practicing at a nearby building. They sounded great! And it was such a lovely introduction into the Music Campus. We were greeted by a live performance by Rescue Project at the Oval Stage.

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Students practising.
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Almost reaching the site! Behind Oval Stage.

 

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Beautiful campus and the TIJC sign at the end of the waters.

 

 

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Main stage before the evening concert starts.

We went ahead to the main stage to catch Silpakorn University Jazz Orchestra and was instantly blown away! They incorporated spoken word, in Thai, in one of their arrangements. Natt Buntita, their faculty member also sang in a couple of songs during the set. The Silpakorn Faculty Jazz Ensemble also did a set later on in the evening. We heard beautiful arrangements of Thai & Jazz music with vocals by Natt Buntita who has an amazing voice that showcased both Jazz and Traditional Thai singing elements. A fresh sound indeed!

 

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Silpakorn University Jazz Orchestra with Natt Buntita on Vocals

 

Between the two acts from Silpakorn University, there was a sudden gush of excitement bursting in the crowd as Nop Ponchamni & The Groovetomatix Band got up on stage. I learnt that Nop Ponchamni is a famous Singer, Songwriter, Producer and Host. His songs are well received by the Thais and I could hear many ladies singing along to some of his classic tunes. Looks like he is getting himself busy in the studio and will be releasing an album soon! An album with The Groovetomatix Band after 12 years! No wonder so much excitement in the crowd.

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Nop Ponchamni & The Groovetomatix Band

The guest act for Day 1 was Julian Lage Trio. By now, all the TIJC helpers and organizers were done with stationing themselves at the appropriate booths and entrances. We see most of them crowding around the main stage, getting comfortable on the lawn in front of the stage. Everyone in the audience directed their attention to the stage and listen intently to the music provided by the talented trio. We witnessed and followed the interaction within the trio. Such a big crowd yet, we could hear silence in the audience when Julian Lage Trio went to almost minimal volume.

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Julian Lage Trio

 

Day 2: Our day began with a glimpse of Keith Jackson’s Q&A session in his Trombone workshop. Zaccai Curtis Piano workshop was next. Zaccai Curtis plays in Donald Harrison Quartet. Below are three things I summarised from his workshop.

  1. Immerse yourself in the jazz culture. Watch live Jazz performances in your area as much as you can. Listen a lot and make sure you also play along to the record.
  2. Perfect practice makes perfect. Have a hero, copy them. Embody their lifestyle. Channel their spirit and strive to achieve or come very close to it.
  3. Transcribe. Write YOUR OWN real book!!!

 

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Prince Mahidol Hall (2000 seater)

The first performance we went to for day 2 was by Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra Featuring Donald Harrison Band at Prince Mahidol Hall. The concert started with Old-Fashioned Melody, a composition written by the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej (1927-2016). Donald Harrison Quartet joined in after the intermission and performed Congo Square Movement 1 & 3 and also Be Bop, Selections from “Charlie Parker with Strings”. We were truly impressed by the orchestra which was really swinging!

After dinner, we made our way to the main stage where Jack Thammarat and his band were rocking out on stage! Each musician’s solo sounded so effortless and the crowd was definitely savouring every musical moment.

In contrast to the previous high energy performance by Jack Thammarat, Denny Euprasert showcased the sensitivities of Jazz. This set had an emotional undertone which was expressed through the music. The quintet played a composition written by the late King, Denny’s composition and ended with a Jazz standard in fast swing.

The last act of the night is Shai Maestro & Desmond White group. Shai Maestro took his time to get comfortable on stage. Organic start. Great compositions by Shai Maestro and Desmond White. Together with drummer Kush Abadey, they interacted so well! I was left speechless at the end of the night.

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Shai Maestro & Desmond White Group

 

Day 3: As much as we wanted to stay till the end of the night, we also did not want to risk missing the flight back to Singapore. So, we had to give the evening concert a miss. But hey, we still managed to catch the workshops during the day!

First was Magos Herrera’s Vocal workshop. She spoke about the He for She campaign that she is a part of and is an ardent supporter of gender equality which she demonstrates through her music career. She offered to share some of her vocal warm ups and invited whoever’s interested to meet her after the workshop. Several vocalists and even non vocalists took the opportunity to learn from Magos Herrera.

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#HeForShe

 

Next was Jorge Roeder’s Bass workshop. Jorge Roeder used to play for Shai Maestro Trio when it was formed back in 2010! In TIJC 2017, he plays for Julian Lage Trio. A few things I note down from his workshop below.

Essentials of good Bass playing

  1. Time
  2. Pitch
  3. Feel

Time and feel are interrelated and good time doesn’t necessarily mean good feel. Time is relative. Learn to play metronomic and flexible time.
Walking, two feel and broken time are devices that you can use to create momentum and direction. He advises us to control our need to fill up every space in the music. He invited a guitar player whom I believe is a participant from the TIJC camp to play with him as he explained the above.

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Lastly, we sat in Julian Lage’s Guitar workshop. He began by playing Darn That Dream, a Jazz standard by Jimmy Van Heusen. He talked us through his practice and composition process as well as shared how he sees music and life. He had a srong emphasis on the word ‘love’ rather than ‘like’. For example, begin your practice by choosing a song you LOVE and not just a song you like. I love the part where he told us to be friends with our mistakes and to learn to be friends with our mistakes, we should try playing a song as bad as we can and play it even worse! This will help us realise what we are meant to do and be okay with the mistakes we might make in future. I find that really interesting!

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Julian Lage. ‘Love’ machine

I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE all Jazz enthusiasts to look out for workshops/camps/festivals and try your best to attend and participate in any one of them.

Personally, TIJC 2017 was an inspiring experience that gave me the impetus to work as hard as I can, not only to hone my craft but also to lend a helping hand in cultivating a society of learners and advocates of the Arts. I hope this article helps you in some way! I tried my best to note down important points in the workshops and also to share (in words and pictures) the evening concert experience.

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Aya and I with Yuri and Natt from Silpakorn Music Faculty

 

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Spot some familiar faces? (:
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A wonderful sight to wrap up our TIJC 2017 experience! Dixieology with Bangkok Swing.

There you go.

Our 3-day TIJC 2017 experience summed up within a blog post. Feel free to reach out to us in the comment box below!

FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM: @WELOVEJAZZSG

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: FB.COM/WELOVEJAZZSG

 

– Namie

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We Love Jazz in Thailand!

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