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The second day of Borneo Jazz, held on May 11, marked the end of the two-day jazz music festival. Following the same structure as the previous day, it featured Jump4Joy from Sweden, Hazmat Modine from the United States, Mo’Blow from Germany, and the Asian Jazz All-Stars Power Quartet from Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Thailand. Though equally entertaining as day one, day two had much more to offer: rain fall. Music, along with the strange weather, kept the audience glued to the ground, topping the expectations of many on a whole new level. The flow of the concert was maintained by no other than Malaysia’s Gerard Ratnam of Bernama Radio 24 with DJ UNO entertaining the masses between 15-minute performance breaks. The lively atmosphere comforted wearied souls and relaxed the troubled; witnessing people aged in their mid-twenties and thirties dancing in the rain while enjoying the music was beautiful.
Show time was 7:30 pm for the Asian Jazz All-Stars quartet. Jeremy Monteiro on keyboard, Eugene Pao on guitar, Tots Tolentino on saxophone, and Chanutr Techatana-nan on drums hyped the crowd like no other, being the first to perform. When you put four of Asia’s top musicians on one stage, it is fitting to expect a “one of a kind” performance. The Asian Jazz All-Stars quartet performed traditional jazz beautifully while playing an eclectic selection of old and new standards along with their own original compositions. Coming from four different countries, the jazzmen managed to execute an innovative yet intellectually stimulating performance; Pao’s strong guitar lines, Monteiro’s fusion of bluesy organ licks, Tolentino’s motley sound shapes, and Techatana-nan’s groovy swing warmed the hearts of many. They were definitely a good start to the concert.
Second in line was the renowned Hazmat Modine from New York. The eight piece band played a different kind of blues – New Orleans style, with edgy vocals and pungent brass. Over the years, their music has been inspired by traditional American roots coupled with a lot of worldly influences from Africa, Asia, and Europe, all of which sometimes can be seen within the confines of a single song. The leader of the band, Wade Schuman, communicated with the crowd skillfully, intensifying their excitement after every song. “Medicine man” hit the crowd like a storm. People did not just approve of the piece; they loved it, danced to it, felt the emotion, and demonstrated it. The eight piece band is not to be missed, witnessing them perform on stage was a whole new experience by itself. Hazmat Modine is made up of Schuman, Joseph Daley, Pamela Fleming, Erik Della Penna, Rachelle Garniez, Richard Huntley, Michael Gomez, and Steve Elson.
Third on set and the people’s favorite was Mo’Blow, coming all the way from Germany. Borneo Jazz was their second “GIMME THE BOOTS” release concert. Distinguished by their pink shoes, the band dazzled the crowd by their wicked performance made up of the unique sounds of funk, groove, and jazz. The masses could not get enough of them. Mo’Blow was able to demonstrate an appreciation to detail and love of authenticity through their performance. They put jazz into motion like never before. Felix F. Falk, the band leader, impressed the crowd by his newly learnt Malaysian phrases; he was fun and full of energy. Mo’Blow was a favorite not just to a particular age group, but to the entire audience. The quartet features Falk on saxophone, Matti Klein on electric piano, Tobias Fleischer on bass, and André Seidel on drums. For a detailed review, click here.
Last but not least was the Scandinavian band Jump4Joy. Their music was rare yet highly energetic with a strong New Orleans flavor. They performed feel-good, toe-tapping, and lively songs that literally left the audience jumping for joy in the rain. Drenched, the crowd danced all the way through the very end. To hype things up on a new scale, they collaborated with Papo Rodriguez and Jeremy Monteiro and received an encouraging response from the crowd. Previously, Jump4Joy has been described by the press as “An extraordinary band with international appeal” and “One of the best live acts to see.” The memorable performance by Jump4Joy was a fitting conclusion to the two-day festival. The band consists of Ulf Sandström (piano, lead vocals, composition), Bo Gustafsson (sax, tenor alto, percussion, backing vocals, composition), Surjo Benigh (bass, backing vocals), and Kenneth Björnlund (drums, backing vocals).
The Borneo Jazz festival was held in Miri, the ecotourism seaside town located north-east of Sarawak, about two hours and fifteen minutes flight time from Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur. Borneo Jazz is a yearly music festival that occurs in May. This event is a reflection of the growing unique position of Sarawak among jazz music aficionados. Each year, it brings world class performers to provide a rich experience to all music lovers. For regular updates, please refer to the official website at jazzborneo.com.
Image credit: Yasmin Pascual Khalil