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Borneo Jazz 2013, held on May 10-11 in Park City Everly Hotel, saw two jazz-filled nights that left festival-goers rocking.
The lineup this year was: West Jazz Band (Malaysia), Scott Martin Latin Soul Band (USA), Lisa Young Quartet (Australia), The Nylons (Canada), The Asian Jazz Allstar Power Quartet (Singapore, Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand), Hazmat Modine (USA), Mo’ Blow (Germany) and Jump 4 Joy (Sweden).
Some bands just blow you away. Mo’ Blow, third set on the second night, were undoubtedly the people’s favorite. Mo’ Blow is made of Felix F. Falk (saxophone), Matti Klein (electric piano), Tobias Fleischer (bass) and André Seidel (drums).
With 13 shows to play in May and having just arrived in Miri from Germany that very morning, a certain amount of anxiety could have been prevalent among the organizers for Mo’ Blow. Traveling to different cities consecutively can take its toll. But within the first piece all concerns would have been swept away. Mo’ Blow were barely introduced by the host when they hit into full gear for the opening piece, “Fried Chocolate.” In an instant, they brought the mood of the festival to another energy level, capturing the crowd’s attention. Falk, a commanding presence on stage, led the band with hooks on his saxophone that drew everyone to their feet. Their second piece, “Mo Tough,” was a personification their youthful energy; like they had so much to say but not enough time to say it all. Klein, hitting the keys on the electric piano with great fervor, was an eye-catcher.
Falk, founder and leader of the group, exuberated cool confidence and stage presence. He threw out a few newly-learnt phrases in Malay language and received a delighted response from the crowd. Between pieces, Falk would switch between instruments. The way he deftly changed instruments while keeping poise was something to be admired. After delivering two high power pieces, he clipped off his saxophone and paused as if to remember which instrument the next tune required.
“Gimme the Boots” was their third piece, the one everyone was waiting for. It featured Falk on the didgeridoo, giving a deep ambience, and then built up to the hook line “Gimme the Boots,” which ushered in Mo’ Blow’s signature sound; you could almost hear the good humor in their music. This was a song for everyone. Falk interacted well with the crowd, getting them to shout ‘Gimme the Boots’ at the interval.
They kicked it up another notch with “Slingshot.” By then, you could feel that Mo’Blow were feeding off each other’s energy. Klein was a star on the piano. He played with a searching frenzy, as if he put the notes somewhere and was looking for them, with the occasional ‘aha!’ as each piece developed. At faster paces he rammed his hands on the Nord with an urgency that the right notes must come out. Fleischer, playing the bass with a big smile, laid down punchy and groovy bass lines, laying the foundation to the band’s overall sound. Seidel, on drums, played in the pocket and had plenty of hard-hitting linear fills.
Midway through the set, they played a piece, “Rocket Swing,” that had a line a little reminiscent of “The Watermelon Man” by Herbie Hancock. Mo’ Blow also gave a preview to some tunes off their latest record, such as “Papa’s Pancakes,” “Call Me Milroy” and “Headbutt.” By the end of their set, the crowd was ecstatic, calling for an encore. They came back on and played “Somewhere in Sharp Mountain” to cap off a brilliant set.
For all the official pictures from Borneo Jazz 2013, visit this website.
Image credit: Nadeen Kamel