World-class acts close Borneo Jazz Festival


Osaka Monaurail bringing their groovy funk jazz to the BJF 2017 stage.

MIRI: The 12th edition of Miri’s most celebrated festival, the Borneo Jazz Festival (BJF) 2017 ended successfully with memorable renditions of exciting Latin-Asian rhythms and melodies, Canadian modern pop and contemporary jazz, Nusantara-inspired Indo-jazz and Japanese jazz-funk at the Parkcity Everly Hotel here on Saturday.

The concert started at 7.30pm and the first band to perform that night was Michael Simon’s Asian Connection that brought elements of Asian melodies enveloped in jazz sounds and harmonies.

This group comprised old-school musicians who have become local legends and up-and-coming musicians from the Netherlands, Taiwan and Malaysia.

Award winning pianist, vocalist and composer Laila Biali from Canada brought a unique arsenal of modern pop and contemporary jazz to create an easy-going, feel-good experience.

Her smooth voice caught the attention of the crowd and got the revellers holding hands and dancing around the field to the sounds of her flowing keyboard trills.

Indonesian band Idang Rasjidi Syndicate, performed next on stage. Recognised as one of the greats of Indonesian jazz and renowned for his keyboard skills and vocals, Idang and his band are regulars in the Southeast Asian jazz festival scene.

The band brought its Nusantara-inspired, peace-centred Indo-jazz to the shores of Miri, promoting its message of positivity and peace through music.

Last but not least, to perform at the finale of BJF 2017 was Japanese band Osaka Monaurail.

A whirlwind of sharp suits, dazzling brass twirls and ‘superheavy funk’, Osaka Monaurail performed their own brand of James Brown-esque funk, full of dizzying energy and unexpected flourishes that left the audience in awe.

This 10-person jazz machine has collaborated with soul/funk legend Marva Whitney, one of James Brown’s original Funky Divas, producing two albums, three European tours and two Japanese tours before she passed away in 2012. They also collaborated with world-famous trombonist Fred Wesley in 2012.

Also performing on the second day of BJ2017 were Chung Hwa School Band from Miri and Kuala Lumpur’s Zuhaili Zuhairi of Aswara College.

Earlier in the morning, several outreach programmes took place at Ruai Bar, Parkcity Everly Hotel including a keyboard class called “I Want to Break Free” specially focused on the art of improvisation, conducted by Michael Veerapen from Michael Simon’s Asian Connection.

Later on, a brass instrument class titled “Blow Your Horn” which focused on tone production and basic techniques was conducted by Michael Simon and Terry Hsieh from Michael Simon’s Asian Connection.

A networking session led by Patrick Lee-Thorp was also held at the hotel to provide a platform for music professionals to exchange opinions on being a jazz professional in the new business landscape.

The two-day festival finale saw 8 bands gathered together to bid farewell to the audience and close the festival.

BJF has been a tremendous success this year with over 4,000 people attending, slightly more than last year. The attendance at tutorials were encouraging, reflecting the growing interest of the young towards jazz music.