Tuesday, August 4

Abg Jo: Miri can be jazz haven

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MIRI: With its mix of multi-racial and cosmopolitan society, Miri should be able to become a jazz music centre in this region.

ENJOY THE SHOW: Abang Johari gets a wrist tag on his arrival at the festival.

Expressing this optimism, Minister of Tourism and Heritage Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said he was inspired by the good response from performers and jazz music lovers at the Borneo Jazz 2011 which concluded on Sunday night.

“We have two international music festivals in the state, namely the Rainforest Music Festival in Kuching and Borneo Jazz here in Miri. Rainforest Music Festival has become the icon of the traditional, ethnic and folk music and songs internationally,” he said.

Abang Johari, accompanied by his wife Datin Jumaani and permanent secretary to the Ministry of Social and Urban Development Datu Ik Pahon Joyik, was among the audience at the festival held at ParkCity Everly Hotel here.

Abang Johari noted that the festival had attracted a growing following every year and more participation from places beyond Asia such as America, Canada and Europe.

“Apart from that, Miri is also located near Brunei which is where we could tap into the international visitors and tourists including the expatriate communities to come as tourists to Miri,” he added.

The presence of Miri born Victor Yong and The Electric Carnival Band also boosted his confidence.

Born in Miri and now living in Canada, Victor marked his musical return to Miri through Borneo Jazz with his Latin inspired Carnival Band.

Though growing up with rock and roll, Victor’s love for jazz eventually moved him into a career as an international guitarist.

Victor is an incessant explorer discovering new styles, techniques and directions that he blends within a foundation of Latin jazz-rock fusion.

Victor’s debut compact disc reveals his collective experience of over 25 years of writing and performing in the rock and jazz genres.

The album, as well as the concert band, features some of the top names in Canadian jazz scene, performing delicate mix of composition and improvisation always with an attention to detail.

“We together with Sarawak Tourism Board are going to evaluate and think of ways to pave the future direction of the festival. This festival would be the foundation to develop Miri as a jazz centre in this region,” he added, saying that music has evolved to become a big industry internationally.

Among the steps to be taken to develop the local jazz scene, he suggested holding small concerts and workshops involving local artistes and musicians.

“We must rope in international jazz music experts including musical instrument companies to create awareness and interest among youngsters in the music.

“With this we would be able to create performers of international level,” he added.

He said Miri should be proud as Zee Avi has created a storm in the international jazz music arena.

The lass from Miri currently positions herself as a singer and composer of jazz music in New York, America.