More than 2,000 people, Malaysians of all races, the expatriate community, diplomatic community and tourists, gathered on the evening of 9th December 2017 at the fifty year old Amphitheatre Panggung Anniversari, Taman Botani Perdana to attend the “KL International Jazz in the Gardens”.

The event was organized by Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL), KL International Jazz Festival and Asia World Events. Admission was free courtesy of DBKL. From the start to end at 11.15pm, the whole amphitheater was beaming in a shade of light blue providing the perfect ambience for an evening of nothing but amazing Jazz!

Starting the show exactly at 7.30pm as advertised, the Hiroyuki Yagi Jazz Quartet led by Hiroyuki Yagi on Tenor and Soprano saxophone, Akira Koshino on Bass, Kenji Okada on Drums and Wee Lern Ch’ng on Piano performed straight ahead jazz for thirty minutes.

A perfect start for the evening, with the bluesy and funky “Mamacita” by Joe Henderson. It was a refreshing take, with more aggression than the original recording of 1967. Yagi’s Jazz Quartet continued with Wayne Shorter’s “Aung San Suu Kyi” and “Juju” and the ever-classic Jazz ballad “Body and Soul” which has been recorded by numerous Jazz artists since 1930 and most popularized by Coleman Hawkins.

The audiences were extremely receptive and continued to appreciate and acknowledge by rounds of applause after each improvisation.

Fusion 5 and the KL Experimental Jazz Project with Aznaff Hamazah (Alto Sax), Farid Izwan (Tenor Sax), Coni Soliano (Trumpet and Flugelhorn), Jordan Rivers (Guitar), Steve Thornton (Percussion), Sivam (Drums), Dodong Jumawan (Keyboards) and led by Rodin JS Kumar on Bass with special guest artist Mohar Mohram on flute was the next act.

They started out with a rare rendition of “Lonely Woman”, the free jazz composition by Ornette Coleman, and followed up with three of Rodin’s original compositions, “Let it Go”, “Who Knows Who” and “Life’s Like a River”.

The highlight of the evening was of course, the performance of the much anticipated “Monsters of Jazz Rock Fusion” and “Jazz Group of the Year Nominee”, The Lao Tizer Band – From Los Angeles, Lao Tizer, Keyboards and Piano, Anthony Crawford on Bass, Aaron Haggerty on Drums and ace saxophonist Nelson Rangell from Denver, Colorado, USA.

Despite their high energy driven and fast paced songs, they balanced their repertoire with a couple of beautifully executed ballads.

Their songs included “What it is”, “16th Heaven”, “Forever Searching”, “Vonetta”, “Downbeat”, “To touch the Sky”, “Sonora and Uptown”.

The audience was enthralled both with their music and also by Nelson’s spectacular whistling of a medley of songs. Indeed a very rare ability. An experience which a listener will find hard to express.

Despite the inherent acoustic limitations of the venue and sound systems, the sound engineers managed to get the best of the acoustics at the amphitheater.

An initiative spearheaded by the Honorable Mayor of Kuala Lumpur, YBhg. Tan Sri Hj. Mhd. Amin Nordin bin Abdul Aziz the “KL International Jazz in the Gardens” is an extension and continuation of the KL International Jazz & Arts Festival (started in 2012).

It was held to promote Jazz music, a highly creative American art form that has now become a global phenomenon. Today, international Jazz Festivals are held in every major city and town globally including the Java Jazz in Jakarta, The Istanbul Jazz Festival, The Dubai Jazz Festival, Sing Jazz in Singapore, Thailand International Jazz Festival in Thailand, in the near future, Saudi Arabia and many more.

In fact, there are numerous Jazz festivals in Indonesia and Thailand. In Malaysia, besides the KL International Jazz & Arts Festival (since 2012), we have the Penang Island Jazz Festival (14th Year) , The Iskandar Puteri Jazz Festival, The Publika Jazz Festival, The Borneo Jazz Festival and the KK Jazz Festival (Kota Kinabalu), World Youth Jazz Festival and the recently held Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival.

Despite the short time to put this concert together, the organizers, Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL), the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur, YBhg. Tan Sri Hj. Mhd. Amin Nordin, and Ms. Maizon Omar and Mr. Rodin JS Kumar, co-founders of the KL International Jazz Festival were overwhelmed with the   large crowd turnout that was beyond expectations.

There certainly is a large audience in Kuala Lumpur who appreciates Jazz Music.

Yes, Jazz Unites People!

17th December 2017
Photos courtesy of Intan Baizura & KK Tang

This event is also supported by Invest KL, The Royal Lake Club, Aswara, HELP University, University Malaya Cultural Centre, UCSI Institute of Music, Rentak Sejuta, University of East London and Women’s Institute of Management.

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