2009 Miri International Jazz Festival – My Review
It is a yearly event and being a Mirian, I am fortunate enough to have the event held at Miri city-my own ‘backyard’. Not only the event act as a tourism driven event to the state (in general), it also get others who shares same passion in jazz by getting up, close and personal with their favorite bands but also meeting and making new friends along the way.
This year is the 4th Miri International Jazz Festival (MIJF) and thank you to the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) for the hard work & efforts in promoting the event at the same time introducing Sarawak to the world. Bravo to STB!
I do not know whether it is due to the recession period, I find the crowd wasn’t that pack as before as compared to the 2nd MIJF (this is the year where I get to enjoy the music from the hotel room balcony as tickets were sold out).
This year, it was bit dull and boring.
The ‘dull’ syndrome hit me as soon as I enter the main entrance. No sponsor bantings unlike last year, CELCOM bantings were along the lamp posts towards the main entrance and welcome the guest with a giant hot air arch. You can experience last year jazz festival here.
I noticed and recognized almost the same vendors (be it the handicraft souvenir corners and the food vendors) operating at the same location as last year. One obvious improvement I noticed is that this time the organizer placed more chairs and tables in front of the food vendors canopies for the crowd to enjoy their food at the same embracing the jazz performances from the two big screens placed outside the Pavillion.
Food and drinks are very costly and it really poke you a big hole in your wallet. A very good example is when you have to pay RM3 for a drinking water and RM4 for a Coke. I rather buy Coke (which I did) but I eventually mixed it up with Bacardi. Thank you to my partner in crime – Aaron for that. ;p
Back to the band performances. I didn’t get to evaluate the first day band performances but I received positive and negative responses from friends on the Bombay Baja Brass Band. Some says it was great, fun and happening as most of the crowd enjoyed the bhangra elements in their performances; something different than others. But some dislikes the bhangra element as it doesn’t connected to jazz at all.
I wasn’t there to witness these as I was way too tired to attend the event so I miss the first day jazz festival (although I have 2 days free pass). But I get to indulge and embrace myself on the second day instead. At least, for now I can and know how to appreciate jazz more in general. 😉
I realized most of the performers are playing contemporary jazz rather than playing the classical jazz. On the hand, come to think about it, it might not attract any crowd at all as not everybody can appreciate the classical jazz. I kind of missing the band from New Orleans and another band from Cuba (I’ve forgotten the bands name, sorry).
One thing, I realized this time, there were no bands performing outside the Pavilion like previous years. I wonder why? I kind of miss that though. 🙁
Having to experience the so-called international jazz festival for two years now, it makes me wonder whether the event itself is internationally recognized or it is international on paper only. I wonder among the foreigners who attended the event apart from the expatriates who works in Malaysia (at Miri and from my uni. in general), are there any other genuine jazz fans out there flew all the way from their country to Miri just for the event? I doubt it, though.
As what I shared with friends who had the same thought on this, STB should invite or get ‘big players’ to perform in this annual event in order to retain the branding of MIJF. Pump some fund from the Rainforest World Music Festival if that is needed. It is believe it can attract more crowds by doing so.
Also in line to this, STB should work closely with the Miri City Council to educate the public about jazz in general. How can you organize an event at your own backyard whereas you yourself don’t appreciate it?
When it comes to distributing the feedback form on the event, how many are being returned to the organizer promptly? Only when it was announced by the emcee, I get to know such thing exists. Again, it makes me wonder whether the organizer had really taken any action from the feedbacks.
If it is just for the sake of making something happening in Miri by organizing such event, I don’t see it will last long as Penang Jazz Festival, Singapore Jazz Festival, Indonesia Jazz Festival or the Thailand Jazz Festival can ‘swallow up’ the Miri International Jazz Festival. It is just a matter of time.
Bottom line here is not to condemn anyone but at least to create awareness, to alert, to educate the relevant authority/individual or whoever it maybe out there that we can gather together in harmony by sharing the same passion and interest in jazz.
For the betterment of Miri city as the future hub of jazz entertainment, Mirian should work closely to ensure the MIJF going to stay here for good.