Back in year 2006, originally the Borneo Jazz Festival was known as Miri International Jazz Festival until it was rebranded in year 2011. The jazz festival was first organized by Sarawak Tourism Board in line with the idea of creating a signature event for Miri. The mission was to promote the city as a resort city. Ever since then, it has become a well-known addition to Sarawak’s countless festival. Borneo Jazz Festival is the one and only major jazz festival in Sarawak. It is a niche event and appeals to the group of expatriates working in Miri and neighboring country-Brunei Darussalam. ParkCity Everly Hotel, Miri has been the jazz festival official accommodation hence the beach arena venue.
This is my 7th year covering Borneo Jazz Festival under the wing of Sarawak Bloggers. Prior to this, jazz to me was a genre of music meant for the socialite (what was I thinking back then?!). But throughout the years, as I get exposed to the diversity of jazz genre, I’ve learned, I’ve grew. Jazz does not associated with saxophone or cello only. It’s beyond your imagination. The sky is the limit! Nowadays, I appreciate and love the jazz festival and proud to have it just behind my backyard.
‘Tak kenal maka tak cinta‘ kuk laut. 😉
Jazz Performer Selection
The jazz festival is a two night program consist of jazz performers from around the world at nightly shows on an outdoor stage by the sea. Every year, Jun Lin (Artistic Director) meticulously select the jazz performer hence super amazing line up of performances from various genre of jazz. That just shows you are to expect different jazz genre each year and it has never been a disappointment. It is absolutely beautiful!
The video below gave you an insight of the Borneo Jazz Festival and the jazz performers selection. The recent interview was conducted by Gerard of BERNAMA with Jun Lin, Artistic Director for Borneo Jazz Festival.
The Youth Program
Towards the evening, a youth program slot allocated for marching/brass bands from local schools prior to the main jazz concert at night. They are invited to showcase their skills at the same time exposing them to an international event. During the first year of the youth program started, only one local school was invited. The following years, two local schools were invited and this year, 2017 Borneo Jazz Festival showcase four group of young talented musician (Chung Hua Miri Brass Band, Riam Road Secondary School Bruin Brass Marching Band, Miri Orchestra & Choir Society and Zulhaili Zuhairi Quartet of Aswara College).
The youth group are given the honor to kick start the jazz festival for an hour; 2 group per day. It is one of Sarawak Tourism Board’s initiative to engage and unleash the talent among the youth.
Corporate Social Responsibility
As the jazz festival grew over the years, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) were implemented as part of environmental awareness. The CSR activity always held a day prior to the jazz festival along with the group of performers and the media group. Tree planting campaign was introduced during its rebranding year in 2011 and this year, beach cleaning campaign was introduced. It was held at Luak Esplanade Beach, located approximately 10km from the city. The beach is one of Miri popular spot for among the local and tourist.
Together we keep the hot spot beach clean and it is also one of the best spot in Miri to enjoy spectacular sunsets.
The Outreach Program
The outreach program was first introduced in 2016 and it was made open to the public. The program provides a platform to any aspiring musician out there to learn from the professional at the same time it also offers a training ground for local musician. Due to the success of last year on the keyboard session, this year there were four workshop sessions conducted (2 workshop session per day); Contemporary Keyboard Styles by James Boyle of Aswara College, Drumkit & Percussion Tutorial by Nils Fisher and Armando Vidal of CobaCuba Jazz, Michael Veerapen on The Art of Improvising At The Keyboards and last but not least Michael Simon and Terry Hsieh of Michael Simon’s Asian Connection on Brass Instruments-Good Tone Production & Technique.
The outreach program is truly a giving back to the community kind of platform.
Borneo Jazz Networking Session
Introduced for the first time where it’s a platform for Q & A session to exchange opinions on being a jazz professional in the new music business landscape. The session was moderated by Patrick Lee-Thorp. The session highlighted on ‘Jazz & Money – Do They Mix?’. Very interesting session where you’ll get to hear opinions from the aesthetic view of musician and the commercial value of the music industry.
2017 Borneo Jazz Festival Performer Lineup
Fluorescent Collective (Italy, Malaysia, USA, India)
The group consist graduates of Berklee College of Music, founded by Boston based Malaysian pianist, Jenn Hwan and joined by Sarawak born award winning violinist, Nisa Addina. They played mix of genre from rock to R&B, pop to blues with catchy grooves to make their own repertoire. Aspiring younger generation of musician.
Tumpang bangga bah nanga urang kita. Kitak tek sik?
The Cape Jazz Band (South Africa)
A full brass band group with special focus on brass and percussion instruments played fast paced street carnival styled repertoire that brings us back to the days of post-apartheid of South Africa. In their album of “Musical Democracy”, Cape Jazz is all about freedom of expression through times of oppression.
Delgres (Guadaloupe, France)
The trio are from Guadeloupe and France. The band played mixed Guageloupian beats and tunes with old Louisiana Blues. This group by far, the crowd favorite. Including me. I’ve no word to describe how fascinated I was by their music. The beats ohhhh..definitely an eargasm!
Cabocuba Jazz (The Netherlands)
A group of eight musician hails from Venezuela, Cape Verde, Colombia, Spain, Puerto Rica and Cuba but based in the Netherlands. Led by Dina Media “Best Female Singer of Cape Verde” in 2012. The band played fast paced mash of Cuban and Cape Verde melodies and dance rhythms. The band also made their public preview at BarThyme and Ming Café few days prior to the concert.
Michael Simon’s Asian Connection (Malaysia, Taiwan, The Netherlands)
Energetic performances with exciting latin rhythms that creatively presented with Asian influences. To see a Pipa instrument played along with the common played jazz musical instrument such as trumpet, piano, saxophone and drums is just awesome!
Laila Baili (Canada)
This award winning pianist is also a composer and she sing too. Apparently, the drummer of her band was her husband. I didn’t manage to watch her entire performance as I went back to the room for shower. The minute I came out from bathroom, I heard she played ColdPlay’s Yellow in her own music composition and I go “whatttttttttttttttttttttt..”. I was flabbergasted and had goosebumps all over my body. Come on who does that?! Apparently, Laila Baili does though. Love10X!
Idang Rasjidi Syndicate (Indonesia)
From a humble start, the Indonesian jazz icon started as a bassist player then self-taught on the piano which eventually making a name for himself as a well-known Indonesia pianist. He promotes messages of unity in diversity with different type of rhythms, melodies and instrument that can blend together. He is also actively conducting jazz clinics at interior areas of Indonesia to reach out to the youth. I guess that explained two of his son are in his band (the drummer and the six string bass guitar player, I forgotten their names, maaf Bapak Idang!)
Osaka Monaurail (Japan)
This group performed their own brand of James Brown-esque funk. They were so funky that even the drizzling rain and windy night doesn’t deter the crowd from stopping dancing in front of the stage. The band interaction with the audience was fantastic too! It was full of energy kind of atmosphere. Love it to bits!
Being officially covering Borneo Jazz Festival for the last 7 years (not to mentioned when the festival was still known as Miri International Jazz Festival, I wasn’t into blogging back then, I was one of those party goer. What the hell was I thinking back then?!), I’ve seen how it grew tremendously. This would not made possible with the initiative, creativity and the hard work of the Artistic Director, Sarawak Tourism Board team, the State government, ParkCity Everly Hotel, Miri City Council, the jazz festival sponsors, volunteers and not forgetting the regular and new jazz festival goers.
Let us together make this unique jazz festival stays for good (untung rugi ya belakang kira, boleh sik?).
On behalf of the Sarawak Bloggers team (Miri based bloggers), we truly enjoyed our time and appreciate all the extended assistance and information sharing during the media briefing, press conferences, the workshops as well as the meals. We can’t thank you much and we apologize for any short coming on our side. As Mirian, we hope to see the Borneo Jazz Festival continue to grow and one day, the jazz festival is able to unleash the hidden local talent to step forward into the jazz arena.
Stay tuned for my final post of Borneo Jazz Festival 2017 – Behind The Scence : A Glimpse Of What I Do 😉