Join Diane Schuur, Keiko Matsui, John Beasley, Tizer Quartet and an incredible line-up for the Kuala Lumpur International Jazz & Arts Festival! On 17 -18 May, Malaysia will celebrate jazz music and art with the new edition of one of Asia’s highly regarded happenings.
When it comes to the international jazz scene, Malaysia is probably among the countries that have really been on the rise these last couple of years. In addition to the gigs organized in jazz clubs such as No Black Tie every week, Malaysia also hosts two of the most appreciated jazz festivals. In May, jazz enthusiasts in the Asian country will have the opportunity to see some of the world’s finest jazzmen and women live at the Borneo Jazz Festival (9 – 10 May) and at a new edition of the Kuala Lumpur International Jazz & Arts Festival (17 – 18 May).
International Jazz Showcase
KL International Jazz Festival will bring a talented roster of international acts to Kuala Lumpur. Popular Japanese pianist and composer Keiko Matsui, the eclectic Diane Schuur, Keith Loftis and Tizer Quartet are some of the headliners of this year’s edition of the festival.
Tokyo-born keyboardist Keiko Matsui is well-known to jazz aficionados around the world. In over 30 years, she has released 20+ CDs and has received international acclaim with sold-out performances from Japan, her motherland, to California, where she resides. A nature lover who often makes reference to plants, animals and natural elements in her song titles, Matsui brings together Western and Eastern musical influences. During her career, she has experimented across various genres, including smooth jazz, jazz fusion and new age.
In addition to being a talented jazz artist and “talent scout” – she discovered saxophonist Paul Taylor who appeared on Sapphire, Dream Walk and Full Moon before embarking in a successful solo career – Keiko Matsui is also active in regards of charitable causes. She has supported causes about breast cancer, in support of ethnic minorities and world hunger.
Piano sensation Keiko Matsui, who recently headlined Berks Jazz Festival, will be on the MAS Oneworld Stage on Saturday 17 May (8:45 pm).
When talking about talented jazz pianists and singers, you know that the name Diane Schuur will come up often. The two-time Grammy Award winner is known for her performances alongside jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie and Sten Getz, as well as for her solo career. This incredible woman of jazz, who is also set to perform at Italy’s popular Torino Jazz Festival at the end of April, will be the spectacular closing act of the 2014 KL International Jazz Festival. All those who want to see one of the contemporary’s most entertaining, eclectic, touching and skilled jazz performers live, shouldn’t miss her show (18 May, 11:20 pm MAS Oneworld Stage).
TIZER Quartet is a multi-cultural band led by Colorado native keyboardist and composer Lao Tizer. Establishing itself in the jazz world scene over the past few years, TIZER has drawn comparison of a modern twist to the ’70s and early ’80s heyday of jazz fusion of trailblazing groups like Weather Report, Return to Forever and Mahavishnu Orchestra.
Lao Tizer and his music friends come to Kuala Lumpur after having been nominated ‘Jazz Group of the Year’ (in 2011) and having performed alongside the likes of George Benson, Jethro Tull and Al Jarreau.
At the Kuala Lumpur International Jazz & Arts Festival 2014 (17 May, 10:15 pm) TIZER will bring the explosive mix of jazz, rock, classical, Afro Cuban music and world rhythms of its new album Downbeat.
The list of highlights of the night also includes Austrian “modern day female Chet Baker” Michaela Rabitsch with virtuoso guitarist Robert Pawlik (8 pm), popular Paris-based saxophone’s ace Philippe Sellam and his trio (10:30 pm) and pianist John Beasley with a tribute to Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Herbie Hancock (11:20 pm).
A Grammy-nominated recording artist, Beasley has been enjoying a successful career for over three decades. LA Times jazz critic Bill Kohlhaasee described Beasley’s music and style as “a variety of generational influences, incorporating the emphatic chordal clusters of Herbie Hancock, the rhythmic quirkiness of Monk and the lush intelligence of Art Tatum into a highly refined personal voice.”
John Beasley is probably one of the most active entertainers around. He has been regularly performing, recording and touring with major jazz, pop and world artists, he has been arranging music for ensembles and orchestras, has worked on award-winning movies and commercials and has also been serving as musical director for major studio shows. On Saturday night, he will pay tribute to three of the greatest jazz pianists and keyboardists: Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Herbie Hancock.
More Jazz Stars at Kuala Lumpur International Jazz Festival 2014
The talented Philippe Sellam Trio will be back on Sunday (8 pm), followed by the mix of jazz, gospel, soul, R&B, blues and hip hop of charismatic saxophonist Ezra Brown (9:15 pm, AmBank Stage). In music, there are saxophone players and then there is Ezra Brown.
Using the horn as his translator, this talented performer transcends language barriers with his music. In addition to concerts and recording sessions with various Grammy Award winning artists like Cassandra Wilson, John Forte and Dorothy Moore, Brown is known for constantly bringing his sounds around the world.
At the Kuala Lumpur International Jazz & Arts Festival 2014 Ezra Brown will put his signature style on display for an unmissable show that will feature compositions from his debut solo album The Journey.
At the same time, the MAS Oneworld Stage will welcome Jeffey James Kollman and his band. Voted one of the greatest guitarists of all time, Kollman has become an icon who has influenced thousands of young guitarists around the world with his powerful melodic electric guitar playing, which fuses elements of jazz harmony into melodic hard rock and funk.
Sunday 18 May will also be the day of the second performance of French bassist Dominique di Piazza with Beyond & Blues Quartet (they will play already on Saturday, at 6 pm), David Tughan‘s tribute to Chet Baker (5 pm) and the much-anticipated show by the Christy Smith/Kirk Lightsey Quartet with special guests Keith Loftis and Nicholas McBride (10:15 pm).
World’s renowned bassist Christy Smith is a familiar name to jazz fans in the U.S. and Singapore, where he currently lives. After graduating with a Bachelor of Music from California University Fullerton, Smith went on to establish himself as one of today’s most versatile artists. In addition to being a double bass player, he is also a composer, arranger and teacher. During his career, he has either performed or recorded with international stars like Stevie Wonder, Charlie Haden and George Bohannon.
At the KL International Jazz Festival, Christy Smith will lead his quartet along with pianist Kirk Lightsey, known for his tours with Dexter Gordon (from 1979 to 1983), for being a member of The Leaders (in the late 1980s) and collaborations with the likes of Pharoah Sanders, Chet Baker, Kenny Burrell and, more recently, Gregory Porter. On Sunday night, Smith and Lightsey will be joined on stage by two special guests: Nicholas McBride and Keith Loftis.
Drummer Nicholas McBride is well-known to jazz crowds in Australia, his birthplace, the US, India and China, where he relocated to from 1992 to 2002. McBride is famous for having played with various prominent jazz names, as well as for being one of the founding members of the non-profit music collective the Jazzgroove Association, one of Sydney’s most successful creative music oganizations.
Dallas-born Keith Loftis is considered one of today’s most dynamic jazz saxophonists. After studying jazz and classical music as a child, he graduated from the nationally recognized Booker T. Washington High School of the Visual and Performing ARts, where he was fellow classmate of two-time Grammy Award winner Roy Hargrove. Known for his extensive tours around the globe, with stops in Europe, Asia and parts of the Middle East, Keith Loftis now regularly performs with South African jazz maestro Abdullah Ibrahim, master drummer Michael Carvin adn the Roy Hargrove Big Band.
For two days Kuala Lumpur will be Asia’s capital of jazz and arts. In fact, in addition to presenting a stellar jazz line-up, the fest will also showcase a unique art exhibition.
If you are in Malaysia you should get yourself ready. The big jazz celebration of the KL International Jazz Festival is coming!
17 – 18 May
University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur