Tuesday, January 31, 2012

我们都很痛 [a painful loss]

we love you so so much, ador

today is a sad day for us and for malaysian jazz community.

we mourn the passing of a maestro we deeply respect and love. salvador guerzo, or more fondly known as "ador" succumbed to a heart attacked an hour ago in langkawi. it is a great loss to the malaysian jazz community.

ador was the one who arranged z yan's 【秋夜】 "autumnal night" and played the saxpohone. in the "jazzy sounds of teresa teng" album, ador again played the sax for two songs. now there are only memories of how great his playing is. we often call ador the stan getz of malaysia. his sax has the most beautiful of tone and colors.

ador also produced solianos "pusaka" album last year under pop pop music.

we are overwhelmed with sadness and we can't continue.

马来西亚爵士乐一代宗师, 卓越萨斯风手, salvador guerzo, 在一小时前心脏病发作, 與世常辭了。 我们都很惊讶也开始哭了。。。

ador 大师在【靡靡之音】伴奏两首歌:【忘记他】和【我只在乎你】, 现在这美妙的萨斯声音已成回忆。

ador 我们都因为有了你的参与而自豪!希望你在天国也有音乐陪伴你。

Monday, January 30, 2012

发烧到烫![audiophile as hell!]

it is not marketed as audiophile but it is audiophile as hell

listening to Roger Wang final mix for Winnie ho's debut solo album "the jazzy sounds of teresa teng"... the recording has a rich and sumptuous tone, thanks to the recent (continuous and relentless!) hardware upgrade of nick lee's the ark studios in TTDI (the most expensive per/ hour rate studio in malaysia!). in particular, the RM6K++ TAMA drum set that nick bought is sumptuously rich and supple. we no longer care about audiophile recording yet this in itself is every inch audiophile level.
bravo to nick lee and roger wang!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

追忆哥哥 [tribute to leslie cheung]

Those worth remembering will always be remembered.

Following the success of last year’s “Tribute to Danny Chan”,  pop pop music will be paying another tribute to the hippest and most rebellious Cantopop singer/actor of the 80s, the James Dean of the Orient:  Leslie Cheung Kok Wing.

Don’t expect to hear your typical celebrity impersonator. Instead, expect the least expected and you are guaranteed of a few surprises. However, do expect to STAND UP (a Leslie Cheung’s classic) and boogie!

Our stable of artistes includes Malaysia’s Chinese Jazz Singing Sensation Winnie Ho as the lead singer with guest singers Worm Lee and Jeffery Lim (Ah Fei), backed by the ever-reliable Tay Cher Siang’s WVC Trio+1.

As an added incentive, if you bring 5 friends or more to the gig, you are entitled to a FREE CD (worth RM50) of Winnie’s Ho debut solo album “The Jazzy Sounds of Teresa Teng”, a sensational tribute album to iconic songbird Teresa Teng. The highly-anticipated album, to be released in March 2012,  is a souvenir album of Winnie Ho’s successful concert of the same theme last year. Please register with Leslie (012-2083790) if you are keen to participate in this incentive scheme! No limits to the number of CDs you can win but there is a limit on NBT’s capacity! So, do come in big numbers if you can! 

Venue: No Black Tie 
Date: 21st and 22nd February 2012 (Tuesday and Wednesday)

Time: 9:30pm to 11:30pm

Cover Charge: RM50 (Does not include Drinks)
Booking (after 5:00pm): 03-21423737
Hotline: 012-2083790.

Friday, January 27, 2012

好八十年代! [80's all over!]

foster the people sounding like kenny G?
before i talked about foster the people, the latest indie sensation, let me share with you this horror story.

needing a new cd for my driving pleasure, i bought foster at friendly records, kinta city, ipoh.  friendly records has been the mainstay of ipoh music provider since my school days in the 70s. i have a lot of emotional attachment with friendly, eventho' their business is visibly affected these days.

without trying, i picked up the cd and paid. that's my habit, i don't try cds. if i think i will like it, i just buy. but when i inserted the cd into my car stereo, my oh my, guess what song greeted me? horror of horror, kenny G's "songbird"! i was scratching my head, could it be that foster the people made a cover version of "songbird"? but i am darn sure it is kenny G! so i pressed the "next" button, james blunt "you are beautiful" came next! something is very very wrong. this cd is not what it is supposed to be. so i pressed the eject button and check the artwork and cd centre label, yes, it is printed "foster the people".

so much for local pressing.

the story continues with me going to friendly records the next day to ask for an exchange. the lady boss was there, she looked apologetic and angry at the same time. she told me: "this local cd manufacturer is darn lousy, my whole batch of 30+ foster the people CDs are all encoded wrongly! can i not be furious? this is CNY and i expect good sales for this album!"   

so much for local pressing. i rest my case.


if foster the people were to emerge in the 80s then they would have strong strong competition from erasure, yazoo, depeche mode, human league, duran duran... you get the drift.

but they are in the 21st century and today's lads and kids actually dig them in a big way~! they just came to do a concert in kl and 3,000 youth packed the venue.

foster lads must have grown up listening to their daddy's collections of LPs (and 12 remixes) of the above 80s acts just mentioned.

don't get us wrong, foster lads are good and they make good party music that is hugely danceable but to us old folks who grew up listening to the above 80s act, it is a bit like "been there, done that".

we are thankful that foster the people are famous, because to us they are way better than many many acts that are less deserving but we are doubtful they can go beyond this album. (because the formula gets tiring towards the end of the album)

but at least now we can communicate and share with our cousins, nephews and nieces about foster the people. this uncle can be young and hip too, you know.

now, why do we have this sudden urge to dig out our collections of yazoo, depeche mode and human league??!!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

大地回春 [spring has landed]

we believe in branding, positioning and target marketing

to mark 2012 as the most pivotal year in our career is definitely not overstating.

now that we can afford only to produce one album a year (but many many concerts la), all our bullets are reserved for this one album. we aim and we shoot. how many targets we hit, we don't know yet. 

we think winnie ho's "the jazzy sounds" album is the best we have ever delivered.

and we think 2012 is gonna be our best year in music.

here's wishing you a bountiful year with health, happiness and contentment.  we hope you won't abandon music listening and CD buying, eventho' you are swamped with entertainment options.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

请投选你喜爱的封面![please vote for your favourite album cover!]

our creative photographer, pacino of you studio, has done an excellent job in capturing winnie ho in her best light.... so we are spoilt for choice!

which cover do you like?

cast you vote now!

cover 1: big face

cover 2: no face!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

青鳥 [songbird]

今晚錄製「靡靡之音」最後一首歌: 【青鳥 songbird】,紀念鄧麗君的一首原創。鄭澤相作曲 管啓源填詞 何芸妮唱。 好美麗的一首歌!
Tonight we are all excited because we will be recording the last song in "the jazzy sounds of Teresa Teng" album. A tribute song to Teresa Teng called "songbird". It is composed by maestro Tay Cher Siang with lyrics penned by famed lyricist Guan Qi Yuan and sung by Winnie Ho. A beautiful song it is!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

好爵的一年 [jazzy all the way]

it is very encouraging: the recent happenings in the jazz scene.

never has jazz been so alive in KL. this year's KL jazz fest boasts a stellar cast of big names. it is amazing how the organizer can pull it off. must have been backed by millionaires.

also, we heard about another jazz club coming out called the "estate" in february. this will surely add another jazz nightspots in the KL map, in addition to the already established clubs like NBT, alexis, mezze and nero fico, and not forgetting hakka republic.

most exciting news we heard must be the one about pavillion starting a live house. ( a live house is a gigantic live performing nightspot). finally, KL can boast of having its own live house!

managing night spots or jazz clubs is never easy. don't talk about the F&B side, even the artiste roster will kill you, if you don't have enough expertise and networking. look at how brilliant NBT did this over the last 13 years. it is hardwork, dedication and more hardwork.

you can't just have malaysian acts to fill the performing roster, people will get bored. you need international acts. and you know, due to the money exchange, it is never easy to pay overseas musicians who are paid in USD. so it is always a chicken and egg issue.

in the past, many aspiring clubs have bitten the dust. names like bangkok jazz, grooveunciton started out well enough but soon collapsed due to a myriad of reasons.

what makes a good jazz club? intimate atmosphere, friendly relationships between the punters and the venue, good sound system, a bar with decent food - and above all, a space small enough to offer proximity to the action. a jazz club can't be too big, it has to be really intimate and close-up.

jazz is music of spontaneous, rapidly evolving relationships, which are sometimes sublimely harmonious, sometimes deliberately bloody-minded, often gleeful, occasionally competitive, baffled, or downright lost. jazz can be at its most engaging when you can experience that process unfolding with your eyes as well as your ears.
just like music-making, the owners of the jazz club must have a heart that is beyond profit-making. he must have this fire in him to promote jazz as a music form and not lost in commercialism, profiteering and mismanagement.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

选择你的音乐事业 [choose your musical career]

people used to say: it is easy to pull chicks when you are a musician, especially a guitarist or a drummer. but fact is, most musicians struggle in life, live on the fringe and fight to pay the rent... it is not glamorous at all.

we are glad we live in malaysia where competition in music is not as fierce and everyone manages to eke out a modest living making music.

the number of wedding bands and event companies is a testament that music making can be a career option in malaysia but don't expect sex, money and rock n roll bundled into one. that only happens only to radiohead, coldplay and rolling stones (when mick jagger was much younger).    

whichever instrument you choose to be your musical career, always remember: stay true, pure and honest to the music.   

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

默默的期待 [quiet anticipation]

tonight we completed the most ethereal song in the album: the river of clouds 【云河】, this is absolutely my top-3 personal fave in this album. very few people know that this song is first sung by jenny tseng but it was tracy huang who first recorded it. teresa teng merely made it even more popular.

cher sing's arrangement for this song is heavenly. those who watched the concert can attest to it. the piano solo creates the atmosphere of being in the clouds, floating and swaying musically. winnie's vocals fully justify this wonderful arrangement.

we have heard feedback (from predominantly chinese music lovers who don't listen to jazz) that our arrangement is too avant garde for their tastes. they said: "the old teresa teng is better". avant garde or not, tay cher siang is already the hottest and most sought-after musician in malaysia today, at this very moment. although the maestro himself is not used to us promoting him and feeding him with flattery (he is really a humble and down-to-earth chap) but there is very little accidence that he would be one of the the most commercially successful musicians in malaysia in the next 2-3 years, along side mac chew, lewis pragasam, andy peterson.... bold words indeed but we won't be far wrong.       

the artwork for winnie's album follows what we did with zyan's brasileiro: clean,  simple and elegant and classy, of course (look the poster above!).  looking at the first draft of artwork and listening to 9 of the songs recorded so far gives us a sense of quiet anticipation.we are excited but only in a very hidden corner of our hearts.

we are confident that it will create two extreme impressions (no middle grounds): those who like a totally fresh and westernized interpretation of teresa teng will love this to bits  and will buy at least 10 copies to give it to their friends (we know who they are!). those who hang on to old values and out-dated musical ideas would not be so kind (we also know who they are!).   

we are ready for whatever feedback the market throws at us. after all, who needs another teresa teng wannabe? 

Monday, January 9, 2012

活着 [you only live once]

you only live once so go and chase your rainbow!

too many people are afraid to take certain plunges in life hence they are pepectually stuck in the rut.

this video teaches us something: it is never too late to pursue your dreams.

sharp-ear readers: can you tell us which song was played in the background?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

无奈又好笑 [frowned and amused]

my 12 year-old niece just told me: uncle, none of your singers are famous la, i asked around in my class, nobody knows them.

she further adds: "let me recommend to you this korean all-girls group called the "girls generation", they are very cool". all the while, she was listening to her ipod shuffle with her ear-phone on, humming away in korean. her mum looked at me in a very helpless and speechless way. i find it very funny because i just thought of the cartoon i posted in the previous post.

who needs jazz when you have k-pop, huh?  

meanwhile, winnie ho has passed her halfway mark by completing a total of 7 songs this far, very impressive speed, leaving only 4 songs, one of which is an original composition by cher siang, in the vein of sheila majid's "legenda", except that this time it is not p.ramlee but teresa teng we are paying tribute to.

roger wang is gonna do the mixing in his studio in kk. mastering again is gonna be done by our hk counterpart, keith yip of rock in music.

momentum will pick up very soon with a spate of activities ensuing. the marketing campaign for this album, the preparation for leslie cheung tribute in NBT and most import of all, the march concert in bentley: "when liu jia chang meets jonathan lee".

to give you a taste of winnie ho's album, here's a prelim back cover (all the song titles are just dummies).

just a teaser: can you tell whose shadows are they?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

掌声鼓励 [full applause]

aska yang guided by jonathan lee in his pop jazz album
now this is belated but how sweet it is.

aska yang zong wei, the controversial reality superstar singing contest champion, who got himself entangled in a law suit for more than a year, is now finally free to do his first serious solo album.

and he got jonathan lee to help him. not only the music is typical like jonathan lee, aska himself sounds a bit like the maestro.

so, what's the problem? absolutely no problem! this album has attracted plenty of controversy since its release, most industry pundits agree that the music is great but the way aska imitates jonathan lee is unacceptable.

no fuss for us. first, it is smart of him to engage jonathan lee as a producer. look, there is plenty of crap nowadays, getting jonathan lee is like getting a guarantee in quality. you know it will be good, but you won't be sure of the sales la. jonathan lee, with his star-studded production team of malaysians like mac chew (arrangement and keyboard), lewis pragasam (drums), and andy peterson (bass) is the best ever team chinese pop has ever seen. this team will never put a foot wrong.

what about sounding like jonathan lee? we don't think so. we think aska still maintain his own character, tho' the jonathan lee influences are here and there.

ultimately, as an album to relaunch a new artiste's damaged career, this is a smart calculated move. the music, very much pop jazz, thanks to the always brilliant mac chew, may not be what the teeny boppers want, but hey, this is the kind of music that WE,  the mature buyers, want! we applaud the music label for being bold and swim against the commercial tide.

the only accusation cynics may attack is the lack of character on aska yang. we really don't care too much. ultimately, there is no chinese pop album better than this in 2011.

naturally we declare this album "chinese pop album of the year, 2011". 


音乐去了哪里?[where has the music gone to?]

It must be the new year mood that put us in such reflective mood.  this is the third "musing" article we write in a row. 

tonight is another night spent in the recording studio with Ben, Winnie and Stefano.

recording studio is a sacred place for musicians and singers, it shouldn't be visited too often, lest is loses its freshness and uniqueness. The excitement of entering the studio has to be such that it signifies the imminent birth of an album, a labour of love and devotion to music.

fact is, most recording studios are in sunset business. very few people are cutting albums nowadays. In fact, most of the local chinese singers have switched career to become actors in tv dramas and movies. it is more lucrative and they get the exposures they need. becoming a singer to eke out a living? you must be kidding considering today's miserable climate. you will starve to death before you even make it.

the few chinese movies that stormed the box office last year provided the impetus for investors to flock (flock is the best word) to movie making. but as one industry pundit observed: one swallow does not make a summer. the few chinese movies are successful because of many reasons, they are the exceptions more than the rule, it is still risky investing in movie making.

but movies are movies, they are many people who are willing to pay for a ticket and enjoy the cinema experience with friends or loved ones. unlike music, which, has no such "social" values. you buy the CD and you listen alone.

we just spoke to one friend who used to do PR in chinese music industry. he has changed industry since to dabble in event management now. he lamented the fact that there is hardly anyone who is engaging a PR for music/albums nowadays.

we have also a very enterprising friend who started out with a music label and now he is into movie making and his recent movie was a box office hit. looks like he would never come back to music.

everyone is abandoning music making but we are not. we are not starting a "pop pop movie" department any sooner, rest assured. 

music, like entering a recording studio, always brings us excitement, time after time.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 愿望:宅 [2012 wish: in the closet]

lydia chew enticing the audience in meru valley golf resort

we spent new year's eve in ipoh doing a function for the meru valley golf resort. it wasn't boring and it went well, but it wasn't our idea of ushering the new year! the event was supposed to be outsourced to our regular event guy, who got another more lucrative job in the last minute, so we have no choice but to follow up ourselves.

our idea is to really spend a quiet time at home to reflect on the past 365 days and plan for the next 365 days ahead of us. some even suggested we go to sg orchard road to celebrate, i was like, "gee, didn't you know i was in singapore in the late 80s?".

the world is in total chaos as we speak. japan is hit by another earthquake on the first day on the year. everyone is seeking refuge of some sort, whether it is spiritually, mentally... we are all looking for a sanctuary where we can work, think, get inspired and relax at the same time. the idea of SOHO (small office, home office) has never been more timely in chaotic times like these. we have been working SOHO for more than 5 years now and we are so blessed that our work really suits SOHO style. we feel blessed that we can do music and contribute to the enrichment of mind and soul.

there are more and more people suffering from modern-day sickness, arising from depression, loneliness, peer and societal pressure, unhappy family upbringings, wayward lifestyles, failed relationships etc etc. a lot of times, they have nowhere and no one to turn to. they really need the right mentor to enlighten them and bring hopes to them. we hope 2012 will be a year where we can help these people.

done-to-death theme: the shanghai night. we can do better for sure
for ourselves, we want to stay in the closet (no pun intended) as much as we can, without being bothered by KL's horrendous traffic, the industry's politics,  the erratic weather and other external stress factors. we will do the "strategy" jobs at home and leave the "execution" jobs to third parties, like CD distribution, event management, ticketing, sound and light etc etc. it is always smarter to do the "brainy" jobs and let someone stronger and fitter do the "laborious" ones.  an IT friend recently encouraged us to be like the late steve jobs who is great in strategizing and not-so-great in execution. he didn't need to execute, cos he has the whole apple tech team behind him.

we are proud to be "closet artist" because our closet is really an inspiring place to be :-)

some things never changed: tin chun kopi shop in ipoh.