Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival 2018

17th October, 2018 | Article By Lesley Tan

The second year of Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival was an absolute massive success!
After the excellent first year where there was an estimated 4000 festival goers, everyone was eagerly looking forward to THIS year’s festival! They were not disappointed… Crowds of Jazz enthusiasts, and indeed anyone who loves music, flocked to this excellent event. They sang along to some of their old favourites and were introduced to many new songs from 14 different bands and performers who came from far and wide.

The festival takes part on the waterfront of Grand Margherita Hotel which is in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. The Grand Margherita Hotel, a subsidiary of Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) is the organiser of the Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival as well as being the official venue. The Minister Of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports, Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, officiated the festival and was so pleased to announce that his promise of a second year for the festival was actually taking place.

The picturesque Sarawak river and waterfront, the lovely sunsets and the local touristy spots make it an ideal venue. Kuching is also an excellent place for tourists so it makes good sense to plan a holiday there which fits in to this annual – Not To Be Missed – festival.

The festival was held over 2 days, 28th and 29th September, and has now become a yearly event. Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival 2019 will be held on 27th and 28th September.

During the Press Conferences the performers signed posters of themselves which would later be for sale in the festival grounds. The proceeds from these sales were for two local very deserving charities.

There were also three Workshops from Tuku Kame Jazz, Natalie Gillespie Band and Blues Gang. These excellent workshops were in the Club Lobby Lounge of Riverside Majestic Hotel, across the road from Grand Margherita Hotel, and were FREE and open to the public – Well worth attending!

Throughout the festival grounds were many stalls selling local products, food and drinks, an excellent way to support local businesses.

Rene Mark Barrow was the very professional MC and on Day 1 the festival kicked off with the Jazz Band Search Winner: ‘Sang Voyage’ which is a Kuching-based experimental ethnic-fusion jazz band formed by French Sape player Julien Cottet and drummer Alexander Ang. A very different and beautiful sound.  Next on the stage was a dynamic performance by ‘Jolynn J Chin’ on piano and her band, Jolynn also took part in last year’s fest and is from Sarawak. She has recently released her first single, TOCCATA. She is also a Piano Teacher and is very passionate about her work. I was so pleased to finally meet her in person.  We were next WOWED with a great performance from ‘Atilia Harun’ who is the new name in Neo Jazz here in Malaysia. The audience loved her and she got her dream of being invited to perform at the festival. She launched her album ‘Sangkar’ in 2007.  Indonesia’s ‘Aditya’ was next and had the crowd singing and swaying along. So far he has released 2 Albums and dreams to become the Number 1 Male Artist in Indonesia.  ‘Alemay Fernandez’ from Singapore has performed with MANY well–known artists and TimeOut magazine named her one of Singapore’s ‘best-loved entertainers’. Her performance in Kuching was excellent!  Malaysia’s ‘Dayang Nurfaizah’ was next on stage and her performance was very popular with the Jazz Festival crowd who loved her beautiful voice. She has released 8 studio albums so far and has received numerous awards.

The final artist of the evening was ‘Tulus’ from Indonesia who loves Pop Jazz. Tulus means ‘sincere’ in English and that is his aim when he creates music. The audience LOVED his performance and then he came off stage at the end of his set and allowed some of his lucky fans to take photos with him. After Tulus’ performance we were treated to a fabulous ‘Day 1 Finale’ where the performers got onto the stage and sang and danced their hearts out!

Day 2 of Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival started with ‘Tuku Kame Jazz’ from Malaysia and was formed from musicians from the Sarawak Cultural Village combining traditional Sarawakian instruments to make their exciting sound. Excellent music.

The next performers were the very talented ‘D’Cipta Band’ from Malaysia, who kept the crowds happy with their own special brand of music. ‘Aisyah Aziz’, from Singapore/Malaysia was a fabulous success; she has released three singles and gave an excellent performance. ‘The Natalie Gillespie Band’, from Australia, lead by Natalie Gillespie and backed by the excellent Dave Brewer and Elliot Smith really hit the stage hard! Gideon Jute, from Kuching, joined the band at short notice and he too was excellent! Natalie is a very vibrant character and her stage presence is awesome. ‘Carmen Souza Trio’ from Portugal added a very different flavour to the festival with their contemporary jazz style. Together with support from Theo Pascal, Carmen wooed the crowd with Afro-Brazilian and Cuban sounds. Very memorable!  The next band on stage was the very talented ‘Ito & The Blues Gang’ which was formed in 1975. Blues Gang has been named by many as Malaysia’s finest blues rock band. They jazzed up their performance in excellent style and the crowd LOVED them! Ito Mohd, Julian Moktar, Zzi Blues, Norman Abdullah, Abdul Munir Samsudin and Tok Ghani all follow their own paths now but continue to come together as Blues Gang for special events such as Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival. Magic!

Last, but not least, the crowd were entertained with ‘Tompi’ from Indonesia. He is a very talented performer and also has his own Plastic Surgery clinic. After his great energetic performance he and his band stayed on stage for the Grand Finale!

For the Grand Finale everyone was invited onto the stage and finished off the Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival in GRAND FINALE STYLE!

There were countless people involved in the creating of this festival, too many to name, but they all played their parts extremely well!
I loved every minute of it!
Roll on next year!
Blog by Lesley Tan
Photos by Lesley Tan and Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival
12th October 2018
#KuchingWaterfrontJazzFestival #KWJF2018
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By Lesley Tan

Lesley Tan
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