Your Entertainment by The Mekong


June 20, 2015

Your Entertainment by the Mekong

FCC@Phnom Penh

It is time for Dr. Kamisah and I to bring back jazz for your entertainment. Miles Davies, one of the most creative jazz exponents, is our guest artiste for this weekend’s entertainment by the Mekong. We start by playing his rendition of Someday My Prince will come, to be followed by his famous Sketches of Spain, that wonderful country that gave us the Matador, the Famingo, the legendary Seve Ballesteros and the dashing Sergio Garcia (may he win the 2015 US Open). When we think of Miles, we must  also not forget his album titled Kind Of Blue.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

Here is some background on Miles Davies to enable us to understand him and his music, and appreciate his prodigious talent.

Miles Davies

Synopsis

Instrumental in the development of jazz, Miles Davis is considered one of the top musicians of his era. Born in Illinois in 1926, he traveled at age 18 to New York City to pursue music. Throughout his life, he was at the helm of a changing concept of jazz. Winner of nine Grammy awards, Miles Davis died on September 28, 1991 from respiratory distress in Santa Monica, California.

Early Life

The son of a prosperous dental surgeon and a music teacher, Miles Davis was born Miles Dewey Davis III on May 26, 1926, in Alton, Illinois. Davis grew up in a supportive middle-class household, where he was introduced by his father to the trumpet at age 13. Davis quickly developed a talent for playing the trumpet under the private tutelage of Elwood Buchanan, a friend of his father who directed a music school. Buchanan emphasized playing the trumpet without vibrato, which was contrary to the common style used by trumpeters such as Louis Armstrong, and which would come to influence and help develop the Miles Davis style.

Davis played professionally while in high school. When he was 17 years old, Davis was invited by Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker to join them onstage when the famed musicians realized they needed a trumpet player to replace a sick bandmate. Soon after, in 1944, Davis left Illinois for New York, where he would soon enroll at the Juilliard School (known at the time as the Institute of Musical Art).

While taking courses at Juilliard, Davis sought out Charlie Parker and, after Parker joined him, began to play at Harlem nightclubs. During the gigs, he met several musicians whom he would eventually play with and form the basis for bebop, a fast, improvisational style of jazz instrumental that defined the modern jazz era.

Musical Beginnings: 1940s – 1960s

In 1945, Miles Davis elected, with his father’s permission, to drop out of Juilliard and become a full-time jazz musician. A member of the Charlie Parker Quintet at the time, Davis made his first recording as a bandleader in 1946 with the Miles Davis Sextet. Between 1945 and 1948, Davis and Parker recorded continuously. It was during this period that Davis worked on developing the improvisational style that defined his trumpet playing.

In 1949, Davis formed a nine-piece band with uncommon additions, such as the French horn, trombone and tuba. He released a series of singles that would later be considered a significant contribution to modern jazz. They were later released as part of the album Birth of the Cool.

In the early 1950s, Davis became addicted to heroin. While he was still able to record, it was a difficult period for the musician and his performances were haphazard. Davis overcame his addiction in 1954, around the same time that his performance of “‘Round Midnight” at the Newport Jazz Festival earned him a recording contract with Columbia Records. There, he also created a permanent band, consisted of John Coltrane, Paul Chambers and Red Garland.

Davis recorded several albums with his sextet during the 1950s, including Porgy and Bess and Kind of Blue, his final album of the decade, released in 1959. Now considered one of the best jazz albums ever recorded, Kind of Blue is credited as the largest-selling jazz album of all time, selling more than 2 million copies.

Davis continued to be successful throughout the 1960s. His band transformed over time, largely due to new band members and changes in style. The various members of his band went on to become some of the most influential musicians of the jazz fusion era. These included Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul (Weather Report), Chick Corea (Return to Forever), and John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham (Mahavishnu Orchestra).

The development of jazz fusion was influenced by artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone, reflecting the “fusion” of jazz and rock. The album Bitches Brew, recorded a few weeks after the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival, set the stage for the jazz fusion movement to follow. Bitches Brew soon became a best-selling album. As a result, Davis was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine—becoming the first jazz artist to be so recognized. For his traditional fans, this change of style was not welcome, but it exemplifies Davis’ ability to experiment and push the limits of his own music style.

Renowned Jazz Musician: 1970s – 1980s

In 1975, Davis was once again drawn into drug abuse, becoming addicted to alcohol and cocaine, and subsequently taking a five-year hiatus from his career. In 1979, he met Cicely Tyson, an American actress, who helped him overcome his cocaine addiction. He and Tyson married in 1981.

From 1979 to 1981, Davis worked on recordings that culminated in the release of the album The Man with the Horn, which registered steady sales but wasn’t well-received by critics. Davis spent the 1980s continuing to experiment with different styles. He interpreted songs made popular by Michael Jackson (“Human Nature”) and Cyndi Lauper (“Time After Time”) on his album You’re Under Arrest, released in 1985.

It was around this time that Davis developed a feud with fellow trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. Marsalis publicly criticized Davis’s work in jazz fusion, claiming that it wasn’t “true” jazz. Subsequently, when Marsalis attempted to join Davis onstage without invitation at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival in 1986, Davis requested that he leave the stage, using strong language. To this day, the quarrel between the musicians has been credited with making the International Jazz Festival famous.

Davis reinvented himself yet again in 1986 with the release of Tutu. Incorporating synthesizers, drum loops and samples, the album was well-received and garnered Davis another Grammy Award. This was followed by the release of Aura, an album that Davis had created in 1985 as a tribute to the Miles Davis “aura,” but wasn’t released until 1989. Davis won yet another Grammy for this project.

Later Years and Legacy

Honoring his body of work, in 1990, Miles Davis received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award. In 1991, he played with Quincy Jones at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The two performed a retrospective of Davis’s early work, some of which he had not played in public for more than 20 years.

Later that same year, on September 28, 1991, Davis succumbed to pneumonia and respiratory failure, dying at the age of 65. Fittingly, his recording with Quincy Jones would bring Miles Davis his final Grammy, awarded posthumously in 1993. The honor was just another testament to the musician’s profound and lasting influence on jazz.

Source:

http://www.biography.com/people/miles-davis-9267992#later-years-and-legacy

Your Weekend Entertainment –Jazz From Malaysia


June 14, 2014

Your Weekend Entertainment –Jazz From Malaysia

din and kamsiah2Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

For listening pleasure, Dr. Kamsiah and I present Jazz from Malaysia featuring the RTM Combo led by Ahmad Shariff, Radio Malaysia Orchestra under the direction of Alfonso Soliano and Gus Steyn, and the crooners of the 60s era.

My dearly departed cousin, Dato’ Ahmad Daud and  Zain Azman, my friend at the malaysia-endless-possibilitiesRubber Research Institute (known in the 1960s as the Nat King Cole of Malaysia) are  also featured here. Malaysia is a country full of talent and rich in culture and music (including Jazz).In fact, it is a land of Possibilities, if only we know how to utilise our  diverse cultural heritage, and talent pool.

That said, let us relax since this week, as reflected in the postings on this blog, was an equally emotionally draining one. Keep well and enjoy your Sunday.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

RTM Combo–Ahmad Shariff

Aku Dia & Lagu

Di Taman Seputeh

Musalmah

Mimpi

Alfonso Soliano

Ayam den Lapeh

Mimpi Ku Semalam

Ku Kan Kembali

Gus Steyn

Ahmad Daud

Zain Azman

Stand Up for Democracy And Stand By Anwar Against Kelptocracy


March 7, 2014

Stand Up for Democracy,Freedom, Justice And Stand By Anwar Against Kleptocracy 

Stand Up for each other, Pakatan Rakyat.  Fight for freedom, democracy and justice. We have no option. Today’s Court of A Appeal decision makes Anwar the driving force for change in our country.  Let us not feel dejected. Our fight goes on against the dark forces of repression, arrogance, oppression; and like Badwawi’s supression, Najib will fall on the count of three.–Din Merican

by Josh Hong@wwww.malaysiakini.com

TDMBaruFor nearly 16 years now, Malaysian politics has been stuck in skullduggery just because one influential and popular individual by the name of Anwar Ibrahim was – and is – determined to challenge UMNO’s hegemony embodied by Mahathir Mohamad’s autocracy.

The sodomy issue is like a sword of Damocles that hangs forever over Anwar’s head. When he was acquitted for the first time over Sodomy II back in January 2012, some were quick to attribute the verdict to a restoration of judicial integrity. How premature the conclusion was, I would say.

Although there have been cases where justice was seen to be done, including a series of decisions against UMNO mouthpieces such as Utusan Malaysia and TV3, it would seem that the Judiciary remains very much beholden to the powers-that-be whenever the latter’s ultimate authority is severely challenged.

In other words, as long as the opposition adhered to the rules of the game laid down by UMNO and played its role within the permitted boundaries, it was allowed to survive but not to thrive.

Until, of course, the power of reformasi was unleashed by Anwar and turned the UMNO game upside down. Since then, the party that claims to represent the Malays has been fighting tooth and nail to stay relevant.

Still, neither Mahathir nor Najib Abdul Razak ever doubts the sodomy trump card that they have, alongside the advantages that UMNO holds as the ruling party. While Najib grudgingly accepted the not-so-splendid outcome of the 13th general election, he was privately relieved that more than sufficient time had been secured for him to say in power.

But Najib’s fortunes started to dwindle in no time as the costs of living were rising as a result of his hastily implemented economic measures.

At the same time, Mahathir and his cohorts cashed in on the increasingly discontents at the grassroots level by attacking Najib’s lacklustre performance, although the ex-dictator is never under the illusion that every act of defiance on his part is meant to soothe his immense grievances over his son’s failure to make it to UMNO’s top leadership.

So Najib was on the verge of repeating what Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had gone through – an ignominious exit that was.

Anwar-KajangAt this juncture, Anwar pre-empted Najib with the Kajang Offensive, seeking to regain the momentum that was clearly lost post-GE13.

All at a sudden, the public’s zeal for a regime change was aroused, posing a serious threat to UMNO’s legitimacy once again.

Should Anwar win big in Kajang, it would deal further blow to Najib’s diminishing authority within the party and nationwide.

Talk of reconciliation

Prior to this, there had been talk of reconciliation, with both sides of the political divides seemingly warming up to the idea.

I had chastised Anwar in no uncertain terms over the overtures that he had been making towards UMNO for the simple reason that the party that has ruined each and every public institution over the last 30 years and trampled on our national dignity time and again can never be trusted as a partner.

Then Anwar appeared to have changed his mind and decided to go on the offensive. But his Kajang strategy was interpreted by Najib as a betrayal on the consensus between them, which explains the rush to move the Sodomy II appeal forward to stop Anwar from getting closer to assuming a greater role in politics.

A calculative politician, Najib most probably decided to finish Anwar off by sending him to jail so that he gets to keep Putrajaya, while simultaneously appeasing Mahathir.

Yes, the Kajang Move has clearly backfired and one can go on arguing whether it was ethnical or justifiable from the very beginning. However, the very cruel reality remains that Umno is so arrogant and powerful that judges must disregard all the evidence and convict its opponents on the shakiest grounds.

Mahathir is the happiest man for now, but the country and the people will eventually pay for his and Umno’s perfidy unless a new generation of Malaysians are prepared to rise up against all the injustices.

Favourites from the Zain Azahari Collection


December 5, 2013

Favourites from the Zain Azahari Collection @ The Edge Galerie

MY COMMENT: This is the first time I feature art on this blog. HavingKamsiah and Din2 been to the Opening Day of this excellent art exhibition at the Edge Gallery in Mont Kiara with my wife, Dr. Kamsiah, I cannot not resist posting this review (http://artklitique.blogspot.com/2013/10/favourites-from-zain-azahari-collection.html?m=1).

Apart from the fact that Zain Azhari is my friend and golfing mate, and  I have  the highest regard for the many fine human qualities of this septuagenarian, I felt this review reflects exactly how I felt as I saw the paintings on display.

I have seen some of them before at Zain’s home and office, but not collectively ina  single place. In my view, it is a sample of the finest art collection by an individual in Malaysia.Thanks, The Edge Gallery and Zain for making it possible for members of the public to see them.

Zain is passionate about everything he does from his legal work, music, golf, reading, and art. He is an amazing man. –Din Merican

Favorites from Zain Azahari Collection

Pastoral, sensual, vigorous – these common descriptions surmise the prominent art collection of Zain Azahari, where a selection of 38 pieces are displayed at this exhibition. Large works by Ibrahim Hussein and Hendra Gunawan greet the visitor with titillating intent, where Fauvist colours and sinuous contours excite primitive human senses. Flanking both sides of the lobby, Latiff Mohidin and Anuar Rashid arouse the spiritual with abstract illustrations of great control and harmonious beauty, easily subjugating works by young artists hung in the same area.

Ramlan Abdullah’s aluminium sculpture also blends into the gallery’s medieval design, as the contemporary takes a back seat to master artists belonging to the Modern era. Earth and human form an unbreakable bond in these works, implying the collector as one whom possess deep faith and a resilient outlook of life.

Zain No 1Kampung truths: Jalaini Abu Hassan – Di Murahkan Rezeki, Di Berkatkan Hati (2011)

This philosophy is clearly specified in Jalaini Abu Hassan’s meditative ‘Di Murahkan Rezeki, Di Berkatkan Hati’, a minimal juxtaposition of objects (by Jai’s standards) beautifully rendered, where words elucidate Malay sayings and its connotations. When utilised correctly, writing creates additional dimensions on a canvas, Mangu Putra’s picture of utter despair being a good example. Academic painting typify depictions of toil and hard work, contrasting with the creative expressions of Mount Merapi by Affandi and Srihadi Soedarsono.

Illustrations of human feet seem to captivate the collector, who own a couple of high-priced watercolour masterpieces by Chang Fee Ming. Among the elegant dancing figures shown, including Latiff’s curious ‘Bird Dance’ sculpture, a menacing ‘Barong’ by Popo Iskandar emerges proudly from the shadows.

Zain No.2Crimson tide: Latiff Mohidin – Malam Merah (1968)

Zain’s collection boasts many works by the renown Latiff, none more significant than ‘Malam Merah’. Lively strokes of purple, yellow, and white, provide an inherent energy to the amalgamated Pago-pago, as a single horizontal line allows the sun / moon to set. The remaining areas are painted crimson red, while darker brush strokes sketch movement that augments the powerful picture. Cheong Soo Pieng’s tender ‘Mother & Child’ follows in the Nanyang tradition, which the pioneer artist updates via a rare oil painting.

Zain No. 4Why brown? Ibrahim Hussein – Farewell to New York (1969)
Previously unseen to the public is Ib’s ‘Farewell to New York’, a witty nude done in his characteristic Pop manner, where the curious usage of brown as its background has me polishing my chin while pondering the rationale. More sensuality is exhibited in Anthony Lau’s ‘Exstacy’, a wooden pair of smooth forms that recall natural contours, its overt tension depicted in the horizontal gap.
Zain No. 5Gliding sarongs: Dzulkifli Buyong – Four Friends (1964)
Hung low to provide viewer clarity, many works from this collection are museum-worthy, with the occasional odd gem standing out beyond Nusantara motives. Dzulkifli Buyong’s quirky ‘Four Friends’ “captures that single moment that is the birth of our Malaysian Modern art movement”, as described by curator Anurendra Jegadeva. Simple pastel colours, gliding sarongs, lily buds in the air, and innocent human gestures – I will not be surprised if the artist was in fact drawing 4 versions of his self.

Moving from flying figures to floating heads, Agus Suwage’s brilliant red fields pay tribute to artistic influences in an unconventional manner, the depiction like a tinted collage filtered through a computer program. Singling out figurative subjects is Ahmad Zakii Anwar’s contemporary approach, the huge portrait of a hippopotamus beckoning the viewer to come closer and swat flies, while the logical me clamour to inject meaning into a successful aesthetic.

Despite having a shorter tradition in picture making, the Malaysian works hold their own when compared to the diversity displayed in the Indonesian paintings. Among the many natural landscapes, a hazy wetland and a vertically-stretched Batu Caves signify personal importance, the former a nostalgic memory and the latter being Zain’s first collected artwork (a wedding gift!). Zain’s stories and passion are expounded and repeated across few essays in the catalogue, inspiring all who appreciate art.

Zain No.3From Kahli, Van Gogh, Bueys, Sudjojono, Freud to Hiroshige: Agus Sugawie– Agus SuwagePemandangan Dunia Wi (Earthly Landscape) (2011)

Having amassed 400 works over the past 50 years, Zain Azahari’s collection is a testament of one’s relentless pursuit of art on one’s personal terms. Not a luxury item, never an asset type, consistent in vision, absorbing one’s soul and intellect. I may not share Zain’s taste in art, but I do share a similar passion, which makes him my Art Collector idol for years to come.

Weekend Entertainment: Back t0 the Good Old Days


November 9, 2013

Weekend Entertainment: Back t0 the Good Old Days

Dr. Kamsiah and I feel that for this weekend’s DDM and DDKamsiahentertainment we should go back in time–to 1960s and 1970s–and feature the voices of Malaysian singers like Ahmad Daud Hashim, Zain Azman, Zainal Abu and Wan Salman. Let us not forget Johor born Dato Shake who found fame and fortune in Paris, France with his hit song, Tu sais je t’aime. We think it is also appropriate to feature Kembara and M.Nasir who made the pop charts in 1970s with their hit song, Express Rakyat.

May the tunes we present for listening pleasure bring back sweet memories of what used to be the simple life of the average Malaysian. Keep well. 2013 is nearing its end and we must now reflect on what 2014 will bring us.–Dr Kamsiah and Din Merican

Ahmad Daud Hashim

Zain Azman

Zainal Abu

Wan Salman

Dato Shake

Kembara and M. Nasir