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Live Reviews

Thailand International Jazz Conference: Bangkok, Thailand, January 27-29, 2012

By Published: April 12, 2012
Dr. Hart, the beloved trumpeter from the U.S., has already been on the jazz faculty at Mahidol in the past, and the students enjoyed having him return to present his workshop and perform at the conference. "It's a pleasure. This is a beautiful school," said Hart, who taught improvisation skills, using commonly known tunes, as well as Kenny Dorham's tune "Lotus Blossom," using Dorham's soloing, which Hart transcribed and shared with the Thai jazz enthusiasts and international audience.

Three Russian musicians, Igor Suchkov (piano), Alexander Sergueenko (bass), and Vyacheslav Shumilov (drums), provided the rhythm section for the Thailand International Jazz Conference 2012 Solo Competition.

The King of Thailand (the Jazz King), His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand (the Jazz King), is the inspiration for the Thailand International Jazz Conference. His important remarks about music, excerpted from an interview that was broadcast on Voice of America and the National Broadcasting Station on June 21, 1960, were printed at the front of the 2012 schedule program in dedication to the jazz conference:

..."Whether jazz or otherwise, music is a part of me. It is a part of everyone, an essential part of us all. To me, music is something fine and beautiful.

"I think we should recognize the value of music in all its forms, since all types of music have their place and time, and respond to different kinds of emotions."

The conference organizers believe the remarks are equally relevant today. Jazz is a vital part of Thai society, and has been composed and performed HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej. To celebrate his 84th birthday this past year, Silpakorn University Jazz Orchestra gave a performance of the King's latest arrangements. These superb, innovative arrangements, written especially for the band, highlighted solos by band members as well as the Silpakorn University a cappella choir.

All generations of Thai people love jazz, said the Dean of the College of Music, Mahidol University, Dr. Sugree Charoensook, whose stated wish was that participants "come away with a feast of experiences, develop skills and help further develop jazz in Thailand."

Anant Lerpradit, the editor of the Art-Cultural section of Bangkok Biznews daily, a newspaper of the Nation Multimedia Group, urged his listeners in his Media & Jazz workshop to write about jazz in new media formats and other publications to spread the good word of jazz. From his passion for promoting jazz music in Thailand through writing, broadcasting and concert organizing, he has put together more than 48 concerts in Bangkok and other provinces. "The media plays an important role to support the jazz industry," he said. "The mainstream media is still very necessary to promote jazz." He went on to question how jazz music can be more incorporated into the Thai culture, and the role of the media in this. "Maybe we can create more of an identity of jazz in the same genre of Thai traditional music through the media in Thailand."

A few American performers said they were impressed with the knowledge and skills of Thai professional musicians and jazz students, their enthusiasm, energy and love for the music. Some Thai musicians have been receiving acclaim for actually mixing Thai musical components and jazz elements. Renowned Thai performers at the recent jazz conference included Metawat (Thewan) Sapsanyakorn, one of the top saxophone players in Thailand, brought a unique style of Latin Thai with his saxophone, violin and khui, a traditional Thai flute, and performed with his seven-piece band on the night stage. Sapsanyakorn's band, called Tewan Novel Jazz, uses Thai instruments mixed with international sounds and has been a model to other contemporary Thai jazz bands during the past 20 years. Tewan Novel Jazz include Suwiwat Thitiwatthanarat (drums), Yod Wongsuwan (bass), Pruettinan Uengsamran, (guitar), Thitiwach Sakkraivichit (piano), Suebsak Choowong (Thai xylophone), and Phayap Lurksuwunnee (khui, Thai percussion).

Unit Asia and Koh Mr. Saxophone also headlined and included the famous Thai star saxophonist "Mr. Koh," along with three Japanese jazz musicians active in fusion music scenes—Isao Miyoshi (guitar), Hiroyuki Noritake (drums), and Shigeki Ippon (bass) and a pianist from Malaysia, Cher Siang Tay. Their goal is the creation of "Asian jazz," which overflows in originality beyond the framework of nation, culture and music genre. "It's overwhelming to see the response we're getting from the audience," said Koh, when interviewed. "It's great. I've been with TIJC from 'day one' (four years ago)."

The Pomelo Town, a Thai quartet that never stops exploring and experimenting with new creative opportunities, is composed of Krit Buranavitayawut, alto saxophone; Darin Pantoomkomol, piano (TIJC Artistic Director); Noppandol Tirataradol, bass (TIJC Project Manager); and Kom Wongsawat, drums. All four are Mahidol jazz faculty and on the organizing committee of the annual jazz conference.

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