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Live Reviews

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

By Published: April 12, 2012
Professor Rajata Rajatanavin, M.D., President of Mahidol University, said the university "is honored to welcome many internationally renowned artists as part of TIJC 2012." He said that he is confident that their experiences in Thailand and in Salaya, which is becoming the "Culture Capital" of Thailand, were exciting and productive. "As a lover of great music, I relish the opportunity to spend time at the Thailand International Jazz Conference. I thank you all for helping to make TIJC a success," he said. He attributed the strong Jazz Studies Department at the College of Music, Mahidol University, Salaya, to the university's ability to host such an amazing, large international event of this scale. Earlier in the month, Dr. Rajatanavin said, he was also delighted to make remarks at the opening of the 7th Season of Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra and the opening of the Music Business Centre/Artist Residency, both at the university.

Elizabeth Jaxon, a harpist from Illinois, who is on the music faculty at Mahidol University, agrees that "it is paradise," particularly for her. Originally from Urbana-Champaign, she is pleased to pursue her music in Thailand and showed us her beautiful campus office where she teaches. She pointed out the expansive, modern, new facility being constructed for the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra, in which she performs. "Where else could I do what I'm doing at my age, but in Thailand? I love it here. It's perfect. Just heavenly. The classical and the jazz faculty are fantastic." Attending the jazz conference gives Ms. Jaxon inspiration and motivation, she commented, to learn jazz on the concert harp. "I think it's such a great opportunity for me to be at the jazz conference. And we have these world-class musicians coming here for us. I want to try to incorporate some of the jazz techniques into my playing, possibly with a duo."

Saxophonist and California jazz educator Dr. Robert Knop also performed on the evening conference schedule with the CSUSB Jazz Combo and presented an informative morning clinic on how using the pentatonic scale can benefit the jazz musicians. Dr. Knop, Associate Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at Cal State San Bernardino, brought along three of his jazz students to perform with him for audiences. Because his teaching schedule in California includes classes in jazz pedagogy, jazz improvisation, saxophone quartet and jazz history, Dr. Knop was able to bring some of his jazz knowledge to Thailand audiences. His academic music degrees are from Roosevelt University, Northern Illinois University and the University of Northern Colorado.

Thai music students, faculty, Asian and international professional musicians and audience members at TILC were able to interact with the invited American jazz musicians and celebrated Thai musicians throughout the conference. "It's pure jazz heaven here. I think it's a great quality conference. I love it. This is my first time to this jazz event and I hope to come back," said jazz enthusiast Walter Salmon, a retired pharmacist from Australia on vacation in Bangkok, who learned about the fourth annual event when reading about it in the newspaper.

The festival is distinguished for its entertainment and educational components. Held in a beautiful tropical setting on the campus, conference-goers are greeted by vegetation and extraordinary landscaping, art and sculptures, a canal and moat flanked by large photographs of jazz musicians, a fountain, lush trees, grass, flowers, all making a beautiful and relaxing location.

Ample opportunity for mingling of jazz lovers was provided at such places at music shops, the lovely, open-air Music Square restaurant, other food venues and at the Mercedes-Benz Lounge, wonderfully-hosted by Prof. Dr. Alexander Paufler, President & CEO, Mercedes-Benz (Thailand), a main sponsor of the jazz conference. The American jazz artists and many concert-goers praised the Music Square atmosphere. "What a great venue to sit and relax to the warm, yet cool sounds of jazz!" said a jovial couple in Bangkok, David and Lek Greason, who also are from Dayton, Ohio, sharing their thin-crust pizza.

Happiness in society with the jazz music is a goal for the conference, said Saxophone Instructor Krit Buranavitayawut, a saxophonist in the jazz group The Pomelo Town and Associate Dean for Construction Development, Mahidol University. "The area around the university is famous for its abundance of pomelos, a delicious fruit [that tastes a bit like an American grapefruit]. We named our group after the pomelo."

Another component—besides jazz classrooms in a large indoor auditorium and outdoor concerts in several locations—included jazz solo competitions in several divisions, Junior (20 and under years of age) and Open (all ages). Six performers reached in and pulled out their random tune in each division in the final round.

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