Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

299

Borneo Jazz 2011

Borneo Jazz 2011
Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Borneo Jazz
Miri, Sarawak, Borneo
May 12-15, 2011

Borneo Jazz—known as the Miri International Jazz Festival for the previous five editions—has undergone a certain amount of rebranding in an effort to promote its growing stature as one of the leading jazz festivals in the region. This year the festival has increased from two to four days, with the opening night formerly reserved for musicians and media now open to the public. In addition, Borneo Jazz has extended its reach in the city of Miri, by staging Musical Meetings—spontaneous jam sessions—in the Marriott Hotel, and putting on a Sunday matinee concert at the Eastwood Valley Golf Club. These innovations indicate the growing ambition of the organizers to spread the festival in the Miri community. They also show the desire to increase the number of festival goers, with the 2011 edition's stated aim to attract 10,000 people—a large jump compared to last year's 7,000.

What hasn't changed from previous years was the variety of music on the program—jazz and its many splinter genres, and blues, was performed by veterans from the United States such as singer Maria Muldaur and singer/guitarist John Hammond, whilst strongly contrasting groups from Japan and China showed that whilst the tradition is still strong, jazz is also taking exciting new directions in Asia. Borneo jazz offers a little of everything, and Brazilian rhythms, gypsy jazz from France and electronic nu-jazz from Holland completed a diverse and mostly engaging set of performances.

Borneo is as stunning a location as it is an unlikely one for a jazz festival. The third largest island in the world, it is unique for being the only island to contain three countries—Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. This lush, tropical paradise boasts a biodiversity practically unmatched in Asia, with National Parks of world renown such as Mulu, with its enormous caves like the Deer Cave, which houses three million bats. The bats exit the cave each day before sundown, weaving snaking patterns against the sky in swarms of thousands, in search of food. It is impossible not to be seduced by Borneo.

"There's no other place like it on earth" says Randy Raine-Rouche, Artistic and Program Director, and the man behind Sarawak province's more famous festival, the Rainforest Music Festival. Undoubtedly, Borneo's extraordinary rainforests, its meandering rivers and rugged highlands, its tremendous ethnic diversity—and its legend as an island formerly of headhunter tribes—are all factors in the renaming of the festival. And Borneo Jazz is aiming high; for Dato Rashid Khan, Sarawak Tourism Board's Chief Executive Officer, the aim is clear: "We hope Borneo Jazz will become an iconic jazz festival in the region, just as the Rainforest Music Festival in Sarawak is an iconic festival. "

Miri has a population of 300,000 people. Malay, Chinese and expats employed in the oil business make up the majority of the population, though several of Sarawak province's 27 linguistically distinct tribes live in or close to the town, sending their children to the Chinese schools in the hope that they can emulate the success of the Chinese population with its drive and business acumen. Although it seems unlikely that Borneo Jazz will outshine jazz festivals like those held in Montreal, Holland, London, France, Spain, or any number of prestigious festivals in America and elsewhere, it's not beyond the realms of possibility, after all, 20,000 people travel to Sarawak, Borneo from all over the world each July for the Rainforest Music Festival. This world music festival is a unique event which has built its name on the quality of its music as much as its exotic location, without resorting to big-name world music artists to promote it.

The large crowds which enjoyed quality music over the course of four days suggest that the same strategy might well produce similar results at Borneo Jazz.

Borneo Jazz got underway on the Thursday in the magnificent Marina Bay Restaurant, a spectacular wooden cathedral of a building, whose veranda offers the perfect vantage point to take in the sunset over the South China Sea. Two dozen women, beautifully attired in the traditional dress of the Kelabit, Melanau, Kenyah and Lun Bawang ethnicities, as well as the Indian community, provided a colorful greeting. On the stage, two traditional Kenyah musicians performed the sape, a long-bodied string instrument common to the region. Afterwards, the two musicians, who had impressed with their virtuosity, expressed their admiration for the improvisational qualities of much jazz, and told how they are inspired by the musicians of this jazz festival to explore the possibilities of their own instrument.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Warning: include(/data/websites/jazznearyou.com/www/html/templates/calendar/cal_related_cached.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/websites/allaboutjazz.com/www/html/content/article.php on line 68

Warning: include(): Failed opening '/data/websites/jazznearyou.com/www/html/templates/calendar/cal_related_cached.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/lib/php5:/data/websites/allaboutjazz.com/www/html:/usr/share/php') in /home/websites/allaboutjazz.com/www/html/content/article.php on line 68

More Articles

Read Lean On Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers @ NYC Winter Jazzfest Live Reviews Lean On Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers @ NYC...
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 15, 2018
Read Carl Bartlett, Jr. at Jazz At Kitano Live Reviews Carl Bartlett, Jr. at Jazz At Kitano
by Keith Henry Brown
Published: January 13, 2018
Read Kurt Rosenwinkel at Chris’ Jazz Café Live Reviews Kurt Rosenwinkel at Chris’ Jazz Café
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: January 2, 2018
Read Terence Blanchard at Christ Church Cranbrook Live Reviews Terence Blanchard at Christ Church Cranbrook
by Troy Dostert
Published: December 29, 2017
Read Gary Peacock Trio at the Regattabar Jazz Club Live Reviews Gary Peacock Trio at the Regattabar Jazz Club
by Nat Seelen
Published: December 27, 2017
Read "Redwood City Salsa Festival 2017" Live Reviews Redwood City Salsa Festival 2017
by Walter Atkins
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below" Live Reviews Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 12, 2017
Read "Gary Clark, Jr. and Jimmie Vaughan at the Iridium" Live Reviews Gary Clark, Jr. and Jimmie Vaughan at the Iridium
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: September 16, 2017
Read "2017 Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland" Live Reviews 2017 Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: July 3, 2017
Read "Beth Hart at the Historic Wuppertal Statehouse" Live Reviews Beth Hart at the Historic Wuppertal Statehouse
by Phillip Woolever
Published: June 9, 2017