Jazz Day in Phuket is a day-long free street festival aimed at promoting jazz in the Southeast Asian region, while helping international visitors get to know Phuket Old Town. This year extends the city’s record as host since 2012 – the only Jazz Day event in Southeast Asia organised every year in the same venue – and doubtless adds to what might be described as “more than a century of cool in Phuket Town”. Because Phuket Town really is a pretty cool place.
It’s all done on a shoe-string budget as well: Jeffrey and Thidapron (better known as “Kay”) work all year to come up with their end of the budget – Jeffrey being one of the island’s best-known jazz pianists and Kay among its small contingent of jazz singers. The pair put on great shows every year and the reason they can do it is because of what is known as the “Music Matter Collective”. These are the musicians, numbering 20 or more, who gather at Music Matter every Wednesday for the club’s famous jazz jam. They are joined frequently by top talents on holiday in Phuket. These Wednesday jam sessions have been organised without fail for 18 years.
The international roster for this year’s Jazz Day fest features Rachel Guerzo’s Trio from Malaysia. Rachel and her siblings are members of two of Malaysia’s most famous music clans, the Guerzos and the Solianos. Their great ancestor, Alfonso Soliano, as performer, conductor and composer, is a pivotal figure in the history of Malaysian jazz, and by extension of jazz in Southeast Asia. Rachel, herself a composer, pianist and singer, is similarly one of the country’s top jazz artists, and a stalwart of Kuala Lumpur’s music scene. She will be joined for this event by famous Phuket guitarist Boy Navio.
From Bandung Jakarta in Indonesia comes bassist and band-leader Ringga Hardika of the Hariring Freedom band. From Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam comes Squid in Chains, an avant garde duo formed by Columbian Felipe Calderon on drums and Canadian Douglas Schmidt on sax. Pianist Mike Tambasen was at Jazz Day number five in Phuket and returns this year to play an all-star set with Singapore drummer Anson Koh, who was here last year, and bassist Ringga.
Hong Kong-based American alto saxophonist Tom Nunan joins the fest for the first time this year. Fellow American Edgar Leon, on percussion, is coming back for his second visit to play with Rachel. Bangkok-based Filipina chanteuse Zerenidad Acosta Lewis will be here for the first time.
Many jazz lovers are familiar with the Kan Eang Jazz Trio, led by pianist Suram Pimploy, from their regular performances at one of the island’s premier seafood restaurants, Kan Eang@Pier on Chalong Bay. Other locally well-known performers include: singer/guitarist Jay Celada; guitarist and singer Che Durens; and the Music Matter Collective will play Latin numbers with guitarist/bassist/singer Dennis Villarin, percussionist Mari Okawa, drummer PJ, saxophonist Norman King, trombonist Adam Smith, Jeffrey on piano – and a host of others.
Performances start at 7pm on Monday April 30. The venue is Chana Chareon Road in Phuket Town, just south of the clocktower on Phuket Rd. Admission is free, refreshment abundant and a night of great music and fun guaranteed.
This event is proudly sponsored by Live 89.5 and The Phuket News.