Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Shaggies (Since 1986), a long time standing

To be true to my blog objective, and in all honesty to myself, I do visit the occasional bar with a cover band. My favorite thus far is, the no longer so new, Balaclava. The bar is some what oddly position on the outer perimeter of the 5th floor Ion Orchard car park. The owners however creatively put together a cozy bar with a stage that is the permanent home of Shagies. Shagies is a 7-piece band of all Singapore musicians, playing a huge variety of popular covers.

AJ (Saxophone/Flute/Conga/Vocals)
Wann (Bass)

Daffy (Drums/Vocals)

Olynn (Lead Vocals/Percussion)

T. Ross (Keyboards/Vocals)
Hashim (Guitar/Vocals)

Yanee (Lead Vocals/Guitar/Drums/Bass/Timbales)
And they cover it all... from the lightest pop song to the heaviest metal. With two amazingly talented vocalists Yanee and Olynn, they manage to cover from the sultry soulful voice type of Amy Winehouse through to the highest pitch of Steelhearts Miljenko Matijevic. 

Yanee and Olynn are often times vocally backed up by a variety of voices from the other band members, A.J. has a particularly remarkable role as a back up singer. This full harmony, on a lucky night, has it's apotheosis in a perfect rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, where the full band burst out in a massive chorus. (for me, for me, for meeeeee)

I prefer Mondays, it's quiet, so the band gets few requests and plays the more classic hits that withstood the test of time. On occasion we can even hear a lovely Bassey Big Spender or a cool choice of Sinatra.  And if by exception the song doesn't entertain you, keep a close eye on the stage. 

Of course Olynn’s seductive moves cannot be ignored. 

She can “break another piece of my heart” (Janice Joplin) and “Bring me to Live” (Evanescence) upon request.

More importantly however is that the whole band seems to be engaged in a bit of improvisation theatre. Gesturing, chatting, teasing, there is always something going on between these 7 lifelong friends that can put a smile on your face!

They are not singing covers like dressed up speakers, they are giving a performance that they themselves enjoy on a daily basis...

and it shows

Monday, July 8, 2013

Raghajazz: Flute, Tabla, compositions and me... of Indian origin?

When I met Rachma last Sunday at the Artistry, where she was playing with Bani and his Bluemonks, she told me about here esplanade concourse gigs. It was sort of Indian fusion, she shared with me, all smiles and with her usual enthusiasm. 

 If that was not enough to convince me to stop by, she added that a Table player would join the band part of the band. Now you cannot consider yourself a valid Person Of Indian origin, if that doesn’t make your curiosity complete. So on Monday evening after a long day at work that started at 8 AM at our Changi office, I rushed home to change into something easier and pick up my camera. Then back on the bike to Esplanade, for a quick bite at Makan Sutra, regulars may remember I am a big fan of carrot cake.

I was not very busy at the concourse, in fact when I arrived I had a choice of front row seats so I tried to position myself as well as possible to have an angle at all musicians:

Ragha Vendran - Bansuri (Indian flute)

Jase - Bass

Jit Seng - Drums

Rachma - Piano and Keys 

Kumaranji - Tabla

The band’s name is RaghaJazz. Obviously named after the man playing the Bansuri, but possibly a reference to Raga as well, referring to the melodic types of Hindi music. At least with the flute of Indian origin and the tabla, the Indian infusion to the original compositions was inevitable. 

On top of that they played some rearranged composition of contemporary and past Indian music hero’s. All and all it was a very pleasant hour of music, that I discovered by chance.

This month a prominent leader in music, from the Lasalle school of the arts, will leave Singapore for Europe, hopefully temporarily. I cannot attend his farewell concert. I will be traveling. 
RhagaJazz has at least two of his students. So they must represent Tim's musical farewell for me. Just based on what I listened to this Monday evening, I can say “a job well done”.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Omniform: Jazz against the Monday Blues

Time slipping away on the longest day of the week is not a bad thing. The is only one problem. At the end of the day, when you open the fridge, you find it stuffed to the rim, but there is nothing you can make dinner with. Of course by that time you do not feel like a visit to the NTUC to get groceries. Normally they are pretty much sold out of fresh stuff anyway. Things do suddenly look up when you realize that it is just a Monday but it is the first Monday of the month. That, to date, and since years now, means Omniform at Blu Jaz. For those of you, shame on you, who have not heard of Omniform, this creation of  Greg Lyons is a 10 piece band with a powerful 7 piece wind section.

The band from right to left:

Greg Lyons Maestro and Tenor Sax:

 Darren Moore Drum

Fabian Lim Alto Sax

Tim O’Dwyer Baritone Sax:

Brandon Wong Bass


Rit Xu Flute

Aynsley Green Piano

Dan Wong Trumpet

Leo Jeoh Trombone (right)

Mick Cartwright Trombone (left)

The band plays Lyons’s  Jazz originals as well as cool arrangements of Jazz standards and rock populars by e.g. the Beatles and Deep Purple

 So decision was made quickly, dinner and Omniform at Blu Jaz. The nice thing about Omniform is that it always attracts a bit of nice crowd especially for Monday evenings and there are bound to be some familiar faces showing up, like our dear friend David.

The music is generally relaxing, and the band regularly whips up excitement when the 7 brass instrumentalist give it their full force. Then it feels like there is a full size big band playing in that relatively small room of Blu Jaz Café.

 As the day went by quicker then normal, so did the evening. The band had started a little late and I am getting a little older. With age comes a bit of wisdom and with that wisdom comes that annoying sense of sensibility, that told me there was a long working week ahead and we’d better not stay for another set. Like most people I always hated being sensible. I think I still do, but I sometimes lack the strength to resist! The next morning though, thanks to a relaxing evening and a timely departure from Omniform, I felt in an altogether good shape.