By David Parente
Special to The Nation
Celebrations for the New Year may be over, but for Southeast Asia’s jazz community, the festivities are about to begin. For jazz fans, January means another amazing week of top level, international and local musicians gathering for the Thailand International Jazz Conference. This annual event has become one of the most well-respected jazz happenings in the region and with good reason.
Pianist and composer Abdon Alcaraz of the Abdon Alcaraz Trio
Now in its 11th year, the conference is hosting some of the best jazz musicians and educators from around the globe.
The event consists of multiple presentations including master classes by notable performers, a jazz solo competition, and performances from students and professionals from around the world spread over seven days with the main concerts and activities running from January 25 to 27. Participants can enjoy visual arts and educational exhibits as well as stalls selling arts, crafts and food.
The TIJC Jazz Camp begins the week with a three-day series of master classes conducted in one of Mahidol University College of Music’s brand new, state-of-the-art facilities.
Veronica Sobrinos, vocalist with the Abdon Alcaraz Trio
Students arrive each morning for back-to-back sessions with masters of the jazz craft. As in previous years, 2019’s campers will study with a TIJC featured main stage act. The Alex Sipiagin Quintet, scheduled to perform at 10pm on January 27, will train more than 100 jazz students from around the world. Each of the five members from the award-winning group will give clinics to attendees, focusing on each musician’s strengths and musicality. There are also group classes and, of course, the famous jam sessions.
On the final day of jazz camp, students receive a certificate of completion signed by each instructor.
Speaking of his experience last year, TIJC 2018 jazz camper Us Nattakit said: “It was a great for me to have a chance to exchange ideas with Will Vinson (TIJC 2018 artist) and he inspired me a lot. He told me that what we really need is to be ‘musical’ because we’re making music not math and it changed my mind forever.”
TIJC 2019’s concerts will be played over three stages. The oval stage features morning-to-evening musical performances by local and international entertainers beginning at 10am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Acts include The DC Jazz Collective, a combo from the Washington, DC area, joining together to serve as ambassadors of DC's jazz community. The combo includes busy performers and composers from the thriving DC jazz scene, including Lionel Lyles (sax), Oren Levine (keys), Evan Samuels (guitar), Percy White (bass), and Will Stephens (drums). Another performer is award-winning jazz saxophonist Shai Golan, an Israeli national currently dividing his time between New York and Los Angeles who has performed alongside many of jazz music’s biggest names.
The auditorium stage, otherwise known as Mahidol University’s MACM performance hall, serves as the venue for some of TIJC’s most exciting performances as well as for jazz enthusiasts to expand their musical knowledge and understanding with some best-known players from around the globe. TIJC invites all featured performers to give workshops for any and all conference goers, both in Thai and English.
Another anticipated feature on this stage is the TIJC Solo Competition, which is divided into two categories – junior (under 22) and open (any age). The competition is open to all melodic instruments and challengers of any nationality.
The main stage is the crown jewel performance venue of TIJC and shows begin at sunset. The world’s best jazz artists headline this outdoor bandstand. Featured artists include The Omer Avital Quintet, The Trionauts, the Abdon Alcaraz Trio, Polycat, Asia 7 featuring Rasmee, and of course, the Alex Sipiagin Quintet with trumpeter Alex Sipiagin.
Bangkok Swing x Dixieology
Sipiagin’s unique style, mellow flavour, and aggressively complex technique make him one of today’s leading jazz men. He is accompanied by a five-piece band, including impressive jazz-rock guitarist, David Gilmore and in-demand bassist, Scott Colley. Also sharing the stage is renowned drummer Ari Hoenig, famous for using Metric Modulation in his playing style, as well as excellent pianist, John Escreet.
In addition to his quintet teaching at the TIJC Jazz Camp, Sipiagin will perform two different concerts. For the first show on January 26, he will join the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra for a night of jazz classics. The following day, Sipiagin will take the TIJC main stage along with his quintet to perform original music and arrangements. Jazz fans, and especially trumpet enthusiasts, should not miss this concert.
The Omer Avital Quintet will take the stage under the Israeli-born and Brooklyn-based leader, a master of various rhythmic and harmonic vocabularies underpinning two centuries of hardcore jazz express. The virtuoso bassist joined TIJC once before as a sideman to pianist Aaron Goldberg back in 2010.
Avital is also joined by saxophonist Asaf Yuria who began playing at local clubs in Tel Aviv as a teenager and by high school was performing with Israel’s finest musicians. Also on saxophone is Alexander Levin who joined the quintet at age 20. Avital first heard Levin when he was in the Israeli Army and was so impressed by his playing, he sponsored him to the US. His pianist, Eden Ladin is a quiet force of harmonic complexity and lyricism while playing with a sensitivity that has earned him recognition from music’s prestigious publications and institutions, and collaborations with a large range of artists. Finally, Israeli drummer Ofri Nehemya, aged just 24, has been sharing the stage with the jazz world’s greats.
This year’s performance lineup is testament to the mission of the Thailand International Jazz Conference. More than ever before, TIJC will introduce a myriad of new Thai jazz artists ranging from traditional styles, to progressive groups, and to bands that fuse the sound of Thai traditional with modern jazz and reflect the growing jazz community here in Thailand, but also for all of Southeast Asia.
David Parente is a lecturer of jazz drumset and percussion at the College of Music, Mahidol University and one of committee members for Thailand International Jazz Conference 2019.
All that jazz
- Thailand International Jazz Conference 2019 will take place at Mahidol University from January 2527, from 10am to 11pm.
- Tickets are Bt3,000 for three-day conference pass (all events), Bt500 for a one-day clinic pass, and Bt800 for a one-day performance pass available at Thai Ticket Major counters and online at www.ThaiTicketMajor.com and at the Prince Mahidol Hall ticket office. Call (02) 849 65656 extension 6604, 6609.
- For more information, visit https://www.Music.Mahidol.ac.th/tijc/index.html.