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Hoping to emulate success of Miri Jazz Fest

Published on: Saturday, June 14, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: The organisers of Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival are hoping to emulate the success of Miri Rainforest Jazz Festival and at the same time improve the local music scene.

Currently, the local jazz festival could attract over 4,000 people over the two-night performance, about half the size of the crowd at the International Miri Rainforest Jazz Festival.

"They have a lot of funding for marketing internationally and their main objective is to bring tourists to Sarawak.

With the funding, they could hire a lot of international bands.

"As for KK Jazz Festival, our budget is smaller, so we cannot do a lot of marketing outside of the country.

In fact, our marketing is limited to within Malaysia and especially Sabah.

"Although attracting tourists is one of the objectives, we also want to grow the local music scene," said co-organising chairman and Society of Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu Sabah (Sparks) President, Roger Wang.

He added that the festival here had always maintained 50 per cent of the performance slot for local groups and hoped that as the festival grows, the local music scene will grow together as well.

The festival in Miri, he said, does not benefit the local talents compared to KK Jazz Festival where organisers also held KK Talent Show to look for budding artistes to perform at the annual international event.

"Most of our audience are Sabahans which is not necessarily a bad thing because that way, we can build up our local crowd and anything else is a bonus.

"But eventually, we will reach a point when our following is bigger and hopefully we can get bigger budget to do advertisement outside, bring foreign media to come in and write about it in their countries," he said.

The 8th KK Jazz Festival is an annual fund-raising jazz extravaganza jointly organised by the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu (RCKK) and Sparks. It is a festival that brings together a musical melting pot of talents from around the world.

Money raised from ticket sales is used to fund deserving community projects run by RCKK. Past projects funded include the clean water project to the villager, literacy programme, avoidable blindness campaign, environment protection programme, free medical services to rural communities, development of the community's cottage industry and the building of boarding homes for rural children.

Among the bands which will feature in this year's edition are the 8-piece band from Cuba, the Estudiantina Ensemble, who will bring the country's traditional Estudiantina music to Kota Kinabalu for the first time and Indonesian Harry Toledo and his 9-piece band.

Other international bands would be the Italian Orchestra Without Instruments called the Mezzotono Show, Jerome Rico and Mara Viola of the Philippines, Indonesia's Joan Jim Quintet led by Sabahan Joan Jim and guitarist Yuta Tanaka of Japan whom Wang met by chance when Tanaka was busking in Central Market in Kuala Lumpur.

Local bands include Jive with Purpose led by singer-songwriter Jonathan Tse, veteran singing quartet The Seasons 4 of Kuala Lumpur, the 4 B's who had been performing for over three decades and the Fingerstyle.

Two new local bands who won the KK Talent Show and will be performing as well will be the SNF Project and SIA Goofy.

The festival will also feature a new Sabahan musician, Rozella Marie, who would perform on both nights.