Why No Black Tie?
I love this place. The acoustics are wonderful. The piano is old but still sounds great For a pianist, the piano is very important. I love NBT’s piano.
Your achievements are extensive, from winning multiple awards, recording with top jazz artists and holding various positions in musical institutions. Is there anything else you feel you haven’t achieved?
I don’t really set out to go after achievements. I keep on writing music & performing Of course there are things to do like submitting songs for nominations. For example my jazz outfit Organamix was nominated for the best Live Performance Album at the 10th Independent Music Awards. Jackson Brown was nominated as well and ultimately won the category. My management team would usually look into it. My focus & concentration is on the music and hopefully everything else falls into place.
What do you find most gratifying about Jazz?
There’s this “zone” that musicians get into during the peak of their performances. When everything seems to fall into place. When you feel and know that you’re the center of everything. I get that feeling with more frequency in playing jazz now as opposed to before.
What are you listening to these days?
I still listen to Keith Jarrett for his musicality, Bred Mehldau for his technicality, and I feel that by listening to those two, I get the satisfaction of learning. I also listen the young up and corning musicians in the region. I like the fact that I can switch between being a performer, to a teacher, to a listener. Not like a shoemaker who judges other people’s shoes. If there’s something interesting in it, my analytical cap comes on and I learn from them. Some of the young players have some amazing things to listen to now.
Are there any young musicians that you feel have the edge?
In our region the one to watch is Singaporean organist/pianist by the name of Kerong Chok. Wei Xiang also is good, and in Malaysia you have John Dip Silas. A bit young but I see great potential. I feel gratified and safe about jazz in South East Asia now as opposed to 10-15 years ago. I feel like I can pass the torch down since the younger generation seems to have real authentic jazz brewing in them.
You arrived in KL a day earlier and are aware that NBT just finished celebrating their 13th anniversary. What do you have to say about it?
It’s amazing! In the great scheme of things, as far as South East Asia is concerned, it’s iconic. The club’s obviously sustainable and couldn’t have been if not for the blood, sweat and tears of its owner Evelyn Hii.
What will audiences expect from your shows at NBT?
I’ve actually been playing a lot of organ lately. I’ve always considered the piano as my musical wife and the organ as my musical mistress, but I love them both equally. So it’s great to return to a gig where I’ll solely be on the piano. To me personally it will be some sort of a renewal in my playing.
*This interview was pulled from NBT’s archives and republished here.