|JAK JAZZ 2007 & BALI "JAZZ ON THE ROCK" BLOG -- Part 1|
|4/22/2019 6:33:22 AM - What a trip! And what a band! We had an amazing time on this tour which I'll try and digest with a short one (for a change!). |
Last year was my first time performing in Jakarta at the same festival, and we were fortunate to be invited back, this time with also my husband's unit, the Alex Sipiagin Quintet. Considering we would be sharing the same members, Sasha and I decided to invite Gene Jackson (drums), Henry Hey (keyboards), Fima Ephron (electric bass), and Seamus Blake (tenor sax). What this meant for me is that I would choose songs that best fit this type of ensemble/instrumentation, as well as to try and fit the players' strong suits.
Getting together for a rehearsal before we got to Indonesia proved to be a challenge. Sasha has been on the road constantly since the summer and was only coming back for one day from Europe before heading to Indonesia. Gene was also under a similar situation, and we couldn't get everyone together, so we ended up doing two semi-rehearsals for my material, one with the rhythm section and Seamus, sans Sasha, and another with everyone sans Gene, at least to familiarize everyone with the material. I had made friends last year with a musician through My Space, Juno, who not only had a killing band (Park Drive) but also happened to own a studio which he had allowed us to use to rehearse in last year, and he had kindly sent me a message asking if we needed to use the rehearsal space again this year. Sasha definitely needed to rehearse the band for his material, and it was obvious after my last rehearsal that we needed to also rehearse my stuff collectively before our hits as well.
We decided for various reasons to take the flight which entailed an overnight stay at Narita which helps to break up the long trip to Indonesia, something that was also considered because we had Nikita with us. 14 hours from New York to Narita, then another 7-1/2 hours from Narita to Jakarta. Yikes! The day we flew to Jakarta, it was Thanksgiving back home, so after arriving and settling into the 5 Star Sultan Hotel, we all had dinner at the hotel's first floor restaurant, Peacock Cafe, which had a really nice atmosphere and a buffet that was a really nice spread, and did a little Thanksgiving cheer. The festival had provided us, as they did last year, with meal coupons at the hotel for breakfast, lunch and dinner for our entire duration of stay, which was nice, but unfortunately from the next day, the hotel barred us from eating at the Peacock Cafe and delegated our meals to the lesser and more austere eatery in their basement floor, a place that ended up being the place of doom for me because of the frigid air conditioning. By the end of our Jakarta stay, I ended up with a sore throat, which blossomed into a full blown head cold by the time we hit Bali.
It was great to see David Karto who met us off the plane, and Candra who helped us great last year and was also Nikita's favorite pal. There were three additional people from David's company, Demajors, who helped us: Asa, Andrew and Medy, all really young and sweet.
The day after we arrived was hard for Sasha and the other members as they had a 9:00 a.m. lobby call to head for rehearsal, 4:15 p.m. lobby call for sound check, and then their hit from 6:45 p.m. I only had a few radio interviews in the hotel room so it was thankfully a light day for me, just keeping Nikita entertained and up (jetlag was rough). During lunch, a Japanese man came up to me and said, "Do you remember me? I'm the guitarist, Tanaka Yoshito..." I couldn't recognize who he was from his looks, but I knew the name -- Tanaka-kun had played with my band after being introduced by my good friend, saxophonist Kimura-san, played with Wyorica (the lead singer and he were romatically involved and had moved to Tokyo together from Hokkaido) and later became involved with Mondo Grosso as a member and collaborator. But the name and the face didn't link up. Once I realized who he was though, it was terribly embarrassing -- he had lost so much weight and was so much more stylish with a killing haircut than the last time I'd seen him that I just didn't recognize him. Chalk one up for a blond moment. I went to go check out Sasha's performance and he sounded great, although the sound was a little questionable, plus they had delegated his performance onto a stage that was a little weird, outdoors and out of the way from the main section. It was discouraging to not see many people in the audience, but the few who were there seemed to really dig the performance. The band was playing great for sure.
The next day was my first day of performing and this proved to be one gruelsome day. Morning sound check (where nothing was ready for us and there was a lot of standing and waiting around, staff completely aimless before I had to take charge and get into bitch mode), quick lunch at the hotel, a run to Juno's rehearsal space in the afternoon for several hours, then back to the hotel for dinner and to rest up until our performance at 11:30 p.m. We had to take naps before the performance otherwise I knew I wouldn't have enough energy for that night. We performed outside in a large stage and the sound check made no sense, nothing was the way we had left things, but this is sometimes the nature of festivals where many bands share the same stage throughout the day and night, and this one in particular seemed a little uncoordinated and ill organized in terms of the stages with no real stage manager. The performance I think was pretty good although we messed up on a couple tunes, mostly "Conversations With Myself" which was the first time I'd performed it since 1996.
The last day of the festival, November 25 (Sunday), was hard for the band members. They had to perform two hits, mine and Sasha, and do two sound checks, so pacing was the name of the game. After Sasha's morning sound check, we went to a great dim sum place that Sasha and I fell in love with last year at a nearby hotel, Hotel Miula. It's said to be the best dim sum in Indonesia, and perhaps in Asia, and while we can't say one way or another just from the lack of comparison, I can tell you it is DAMN good. We treated the members and everyone really enjoyed themselves. 5 Star food and service with 1 Star prices. That night, my performance was to be on the main indoor stage which I'd performed in last year and had terrible experience with sound wise, but this year, it was unbelievably fantastic (for me -- I think some of the members disagree). I could hear myself clear as a bell and was able to really dig into the performance.
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