Beebop & Doodah: 3rd Unesco Phuket International Jazz Day This Wednesday

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by Marque A. Rome

This Wednesday evening the 3rd Unesco Phuket International Jazz Day will take place on Chana Charoen Rd., the small soi that is home to the Music Matter jazz club in Phuket town. This is the third year in a row for the festival, celebrated internationally in over a hundred countries.

Scheduled start is 7.00 PM and performers will play on till quite late. Chana Charoen Rd. is a small soi about 100 metres south of the Clock Tower roundabout, off Phuket Rd., in Phuket town.

The Phuket event is listed on Jazz Day’s official calendar. Phuket town was first in Thailand to celebrate Jazz Day. The day was proclaimed by UNESCO in November of 2011, and won concurrence by the United Nations General Assembly in December of 2012.

Jazz Day is on the official calendars of both UNESCO and the UN and forms the finale and principal event of Jazz Appreciation Month.

Core performers at the event this year are those from the Music Matter Collective, the loose association of jazz enthusiasts who became acquainted jamming at Music Matter, the island’s longest-lived and probably best known purely jazz venue. For Jazz Day, however, a small army of musicians is scheduled to appear — 12 bands and  independent artists from various quarters of the world, including five blues groups.

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These comprise some of Phuket’s best known performers: Jack Cruz is surely one of the most exciting pianists anywhere; likewise Jeffrey Sevilla, who is the heart and soul of Music Matter and prime mover of the Jazz Day event in Phuket. Also performing are Marie Okawa and Ninjazz: Marie is Japanese-French and well-known for her interpretations of ‘chansons Francaise’. Trixia SonRhum Trio features the young, beautiful and brilliant Trixia with vocal jazz that cuts across genres in its appeal.

Siobhan McGovern can perform vocal feats few others have capacity even to imagine, let alone do. Drum Walk is a group of drummers, exponents really of a new kind of music, who never fail to rouse the crowd.

Pjae Stanley and her band, of course, must be considered one of the principal draws on the island’s music scene, likewise Black ‘n’ Blue. The popular Rockin’ Angels blues band will be there, too, and too many others to list here.

The stage will be set up in the middle of the soi, which the city graciously agreed to close off for the event, with tables and chairs set up along its length — plenty of room for dancing and schmoozing. It will thus have the character of a jazz street party — which should be a lot of fun. It certainly has been in previous years, and this year’s event will be much larger.

Phuket town Deputy Mayor Kawee Tansukhatanon, who takes a great interest in cultural events, has been a principal supporter of the project since it was first undertaken in 2012. He is also a great jazz lover. This year the city is supplying the stage and seating as well as closing the road. Sevilla says Phuket town’s municipal government has been most helpful from the start, to the extent that he admits “the event could not happen as it does without their support.”

UNESCO and the United Nations have called jazz music one of humanity’s great treasures and noted it promotes a way of thinking conducive to tolerance and creative problem-solving — so one must suppose, and certainly the promoters here concur, this festival is for EVERYBODY, affording as it does opportunity to those who perhaps never — or rarely — have seen live jazz to partake of its unique and interactive expression.

This is an event and a place and a group of performers that people of any nationality, age, and sex (and I was about to say ‘religion’ but I won’t — 7th Day Adventists eschew dancing) can easily enjoy and learn from. The Drum Walk people, for example, are open to showing neophytes the ropes of their drum tunes.

So even kids will have a good time.

Sevilla and his partner at Music Matter, singer Kay Mangkolkaew, opened their club 14 years ago and have provided since perhaps the only consistently available forum for jazz musicians to express their oeuvre freely.

Host city this year for the international festival is Osaka, Japan. More info about the celebration world-wide can be found here. Those for whom a trip to the Phuket event is inconvenient can enjoy performances from the main stage in Japan streamed on Jazz Day from the same Website. 

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