Laila Biali and Idang Rasjidi Syndicate shine at Borneo Jazz Festival

Set against the lush tropical gardens that stretch down from the Borneo Jazz Festival stage to a palm-fringed white sand beach where the delicate oud-sounding curlicues of Chung YuFeng's Chinese lute-like pipa spin fleetingly around Michael Simon's plangent flugelhorn, it's hard not to concur with the knowing words of keyboard player and bandleader Idang Rasjidi, the erstwhile godfather of Indonesian jazz: "America does not own jazz anymore, the world now owns it." A remark that hits the spot with all the power and accuracy of an Iban headhunter's deadly blowpipe given the unique multi-cultural musical vibrancy of this magical boutique festival, now in its 12th year.

Artistic director Jun Lin Yeoh programmes groups from the increasingly strong Malaysian and Indonesian jazz scene alongside a highly eclectic mix of mainly emerging ensembles from around the world. And you don't get more much eclectic than the Fluoroscent Collective whose eight young members hail from Malaysia, Borneo, India, Italy and America and who are all currently studying at Berklee. With influences ranging from Miles Davis to Snarky Puppy, their vibrant jazz/prog/world is clearly a formative work in progress with edgy Holdsworth/Zappa influenced guitarist Alief Hamdan a name to watch. Originally formed over 40 years ago South Africa's Cape Jazz Band brought their bouncy mix of mainstream and funky jazz to a highpoint with a township-style intro to a moody 'What's Goin' On', while the potent Creole blues of the French/Guadaloupe trio Delgres, fronted by guitarist Pascal Danae's stinging bottleneck and Rafgee Gouthiere's pumping sousaphone comes on like John Lee Hooker meets Ali Farka Toure in Congo Square. Afro-Cuban bands are a regular feature at this festival and the Netherlands based Cabocuba Jazz, whose players come from Cuba, Holland, and Cape Verde, bring a bristling set of Cuban, fado and salsa to boiling point fronted by spirited pianist Carlos Matos and the inventive, skittering congas and percussion of Nils Fisher.

Michael-Simons-Asian-Collective

A big hit of the second night, Canadian singer and pianist Laila Biali prowls the hinterland between jazz and singer-songwriter with confidence and poise, occasionally channeling Joni Mitchell and Carole King but equally strong on her own compositions and dynamic, classically-tinged improvisation. Her dramatic down-tempo rearrangement of Bowie's 'Let's Dance', with expressive accompaniment by her strong rhythm section, should be a passport to bigger things.

Idang-Rasjidi

In many ways though it was both Michael Simon's Asian Collective and the Idang Rasjidi Syndicate who echoed the region's atmosphere and heat with two contrasting yet compelling performances that point towards a fascinating future for Southeast Asian jazz. Simon's group fuse bewitching Indonesian and Chinese folk traditions with an impressionistic acoustic/electric Steps Ahead feel, while the clue to Rasjidi's prime influence lies in his group's name. This is not latter day Zawinul though but the early 1970s edgy drive of Weather Report. Rasjidi's gritty Fender Rhodes and edgy analogue effects push and prod the Indonesian-flecked themes while Iwan Wiradireja's unrelenting polyrhythmic drive across congas, djembe and rapid-fire bongo accents fuel the top line's intense improvisation. Like several groups throughout the weekend, ethnic percussion plays a vital role in freeing and uplifting the rhythmic spirit, and is a unique musical signature of both the Borneo Jazz Festival and its sister event, the Rainforest World Music Festival held in July.

– Jon Newey

– Photos courtesy Sarawak Tourism Board - Laila Biali (top), Michael Simons Asian Collective (middle) and Idang Rasjidi Syndicate (bottom)

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Mark Nightingale's Big Band Go Large At …

  Trombonist Mark Nightingale is the most accommodating of virtuosi. He’ll...

Read More.....

Open letter leads protest at cuts to Rad…

Over 500 leading musicians from across the jazz, folk and...

Read More.....

Guinness Cork Jazz Festival director’s ‘…

The Irish jazz world has been shaken by the sudden...

Read More.....

George Coleman, Jimmy Owens and Frank Lo…

The Annual SAM Benefit concert will be held on 13 April...

Read More.....

Cécile McLorin Salvant, Makaya McCraven …

The first names have been unveiled for this year’s EFG...

Read More.....

Turville's Quintet Dare To Dream At Brig…

This is the last show in the tour and there’s...

Read More.....

Durrant At The Double With Duo Of Improv…

Phil Durrant and Martin Vishnick (pictured) launch, Rifinitori di Momenti, their forthcoming...

Read More.....

GoGo Penguin, SEED Ensemble and Marquis …

The wider jazz programme for this year’s Love Supreme Jazz...

Read More.....

Branford Marsalis Quartet Muster Technic…

  Bookended by a short opening solo piano set from Nikki...

Read More.....

Snarky Puppy announce Royal Albert Hall …

Grammy-winning powerhouse group Snarky Puppy are gearing up for a...

Read More.....

Waithe On Song At Huntley Conference

  Along with Allison & Busby and New Beacon, Bogle L’Ouverture...

Read More.....

Turquazz: Anatolian Jazz & Roots Fes…

The inaugural Turquazz: Anatolian Jazz & Roots Festival – a...

Read More.....

Saxophonist Seamus Blake launches new al…

Acclaimed saxophonist Seamus Blake releases his new album, Guardians of...

Read More.....

Taborn's Finessed Tapestry Of Textures F…

  The large number of musicians at this sold-out show says...

Read More.....

Abdullah Ibrahim, Gregory Porter, Yazz A…

The full line-up has been announced for Cheltenham Jazz Festival...

Read More.....

Irreversible Entanglements + Matana Robe…

  Matana Roberts (above) is so relaxed tonight her short opening set...

Read More.....

Jazz FM Awards nominations celebrate gia…

The names for the 2019 Jazz FM Awards were revealed...

Read More.....

Patchwork Jazz Orchestra premiere ‘Badge…

The London-based 17-piece Patchwork Jazz Orchestra are set to release...

Read More.....

NJYO, JCM, friends and family pay tribut…

As Jon Hiseman would say: “If you are going to...

Read More.....

Sons of Kemet, Moses Boyd, Nubya Garcia …

The programme has been announced the inaugural We Out Here...

Read More.....

NCO hit bullseye with CTI at Ronnie Scot…

Tomorrow’s Warriors’ role as a springboard for emerging talent in...

Read More.....

Countdown To Ecstasy: Royal Academy Big …

  There are some people, who I've never understood, who smirk...

Read More.....

Melt Yourself Down, Laura Mvula and Kama…

The second edition of Love Supreme at the Roundhouse takes...

Read More.....

Michel Legrand 24/02/1932 – 26/01/2019

The prolific French film composer and pianist Michel Legrand was...

Read More.....

Hamasyan In Inspired Orchestral Manoeuvr…

The Brussels Jazz Festival is a relative newcomer, but this...

Read More.....

Zara McFarlane and Soweto Kinch turn up …

The night goes on and they keep on coming, a...

Read More.....

Jazz meets theatrical protest with The A…

Few styles of music can claim to have come as...

Read More.....

Snarky Puppy return with new album Immig…

Grammy-winning groove crew Snarky Puppy return with a new studio...

Read More.....

Blue Note spearheads 80th Anniversary Ye…

The iconic Blue Note label will celebrate its milestone 80th...

Read More.....

John Turville dives in Head First – new …

Pianist and composer John Turville returns with a new album...

Read More.....

Uri Caine and Henri Texier dazzle while …

Jazzfestival Münster is celebrating its 40th anniversary, but has only...

Read More.....

Ezra Collective bring the Brit-Jazz Nois…

Much like in other recent editions of New York's Winter...

Read More.....

Yazz Ahmed and Jasper Høiby line-up for …

For some there is a Holy Grail in jazz: to...

Read More.....

Matthew Herbert marks Brexit with Big Ba…

Composer, conductor and sampling-supremo Matthew Herbert is set to release...

Read More.....

Joseph Jarman 14/09/37 – 9/01/19

  The recitation of 'Non-Cognitive Aspects Of The City' by Dante...

Read More.....

Wandering Monster step up with 'Samsara…

Bass-led progressive jazz group Wandering Monster are set to release...

Read More.....

Making The Cut Mpu 300x500px

Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

@matanaroberts Catherine Lamb - Atmospheres Transparent/Opaque Cynic - Focus
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
@highaurad haha
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA