The hot and humid air is infused with funky jazz rhythms that drift out over the South China Sea, not a bad way to spend a May weekend.
Shodo-bebop on down to The Borneo International Jazz Festival where you'll positively be slappin' your thighs at the stunning coastline nearly as well as the band be slappin' de bass.
Previously known as the Miri International Jazz Festival, the promotion to Borneo Jazz Festival in 2011 speaks of how it has grown in stature and capacity. The sleek marble of the Parkcity Everly Hotel and the impressive sea views are perfectly accompanied by May's jazz soundtrack. Sound good? Wait until you see the sunsets.
In 2016 the Jazz Brothers and Cuba Percussion hit the stage to perform their classical numbers in Cubano style. Turning Beethoven's Symphony No. V into 'Salsa No. V' and Brahms' Hungarian Dance into 'Cuban Dance' is no easy feat but this German-Cuban outfit take it in their stride. Then there was Raw Earth, a hard hitting Singaporean outfit who performed their varied, groovy old school numbers, written by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, James Brown and BB King. In the past they have supported legends such as Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Robert Plant.
This year will bring in a fresh batch of talent like the earthy beats of Manou Gallo and the Groove Orchestra, think Ivory Coast percussion mixed with blues and soul. The New York based soul band The Rad Trads will headline on the Saturday night; their charisma and party enthusiasm is not to be missed, especially so far away from their usual European and North American tour route.
In recent years, crowds have reached over the 8000 mark so there's a real vibe to immerse yourself in. If you're staying in the Parkcity Everly Hotel, bear in mind that the bazaars sell tasty Malaysian cuisine and are a more authentic option to the hotel’s restaurant. Handicraft and beverage stalls are also around. The beach, a couple of hundred metres away, is handy for taking a jazz inspired walk along the coastline when things wrap up at midnight.
If you're looking for something a little wilder than a walk on the sand, you can join in the Jazz Jam Session from half past midnight until the early hours.
Tickets normally go on sale in February and the early bird prices are not to be missed (around $20 for the two day pass).
Slap, slap slappa de bass.
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