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Ahmad Jamal Headlines Kuala Lumpur International Jazz Festival, May 19-20

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The great, cosmopolitan city of Kuala Lumpur will swell the list of international capital cities holding jazz festivals when the inaugural KL International Jazz Festival kicks off on the weekend of the 19-20 May. Six hours of jazz each day will offer some of the very best in international and local talent.

Legendary pianist Ahmad Jamal will close the festival on Sunday evening. Once described by trumpeter Miles Davis as his single biggest influence, Jamal at 82 is busier than ever. Over 60 years after first hitting the road, this remarkable musician continues to headline festivals the world over. His creativity has never diminished, as his latest CD, Blue Moon (Jazz Village, 2012) demonstrates. Guardian jazz critic John Fordham noted Jamal’s “genius at the art of motivic improvising” and praised the recording as “one of his classics”. Jamal prefers the term American Classical Music to jazz, but whatever the nomenclature, lovers of this music should mark this essential date in their diaries.

There are plenty of other outstanding acts. Japanese pianist Hiromi leads an exceptional trio of bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Steve Smith, interpreting the music from Hiromi’s critically acclaimed Voice (Telarc Records, 2011), a highpoint in her discography. Hiromi’s virtuosity dazzles audiences everywhere she plays and KL is in for a special treat.

One of the greatest living tenor saxophonists, Ernie Watts, reunites with long-time collaborator, and Singapore’s King of Swing, pianist Jeremy Monteiro in what promises to be one of the festival’s must-see concerts. Watts has done it all in a career spanning seven decades, having played with some of the greatest names in jazz, Motown and beyond. Over the years, the likes of Thelonious Monk, James Brown, The Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa, Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny have all come knocking on the door of one of the most respected of post-Coltrane saxophonists. Doubtless it was the honing of Watts' skills in such varied musical environments which led respected jazz critic Nat Hentoff to refer to his “total command of his instrument.”

There’s a little of something for everyone at the KL International Jazz Festival. The legendary UK outfit Incognito will get the party going with its inimitable jazz-funk. Guitarist Jeremy Tordjman is sure to delight six-string fans. A healthy dose of local and regional artists will also grace the festival: pianist Michael Veerapen, a stalwart of the Malaysian jazz scene; Indonesian jazz prodigy Indra Lesmana; violinist Meg Okura; pianist Dato’ Mokhzani Ismail, and not forgetting the RMT Jazz Orchestra, Malaysia’s very first orchestra.

KL is set for an unforgettable weekend of wonderful jazz on the 19-20 May. Join the party!

Tickets can be purchased by visiting Ticket Pro or by calling the hotline 03-7880 7999.

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