The 3rd Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival held last September 27-28, 2019 finally concluded. It was not without challenges as the haze coming from Indonesia forced the organisers to move the event to an indoor venue. It may have lost its “waterfront” feel but the coming together of jazz artist from different parts of the world and sharing their expression of this eclectic genre of music remains. The heart of jazz still brims loudly at the humble MBKS Community Hall. Ironwulf.net was fortunate enough to witness this revelry and what could be a milestone for the annual event as the Philippines participate in this annual musical gathering in this lively city in Borneo.
3rd Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival
Organisers, Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) gathered an extensive mix of artists this year included in their lineup of local artist.
- Ning Baizura (Malaysia)
- Harvey Malaihollo (Indonesia)
- Sitti Navarro (Philippines)
- Dave Brewer & The DooDaddies (Australia)
- Dawn Wong & The Shanghai Jazz Club (Singapore)
- Ushera (Malaysia)
- Saxx in the City (Indonesia)
- Xanaduduo (UK/Sarawak)
- Q Sound (US/Malaysia)
- Nisa Addina (Sarawak)
- KWJF Jazz Band Search winner, The Fingerprints
I was able to catch a number of the performances and all of them showcased their passion for this genre. A lovely medley of styles distinct from their place of origin and talent. All of them were amazing but some personally stood out from the performers we were able to witness. From Z Yan’s graceful performance, the edgy and lively Q Sound, the charming and darling of the crowd Ning Baizura and the energetic Saxx in the City on the first day. Day 2 has the mesmerising violin from Nisa Addina, Dawn Wong’s distinct Shanghai jazz an Sitti Navarro’s playful Bossa nova.
Sitti Serenades Kuching City
I’m a little biased to feature our Filipino artist Sitti Navarro on this section but organisers are widening their reach to invite performers and media from other regions like the Philippines. It opens up Kuching to the world. Yes, Kuching seemed to be under the radar for most people travelling from our country unlike other places in Borneo.
Filipino community is not that big yet here but there were a handful we met working at the hotel we stayed in. Even a few number of attendees from the show itself. Sitti even asked us how is the Filipino community here. To our surprise, Filipino influence expands to this region. They know our tele-seryes (tv shows), the local artists and even songs. In Sitti’s set, she sang Yeng Constantino’s hit “Ikaw” which happens to be really popular here.
City of Cats
More than the 3rd Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival, Kuching was an amusing introduction to this region of Borneo. The many parallelisms we had on our Filipino culture. From how similar our language are, the ingredients or food we eat and even some of our beliefs. The festival brings together the diverse musical backgrounds from each of these artist but at the same time makes us experience this part of Malaysia.
Enter Kuching Jazz Festival
And something to look forward for 2020, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Sarawak, Datuk Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah announced that by next year, the event will be renamed as simply “Kuching Jazz Festival“ during the closing ceremony of the event. I think a smart idea as it won’t be confined to the Waterfront alone but can be moved to different venues if ever.
Aside from the name, the date will be moved at the end of October to avoid the haze incident which usually happens on September. The venue will return on the Waterfront next year. An exciting development for the coming year.
In the meantime, enjoy more photos from day 1 and day 2 of the 3rd Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival here:
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.