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Jazz Festival 2011

Hua Hin Jazz Festival 2011

The tenth Hua Hin Jazz Festival certainly lived up to people’s expectations, and drew many visitors keen to listen to the hottest and widely acclaimed jazz musicians from Thailand and abroad. Hua Hin now has a traditional and proud association with jazz music, and as such the annual festival continues to gain in popularity, helping to raise the town’s status and notoriety considerably. The beloved Thai King Rama IX is also considered an accomplished jazz musician and has written several songs, which has undoubtedly contributed to the genre’s rise in popularity in this country.

As usual, this free event took place down on Hua Hin beach but was held later than normal this year on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 August, with a single main stage outside the Sofitel Centara Hotel. The main commercial sponsor was Teddy Auto Sale.

The Event

Hua Hin Jazz Festival 2011Luckily, the weather remained fine and both days experienced dry conditions during the performances, which put the crowd in a buoyant mood and added to the pleasantly relaxed atmosphere. Fortunately, the anticipated traffic chaos in Hua Hin largely failed to materialise, perhaps due to better planning by the local authorities; there was certainly a noticeable influx of visitors that comprised mainly young Bangkokians, and caused a general shortage in accommodation and a lack of parking over the weekend.

Doors opened at 3 p.m. on both days and the audience started to trickle in, with the early birds able to secure a prime spot on the beach directly in front of the large stage. For those that didn’t bring their own mats, there were still plenty of ideal spots in which to view the action, and anyone who wanted to reach the front to take pictures or gaze in admiration up close, was able to do so easily without being pushed or jostled. It seems that jazz lovers are indeed a good-natured and amiable bunch. Later in the day saw a steady stream of people arriving, and by early evening it was busier and became more lively on both days.

The assembled masses were mostly Thai, and there appeared to be only a few dozen foreigners in the crowd. Various stalls and tents selling drinks and Thai food were setup around the main concert area and at the beach entrance, ensuring that everybody was suitably fed and watered throughout the day. Those people lucky enough to be considered important even had a small VIP section all to themselves.

There were also dozens of stalls and souvenir vendors setup along the lower end of Damnoen Kasam Road, just before reaching the beach. This end of town was really busy from early evening until after the event closed at around midnight.

All That Jazz…

The music was of course the main attraction of the event, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Contemporary jazz, funk, fusion and related genres were played by the various bands, showing the variety that exists in the modern jazz scene in Thailand and worldwide.

Day One
The first day got off to an encouraging start with excellent performances from The 11th Fellowship, and the splendid Jazz Gang from Rangsit University. Shortly afterwards, the official opening ceremony marked the occasion, after which the Japanese duo Orange Pekoe played lively jazz fusion, followed by Jirapan and Blue Sapphire, and Maew Jirasak. Perhaps the main highlight though was the closing act P.O.P. which, though not strictly jazz, piqued the crowd’s interest and ensured the day finished on a high note, and whetted the appetite for the quality of music to come the next day.

Part of the Jazz Festival’s attraction is that it appeals to a fairly wide audience, and the music is easily accessible even by those who don’t normally appreciate jazz. Perhaps the Jazz purists might grumble slightly, but there is enough variety on display to keep most people entertained, whatever their musical taste.

Day Two
Despite a few ominous clouds, the weather remained fine and dry which helped attract a sizeable crowd. The first band on stage was Young and Foolish from Rangsit University, who played a varied set in Thai and English; the female lead had a sublime voice and the music was played skilfully, which pleased the audience who were by now starting to get into the swing of things. The next act was Reflection, a five-piece ensemble infusing double bass, sax, keyboards, and drums with the female singer’s wonderful voice. Their rendition of the classic swing track “Let’s fall in love” was superb played and demonstrated their talents very well.

Ganesha completed the early evening lineup, before the US singer-songwriter Kina Grannis came onstage (her first performance in Thailand) and enthralled the appreciative audience with a selection of her classic and new songs. Next up was the well known Thai band Infinity, who made a welcome return to the festival and played material which proved extremely popular. Their lineup included a lead male and two female singers, and they showed off some great slap bass and saxophone playing. There were also a few humorous moments, such as when the sax player was reluctantly pushed to the front to demonstrate his improvisational skills. Their onstage camaraderie was evident for all to see, and it seemed like they were enjoying themselves as much as the audience.

Finishing off the evening’s performances in fine style was Ford and Friends, with three talented female singers that sang their hearts out and brought the event to an eventual close at quarter to midnight. By this time, with the collection of diverse performances and music still fresh in their minds, most people were already proclaiming that it was a hugely enjoyable event and had indeed managed to live up to its promises.

Considering the enjoyable performances and success of this year’s event, the Jazz Festival next year is surely going to be more highly anticipated than ever.

The Bands and Schedule

The complete list of acts and schedule for the two days was as follows.

Day 1 Schedule (Friday, August 26)

15.00 Doors open
17.00 – 17.45 The 11th Fellowship
17.45 – 18.30 RSU Jazz Gang
18.30 – 19.00 Opening Ceremony
19.00 – 19.45 Orange Pekoe
19.45 – 20.00 King of Kings VDO 1
20.00 – 21.00 Jirapan and Blue Sapphire
21.00 – 21.15 King of Kings VDO 2
21.15 – 22.00 Maew Jirasak
22.00 – 22.15 King of Kings VDO 3
22.15 – 23.00 P.O.P.

Day 2 Schedule (Saturday, August 27)

15.00 Doors open
17.00 – 17.45 RSU Young and Foolish
17.45 – 18.30 Reflection
18.30 – 18.45 King of Kings VDO 1
18.45 – 19.30 Ganesha
19.30 – 19.45 King of Kings VDO 2
19.45 – 20.30 Kina Grannis
20.30 – 20.45 King of Kings VDO 3
20.45 – 21.45 Infinity
21.45 – 22.15 King of Kings VDO 4
22.15 – 23.45 Ford and Friends

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