ASIABEAT returns with an international line-up and veteran Geneva-based house DJ Estephe will also make a memorable appearance with saxophonist Chris Stalk & Jules Vulzor on bass
SARAWAK, 25th May 2022- Returning for its 17th year is one of Southeast Asia’s longest-running international jazz festivals – the Borneo Jazz Festival (BJ). Like the preceding years it brings diverse music lovers to the second largest city in Sarawak, but this time in a hybrid format.
“Jazz in The Jungle”, this year’s theme held at Coco Cabana, Marina Bay, Miri, Sarawak from 24th – 26th June 2022, will portray cross-cultural musical collaborations presenting their brand of ‘Jungle Jazz’. One of those artists will be ASIABEAT featuring celebrated Asian drummer Lewis Pragasam.
A pioneering force in creating cross-cultural musical collaborations in the region, and drawing inspiration from ‘Fusion’ and ‘World Music, ASIABEAT brings together a convergence of different musicians. For BJ 2022 edition, the band will feature Helga Violin from Hungary, Grace Leong on keyboards, Luke Joseph on Guitar and Zailan Razak on Bass. Additionally, Sarawak’s homegrown talent, Clinton Chua will be featured as guest vocalist.
A versatile artist, ‘Helga Violin’ graduated from the Bela Bartok Conservatory in Budapest. Helga has appeared in numerous concerts as soloist and chamber musician not only in Hungary, but in Italy as well as in Asia, namely Jakarta, Bali and Singapore. With a custom-made electric violin, Helga is passionate about fusing modern electronic music with Asian ethnic music element.
The ASIABEAT project was conceptualised in 1979. Lewis started ASIABEAT as a percussion outfit that would explore the blending of various traditional percussion instruments inherent in four of the major ethnic groups in Malaysia, namely; Malay, Indian, Chinese and Sikh, with the goal to highlight and enlighten the general public about the incredibly rich and diverse culture that is largely ignored and taken for granted. ASIABEAT has since evolved with its 7 album recordings, namely ASIABEAT, DARE TO DREAM, SPIRIT OF THE PEOPLE, MONSOON, DRUMUSIQUE, URBAN BEYOND & AKAR, reflecting Lewis’ penchant for diversity and knowledge of current trends in the global music industry.
Since the band’s inception in 1979, ASIABEAT has been invited to perform in more than 500 concerts and festivals like the Edinburgh Arts Festival, Java Jazz and ASEAN Music Festival to name a few.
Recently in 2020, ASIABEAT celebrated its 40th anniversary with a 7th album recording entitled “AKAR” featuring musicians from 8 different countries. This marked a personal milestone for Lewis as well, as the album was conceptualised and manifested as a musical entity during a global pandemic.
Lewis Pragasam will be leading the Borneo Jazz’s Eco Drum Project happening on Sunday, 5th June 2022 from 4:00 pm to 6.30pm at Coco Cabana, Miri to create unique drums and percussion instruments from recycling waste and to produce feel-good beats from community drumming sessions as a lead up to Borneo Jazz Festival 2022.
Meanwhile, raised on jazz and soul music, coming to Borneo Jazz Festival from the French Riviera is DJ Estephe, a producer, remixer, record collector and creator of musical identity. Cradled in an era without musical concession, DJ Estèphe at the dawn of his 20s, roams European clubs solo or accompanied by musicians. In the 90s, he decided to move to Switzerland where he was responsible for a vinyl shop and the artistic direction of various Clubs in Geneva. He produces with Jules Vulzor, his friend and Studio accomplice, two of the most beautiful revisits of Marvin Gaye songs that topped the charts in New York City and London.
DJ Estephe will play solo ‘Sunset Hour’ daily sets by the Borneo Jazz outdoor stage (6.00pm – 7.30pm), and will be joined by Chris Stalk on saxophone and Jules Vulzor on bass during the festival’s Outdoor Late Night Sets (11.30pm to 1.30am), with nightly themes of: Afro Latin House (Festival Day 1), Boogie Disco Funk (Festival Day 2) and Nu Jazz Soul & Bossa (Festival Day 3). Forerunners of the meeting between DJs and musicians live improve session, this trio has a devastating gift to keep the party going after Borneo Jazz Main Stage performances.
A self-taught artist, saxophonist Chris Stalk began his career in popular ballrooms with his father who played drums, very quickly discovering Charlie Parker and jazz. The 90s marked the advent of Hip Hop “sound systems”, in which he actively participated, moving toward abstract hip hop and electronic music, playing sax through guitar effect pedals, notably with DJ GOO and Eric Truffaz, DJ Estèphe and Jules Vulzor. Constantly evolving as an artist, STALK has performed in various formations in festivals such as Montreux and Paleo in Switzerland, Moers in Germany, with important jazz artists such as Erik Truffaz, Pierre Audetat and Christophe Calpini, and with the famous star ballet-dancer, Zizi Jeanmarie at Bastille Opera.
Jules Vulzor is a producer and bassist from Switzerland. He produced “Guess What” in 2009 and “Stress”, a platinum disk winning hip hop band from 2003 onwards. With DJ E’stephe he co-founded ‘Revivra’, a nu-disco label that went on several times on the New York Charts for remixes of Marvin Gaye, and has worked with Dave Richards (Queen).
Chris Stalk and Jules Vulzor have been conducting music workshops and lighting up Miri local live music scene as part of Borneo Jazz Fab Lab Music Empowerment Programme organised by No Black Tie, curator of Borneo Jazz 2022.