Selasa, 1 Oktober 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

No Black Tie hosts united nations of jazz music


The music still flows at No Black Tie, with artistes from all over the world coming in to celebrate its 15th anniversary.

STARTING a live venue and maintaining it for the immediate future in a scene that's yet to establish a fertile live culture is already daunting, what more to have a club thrive for 15 years. But that's the story of industry standard No Black Tie (NBT). Klang Valley's most established live music joint turns 15 this month, and in conjunction with the celebrations, is offering a mouthwatering serving of acts throughout October.

Guiding the haunt through years of indifference, apathy and most importantly, unadulterated music, is club owner Evelyn Hii. She must be doing something right to have musicians constantly keeping their fingers crossed to get the chance to play there. She recognises the difficulty in keeping her establishment afloat, but is led by her singular guiding light – the music.

"To keep the passion for music burning. If you love what you do, you always think about how you're going to make it better, and you learn with time," Hii revealed her recipe for success during a recent interview.

Through the years, NBT has notched innumerable career highlights, but stumbling blocks there have been, too, not least, getting jazz music across.

Like many other developing nations, pop culture has a stranglehold on the listening audience. "The challenge that lies ahead is to expose our audience to more contemporary jazz gigs, so they can be more open, curious and receptive to new sounds, to a whole range of colours and palettes in music," she explained.

Hii also aspires to change the misconception that most Asian audiences have been made victims of the all-too-familiar malaise – the louder the music, the better it is.

The live music culture here has gone through the usual sequence of ups and downs. There was a time (as recent as the mid/late 1990s) when audiences followed bands around the live circuit, though that largely seems a distant memory now. But what is lacking in club circuit following is being made up for with the numerous music festivals coming up these days.

Still, for a live culture to proliferate, well-equipped music clubs are a must. "On a day-to-day basis, we need more good acoustically designed places for live music in Malaysia. NBT is still standing after so many years because the audience knows that when they step into the club, they are going to experience the music in a totally complete way – sonically, emotionally and visually," said Hii, taking pride in her club's renowned sound quality.

The club has clearly evolved over the years, initially strictly for jazz, classical and world music. But today, blues and even rock has infiltrated its hallowed space.

"NBT's eclectic music policy was borne out of an intent to provide a good acoustic space for music regardless of its genre, the only factor being that it has to be good. And while we focus mainly on jazz gigs, we also appreciate how we can play an important role by showcasing a deserving, and exciting alternative/rock/blues band that's just breaking out. Obviously, with Blues Celebration, we want to highlight to our jazz audience that there are great blues musicians in our midst, and that they also have a place here."

But NBT's desire to branch out harkens back to 2001, when the club hosted the third instalment of indie music authority and Carburetor Dung main man Joe Kidd's "Unclogged" series at the club's older premises a few doors down from its current location.

And 15 years later, that sense of eclecticism remains firmly entrenched in NBT's philosophy. The anniversary celebrations bring together a varied collection of musical acts from the four corners of the world, some of whom are coming back for repeat jaunts.

"We have many great artistes returning to celebrate with us from all over the world, like from the US, Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia. Denise Mininfield, Yuri Honing, Don Gomes & Louis Soliano, Valtinho Anastacio, Mokhtar Samba, Heidi Vogel will all be part of the festival. We will also be welcoming new visiting artistes like Kyle Shepherd, Boi Aikh and Havana Social Club, not forgetting our very own fleet of NBT's favourite Malaysian artists," cooed Hii.

It's NBT's constant supply of quality acts that's kept live music enthusiast crawling back for more. And with the lineup on parade for the anniversary celebrations, long will that continue.

Visit for the complete lineup of acts.


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