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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

Grammy winner Gregory Porter heats up Capital FM's Jazzscapes

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 02:30 AM PDT

Spend Sunday afternoon with good music, good company and all that jazz.

What better way to spend a lazy weekend afternoon than by listening to jazz maestro Gregory Porter talk about music, life and everything in between? Well, if you are a jazz lover, the answer would be "pretty much nothing".

The 42-year-old singer, who won the 2014 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album for Liquid Spirit, is the special guest featured on Capital FM's Jazzscapes with DJ April Kuan this Sunday (March 30).

Now although Porter had a late start in the entertainment scene, the California native is surely burning up the charts with his beautifully written songs, melodious tunes and more important, killer vocals.

Porter made his mark in the jazz – though some music lovers claim that it is difficult to contain the singer's music to one genre – in 2010 with the release of his critically acclaimed debut album Water.

The album was nominated for Best Jazz Vocal Album at the 2011 Grammy Awards but the singer lost out to Dee Dee Bridgewater who took home the award for her memorable record, Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie With Love From Dee Dee Bridgewater.

However, there was no stopping Porter.

His second album Be Good was hailed as a work of musical genius and the album also perfectly showcased his songwriting skills with tracks like Be Good (Lion's Song), Real Good Hands and On My Way To Harlem.

And for those who dismiss Porter as just another jazz singer, take note that he also proved that he has some serious acting chops as a member of the original Broadway cast of It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues.

Now, to find out more about this interesting and much respected jazz singer, tune in to Jazzscapes with April Kuan on Capital FM, between 2pm to 6pm, on March 30. For more information, go to www.capitalfm.com.my.

Steve Vai and the most epic guitar concert ever seen in Malaysia

Posted: 26 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

The genius that is Steve Vai puts on a show like no other with his virtuosity on the guitar, as he did recently for his Malaysian fans in KL.

You know you're at a great concert when random people start throwing you high-fives going, "This is awesome!"

I even gave up my comfy media seat to experience the Steve Vai Live Tour concert where all the real fans were – in the pit at the KL Live venue. It was there that grown men were shaking their heads in disbelief or delirium – maybe both – with some close to tears, and others transfixed by the jaw-dropping wizardry conjured by the great guitar master.

Vai is possibly the greatest guitar virtuoso that ever was. For guitarists and fans, it was a surreal experience having him play for them in a relatively intimate venue for close to three hours. It was like a football fan playing five-a-side with Zinedine Zidane, or a movie buff having a night of charades with Meryl Streep.

So, there were a few high fives, some fist bumps, even the occasional bro-hug from complete strangers. But considering the sheer brilliance on display, combined with the compelling nature of Vai's epic compositions, it felt like the most natural thing in the world. Everyone was high on Vai.

The show from Vai and his band was as close to the pinnacle of musicianship as we were ever going to get. From the moment the band appeared, to Vai's dramatic last note, they were impossibly good. Don't like instrumental music? Can't appreciate incredibly technical aspects of guitar playing? Doesn't matter. The show was so good, so mind-boggling, anyone would have appreciated it – to some level at least.

If there's one word to describe Vai – his musical style, his band, his show – it would be otherworldly. And yet, when he wasn't playing, Vai was a completely down-to-earth man. We knew this, of course, having interviewed with him a week ago on the phone. And his personality translated into the show just as well.

"Our goal in all our shows is to make people feel good. So tonight, if you leave this hall feeling good, then we've done our job," said Vai, modestly, during a break.

When he addressed the crowd for the last time after the encore, Taurus Bulba, he thanked the delirious crowd and asked, "Do you all feel good?" The answer was a wave of mostly unintelligible screams. "Great! Then we've done our job. Thank you, everyone."

During our interview, Vai talked about how his shredding power – guitar speak for playing superfast – was diminishing, adding that he now focuses on putting more feeling, precision and depth to each note. But at his concert, he delivered every note, every line, every arpeggio to perfection.

His legendary speed was still there, but his sense of melody, his instinct to deliver lines to take listeners to another place, those have become more refined. The jazz-infused Tender Surrender was a perfect example. A popular song, no doubt, but the impassioned delivery would have enthralled even the staunchest anti-instrumentalist.

His backing trio – guitarist Dave Weiner, drummer Jeremy Colson and bassist Philip Bynoe – deserves equal praise for their effective performance, which allowed Vai to shine. For most Malaysian musicians, having any one of these guys come over would have been a big deal. But all of them at once? Amazing.

Vai himself ran a gamut of styles in all his songs. There were his crazy, experimental tunes, good ol' fashioned rock 'n' roll and blues jams, straight up metal shredding, and even an acoustic set. The one... three common denominators were incredible technical proficiency, amazing musicality and fabulous showmanship.

In return, the fans chanted his name at every break, which left him visibly moved. But the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for the final song – For the Love of God. After an epic solo at the end, he screamed to the crowd, "One last note!" and produced the most ridiculous note ever played in KL.

"You guys are amazing. I'm gonna have to call Joe and make sure we bring G3 down here!" he said to huge cheers. He was referring to fellow virtuoso guitarist Joe Satriani, with whom Vai created the G3 concert tour, which features three guitarists in each show. Promises aside, the fans knew to appreciate what they got that night because they might not ever have it so good again.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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