One of the most exciting features of the annual Rainforest World Music Festival in Malaysia (www.rwmf.net) is the daily afternoon jam by musicians from the performing bands. Three times each day in three parallel venues across three days, musicians perform in clusters: percussion, string instruments, gongs, flutes, vocals, dance, folk songs, and so on (http://rwmf.net/2013/rwmf-2013-workshop/).
The jams and workshops with these international stars are so good that some attendees prefer them to the staged and rehearsed performances of the main acts!
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The guitar workshop was exceptionally creative, with Chinese, Cajun, blues, and South African influences. It was anchored by Indonesian guitarist Agam Hamzah from the Aceh band Rafly Wa Saja. The young Zhong Ruan from local band Shangyin Chinese Chamber Orchestra drew rousing applause for the shimmering solos on the Chinese zither.
The climax was the solo by South African guitarist and vocalist Dibanisile Tutsu. He shifted from beautifully tender vocal accompaniment to pyrotechnics with the guitar played above his head and then on the floor after sliding down in a split!
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The first percussion jam was anchored by South African Buyambo Ensemble’s drummer Noeba Gongxeka. Mkokeli Masala shored up the group with the thunderous n’goni drums, with other fine solos delivered by Fouad Achki in Moroccan gnawa style on tambour (from the group Chet Nuneta), Sundanese drums (Herwan Wiradireja), Turkish drums (Soner Tezcan of Alp Bora), and twin dayareh (Morteza Palizdan from Iran). [flickr id=”9195260506″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”true” size=”medium” group=”” align=”right”] Some of the audience had instruments of their own also, such as djembes, and Noeba asked them to jam along while the rest clapped enthusiastically.
The second percussion workshop featured outstanding musicians from Colombia (Ray Vallenato), Denmark (Habedekuk), Malaysia (Madeeh), Ukraine (Spiritual Seasons), Ireland (Kila), and Iran (Lian Band). Each musician introduced the unique instruments in their culture (such as variations of the Jewish harp or wooden zithers), as well as some creative mixes (metal plates and beads along with drumkits – Chet Muneta). They then jammed in two rousing sessions, leaving behind the world of voice and turning on the power of drum skin!
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[flickr id=”9195251706″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”true” size=”medium” group=”” align=”left”] One workshop included a ‘duel’ between the South African and Australian traditional dances, with members of the audience joining each team. All dancers were declared as winners, and the passive onlookers as losers! The Korean group Palsandae had a high-energy workshop on Korean culture, featuring shamanistic influences on farmers’ dance.
The ‘Long Strokes’ workshop featured a range of bowed instruments from Ireland, Turkey, Austria, Denmark, USA and China. The workshop on plucked instruments showcased the sape from Sarawak along with nyunge nyunge (thumb piano) from southern Africa by Nicholas Gongxeka from the Buyambo Ensemble. The Australians wowed the audience with their demonstration of circular breathing techniques while playing the didgeridoo.
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The flute workshop had a dazzling variety of flutes from Iran, Sarawak and Croatia. Juk Wan Emang from Malaysia stunned the audience with tunes on the nose flute, and Mohsen Sharifian drew a loud round of applause for layering complex tunes on the small ney-jofti flute from Iran. Jam leader Colm O’Snodaigh from Irish band Kila then lead the group on a pleasant jam: “Bon voyage,” he shouted to the musicians as they interleaved their jam segments!
Alp Bora and his quartet showcased traditional Turkish music in an indoor theatre, also splicing in Greek songs evoking a joyous taberna setting. The final act was a rousing dance workshop by the South African Ibuyambo Ensemble, who put hundreds of eager audience members through gruelling rhythms and moves!
We look forward to the afternoon jams of the 17th annual Rainforest World Music Festival in 2014 already!
Written by Madanmohan Rao
Editor & DJ, World Music and Jazz; Bangalore
Global Correspondent for Jazzuality.com