March 31st - April 2nd 2017, Batam Jazz Festival and Singapore Jazz Festival with Incognito, Ray Par
This is a little backdated post about my trip to Singapore and Indonesia last weekend - my fourth trip Asia this year so far. Now, I'm definitely used to getting straight down to work after arriving several time zones ahead of where I departed from, but this trip also included a fairly non-standard travel arrangement that meant playing two festivals with two different bands on the same evening - in two different countries! I'm pretty certain that was a first for me 😜... As Incognito, we had a gig in Batam, Indonesia and gig at the Singapore Jazz Festival (aka Sing Jazz.) Some of us then went on to play as Citrus Sun and we also had a concert with the super cool dude known as Ray Parker Junior. Ray also changed his departing flight so he could jam with us at the close of the festival, which was a blast. On the final day of the festival Bluey, Francesco Mendolia, Matt Cooper and I stayed on an extra day to mentor a group of music students for a few hours, a highly rewarding end to a very busy schedule.
w/the lovely Bibib, one of the organisers from the Batam Jazz Festival 🇮🇩🔥
Poster for Wonderful Indonesia Music Festival in Batam 🇮🇩🌴
After first flying in to Singapore, we arrived at mega-hotel Marina Bay Sands simply for an hour's breakfast - we didn't even check in - and for a quick meet and greet with Ray Parker Junior. Then we took a ride to the ferry terminal and caught a boat to the Indonesian island of Batam carrying what we needed for a night's stay. After the world's greatest massage and then a press conference, I was finally able to get a bit of sleep before sound check and on show day we performed at the Swiss Belhotel, Harbour Bay, Batam for part of the Wonderful Indonesia Festival. Then the first real logistical challenge: those of us who also play in the band Citrus Sun had to leave - unfortunately without really getting to say goodbye - and get back to the ferry terminal asap, where a chartered boat was waiting to take us back to Singapore for a concert that would start at 1AM, a little over two hours after getting off stage in Batam! We made it according to plan, but we really couldn't have spared much time in order to set up out backline etc in time to follow Al McKay's Earth Wind & Fire Experience who preceded us at The Late Show, Sing Jazz. Well... thankfully they ran over just a little, allowing us to get our breath back a bit before performing an unfortunately truncated set. I finally got to my room at Marina Bay Sands at 4AM!!! 🤓
Backdrop on stage at The Late Show, Sing Jazz🇸🇬
w/drummer/producer Steve Harvey backstage at the Late Show, Sing Jazz
Saturday was the day we finally got to run some tunes with RPJ at a long sound check starting in the morning (no time for jet lag, grab brekkie and go!) Ray is one of the industries most seasoned guitarists with a career going back to the late 60's where he first wrote alongside Marvin Gaye as a 16 year old, guested on Stevie Wonder's Talking Book whilst still a teenager and ended up moving to California to continue an illustrious writing career. He co-wrote the smash R'n'B hit You Got The Love (that insanely hot guitar riff that runs throughout the song is RPJ himself) with Chaka Khan for Rufus and later formed the band Raydio in the late 70's who went on to have several R'n'B and Pop hits until their disbanding in 1981. Ray continued to have success as a solo artist and in demand session musician until he scored an international smash hit with the theme from the movie Ghostbusters. Wowww! He's a to die for guitarist (I first really clocked his ability in Japan watching him with the Crusaders a few years ago with Joe Sample and Steve Gadd) and a very nice guy, a real pleasure to work with, I'm so glad he changed his flight and stuck around for some more!
Ray Parker Jr. and I on stage after soundcheck
After RPJ's set we grabbed just a tiny bit of rest (full on sleep would've been a bad idea at that point) and then performed as Incognito again for Sing Jazz. Incognito has played at Sing Jazz every year now since 2013's preview and the audiences are always fantastic, needless to say we had a ball, albeit slightly addled from sleep depravation!!! Ray joined us for a few more songs including one more round of Ghostbusters...
Al McKay's Earth Wind & Fire Experience rocking the house at the Late Show
w/Jazzy before the RPJ show
w/Raul Midon's bassist Romier Mendez
w/the tremendous Brian McKnight who guested with David Foster
Backstage with Chaka Khan who also sang with David Foster, looking and sounding fabulous as always x
David Foster and Friends Chaka Khan & Dira Sugandi 🇺🇸🇮🇩💥
The following day saw most of Incognito and Citrus Sun return to the UK but four of us stayed behind for a workshop and mentoring session with students of the Sing Jazz Academy. The large group had been divided into smaller groups which had been given three songs each to play ensemble. Then we spent time with each group listening and assessing their performances and offering useful feedback and encouragement. At the end of the session Bluey gave a great motivational speech to the entire group. It was a great experience; I got to speak to many of the students afterwards and they were a really talented bunch with great energy. I got a lot out of it, I hope they did too.
One of the ensembles at Sing Jazz Academy🇸🇬
Bluey's closing message to Sing Jazz Academy students🇸🇬
w/bassist Andrea from Sing Jazz Academy after the David Foster show (that's my signature on the scratch plate of her P bass!) 😂🇸🇬
The pool... cloudy! 😬🇸🇬
We managed to squeeze in a private lunch with representatives of Singapore Airlines (one of the main sponsors of Sing Jazz) followed by a short visit to the amazing 57th floor infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands and a well deserved night off! I caught the Raul Midon and David Foster and Friends on the main stage - obligatory late night food at Boon Tong Kee with Dira Sugandi (it's turning into a tradition!) and then my bed finally called me...💤🌩 FH
Thames River's soul... descending over London 🇬🇧