Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Saturday, March 17, 2007

I chanced upon this Dr.Azly Rahman’s post while browsing Pet’s popular blog Malaysia Today. As usual Dr.Azly Rahman’s posts make pleasant reading. What is unusual about this post is the lack of caustic comments so pervasive in Malaysia Today. I tried to give my rectum (not my choice of word) but I failed to log in. Must ask Raja Petra about this the next time I see him.

I first heard about jazz as a small boy following my father on his sessions with his “music party” in Kuala Terengganu. Jazz was what they call the side drums and brushes. I wonder whether other places made the same mistake. I grew up humming to Paul Anka, P.Ramlee, Elvis etc. I did not listen to jazz until I had my own hi-fi. I found out that jazz is somewhat like durian. You either love it or hate it. Only my eldest daughter shares my taste for Miles Davis, Winston Marsalis, MJQ and Stan Getz (to name a few). The rest go for the likes of Pearl Jam.

Jazz is not a popular fare in Malaysia. It does not have the critical mass of fans to support a bill-paying musician. Even the perceived “jazz singers” like Sheila Majid and Ning Baizura would not dare produce a whole album of unadulterated jazz although they would like to. Even in the West, jazz is a niche market and they have to come out with “Smooth Jazz” to widen the appeal. Thus, I think, we have to wait a while longer to be able to use jazz as a medium of change.

In Malaysia, songs have been used as a social commentary since the days of radio and 78 RPM platters. Maybe you cannot remember any of Ahmad C.B.’s lyrics but I am sure you can remember R. Azmi’s take on “Nona Singapura”. No? Ok, Have you heard of “Fikirkan Boleh” (I think by Amuk) and more recently “Angguk Angguk, Geleng-Geleng” by Ahli Fiqir? How many have learned anything from these songs? Most listeners tapped their feet, nodded and shook their head for the duration of the song and afterwards went on their way, unchanged. S. Effendi, a great many years ago exhorted in his “Seroja”:

Sekarang bukan zaman bermenung

And many more singers later crooned the same words. We still have people termenung (pondering) today don’t we? Don’t we wish songs stir more than emotions. Maybe Dylan’s “Blowing In The Wind” and “The Times They Are Changing” galvanized many Americans during the Vietnam War or “The Exodus” gave hope to people in Diaspora but we did not see the same effect with Lennon’s “Imagine”.

Maybe the war-mongers are people who are also tone-deaf.

Continued later.