On The Road With The Asian Jazz All-Stars Power Quartet
The final gig on the tour was in Hong Kong four days later. That gave all the musicians the chance to head to their separate homes to recharge the batteries. The AJASPQ and I parted company at Singapore airport. I couldn't make the Hong Kong concerta late addition to the tour scheduleas I was covering the Penang Island Jazz Festival in Malaysia at the same time. I would have loved to have been there to cross the finishing line with my traveling companions of the last two weeks but it wasn't to be. Nevertheless, I am privileged to have been part of the AJASPQ's first foray into Europe and the energy and excitement of those half dozen gigs and the fun along the way will linger long in the memory.
Some of the best, most original jazz concerts I have seen since 2006, when I began writing for All About Jazz, have been by Asian bands. Thailand's Pomelo Town, Taiwan's Sizhukong, China's SIU2, Indonesia's simakDialog, Korea's Park & Miyeong duo, Japan's Pe'zeach radically differenthave all impressed. To this list I must add the Asian Jazz All-Stars Power Quartet, whose combination of lyricism, grooving rhythms and thundering fusion places it among the very best of today's jazz fusion bands.
The positive reception received by Monterio, Pao, Tolentino and Hong in both Asia and in Europe confirmed the universal appeal of the band's work. For Monteiro, the tour was a success on more than one level: "This tour was great because we got to strut our stuff in front of audiences which don't come to Asia and so would not be able to see us perform." The reception of the AJASPQ, especially in Europe, was of particular satisfaction to Monteiro: "The warmth of the audiences has inspired me to keep on keepin' on," he said.
With plans to record both live and in the studio, the AJASPQ is here to stay. Hopefully, European and American concert and festival promoters will recognize what the likes of Michael Brecker, McCoy Tyner and Chick Corea learned some time agothese Asian guys can play their butts off.
Pages 3 (top), 5 (top): Ian Patterson All Other Photos: Varian Monteiro