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Aubrey Suwito & 'Malacca Sun'

An Introduction

Pianist, keyboardist, songwriter and arranger Aubrey Suwito started his musical journey at the age of 6. Classically trained in the early years, bombarded with commercial radio-friendly music in his teens, then going off to earn his 'Summa Cum Laude' diploma at the famed Berklee College of Music, Aubrey has now come out with his new debut album aptly titled 'Malacca Sun'.
"The idea for 'Malacca Sun' was to produce an album that sounded like it came from this part of the world. Jazz may be a western form but to ignore our own musical inheritance would do injustice to the genre and ourselves as well." One listen to tracks like 'Pahlawan' (the Warrior) and the title track will quickly sum up Aubrey's intention... Malaysian-influenced jazz!
Born and bred in the little 'sleepy-hollow' town in southern Malaysia which the album is titled after, Aubrey has steadily worked towards perfecting his craft amidst his busy calendar. And he has certainly had his share of taking on the more commercially-viable paths in music. Aubrey is more often than not doing some arrangements for albums in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. He has been writing jingles for more than 10 years and is now a partner in Incognito Productions, a post-pro outfit. Countless dinner functions, playing musical director to Malaysia's top artistes, including the prestigious AIM (Malaysia's Academy of the Music Industry) awards show mean that he is no slouch in mainstream pop circles. So why a jazz album? "I only picked up jazz a couple of years ago, but it has slowly become a part of me. I realize with jazz, my music reflects the way I feel at any given time. When I'm in a playful mood, my music is playful... when I'm under the weather or depressed about something, my music takes a more somber tone. You'll see that in the album, especially during some of the improvisation parts. An album should reflect who I am... musically at least... and jazz lets me show more of me. Besides, I didn't want to sing..."
Jazz has indeed been a passion since 1992. As the keyboard player for jazz outfit 'Face First' Aubrey has performed with the likes of vocalist Phil Perry and sax player Eric Marienthal during their performances in Kuala Lumpur. The Bangkok Jazz Festival '96 with Marienthal stands out in his memory. "It was the first time I saw jazz being appreciated in this part of the world. Real, honest appreciation of the music and nothing else... it wasn't a 'hip' thing that people do to be seen doing it!"
Jazz is certainly not hip in his homeland if sales figures for past Malaysian jazz albums are anything to go by, but this new offering is different in that it does not set out to amaze nor impress, it is merely a work of joy of all involved. While jazz has so often been labeled 'exclusive', Malacca Sun invites the listener to participate, appreciate and enjoy the fusion of music, musicianship and cultures. 

 

"The album is so much more than my playing or compositions... it is a showcase of the amazing, often unheralded talents I have worked with here in Malaysia... a collaboration of friends." 
How it really all started: "I had a little time on my hands during the economic downturn and wanted to work on some areas I was technically weak in. So I sequenced some grooves and chord changes to practice on... which eventually grew into some of the compositions in the album."
Click here for audio samples

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