Monday, March 15, 2010

Let Me Introduce You To JZ8

Readers of this blog will know that I have been a heavy promoter for the brilliant 2V1G, followed by Gina Panizales and Roger Wang's Love's Tapestry. Love's Tapestry is selling well considering its an English album launched in Malaysia - it made strong inroads in Indonesia and Taiwan. Well, I am a fan because I know the producer Leslie Loh very well, in particular since we both are from Ipoh - even though he was from ACS, I shall not hold that against him.

I like what he is doing, its a passionate job, its a refreshing voice amidst the highly commercialised, heavily marketed artistes by huge management / music companies in Asia. Can we just do great music for once???

2V1G did extremely well, selling way above 10,000 copies for a pure Malaysian effort. I was invited by Leslie to an early listening session of JZ8 just prior to CNY, apparently the first person outside of those in the studio to have a listen - my opinion after the few songs, I told him JZ8 will sell 30,000 copies. 2V1G was all Mandarin, JZ8 has both Cantonese and Mandarin and the jazzed up treatment of some songs were absolutely delicious, plus it took a couple of the older oldies and gave that a wonderful tweak as well - the album will appeal to a much broader spectrum, one can buy it for their gfs, bfs or their parents, or their rebellious teenage kids. Its that cool!!!!!!

From the sampling player on the right, Forever Smile was one of my favourite songs from my dad's era. Rarely heard nowadays, and the soft jazz treatment brought life to this magnificent tune. The second song was just superb, very different from the lackadaisical Faye Wong's version (which was also superb btw) - that song was crying out for a jazzy treatment and it brought out the cheekiness of the lyrics.

The third song, Unforgettable You, to me is one of the saddest Chinese song ever ... The stripped down version finally brought the sadness, the desperation in unrequited love, the hollowness and lingering pain of memories, the empathy and tenderness in the song beautifully. Lovingly sung and Cher Siang's piano puts in the right mood.

Many artistes have done Eason's Mor Tin Loun. I must say, Cher Siang's piano brought to life the carnival, circus feel instead of the original more sombre feeling. Its another song crying out for a soft jazz treatment as the optimistic lyrics yearns for. Exceptional.

The last song is the famous I Have A Date With Spring ... again cut to the bones, a song that needed to reflect the wistfulness, the accepting of fate and destiny, it needed to be melancholic and reflective. It is at the same time tinged with regret, acceptance but also hope. Can you imagine all that in one song - my favourite from the album by far because it was all of the above, wonderfully executed.

Below is the supposed press release to coincide with the launch of JZ8's album.


8th August 2008 was the fateful day I conceived JZ8. It was also the day the epic China Olympics started, hence the “8” in JZ8. I also met JZ8 pianist Tay Cher Siang for the first time in my house on the same day. JZ8 was inspired, in no small way, by Ted Lo 【羅尚正】the veteran jazz maestro from Hong Kong. The song that started it all was Miriam Yeung’s 【楊千嬅】【傷追人】, a cover of Leo Ku’s 【古巨基】hit song written by Justin Lo 【側田】。 Ted arranged and played some fabulous jazz piano in the song. This song got me thinking about making an album like that, with even bolder and jazzier arrangement.

When I thought of the idea of JZ8, I have this picture of a smoky and dimly-lit jazz bar tucked away in the far recesses of KL’s bustling night-life. Its close to 2 am on a Saturday night. It is the closing hours of the jazz bar as the wait staff start to empty the ashtrays. But there are a still couple of tables with regular customers who seemed reluctant to leave, ... till they hear the singer sing her last song for the night. On the stage, a mature female vocalist, slim and sexy, smiling knowingly to her regular supporters. As she leans seductively next to the grand piano, a virtuoso pianist casts a lonely shadow in one quiet corner and is wearing a hat that covers most of his face, she signals with a knowing eye contact to him that she is ready for the last song of the night. She starts to croon the last song of the night, “I Have A Date With Spring” 【我和春天有個約會】, slowly, sensously and seductively, while he tinkers with a flowing line so smooth that you swear you would surrender to both the voice and piano helplessly and willingly….

Lydia Chew and Tay Cher Siang are the perfect vocal-n-piano duo to complete that imaginative picture.

Lydia is the most sought after backup vocalist in Malaysia, while the other is the fast-rising, most promising jazz pianist who has been raising eyebrows in the music circuit in Malaysia. Together, they titillate your aural senses with refreshing interpretations of contemporary Chinese pop songs with a pop/jazz/swing flavor like you have never heard before. I seldom see such a tight and matching combination of vocals and piano.

JZ8 has taken us more than 18 months to complete. We have left no stones unturned. Being the Executive Producer of this album, I aim to break new grounds musically with an album that will hopefully revolutionizes Chinese pop/jazz in its small ways. While my Producer, Chow Kam Leong wants to make the best album in his 25-year career, one that he can cherish for the rest of his life. Both of us felt that we have achieved our ambitions with this album. It is a milestone album for both Musictoxin and Pop Pop Music, the two collaborating music labels.

With the usual high standards of recording equipment used in “Love’s Tapestry”, JZ8 album goes one step further in creating a lively, exciting, energetic and yet tonally gorgeous recording that complements the jazz flavor of the music. The audiophile mastering was, as usual, done by the most trusted guru in the world, Doug Sax of The Mastering Lab. Doug Sax has shown to us that if you want the best, you have to hire the best people to do it.

JZ8 has all the elements of a classic Chinese Audiophile album. We strongly believe JZ8 will become a yardstick by which all Malaysian audiophile productions in the future are going to be measured.

Retail launch is 28th April 2010. We are open for online reservation now. First 1,000 early birds will get the virgin pressing, which is the best sounding of the lot. Retail price is only RM49.90. All email enquiries to

leslie loh
a & r director
pop pop music
"i feed on music, what do you feed on?"


solomon said...

Good vocal. If the singer had experienced the lyrics herself with emotion, I think it will be greater. I am hearing a bit monotonuous pitch for all the songs, pardon me.

amateur gardener said...

had a listen to jz8 on popop's site and was disappointed. The singer lacked the emotion/feel for the songs she was singing. No doubt she has a good voice and vocal range. I would say 2v1g was better.

Boon Haw said...

Listened to her whole album. She sounds 'old school' which incidentally is what I would have preferred. I would say, great music coming from JZ8. Vocal clarity and accuracy wise, there is some distance to Tsai Chin but hey, there's always room for improvement!