Cover The album cover for 'Purnama', the seventh jazz album by WVC Jazz Ensemble

The renowned Malaysian jazz band's seventh album revisits the rich musical heritage of Malaya

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The album hints at new beginnings

Above Video: WVC Jazz Ensemble/YouTube

WVC Jazz Ensemble is set to enthral listeners with a heady repertoire of local classics with the release of its latest album, Purnama, this month. The new moon on the album cover is symbolic of a fresh start, of another step in the unexplored road ahead.                

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Composer, pianist, band leader and music director Tay Cher Siang explains this by first admitting that his interest in the classic works of jazz luminaries like Miles Davis and John Coltrane over the years unintentionally resulted in an oversight of Malaysia's own rich musical heritage of that time.

In 2016, he set out to change this. The new album thus represents the band's quest to explore and reinterpret a gamut of Malayan classics, taking into account the historical events in which Malayan musicians lived as they witnessed the birth of a new nation before and after Independence. 

"It took me many years and many miles to come back to the music that was born in this 'tanah tumpah darahku'—the land of my blood," Tay says. "With fresh ears and eyes, I started to learn about the women and men who lived for and built Malaysia, who breathed life into the cultural realm before and after the birth of the new country. The language was beautiful, the sentiments hopeful, and the melodies grew out of the rich soil of this land. The image of a new moon seemed somehow to capture the spirit of those times."

It took me many years and many miles to come back to the music that was born in this 'tanah tumpah darahku'. Perhaps these songs, I thought, showed us the glint of light on the new road taken.
Tay Cher Siang
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It honours the great musicians of Malaysia's past

Above The title track of WVC Jazz Ensemble's latest album is named after the 1954 hit originally sung by Nona Asiah

The 12 tracks in Purnama are nostalgic reinterpretations of riveting oldies, from the title track originally performed by Malayan songstress Nona Asiah to familiar tunes like Ibu, written by Indonesian composer Ahmad Jaafar for the 1953 film of the same name starring P. Ramlee. More classics like Hatiku Rindu, Hitam Manis and Joget Malaysia serve to reignite the hopes, dreams and simple joys that went into the making of these famous tunes.   

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"The album is about recognising and respecting the good people of the past and the gift of humane values they have left us, which offers us the hope that another world is possible," muses Tay. 

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A truly Malaysian effort

Despite being hit hard by the pandemic, many Malaysian musicians came together to pool their talent and energy to make Purnama. They include guitarist Rizal Tony, saxophonist Yow Weng Wai, Ng Chor Guan on the theremin and Tan Jie on the shakuhachi. Singers Janet Lee, Jo, Izen Kong, Chong Keat Aun and Tan Chee Shen also made significant contributions.

Whether you're a fan of jazz, an oldies enthusiast or an avid supporter of the local arts scene in general, Purnama is certainly one for the your collection.

Pre-order the album today.

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