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Jazz Festivals in Malaysia

Jazz Festivals in Malaysia
Jazz Festivals in Malaysia seem to have grown tremendously over the last ten years or so, where more and more people have been attending them all over the country.

It is no longer a selective or niche music genre, jazz in Malaysia has become more commercialized with the introduction of local and international festivals held throughout the country, over here in the peninsular and also in Sabah and Sarawak Borneo.

Apart from that, music schools and universities have also contributed much to the success of jazz knowledge among its students over the years too. 

So if you are a jazz lover or music lover, this article highlights the many jazz festivals held around Malaysia throughout the year where some of them are over three days long and others may be a single day event.

Jazz Festivals in Malaysia 

Johor Jazz Festival
The JB Jazz Fest poster
JB Jazz Fest

Another jazz festival in Malaysia has been added into this list which is the JB Jazz Fest 2015 taking off this end of February and early March at the Double Tree Hilton in Johor Baharu City.

World-class jazz musician Sadao Watanabe will be the highlight here which is in conjunction with the JB arts Festival 2015.

While the dates are excellent due to it not clashing with other jazz festivals, this would be a good start to the music festival scene here in Malaysia.

The dates are also after the Chinese New Year Festivals in Malaysia, and by having it held in Johor Baharu, it is a tactical move as the event will be able to rope in jazz lovers from possibly four countries - Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei.

Johor Bahru Jazz Festival
Date: Jan or Feb
Venue: Johor Bahru City

Penang Island Jazz Festival 2015
Penang Island Jazz Festival 
Penang Island Jazz Festival 

The pioneers of jazz festivals in Malaysia was conceptualized after the seed of an idea of a jazz festival on an island was planted in 1996 and 8 years later, the idea was realized with the birth of the 1st Penang Island Jazz Festival in 2004, and in Malaysia too. 

An independent festival fully owned and organized by The Capricorn Connection, the Penang Island Jazz Festival began as a 2 day and a 1 stage event, with a number of workshops and a mini Jazz Gallery.

With the intention of creating a festival experience, many other supporting activities such as Fringe Stages, “Jazz With A Heart” Charity, Island Jazz Forum, Community Drum Circle, After Hours Jazz Jam and others have been added on in subsequent years.

Held annually on the beautiful island of Penang every first weekend of December, the festival has been built on a “foundation of friendship” through the support of family and friends of the festival.

Through the years, many local and foreign acts from USA, UK, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Germany, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, Brazil, Hungary, China, Taiwan, and Vietnam have been attending the event. 

The jazz event has grown through the years and established itself to be one of the more highly anticipated and important music festivals within the region.

Update: In 2018, the Penang Island Jazz Festival was cancelled on the last minute due to unfortunate circumstances.

Penang Island Jazz Festival
Date: 1st week of December
Venue: Penang Bayview Beach Resort
Website: Penang Jazz

Borneo Jazz Festival 2014 - Image from LeonHart90.blogspot.com
Borneo International Jazz Festival 

The Borneo Jazz Festival was originally started as the Miri International Jazz Festival back in 2006, and this was the second major Jazz Festival in Malaysia which was staged here in the resort city of Miri, Sarawak.

The overall branding change was made to reflect the growing stature of the festival among leading jazz festivals in the region. ‘Borneo’ gives a unique positioning of Sarawak among jazz music aficionados.

Created by the Sarawak Tourism Board or STB, this international level jazz festival saw all sorts of top jazz performers from around the world coming here to perform over the years.

Held at the same venue of the Everly ParkCity Hotel by the sea, jazz lovers from Brunei, Kota Kinabalu and across the region make their way here to enjoy this unique jazz festival.

Update: The Borneo Jazz Festival has finally moved to Coco Cabana at Marina Bay in Miri since 2018.

Borneo International Jazz Festival
Date: July
Venue: Coco Cabana, Marina Bay, Miri
Website: Borneo Jazz

Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival
The KK Jazz Festival
KK Jazz Festival 

Over in North Borneo, the Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival or KK Jazz Festival (KKJF) is an annual fund raising jazz extravaganza is jointly organized by the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu (RCKK) and the Society of Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (SPArKS).

Held yearly in the City of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, the jazz festival brings together a musical melting pot of talents from around the world. 

The KK Jazz Festival is headed to its ninth edition in 2015 since it was started in 2007 as the third jazz festival in Malaysia.

A series of fringe events are usually held for the days leading up to the two-night main event every year and the turn out is quite decent as a number of 4000 people show up for the event. 

The money raised from the KK Jazz Festival is used to fund deserving community projects by the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu – The Clean Water Project, Literacy Program and Eye Screening and Environment Protection.

Some of the rural communities benefited from the initiative includes Kg. Timbou (Tuaran), Kg.Tamburan (Kota Belud) and also Kg. Kokol (Kota Kinabalu outskirts).

Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival
Date: March
Venue: Sutra Harbour Resort, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Website: KK Jazz Festival

Kuala Lumpur Jazz Festival
KL Jazz Festival
Kuala Lumpur Jazz Festival 

The 2-day KL Jazz Festival has seen some very big international names like Lee Ritenour, Ernie Watts, Lisa Young Quartet and many other international names from the world over.

Having only started in 2012 based on the success of the Borneo Jazz and Penang Island Jazz, it was seen fit to have a jazz festival in Kuala Lumpur. 

At the KLJF, jazz aficionados can expect a convergence of contemporary jazz, smooth jazz, straight ahead jazz, classic jazz, jazz rock, R&B, swing, funk, classic rock and blues which is played throughout the two day event.

Ernie Watts that played at the KL Jazz Festival
The last Kuala Lumpur International Jazz Festival (KLIJF) took place at the Universiti Malaya grounds on Sept 14, 2014 while much has been abuzz for the next KLJF 2015 and who is coming to the city to perform.

Update: Apparently, the KL Jazz Festival is no longer being done. There is no news on to why, hence I am unable to get any updates on this.

Kuala Lumpur Jazz Festival
Dates: Unsure
Venue: Unsure

World Youth Jazz Festival in Malaysia
World Youth Jazz Festival in Malaysia
World Youth Jazz Festival

The World Youth Jazz Festival (WYJF) works jointly under the initiatives of the Malaysian Minister Of Youth And Sports and Jazz Community Malaysia (JAZZCOMM).

This event was previously held at Putrajaya, and showcased 20 jazz bands and performers from around the world and also Malaysians. 

The objective is straightforward where the youth of the world would not only be able to showcase their jazz talents but to also integrate, collaborate, interact and network between themselves.

Besides the annual World Youth Jazz Festival, there would be constant jazz events and happenings to make Malaysia the true home of World Youth Jazz.

Prior to the main event annually, the organizers hope that a series of mini jazz fests would be held in Putrajaya and other cities in Malaysia to keep jazz alive and growing.

The last World Youth Jazz Festivals was held in Kuala Lumpur, at some of the popular entertainment areas. Also, the Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) or KL City Council has taken lead for this event.

World Youth Jazz Festival Malaysia
Date: Around May
Venue: Around Kuala Lumpur City
Website: World Youth Jazz

Malaysia Jazz Piano Festival
Malaysia Jazz Piano Festival
Malaysia Jazz Piano Festival 

An inaugural jazz event held for 3 days at various locations saw Ee Jeng Hin, Justin Lim and Cheah Wei Li from UCSI take part in this festival, which is also initiated by UCSI.

The piano clinics were free admission and held at the university while the main events were held at No Black Tie in Kuala Lumpur with solos, duets and trios performances.

However, over the years, the event has gone mainstream and 2019 marks the 6th year that the Malaysian Jazz Piano Festival will take place at KLPAC in Kuala Lumpur.

The event is also the brainchild of Malaysia's Michael Veerapen, and together with 8 of Malaysia’s Finest Jazz Pianists.

Malaysian Jazz Piano Festival
Date: Late January
Venue: KLPAC, Kuala Lumpur
Website: Malaysia Jazz Piano Festival

Jazz Piano Festival in Malaysia
The organizers of the Malaysian Jazz Piano Festival

This article was specially made for all jazz lovers in Malaysia and around the world as traveling to see jazz concerts or festivals is one way of seeing the world.

If you have any other information about any jazz festivals around Malaysia, please feel free to contact me or use the contact form below and I will add them into the list here.

Thank you and see you at some of the Jazz Festivals in Malaysia if you are planning to attend them. 

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