Festival Director – Paul Augustin gave the opening speech at the G Hotel two Fridays ago to launch the press conference, the second press launch in so many days as they had just driven up from the KL launch the previous day.
Paul generously gave me his time to outline how the event grew from a seed of an idea of a jazz festival on an island that was planted and conceptualized in 1996 and 8 years later was realised with the birth of the 1st Penang Island Jazz Festival in 2004.
It didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t happen without a lot of sleepless and fraught nights either but it has now blossomed into an event that shines bright on the International Jazz and music industry radar screen.
The one thing that has remained constant however is the commitment to the original festival ideal- to create not just a “concert” but a “musical experience”. With a number of supporting activities from workshops to fringe performances, to exhibitions and to a new addition this year, a Jazz Forum, that is certainly being maintained.
With the invitation of some of the worlds top jazz journalists to PIJF the world will most certainly hear about what this little island of ours can bring to the world stage of Jazz Festivals. This can only bring abut even more interest from International Players (to play here in the future – lets be honest other than the huge prestige of playing in this respected event, who wouldn’t want to spend time in the tropics in the middle of winter!!) and Festival owners who will get to be blown away by the talent on display from local Malaysian artistes.
The PIJF, to my amazement, is not a Government affair. PIJF is most certainly an independent Festival built on the foundation of friendship and now in its 8th year has developed a reputation as one of the premier annual musical events and an important Festival within this region.
Run by The Capricorn Connection, PIJF receives limited funding from federal and local tourism offices and mainly relys on the generosity of sponsors and venue holders.The International line-up of artistes is impressive and many of the names will be familiar to non jazz fans as well as even more names being recognised by jazz aficionados.
Paul Augustin, coming from a performer’s background understands what has to be done to satisfy all the multiferious needs of audience, performers, venue owners, Government regulations (immigration alone is a bureaucratic nightmare, getting all the performers visas, temporary work permits, etc. and takes a lot of advance planning and execution), travel plans, accommodation, and the list goes on ad infinitum.
Paul, has worked in the industry for many years, including World Tours of visiting Global bands and performers as well as being asked to help out in the early years by event organisors for other events who were getting bogged down in the details. Paul is now the ideal combination of man and experience, as the past 7 years has proven and this year we believe PIJF will reach even greater heights.
Paul has travelled the World to other Jazz Festivals on behalf of PIJF, met organisors, performers and forged many friends. PIJF has also acted as a showcase of local jazz talent and seen many Malaysian performers being invited to Korea, New Zealand, Norway as well as European International Jazz Festivals.
So when you are taking in the sights and sounds at this year’s PIJF, spare a thought for the man who makes it all happen; Paul Augustin, a true ambassador of Malaysian Music and of Penang.