New organiser aims to breathe life back into Hua Hin Jazz Festival

Held mostly annually since 2002 in Thailand's prime weekend resort, the Hua Hin Jazz Festival has not been without its problems. Organisers have come and gone, and, for reasons that have never been entirely clear, jazz itself has lost out in the popularity stakes over the years.

But now a young organiser by the name of Boffo thinks it can turn the tide around.

"We would like to make the Hua Hin Jazz Festival into an international event," says Jesada Daokaew, managing director of Boffo. "And I'm confident we can do it.

"This year, our stage production and light and sound system are up to world standard. Traffic jams have long plagued the festival but this time, we are providing a parking lot with a capacity of 400 to 500 vehicles in addition to such facilities as restrooms and an ambulance. We have street jazz too and a lot of stalls for festival-goers to enjoy. "

"Hua Hin has been the home of jazz for several years," adds Nopporn Vuttikul, mayor of Hua Hin Municipality. "We are determined to bring the festival back to life and turn it into a major event."

"I understand why the organiser wants to turn it into an international event like Indonesia's Java Jazz Festival and Singapore's Mozart Jazz Festival but to me what's more important is attracting support for the festival from the government like in these other countries," says Chumpol Supanyo, guitarist with the fusion band Infinity. "It's certainly important enough to warrant that support."

This year's event, a one-day affair, is moving from beach to greenery and takes place on July 26 in Queen's Park

The line-up once again features a mix of local and international artists and unlike recent years will focus less on pop than the jazz that gives the festival its name.

Infinity will be returning for a sixth year and, says Chumpol, the younger brother of the band's founder, keyboardist Sarayuth, will be introducing its new and slightly heavier sounds.

"We'll be playing tracks off 'Heritage", which is being released later this year," he says. "It's much more fusion jazz than our earlier outings, so I'm hoping younger generation fans will like it."

Soul After Six and Saxophone Madness will join Infinity.


Up-and-coming talent will be showcased in a battle between the contestants of rival TV singing contests.

From "The Voice", the team is made up of Kritsada "Nat" Phisetphattanakun, Natcha "Fangkhaw" Jittanon and Fonpa "May" Sadissarat while the All Star Jazz Team will feature Muanpair "Ging the Star" Panaboot, Nathaphon "Chear" Phompradish from "The Winner Is" and Buntita "Nat" Prachamoy from the Thailand Jazz Conference.

Narongrit "Pueng" Subarnabhesuj of Soul After Six says the trio will be ramping up their sound by bringing along their studio musicians while Krit "William" Buranavitayawut of Saxophone Madness promises two generations of saxophonists jamming on the stage.

"Our show will be rather like a saxophone party and will feature Pisut 'Aon' Pratheepasean, Passakorn 'Mint' Morasilpin, Annawin Kerdteesud as well as veteran sax player Tewan 'Tong' Sapsanyakorn," Krit says.

"I believe that the upcoming festival will draw jazz enthusiasts from all over the world."

Music director of "The Voice" Arnat "Ngaw" Iamwongsrikul and his opposite number from the All Star Jazz team, Ratana "Sun" Wongsansern, the pianist with Sunny Trio and the Vox and an instructor at Silpakorn's music faculty, are also optimistic about audience response.

"It's definitely going to be more interesting than the previous years, not least thanks to the battle between our teams," says Arnat.

Two foreign acts have signed up - the Steve Cannon Band from the US and the Travellers from Japan.

"I love Hua Hin and its festival," says Steve Cannon, a trumpeter of 43 years and brother of pianist Randy Cannon, best known for his long-standing Bangkok gig at the Living Room.

"The first time I played at Hua Hin Jazz was back in 2004 and it was great fun. I believe this year is going to be even greater than usual with a strong line-up and a lot of different styles.

"When I finish playing, I'm going to sit and enjoy the rest of the shows. I can't wait to see it."

Jazz directions

The Hua Hin Jazz Festival is on July 26 in Queen's Park. Admission is free

To get to the park, turn left at the traffic lights by Klai Kangwon Palace into Soi Hua Hin 35. The soi will be one way during the festival with cars exiting through Soi Hua Hin 19.

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