|Awesome skills and an archtop guitar: Victor Taboada – Pic: Steve Porte|
Phnom Penh is in need of a first-rate jazz guitarist. The city's boutique jazz scene received a massive boost recently with the opening of the only dedicated and permanent live jazz lounge: Jazz Club Phnom Penh. The Jazz Club is the only place in town where you can hear top-quality musicians playing hot, cool, smooth, modern, classic or manouche several nights per week. Excellent weekly nights at Est. Bar, Bouchon and now Riverhouse Asian Bistro also host Phnom Penh's best singers, horn players, drummers, bassists and keyboardists. But where are the jazz guitar players? Victor Taboada is a Columbian guitarist living in Thailand, currently on a short Cambodian sojourn that we sincerely hope will turn into a more extended stay! Victor has the dazzling dexterity, beautiful warm clean guitar tone and effortless grasp of difficult chord progressions which set apart a superb jazz guitarist. Catch him tonight (Thursday) and on Friday night at Jazz Club Phnom Penh and, if you meet Victor, tell him to please hang around a little longer!
|(l-r) Chris Minko, Sophea Chamroeun, James Sokleap and Jimmy B prepare for the show. Pic: Steve Porte.|
Cambodian music will also be very much on the agenda at Jazz Club this week as the 'elusive, exclusive and reclusive' Krom play their sole gig of the year-so-far on Saturday night. The mixed Cambodian and Australian band fuse acoustic guitars, bass, keys and saxophone with the distinctly Khmer (and absolutely beautiful) vocal stylings of sisters Sophea and Sopheak Chamroeun. Since guitarist Chris Minko founded the band in 2010, Krom have generally eschewed the live concert circuit in favour of songwriting and recording. Their efforts are manifested in two studio albums, an international following and, recently, submission to the nominations for the 59th Annual Grammy Awards. Check out the short video documentary below for a great introduction to the music of Krom. A word to the wise if you are planning to attend the gig on Saturday: space is limited and you are advised to contact The Jazz Club directly to reserve a seat. Cambodian music will continue at the Jazz Club on Wednesday night when the Miss Sarawan Quartet will play a special gig with Cambodian saxophonist Bunhong Cheak.
More excellent Khmer-fusion sounds are bubbling up all over the country at the moment. Kampot-based Mute Speaker creates his own brand of ambient hip-hop with a distinctly Cambodian edge. Click the link below to check out his latest track 'Skor' on Soundcloud. Meanwhile in Battambang, Anna Smyrk and Vanthan Belo have been collaborating on their 'atmospheric folk' fusion project Romhaii – check out the Facebook and Soundcloud pages to find out more!
Whatever you're up to over the next few days, stay safe out there and... see you around the traps!