Jazz wizardry

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HIS fingers strum his Gibson guitar effortlessly to deliver a haunting jazz melody accompanied by drums and keyboards.

But it was an accordian that Albare Dadon wanted to play when he was young.

“I had a cousin who played the accordion and I wanted to be just like him. So my mother went to the store to buy one for my birthday, but found she did not have enough money. So she brought home a guitar instead.

“She tried to convince me that it was better than an accordion but it didn’t work at first.

“Eventually, I worked out that the guitar was a symbol of [rock music] and then I really got into it,” said the 57-year-old, flashing a charming smile.

In a recent Skype interview with The Edge Financial Daily from Melbourne, Dadon said next year would mark 50 years of his love affair with the guitar.

On how he is going to celebrate the milestone, the father of three said: “Oh, I’ll probably produce another album or go on another tour.”

Dadon will perform at No Black Tie on Thursday and Friday. His tour then continues on to Singapore on Oct 21.

He was last in Malaysia about a decade ago, although not as a performer.

“I was taken aback by the architecture in Malaysia, especially the city of Kuala Lumpur. With its modern buildings, I felt like I was in New York City!"

Speaking of his coming performance, he said: “It’s my first time playing in Malaysia and I really hope to be able to share my music with Malaysians. It’s always exciting to do something for the first time.”

Believe it or not, Dadon still has butterflies in his stomach before a show.

But he said he’s not nervous once he hits the stage.

“Once you’re on stage, do a check of the sound system and start off with your first song, the stage fright goes away.

Dadon will have Cuban bassist Yunior Terry, Venezuelan drummer Pablo Bencid and Cuban-American Axel Tosca Laugart keyboardist to accompany him.

“Jazz is the only type of music that is creative ... It is one thing to compose, and another to form [the music]. To me, jazz enables one to recreate; to go [beyond] the composition and constantly think [out of the box]

“The improvisational element in jazz is really what [drives and moves] me. That’s why I love jazz. If not for this provision, music would be so boring. Imagine playing the same chords all the time!

“When I’m playing before people, they can expect to experience music like never before — reinvented. People who like jazz, that’s what they’re always looking for,” he said.

“Jazz is like baroque in many ways: you have the same structure but you also have improvisation and having this in the middle of music is important.

“There are a million possibilities (of how to play a tune). My band and I constantly explore these possibilities.

“Once you’ve exhausted all the possibilities and played the song a thousand times, with all the possibilities, you play another song.”

And evidently it works magic for Dadon and his merry band, which judging by its social media hits on Facebook and other similar platforms, have positive feedback from fans across the world.

“My biggest fan is still my mum. She’s still impressed whenever I pick up my guitar... and she’s 88 now!” he said, adding that he Skypes his mother who lives in Lyon, France, to stay in touch almost daily, and visits her twice or thrice a year.

“Family is very important to me,” he said, when asked if he would relocate to New York having described it as “heaven” and “the world centre of jazz”.

But no, his wife and two daughters are in Melbourne with him, even if his biggest fanbase is in the United States, where his band members also live.

Dadon’s love affair with the guitar is approaching its 50th year in 2015.

On Wednesday, Dadon will launch Albare: Two Decades of Jazz – his first double CD album of a compilation of songs from all his other albums, including tunes that he composed when he was just 10. The album comprises 20 songs, and comes with photos and snippets about the artist.

He has no favourite tune because “a favourite is usually your latest composition. But then once you realise this, there is no such thing as a favourite,” Dadon explained.

“The music that comes out of me is a synthesis of all my life experiences. It’s a bit of a story-telling with notes of my life journey. If you listen to my songs, you can ‘hear’ [what] I’ve been through.”

Dadon hinted of another album that is due to be launched in March or April next year.

Catch Dadon at an entry fee of RM50, at No Black Tie, Jalan Nagasari, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. Shows start from 9.30pm. Call (03) 2142 3737 for details and reservations.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 13, 2014.