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Jazzy Nights

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Anyone know any good venues for a little late night jazz ?

The following article from the BKK Post:


Chiang Mai plays host to its own jazz jam sessions

Pla Muk Yak

Food stalls served northern specialities amid cool jazz.

"Jazz Under a Lanna Sky" took place earlier this month at the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi.

What was absent was the northern chill _ and perhaps a few glasses of crisp red wine. Otherwise the nights were lively and the air moist with the improvisational riffs of Thai jazz players who entertained the guests of Chiang Mai's Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi hotel last weekend.

Seeing how Bangkok enjoys a slate of jazz gatherings all year long, Chiang Mai wishes to stake its claim as a city of refined tastes by having a jazzy jam session of its own. The "Jazz Under a Lanna Sky" took place December 3 and 4, under the crescent wintry moon on a vast lawn at Dhara Dhevi. The tall spectre of the hotel's exquisite, eye-popping Lanna-Baroque architecture played host to the assembly of local jazz artists like Koh Mr Saxman, Jennifer Kim, ETC band, Prod Thanapat, The Infinity, The Bangkok Connection and a few more familiar faces.

The concert was intended as a laid-back affair that nevertheless aimed to "play a part in promoting Chiang Mai tourism with new activities," according to Sun Suebsaeng, managing director of Dhara Dhevi. "This can also increase the liveliness of the season and give a stronger cultural atmosphere to the city."

How jazz could fit into Chiang Mai's unruffled charm remains to be judged in the long term. But if we equate the music with taste and sophistication, there would hardly be any place else in the northern city fit for a pleasant evening of popular jazz. Dhara Dhevi put a brightly-lit stage on its lawn _ symbolically a mini Sanam Luang _ behind which a delicately carved, stupa-like Lanna portal loomed with shadowy eminence. The audience could fix themselves on the rows of chairs sipping iced whisky (by the sponsors) or move towards the back and carve out their own niches with northern snacks and BBQ.

Prod Thanapat (right) trades solos with Acharn Teh.

Koh Mr Saxman (right) demonstrates why he's one of Thailand's top jazzmen.

Invited guests and paying visitors (500 baht entrance, or 1,000 with drinks) consisted largely of Chiang Mai bobos, the bourgeoise bohemians in casual suits and open-necked shirts (gentlemen) and diaphanous blouses with embroidered shawls (ladies). Everybody bemoaned the lack of cool wind that was supposed to wrap Chiang Mai in its nippy midst by this time of the year. But of course that's beyond the power of any organiser.

On December 3 Koh Mr Saxman squeezed out smooth melodies from his brass pipe until after midnight, with a little help from his friend guitarist Prod Thanapat. On December 4, the evening opened with a Chiang Mai outfit led by Acharn Teh, which became a friendly jam session with his other talented friends from the neighbourhood. The young musicians under the name ETC band, who've had their album released by GMM, next pumped out fiery fusion numbers, plus a few easy listening pop-jazz tunes. Then came the Bangkok International Big Band, before The Infinity and The Bangkok Connection, two indispensable outfits in nearly every jazz event, closed the festivities along with a fireworks display.

Fittingly, the ad lib spirit of these jazz players somehow matched the improvisational urges of the craftsmen who built Dhara Dhevi into a stunning abode of Orientalist fantasy. Thus at the end, it was the overall atmosphere that rendered the concert pleasing. Even though "Jazz Under a Lanna Sky" was a small and rather exclusive event, it should signify the readiness of Chiang Mai for other musical gatherings that will enliven this pretty northern city, with or without the chilly December wind.


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Guitarist Ajahn Teh plays most Friday and Saturday evenings at Chang Jazz Pub on Charoen Rat Rd, between the Gallery and the Brasserie. Other nights alternate between jazz (band led by saxophonist Po) and blues (led by Boy, nephew of Took Brasserie). There's no cover charge and it's one of the few places in town offering Asahi on tap.

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