Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Powerful blues to amaze jazz audience at Miri Jazz Festival

Miri International Jazz Festival will live up to its International flavour with blues legend, James Cotton taking the stage this year.

Now in his 66th year in the entertainment business, one of the all-time greats of the blues harmonica and most likely the last of the original Chicago musicians who played and recorded the most exciting blues music ever, James Cotton's history reads like a veritable musical who's who.

American blues harmonica player, singer, and songwriter who is the bandleader for the James Cotton Blues Band - was born on the first day of July 1935 in Tunica, Mississippi.

His reputation has certainly elevated to be one of the best of the modern Chicago blues stylists, being recognised for his powerful and precise harp playing.

Orphaned at the age of nine, he was raised by Sonny Boy Williamson and quickly became his protégé. He lived and travelled with Williamson, eventually, assimilating many of his signature licks. While he played a few instruments, Cotton is famous for his work on the harmonica. Touring as a teenager, Cotton began his professional career playing the blues harp with Howlin' Wolf's band in the early 1950s.

Early December 1954, as an adult - Cotton began his 12 year association with Muddy Waters, when Waters passed through town looking for harp players before forming his own band.

James Cotton Blues Band members are; Thomas Holland - guitar, Noel Neal - bass, Kenny Ray Neal - drums, Harrison Allen Jr - Guitar and of course Superharp himself James Cotton.

To date, he is a Grammy Award winner, an inductee into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2006, an inductee into the Smithsonian Institution in 1991, and the winner of countless WC Handy Blues Awards.

Cotton, as his friend's call him, has shared the stage with BB King, Johnny Winter, the Allman Brothers, Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Sam and Dave, The Grateful Dead and a long list of others.

"I'm a blues singer and harpist. But no matter what genre you stick it in - rock, blues, soul, jazz - it is still a dance and party music. Many times people come expecting sad music - I like to change their minds 'bout the blues. I also want to let them know where I'm coming from, so I mix the older things in that young audiences might not know. I feel like, I got to teach the blues, to carry it on - James Cotton." (

James Cotton's powerful blues harmonica has amazed audiences around the world. Together with his band he will perform in the festival on Saturday night. This is a rare treat to listen to a legendary artist whose name is already in the history books.

The 5th Miri International Jazz Festival this year to be held from May 14 - 15 at ParkCity Everly Pavillion will feature Cotton with seven other international bands namely: Amina Figarova Sextet (Holland), Ricardo Herz (Brazil), Mellow Motif (Thailand), Michael Shrieve's Spellbinder (USA), SimakDialog (Indonesia), Norbert Susemihl's New Orleans All Stars (Denmark/Germany/USA) and Jeremy Tordjman (Switzerland), promising to spice up the night for festival goers.

Festival tickets are priced at RM60 (BND26) per day for adults while tickets for children between three and 12 years old are priced at RM30 (BND13) per day. For ticket booking, contact Freme Travel Services at: +673 3335025/35 (Kuala Belait), +673 3228171-4 (Seria), +673 2234277-9 (BSB) and +673 4260520/1 (Tutong). Booking/enquiries also possible via email: .

Tickets are also available at Visitors' Information Centres in Kuching, Sibu and Miri, Sarawak.

MIJF is supported by the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia, Ministry of Tourism and Heritage, Sarawak, and Tourism Malaysia.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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