New York drummer Danny Mallon in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah with the Johnny Rodgers Band for the KK Jazz Festival

Danny Mallon: To make it in the U.S., you need to find your true voice

Danny said, “Who’s really made it big in the States, from here? Zee Avi. Why? Because she’s Zee Avi, and there isn’t another one! She’s true to herself, with her own quirky sound, and people here picked up on that.”

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Johnny Rodgers Band | boys from New York City

There’s something a little adolescent about being in a band. It’s like four boys who get together and argue and act like a really bad family. But then the music comes out and it’s a little bit different, it has a little something that it wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s always like that. When I go to hear bands, a lot of times I can tell whether it’s really a band or not. They could be the greatest players in the world, but they may not be a band. There’s a big difference. Joe Ravo, guitarist.

KK Jazz Festival 2012: Peter Lau’s mini-drums: ‘it’s the journey, that’s what I like’

“I do workshops, to introduce my drums. I say that everybody has the potential. Don’t look down on yourself. If you really want to do something, if you really put the heart and the effort into it, you can definitely make your dreams it come true. But there’s no shortcut, and there’s no magic. It doesn’t take 1-2 days, it doesn’t take weeks. It takes years. This took me 15 years.

KK Jazz Festival 2012: Days 1 and 2. What A Wonderful World

It’s hard to believe that the Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival is held on the tennis courts of Sutera Harbour Resort. There are covered chairs and tables, it’s a plush, upmarket and intimate setting. Co-Organising Chairman Roger Wang [SPArKS] said: “After six years, we’re hoping we’ve got the mix right now.This year, we have some tables, some rows of seats, but there’s space to walk around for that feeling of freedom at a festival.”

CALUM MACCOLL, KEITH DUFFY AND STEVE BARNEY IN SABAH

CALUM: To be a musician is a combination of stupidity and obsessiveness. I started playing from about seven. From about 11 to 18 I did nothing else but play. KEITH: Like the fame or success is just a by-product of what they do, if they do it well. For me, it’s just about getting better at what you’re doing. STEVE: My parents never said, ‘You need to get a proper job or further your education.’ My dad wanted me to be a rock drummer! I’m not doing it for him, but I am doing it because he was supportive, and I was very lucky like that.

5th Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival 2011: Day 1. A Dream Come True

Guitarist Safri played a simple haunting melody. Singer DAYANG NORAINI walked on stage, and their voices entwined in a duet of long, spiritual notes which hung in the night air, clear and hypnotic. Shimmering cymbals lifted their song like a magic carpet, carrying it across the harbour out to sea like a Sabahan prayer. I was honoured to hear it…