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How Musical Collaborations Made My 2012 Epic!

2012 was really an epic year of music, friends and adventure for me. 

And, it was truly a year of collaborations.

I performed with so many amazing creative artists from all across the globe. It was inspiring. From New York funky fingerstyle guitarist Adam Rafferty, Blackburn multi-instrumentalist Richard Moss, Brooklyn vocalist Cheryl Tan, Queanbeyan spoken word/rapper Omar Musa, Oakland Jazz vocalist Tara Linda and Berlin fingerstyle guitarist Matteo Alderete. From Malaysia, I worked with US-trained Jazz musicians Tay Cher Siang & Julian Chan, singer-songwriter Reza Salleh and with my own trio featuring bassist Kevin Adrian Theseira and percussionist Zalila Lee

Here are the 10 videos from 2012. Enjoy!

1. Blue Monk | Cover by Az Samad & Adam Rafferty

This was the epic closer for 2012. Adam Rafferty was on his first tour in Malaysia and performed his debut Malaysian show as a guest for my Open Mic at The Venue #3. The following night, he played another set at The Bee in Publika, Solaris Dutamas. Towards the end of his set, I had the amazing opportunity to perform with him on 2 Jazz standards, Blue Monk and Stella By Starlight. Here's the video of us jamming on Blue Monk.

2. Penyair - Az Samad (guitar) and Richard Moss (mandolin)

In the summer of 2012, I was on my first European tour with Tara Linda & The Tortilla Western Trio. After the tour dates, I visited my good friend Richard Moss & we played a art launch show. After that performance, we decided to record a few songs at his home. This is our version of 'Penyair', a song that I wrote back in 2002. Richard had learned my songs through osmosis over the years we've been friends. 

3. Dan Sebenarnya by Yuna | Cover by Cheryl Tan & Az Samad

Cheryl Tan is a pretty cool vocalist. She has quite a diverse and eclectic taste in music which makes her a wonderful musician to work with. In 2012, we started The Malaysian Music Project - an ongoing collaboration to explore the colorful repertoire of Malaysian music from pop to rock to Jazz and even musical theatre. Our first gig at The Venue was a full house concert with 2 encores! We look forward to more in 2013. Here's one of our covers, a reimagining of Yuna's song Dan Sebenarnya as a bossa nova.

4. Lost Planet - Omar Musa & Az Samad 

At the 2nd annual George Town Literary Festival, I met Omar Musa. He was a really friendly and understated guy who introduced himself to me and the writers at the fest. And then, we saw him perform his brand of spoken word. I was hooked. It was intense and sincere. Coming from a Malaysian heritage but growing up in Australia created a unique artistic soul. After the festival, we decided to meet up and via some great friends, Zarul, Liz & Yin recorded this collaboration. It's a blend of Omar's piece Lost Planet along with my acoustic guitar accompaniment. Very happy we captured this moment.

5. Az Samad/Tay Cher Siang/Julian Chan Trio | The Search For Hope

Sometimes the best gigs are the ones that catch you by surprise. This particular performance at Nerofico came together rather last minute. But, it gave us the opportunity to express what we've wanted to do for a while. I'm quite a fan of unconventional instrumentation and in this case, we got to play a guitar, piano and saxophone trio. Without a bassist and drummer, we explored Julian's composition in a playful textural way.

6. Almost Beautiful - Matteo Alderete & Az Samad 

First time in Berlin and I knew no guitarists there. Then, I contacted my friend Teja Gerken in San Francisco. He introduced me to Matteo via e-mail. After many e-mails and messages, I was in his home studio and recorded 2 duets for YouTube. It's wonderful when technology really connects people and allow new art to emerge. This is one of those moments. =)

7. I'll Cross Any Bridge for You - Tara Linda 

I worked with Tara Linda when I was living in Berkeley, California. This video was one of the last things we recorded together before I moved back to Kuala Lumpur. Brings back a lot of great memories of being in San Franscisco.

8. Cow Cow Boogie -Tara Linda in Segovia, Spain

In 2012, I toured with Tara Linda & The Tortilla Western Trio for a festival performance in Segovia, Spain and a 3-night residency in Töpferei Niehenke, Hasbergen, Germany. Here's a video of that memorable night in Spain. Such a great audience! =)

9. Lame Joke Jam - Az Samad Duo feat. Reza Salleh 

This is what happens when a passing remark gets taken seriously. Born out of a casual conversation with Reza Salleh, we decided to see how what happens when lame jokes are spoken over improvised groovy jams.

10. Cissy Strut - Az Samad Trio

This was a great year for the Az Samad Trio. We were in the press twice (here & here) and we really developed our repertoire. This is one of the songs that I get to play electric guitar on. =)

In the end, as I reflect back on 2012 - I realize how magical the year has been and how blessed I've been to get to collaborate with all these great artists. I look forward to more music in 2013. =)

Happy new year! 


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Duets with Berlin Guitarist Matteo Alderete

After touring in Europe with Tara Linda & The Tortilla Western Trio, I went on a trip to Britain (Manchester & Blackburn) & Berlin, Germany. In Berlin, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet up with fingerstyle guitarist Matteo Alderete. After a yummy brunch, we learned a piece from each other & worked out duets. Later on, he setup his recording gear & we recorded!

Here are the videos. Enjoy! =)

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