KL Jazz Celebrates the Music of Jazz Giant Sonny Rollins with God Son Eric Wyatt

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This post was written by Mr. Rodin JS Kumar.

The 2019 edition of the KL International Jazz & Arts Festival will be held on 28 and 29 September 2019, at the newly opened KL Jazz & Arts Centre, celebrating the music of the legendary saxophone player Sonny Rollins.  Sonny Rollins who is 89 years old and retired, set an extremely high standard for jazz musicians and jazz lovers having played with the who’s who in jazz including Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Babs Gonzales, J.J. Johnson, Bud Powell and Miles Davis before he turned twenty. In a career spanning over seven decades, he has recorded over sixty albums as a band leader and is widely recognized as one of the most important and influential jazz musicians. 

Sonny Rollins
Image credit: American Routes

Rollins has been called “the greatest living improviser”  and the “Saxophone Colossus”.

Sonny represents the last few of true  Jazz Masters and Rollins recently said of his peers and mentors, “They’re not here now so I feel like I’m sort of representing all of them, all of the guys. Remember, I’m one of the last guys left, as I’m constantly being told, so I feel a holy obligation sometimes to evoke these people.”

During the years 1956 to 1958 Rollins was widely regarded as the most talented and innovative tenor saxophonist in jazz. He won his first performance Grammy for This Is What I Do (2000), and his second for 2004’s Without a Song (The 9/11 Concert), in the Best Jazz Instrumental Solo category (for “Why Was I Born”). In addition, Sonny received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 200.

Eric Wyatt

Eric Wyatt (New York) who is the God Son of Sonny Rollins will head line the festival. Earlier this month Wyatt released a tribute album for Sonny Rollins aptly titled  the ‘The Golden Rule ( for Sonny Rollins)”.

Eric Wyatt
Image credit: KL International Jazz

Eric Wyatt is one of the very few Jazz Musicians that was born and raised in New York City, in the borough of Brooklyn. His father was a musician who played with some of the greatest Jazz musicians. Eric can remember meeting at a very young age some of these music legends. His father, Charles Wyatt, played tenor saxophone and sometimes he would often drive the band members that played with Sonny Rollins to perform. Eric would go along for some of these rides at the age of ten- years-old. One of those rides led to him discover that he wanted to be a musician.

Through research that gig he went to was at Storrs in CT. The musicians were Larry Ridley Albert Dailey drummer David Lee, Wilber Ware also Gilley Goggins, Gary Bartz, Scoby Stroman, Paul Jeffries and Roland Alexander were also good friends who would come by the house. It was through this experience that Eric gained the knowledge about this great art form. Meeting the great Miles Davis, another close friend of his father at the Bottom Line performing in the early 70’s. Eric was briefly sidetracked playing basketball. The neighborhood was a place where many sports legends grew up and his interest in sports was hard to fight, but his music interest was greater. While attending high school, his music teacher Charles Bergstein called him Charlie (Parker) Wyatt because when he would warm up in class, he would play Charlie Parker tunes. Mr. Bergstein helped get him into Kingsborough Community College where he became a part of the 802 music program. He then transferred to Lehman College where he studied with Stanley Cowell. It was during this time Eric met Arthur Rhames a master musician that taught him the rudiments of saxophone that developed his phrasing and voice on his instrument.

Kazutoki Umezu
Image credit: Wikipedia

Arthur and Eric recorded music practiced together and made a recording that recording never was released. Arthur’s life was cut short at the age of 32. It was also the same year Eric’s father passed, but they, as well as Sonny Rollins inspired Eric to pursue his dream and Eric continued on. He has also played at many historic clubs in the U.S.A: Yoshi’s, The Blue Note, The Jazz Standard, Birdland The Jazz Bistro, Sweet Rhythm, The Jazz Kitchen, The Blue Room, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Dizzy’s CoCa Cola; and internationally as well: Beirut, Lebanon, Shanghai, China as well as nightclubs in Japan.

James Ryan
Image credit: Canberra Jazz Blog

For the 2019 edition of the Festival, Eric Wyatt will  play with  musicians from Bangkok, Teerapoj Plitakul ( Piano), Torfan Dilokvidhyarat ( Drums) and Akres Saengprakob (Bass).  Other international artists include James Ryan (Sydney), Kazutoki Umezu (Japan) and Makoto Yoshimori (Japan), Hiroyuki Yagi Jazz Quartet, Kinda Blue Quartet, Teerapoj Plitaku,  Gina Panziales, Vijay, Kyle, Chris Ong from Singapore and Lewis Pragasam  and friends.

Hiroyuki Yagi
Image credit: KL International Jazz

Since its inception in 2012, the KL International Jazz & Arts Festival has presented a great line up of international Grammy Award Winners and Nominees, NEA Jazz Masters, regional and local jazz greats. As a Country Brand Laureate winner, the KL International Jazz Festival is known for presenting international jazz artists of high repute.

Lewis Pragasam
Image credit: SAYS

Artistes who had performed over the years include the legendary  NEA Jazz Master Ahmad Jamal, David Sanborn, Ernie Watts, Eric Wyatt, Lee Ritenour, John Beasley, Hiromi, Anthony Jackson, Simon Philips, Steve Smith, Incognito, Keiko Matsui, Jeremy Monteiro, Everett Harp, Lao Tizer, Nelson Rangel, Chieli Minucci & Special EFX and numerous others including  numerous local artistes.  

The highlight of the festival is the tribute show for Sonny Rollins featuring   three tenor saxophone players, Eric Wyatt, Hiroyuki Yagi, and James Ryan.

Entrance fee  for the event is  RM118 for one night  that covers four shows and RM198 for a two day pass. Alternatively one can choose to attend any of Eric Wyatt’s performance for RM50.  For more information, WhatsApp +6012 571 7759, or visit for details of program. 

Location and details

Wisma YPR, Lorong Kapar,
Off Jalan Syed Putra, 58000, Kuala Lumpur

Dates: 28 & 29 September 2019

Media contact: Mr. Rodin JS Kumar, Managing Director
KL International Jazz Sdn. Bhd.
+ 6012 644 3052

Feature image credit: HIGHRESAUDIO

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