Jazz Bridges Myanmar


Myanmar Classical and Traditional Music 

Patt Wain solos and duets (tracks 1, 2, 8, 11 15)

In the five Patt Wain solos and duets on this recording, one hears improvisations on traditional classical forms and styles of the nineteenth century. Prominently featured are Etudes or study melodies passed from master to student and used to teach the technical skills necessary to master the instrument.

Sein Chu Kyanyaung (track 5)

This haunting harp solo was written by the female composer Hlaing Hteik Khaung Tin in the nineteenth century. This is an instrumental rendering of a plaintive song where a princess asks that her beloved prince to be considerate to her for her patience and virtue.

The Se` Se` Yaung compositions (tracks 5 and 6) were composed by the Prince Pyin Si (1800 – 1860). In these compositions, one hears instrumental music based on the people's praise for their King (In Honor of the King of Tavoy). The musical style is drawn from the Tavoy regions' "Dain Songs" and the lyrics refer to the scenic mountain views found in this northern area of Myanmar.

In Shwe Ozi (track 20), Song of the Long Necked Drum, a village song of celebration is heard. The song refers to the kind of long-necked drum traditionally used in village ceremonies for joyful events.

Ragtime and Jazz/Myanmar traditional music fusion

Improvisation (track 2) for piano and Patt Wain features a daring musical adventure by Mike Del Ferro and Kyauk Sein.

Nan Bon Thihar Bway /In Praise of the King (track 10) is a stately Burmese Yodaya song. The song is sung by one of the king's four wives and evokes his power and the glory and riches of his prosperous empire.

In 'The Entertainer' (track 19) one hears not only the ragtime composer Scott Joplin at his best, but also the Art Music Academy team in one of their lighter moments in this arrangement for guitar and Patt Wain by Mr. Ko Doo.

American Folk Traditions

The Water is Wide (track number 12) is a traditional Appalachian melody descended from the region's first immigrants from the British Isles. In this recording it is accompanied in the traditional 'Yodaya' mode and accompaniment style by the Myanmar Harp.

Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child (track 17) is one of the best known and loved of the Negro spiritual repertoire in the United States. The simple lyrics capture the pain of the African-American experience of slavery and the deep well of belief that many drew upon to survive. This song is also accompanied by the Myanmar Harp.

Jazz and Broadway

Jazz and Broadway are two of the best known genres of American music. Their histories eventually intertwine in the 1920's, but Jazz has its roots in the ragtime, blues and other popular African-American traditions of the South whereas Broadway grew out of the marriage of vaudeville and operetta, and later, ragtime and jazz.

Ain't Misbehavin' (track 3) is one of the best known songs of Fats Waller and was written in 1929 for the musical Hot Chocolates. My Funny Valentine (track 4) was written for the Broadway show 'Babes in Arms' by Rodgers and Hart and has since come to be one of the standards of the jazz repertoire. Bye Bye Blackbird (track 18) by Ray Henderson is an early jazz standard that has since been recorded by almost everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to John Coltrane.

The era of ragtime reaches its peak in the music of the pianist/composer Zez Confrey whose Dizzy Fingers (track7) is heard here. Most remembered for the hit composition, 'Kitten on the Keys', his catchy ragtime style eventually came to be known as Novelty piano, influencing a generation of American and European composers including George Gershwin and Erwin Schulhoff.

Considered the beginning of the contemporary Broadway show, Leonard Bernstein's 'West Side Story' retells Shakespeare's 'Rome and Juliet' in the contemporary setting of a Puerto Rican neighborhood in 1950?s Manhattan. 'Tonight' (track 14) recreates the famous Balcony Scene from Shakespeare's play.

Two tracks on this recording feature music from the operatic repertory, Vissi d'Arte (track 9) from Puccini's opera 'Tosca' in a jazz version by Mike Del Ferro and 'My Man's Gone Now' (track 13), from George Gershwin's 'Porgy and Bess'.

Our Thanks...

We would like to thank the sponsors of the past two American Voices projects in Myanmar. This recording and both the 'Jazz Bridges' and 'Variations on America' projects were made possible through the support of Unocal Myanmar and the Unocal Foundation in the United States. Additional support was provided by the US Embassy in Yangon, Sofitel Plaza Yangon, and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

Further thanks are due to Mr. Ko Doo of the Art Music Academy in Yangon and his Art Work Team of traditional Myanmar musicians. The activities of the Art Work Team towards both preserving Myanmar traditional music and expanding its boundaries are to be commended as is Mr. Ko Doo's patience in ensuring the success of a challenging project such as this one.

We would also like to thank the team of Oasis Studio in Yangon for their hard work on our behalf, Mr. Tijmen Zinkhaan for his many 'sound miracles' in recording under less than ideal circumstances, and the musicians, in particular Mike Del Ferro, for their sustained creativity and longs hours of effort.

Finally, we would like to thank Mr. Coen Bais of Wisseloord Studios in Hilversum, The Netherlands for their kind offer to sponsor the final editing and mastering of this recording.

CD Infomation

About the Jazz Bridges project:

Jazz Bridges was designed to bring together outstanding musicians from the United States and Myanmar in a fusion of instruments, musical styles and talent.
The idea originated during American Voices' first visit to Myanmar in August of 2001 in a program featuring performances of American music for Yangon audiences, donations of music scores and workshops and seminars in American music and composers. However, once we had heard the great musical traditions and instruments of Myanmar classical and traditional music, the idea was born to return and perform together.

This recording features not only what each solo artist or ensemble does best in their own genres, but also the results of many days of exciting experimentation with American and Myanmar musical traditions. I hope you will enjoy the many musical surprises awaiting you in this unique recording that is, to my knowledge, the first attempt of its kind in this genre.

John Ferguson
Executive Director, American Voices

Links to information on Burmese traditional instruments



Patt Wain

The Patt Wain is the central instrument in the Burmese orchestra (S'ain Wain), an ensemble consisting of drums, gongs and wind instruments.
The Patt Wain drummer plays while sitting in the center of a circle of 22 drums. These drums are tuned by adding and removing paste made of ash and cooked rice powder to the center of the drum head. This set of tuned drums is unique in that it plays melodically in a very virtuosic manner. One of the most ornate instruments in the Myanmar music family, the Patt Wain is highly decorated in 8 sections of lacquered, gilded frame covered with colored stones.

Ozi Drum:

Referred to in the song Shwe Ozi on track 20, the Ozi is a very long single headed goblet shaped drum used in all kinds of traditional music ranging from village celebrations to the Burmese Classical orchestra.
It has a heavy paint layer resembling glazed pottery and its center section is decorated with gold and pieces of mirror.

Myanmar harp, Saun Gauk

In the days of the kings, the harp was the most popular instrument in the palace, and is the mainstay in Burmese chamber music. Called the "king of instruments", proficiency in the harp was highly regarded and a master player is called Deiwa-einda or 'celestial musician'. Its 16 strings are of spun silk.

Don Min:

The Don Min is a kind of plucked dulcimer that appeared in Myanmar traditional music early in the 20th century. There is little information available regarding the origins of the instrument and it is exceedingly rare. At age 74, Mr. U Sein Khin Lay is one of the last remaining masters of the instrument seen here seated at a Don Min he built himself. (photo of Don Min player and instrument)

Myanmar Guitar:

The Myanmar Guitar is related to the Hawaiian guitar featuring steel strings that are plucked while being pressed with a movable steel bar. Like many Myanmar instruments, the instrument first came to Myanmar during a Western popular music trend, in this case the Hawaiian music fad of the 1920's and 30's, and was immediately incorporated into traditional music performance.

For more information on Myanmar traditional music and instruments please consult www.molli.org.uk/burma/

'Jazz Bridges' was organized by American Voices and Prelude Cultural Management of Freiburg, Germany
Artistic Direction:   John Ferguson, American Voices
Project Coordination:   Liz Smailes, Prelude Cultural Management
Jazz Programming Director:   Mike Del Ferro
Local Project Coordinator:   Ko Doo, Art Music Academy, Yangon
Recording and Sound Engineer:   Tijmen Zinkhaan
Recorded:   Oasis Studios and Sofitel Yangon Plaza Hotel
Mixed and mastered:   Wisseloord Studios, Hilversum, The Netherlands
The recordings are taken from both our live concerts in Yangon and sessions at Oasis studios.

American Voices is a not-for-profit organization registered in The Netherlands and devoted to the better understanding of American music and culture. American Voices focuses on countries where there have traditionally been few opportunities for cultural exchange and cooperation with the United States. American Voices organizes an average of thirty projects annually in countries ranging from Bolivia and Syria to Kazakhstan and Vietnam. Please visit our website at:www.americanvoices.org


Title Filename

(For Patt Wain and Piano); Myanmapyi Kyauk Sein, Patt Wain and Mike Del Ferro, piano

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Funny Valentine

Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart; CoCo York, vocals and Mike Del Ferro, piano

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Sein Chu Kyanyaung

Composed by Hlaing Hteik Khaung Tin (19th c.); Sue Wei, Myanmar harp solo

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Vissi D'Arte

G. Puccini, arr. Mike Del Ferro; Mike Del Ferro, piano

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Nan Bon Thihar Bway / In Praise of the King

(Traditional), arr. Mike Del Ferro; Sue Wei, Myanmar Harp and Mike Del Ferro, piano

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The Water is Wide

(Traditional); Audrey Vallance, soprano and Sue Wei, Myanmar Harp

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My Man's Gone Now

George and Ira Gershwin from 'Porgy and Bess'; Audrey Vallance, soprano and John Ferguson, piano

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Let Swan Pya

(Don Min solo, traditional); U Sein Khin Lay, Don Min

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Motherless Child

(Traditional spiritual); CoCo York, vocalist and Sue Wei, Myanmar Harp

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Bye Bye Blackbird

Ray Henderson; CoCo York, vocalist and Mike Del Ferro, piano

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The Entertainer

Scott Joplin, arr. Ko Doo; Ko Doo, guitar and Kyauk Sein, Patt Wain

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Shwe Ozi / Song of the Long Necked Drum

(Traditional); Sue Wei, vocalist, Art Music Academy Ensemble

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