Rangoon Rhythm: The Bamboo Trio

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Many rap artists, rock musicians, and pop singers have been reached out by us; but never before a Jazz band. The Bamboo trio, a collective of professional music teachers and musicians, all with a passion for Jazz, from prestigious academies throughout Southeast Asia—and the world, has made the debut in Myanmore now.

What is Jazz and how does it differ from classical music? Jazz originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States in the late 19th century and developed from roots in other genres like blues and ragtime. Well, whereas classical music generally emphasizes the first beat of each measure, jazz music is about the off-beat of the triplet mode, creating what is known as a “swing” effect.

The Bamboo Trio at The Yangon Restaurant

Almost a decade ago, Moe Naing (Piano), Soe Soe (Drums), Pan Thang (Double Bass) started a makeshift band at Gitameit. They weren’t calling themselves The Bamboo Trio just yet, most of their gigs were at the Inya Lake hotel and The International Jazz festival with support from the French Embassy of Myanmar and UNESCO. Then they met their guitarist, Aaron—who was actually my Music Theory professor—on his tenure as a teacher in Legacy, another music academy. Officially, in 2014, The Bamboo Trio Jazz Band was formed with a goal set in mind, to be the one true Jazz band in Myanmar. Slowly by slowly, they started playing more gigs, finally at late night spots like 50th Street and Atlas. They’ve also tried to establish a Jazz bar “Jazz in Time,” but with the disinterest of Myanmar audience slowly made it hard for them to keep up with rising rent rates and staff.

Zwe may be playing Jazz now, but his roots in the Classics suggest there is a deeper connection to him and music. Despite studying pre-med prior to his breakthrough in the Jazz community, he has adapted from the strict textbook techniques of classical music to the odd and specifically deliberate Jazz. Playing the piano commercially at joints like The Piano Bar has indeed given him experience but, according to him, not pleasure. “I just play commercially because I need to earn some cash before I graduated… I don’t really like commercial piano gigs,” he told me. Before Zwe was recruited, he spent many weeks supporting The Bamboo Trio. Then he was asked to play the piano for the band. Aaron, the guitarist, soon left—due to visa difficulties. Zwe is a person of many merits, and as an international award-winning pianist in classical music, he actively writes about the evolution of music on his Facebook page Dr. Zwe The Pianist who also has access to The Bamboo Trio page.

The Trio also graced singer Gabriel’s hit song “Lwan Nay Ya Dal”

The Bamboo Trio has gigs at Mahlzeit every Wednesday night, and every Thursday night at Le Planteur. They are focused on playing mostly standard jazz but they’re working on modern and contemporary as well. They are also planning to release an album in the coming year. So if you’re a fan, we cover most of their events at many of these venues so, go check them out on The Bamboo Trio Jazz Band

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