FIX in mind an intimate setting, with an air of romance. Throw in a repertoire of timeless classics and a voice that can transport you back in time. The end results — magic, to say the least.

With Sean Ghazi behind the microphone, accompanied by the piano styling of David Gomes and AKZ (Abdul Karim Zafiruddin) on percussion, Theatre Lounge Cafe in Sri Hartamas played host to three nights of the singer’s Keeping It Simple concert. While the name Sean Ghazi may not be uttered as much as it should be by the public in general nowadays, his talent in bringing to life romantic music of days gone by, is simply breath-taking. Opening the night with a musical piece On the Street Where You Live from My Fair Lady, Sean instantly had the intimate crowd of music lovers hanging on to every note.

For that few minutes, and the following hour and a half or so of the intimate concert, ‘there’s nowhere else on earth that I would rather be’.

‘Enchantment poured out of every door’ as he effortlessly dazzled the crowd with the song originally written by Frederick Loewe for the Broadway musical based on George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion.

Gomes, a jazz pianist, meanwhile weaved his magic on the keys, mesmerising those present with energetic and soulful renditions.
The team that transported audience back time with their talents, (from left) Sean Ghazi, associate producer Hani, David Gomes, AKZ and Ida Mariana. — Theatre Lounge Cafe pic

Having been at it for more than three decades, Gomes is yet another example of a local talent that should be given more room in the mainstream spotlight.

Throughout the concert, Sean continuously acknowledged how Gomes loved to add a little twist to the arrangement of the songs in their repertoire.

Typically, rearranging songs could backfire, especially with classics that already have a special place in the hearts of its fans.

However, Gomes did justice to every tune that emanated from his fingers. He added colour and breathed in a fresh yet sentimental feel to the songs.

Mix that in with Sean’s romantic energy and beautiful voice, along with AKZ’s talents —a 24-year-old percussionist —the hearts of any romantic soul would melt in such settings.

What followed his Broadway piece was another classic, this time a song by P. Ramlee Hujan di Tengahari.

The impact that the song had on Sean was apparent from the way he belted it out.

Despite a slight change in arrangement by Gomes, Sean effortlessly brought the tune to life, not once disturbing the grace and elegance of the original piece.

As if the combination of Sean and Gomes was not sufficient, Ida Mariana’s guest appearance made the night dreamier.

The jazz enthusiast, famously known for her Kebaya Jazz series, took the stage with Sean for the songs Somethin’ Stupid and Jikalau Ku Tahu.

Jikalau Ku Tahu may not be as popular as the other duets by the legendary P. Ramlee and Puan Sri Saloma, but the song is no stranger to ardent fans.

The chemistry between Sean and Ida was not limited to their ability to sing together, but is also seen through their witty banter that charmed audience.

Having starred in the theatre production of Puteri Gunung Ledang, Ida also performed Takin’ A Chance on Love by Frank Sinatra in her own style, accompanied by Gomes on the piano, making it a powerful combination of sheer talent meets talent.

Gomes, married to jazz singer Junji Delfino, handed a surprise that night, specifically to those who were seeing him perform for the first time. Taking a break from the microphone, Sean passed the show over to Gomes who enchanted audience with his smooth and sexy vocals performing among others, Nat King Cole’s Mona Lisa.

While it’s impossible to speak on behalf of everyone, the continuous demand for more songs each time Sean said the concert was over was sufficient proof that no one there wanted the night to end.

Especially when the set included songs that transported the audience back to the glorious days of You Don’t Know Me, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, I Could Have Danced All Night, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps and More. Earlier during the set, Sean did not disappoint his fans when he performed his own song Semalam which was part of his album of the same title, released in 2006. The evening ended with a sing-along of Getaran Jiwa which saw some hidden talents among the audience. As Sean bid adieu to the audience, something dawned upon me.

With the apparent deterioration of our local music industry as observed for years now, it became clear that music in this country is actually far from being dead and buried.

It is talents like Sean, Gomes, Ida and AKZ that are keeping music alive in their very own way, in their own circuit.

While they may not get as much mainstream coverage as they deserve, we the audience just need to look harder to realise that there are many more talents like them, who are passionate but refuse to bow to the God of popularity and parade their lives on social networks.

These people make music and more than that, they make music with love and the result? Magic.

My advice to local music enthusiasts, if you feel that the industry is no longer what it used to be during the time of P.Ramlee and Saloma and later on the 70s, 80s and 90s, dig deeper and seek these people out.

These are the torch bearers of music in our country. These are the people who give us hope that we Malaysians, are not actually devoid of talent, if we know where to look.

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