Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Paul Ponnudorai - Simply The Best
Been to many of his gigs around Malaysian pubs, shared many a Black Label on the rocks with the man. Know him only casually. As we both came from the same hometown, there was instant familiarity. Paul is easily the most gifted musician from Malaysia.Unfortunately the country is not ready to recognise greatness in his form of musicianship, neither is Singapore. I can also lump Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and HK into the same group - all victims of pop culture to the detriment of recognising real musicianship and musical integrity. The only country in Asia which I think has a higher level and more varied base of appreciation is Taiwan. If Paul were to ply his trade in Australia, UK or US, I think he can achieve a similar level appreciation akin to John Legend or Norah Jones. Still, I think Paul would stand a better chance of getting the right exposure by playing at the various music festivals in Singapore. I believe great things will come for those who have been blessed with significant gifts at birth, at the proper time, in His time.
That's the thing, we need an international magazine like Time to highlight what we should know ages ago. Why do we need a foreign source to tell us that someone in our local shores is great? Is that the validation we need before we recognise real ability? Please don't be crass by awarding a Datukship to Paul now!
Readers in Singapore should try and catch his gigs, I think he might still be playing at Harry's Bar. Paul's brilliance is taking any song and making it different, new and refreshing. His guitar playing is like a pandora's box, its amazing to see what he can do with it. In 2002, lengendary trumpeter Wynton Marsalis showed up at a performance and was so taken by it, he grabbed his instrument and went onstage to play alongside a Paul. Marsalis said "Ever since I got off the plane I've been hearing about nothing but you". The pair jammed together for the next two nights.
Paul is a bit like Jose Feliciano coupled with Tommy Emmanuel, but with the jazzy dexterity of Earl Klugh. Plus he can sing as well, not the American Idol type, but from the heart. Available album, Right On Time. Go to cdbaby and have a listen to all the songs on his album, order a few and give them as gifts, your friends will love you for it. Listen to Killing Me Softly, an instrumental that haunts you even more without the words. The melody lines taken and the phrasing grab your heart and soul and demands to be listened in totality - you just have to surrender. Listen to his rendition of 500 Miles and you can feel that he has walked the bloody "500 Miles" on his own terms.
Article in Time magazine: