Part II Fusion Quartet with string ensemble (2011 - 2013)
(Write up to be inserted}
Stories from Wonderland, Tze n looking glass' debut album was reviewed and selected as one of top 10 music albums in 2011 by The Business Times.
(Extracted from The Business Times article "Best CDs of 2011, by Christopher Lim, 16 Dec 2011)
It's hard to be both sophisticated and accessible, and local pianist-composer Tze pulls off that combination with Stories from Wonderland, a jazz fusion adventure inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass.
Many musicians have tried to find a uniquely Asian sound that doesn't dumb down the traditions they draw from, and few have succeeded as well as Tze and his band, Looking Glass, Indian violin meets Chinese erhu without sounding like rojak, and Tze anchors everything from the piano with his unerring sense of melody, which comes to the fore most on Goddess Of Rain.
Fusion jazz - with its flexibility to add ethnic instruments and melodies without losing its globally accessible jazz vibe - is one of the most promising genres for Asian musicians to excel in, and local pianist-composer Toh Tze Chin is a prime example.
Stories from Wonderland is packed with memorable memories, swing riffs, dramatic atmospheres and great arrangements. Fusion Jazz is too often impenetrable for non-aficionados, but Stories from Wonderland charms from the first listen, while still having plenty of depth for those inclined to dig and dissect. It's therefore no surprise that An Indian Folk Song meets Jazz won first prize in the Instrumental category of the international 2011 UK songwriting Competition, with four other entries from the album reaching the competition's semi-finals across three categories.
- Song for Sara Joan
- A Kite in the Sky
- By My Side
- Beijing Blues
- Goddess of Rain
- Prelude to Fly with Me
- Fly with Me (composed for Youth Olympics 2011)
- An Indian Folk song meets Jazz (UK Songwriting contest 1st prize, Instrumental category)
- Stories from Wonderland
"An Indian Folk Song meets Jazz” won first prize at the well-known UK Songwriting Contest instrumental category in 2011.
(Extracted from http://www.uksongwritingcontest.com/2011-results.html)
This was one of the most difficult categories to judge this year with outstanding acoustic guitar, piano pieces, orchestral scores, film theme music, electronic and dance entries - many of which could have been winners. But in the end the judges chose this composition from Singapore by composer and pianist Toh Tze Chin for its originality in its attempt at fusing traditional Indian music and western jazz.
First full concert Stories from Wonderland
Tze n Looking Glass debut at the NUS Arts Festival in 2011
16-17 March 2011, University Cultural Centre Theatre
(Extracted from Artzone article, Contemporary Singapore Music Talent, Jan-July issue, 2012)
Full time composer-pianist Tze won at the UK Songwriting Contest 2011. An Indian Folk Song meets Jazz by the NUS Piano Ensemble alum scores for originality in fusing traditional Indian music and western jazz. Tze returns to NUS Arts Festival for the second year running through his original music for Jeffrey Tan's choreography in Solo/Duet on 16-17 March 2011.
A collaboration is like a dialogue where two artists who mutually understand and respect each other go off on this journey of adventure and discovery. I think it's important to feel energized, inspired and excited each time you meet, rehearse and experiment. It is like that with Jeffrey who is unassuming, amazingly supportive, and there was never any pressure working with him. We both wanted to enjoy the process ad make this the best work possible.
A new world fusion sound combining film score, jazz, Chinese, Indian, European classical music. An exotic ensemble of piano, Chinese erhu, Indian violin, saxophone, bass and drums. Each performance features exciting improvisations, blending sonic textures with Bebop, ragas and cool grooves. It's an exciting, spiritual new world fusion journey!
Tze n Looking Glass features NUS Piano Ensemble alumnus Tze (piano), NUS Chinese Orchestra alumnus Dai Da (erhu), Lazar (violin), Boon Chye (sax) and guest musicians.
Read full article here
Looking through Tze's Glass
(Extracted from The Ridge Magazine article, Looking through Tze's Glass, by Nicole Kang, March issue, 2011)
Inspired by the story of Alice in Wonderland, the upcoming performance at the University Cultural Centre Theatre promises to deliver music quite contrary to the fast impetus of life in NUS. Carroll's tale is one of escapism, alluding to reality; similarly, their upcoming performance may be a symbol of reflection and escaping to new worlds, new possibilities, while at the same time daring us to dream. And like Carroll's tale, we return to reality, but with a new perspective.
Indeed, Tze and his bandmates play music that forces the listener to listen and reflect; a rare quality found in today's music. Their music "draws from life itself, and [the] stories around [them]." What makes their music stand out is their 'uniquely Singapore[an]" flavour as they borrow from the "cultures and sounds around [them]" and blend them together in their works. It somehow offers Singaporeans hope that perhaps Tze n Looking Glass will be Singapore's answer to a musical identity. Their distinguishing factor thus lies in the blending of the different elements of music to create a new whole of "familiar sounds."
Read full article here
Official Opening of Garden by the Bay
29 June 2012, Garden by the Bay
Bay South Garden opened to the public on 29 June 2012. It is the largest of the three gardens at 54 hectares (130 acres) and aims to showcase the best of tropical horticulture and garden artistry.
Return to Wonderland
Album sequel to the critically acclaimed : Stories from Wonderland
First concert with string ensemble
(Extracted from The Business Times article, Cinematic Jazz Sweep, by Christopher Lim, 2012)
When you listen to a composer's work on a single album, it's hard to gauge how the music has evolved in the course of its composition and live performances. A case in point is Return to Wonderland by acclaimed local compose Tze Toh. In his work, he returns to the vision he originally had - for last year's studio effort, Stories from Wonderland, which was picked as one of last year's best album.
Second album "Return to Wonderland" was recorded "live" at the Esplanade Recital studio
The main band, Tze n Looking Glass, comprises Teo Boon Chye on saxophone, Lazar. T. Sebastian on Indian violin, Dai Da on er-hu and himself on piano. Bassist Patrick Wong and drummer Jennier Ng backed them up. Joining them this album is 11-member local amateur string group The Contemporary String Ensemble.
Some musicians play more aggresively live than on record. This group seems audibly more relaxed. The musicians luxuriate in tasteful embellishment while fleshing out each piece well beyond their studio incarnations.The trade-off is that the delivery isn't quite as whiplash tight, which is to be expected because of the size of the ensemble and the relatively inexperienced string players.
"This is the cinematic vision I originally had in my head, but I first had to get fusion musicians together and see how well they played with one another before adding strings, so that resulted in the first album," says Tze. He credits soundtrack composers Ennio Morricone and Ryuichi Sakamoto as big influences, so it isn't surprising that he's sort to blend diverse instrumental textures.
First concert with small orchestra: Wonderland
10th October 2012, Esplanade Recital Studio
Wonderland, the concert features original works by composer/pianist Tze Toh - a fusion of jazz, film score, Chinese/Indian and anime/video games soundtracks, Wonderland the concert is inspired by the Chinese mythology of Chang'e (嫦娥) and Houyi (后羿)Houyi the god archer and goddess Chang'e, beauty of Mother Earth/nature and humanity, the 5 elements, the music of Igor Stravinsky, Ennio Morricone, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Keith Jarrett, Yoko Kanno and Nobuo Uematsu and Saint-Saëns' Carnival of the Animals.
TLG Orchestra is a symphonic orchestra which incorporates traditional Asian instruments - the Indian violin, Chinese flute, and also the jazz saxophone to create a distinctive blend of east and west.
First public performance: Return to Wonderland
National Day Parade Preview
7 August 2012, Esplanade Outdoor Theatre
Musicians: Tze Toh, Nana Mitome Sumitomo, Audrina Goh Ping, Rachel Chua, Yukari Blest Usui, Karen Denise De Silve, Lazar Thurakkal Sebastian,Takako Tsurumi, JOyce Poh, Masato Miyata and Krishnakumar Pazhore.
The Longest Dream
5th September 2013, Esplanade recital studio
(Extracted from The Business Times article, Universal appeal, by Racher Loi, 2013)
"The concert is about existence, time and space, and the boundaries of reality and dreams, and most importantly, how it all began." explains Tze.
The music is also inspired by stories that involve origins. The piece Pan Gu, for instance, comes from the Chinese myth of Pan Gu creating the world; Boson refers to the recent discovery of the Higgs Boson, also known as the "God" particle; and Maya refers to life as a dream or an illusion.
Tze n Looking Glass Orchestra (TLGO), Singapore's contemporary fusion ensemble returns with its unique blend of film score, jazz, Indian, Chinese and European classical music, exploring the boundaries of dreams and reality, time/space and the origins of the Universe.
Although the music he composes has no words, Tze hopes that at least some of its meaning will be conveyed to the audience through emotions: like how Pan Gu seeks to show the appreciation of life and how small we are in the bigger scheme of things. "I think great music should have ability to connect. That's why music is a universe language." he says. "Everyone may have their own interpretation, but they should still be able to relate without the need for much explanation."