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Pattaya Daily News

14 June 2006 :: 12:06:29 pm 5721

The King of Swing

For so many Thais, King Bhumibol Adulyadej is a father figure. But for a small group of jazz musicians, he is also the King of Swing.
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Every Saturday, Thailand‘s beloved 78-year-old monarch breaks out his saxophone to jam with 10 other local musicians. The world‘s longest-reigning monarch has played with jazz legends like Benny Goodman, Stan Getz, Lionel Hampton and Benny Carter.

King Bhumibol is well-known among Thais and jazz legends as an accomplished musician and composer. Many can hum and sing his popular tunes, influenced by his favourite artists — Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet and alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges of Duke Ellington‘s Orchestra. The king used to listen to their records and play along.

   “The king‘s style is Dixieland or New Orleans style, like Sidney Bechet when he plays the soprano saxophone,” said Manrat Srikaranonda, a pianist who has played with the king for more than half a century. Benny Carter was also a royal favourite.

   Les Brown and His Band of Renown in 1996 recorded several of the king‘s compositions, but under an agreement with the palace, they can be heard only in Thailand.
   Brown, who died in 2001, described King Bhumibol as “a superior musician.”

   “I‘m sure if he didn‘t have the job he has now, he‘d be successful as a bandleader,”  Mr. Brown said in the 1996 documentary “Gitarajan” about the king and his music.

Reporter : Methawee   Photo : Internet   Category : Entertainment News

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