Tuesday, July 12, 2005

"Colors of the Heart" by David Choy and Some Vintage DC

David Choy Sounds Crazy

But that's a good thing

By Elaine Gast

When David Choy plays the saxophone, he sees colors inside his head. Swirling, spinning, psychedelic colors.

Some people dream in color. For Choy, 43, all it takes is the horn. "When I improvise jazz on the spot, my mind totally relaxes," he said, shuffling in his Doc Martins, grinning a little uneasy behind his black moustache. "That's when the colors come."

For example, if it's a moderate tempo or what he calls a "dirty funk," Choy said he sees black and crimson. An energized melody, he sees shots of bright yellow. And if it's anything like a lullaby, he sees soothing pastels and calming blues.

"Does this sound crazy?" Choy leaned forward into his chair at the Music Center of Hawaii, where he spends his weekdays, violin cases and stacks of sheet music beside him.

Sure it sounds crazy. But it does explain the title of his new CD, Colors of the Heart. The CD is his first solo venture, and features eight of Choy's originals, as well as jazz interpretations of the popular "Hawaiian Wedding Song" and "Ei Nei," accompanied by singer Josh Kahula.

"I called the CD Colors of the Heart because music to me is an extension of emotion," he said. "I don't view myself as an entertainer. I make music to release what I'm feeling."

The CD, four years in the making, features the kind of smooth jazz tracks you might find in some smoky room soap opera scene. Choy's sax whines and grinds over keyboards and soft percussion, and in some cases, a heavily synthesized metal guitar.

His pieces range from the slow and sweet to the agitated and upbeat. One of his compositions, "Desperate Heart," is a hauntingly somber song he wrote after spending hours in the hospital with a family friend who hit hard times. "I went right home and composed the piece," said Choy. "The melody was there in my head, and I didn't take too much departure from that. I didn't want to lose the emotion."

As for Choy's technique, he said he learned by listening to influences such as David Sanborn, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. "When I started playing music, my attitude was, ‘if it ain't straight jazz, don't bother me with it.'" But in his early twenties, his tastes started to shift. "I grew to appreciate all that pop and funk stuff, and discovered that, hey, Earth Wind & Fire ain't too bad."

Today, Choy believes most people characterize him as a pop rock jazz player. "For this CD, I wanted to solidify the spectrum of what encompasses my sax playing," he said. "I've moved influences from straight jazz to rock to even heavy metal."

Choy grew up in Oahu and began his career as a working musician at 16. In 1985, slack key icon Peter Moon asked Choy to play with him.

"Peter was very accommodating as far as letting me do what I wanted in the studio," said Choy. "It was a great opportunity to learn the importance of communicating with people—different musicians in different settings. I also had a chance to hone my skills in arranging and music composition."

He took his skills to the stage, playing everywhere from hotel conventions to holes-in-the-wall. He recalled his musical heyday in the early '90s.

"I was in a band called Paradox out of Honolulu," he said. "We played what we wanted, as loud as we wanted, and the place was always cranking. I may have played with better musicians under much better conditions since then, but it was never the same vibe."

Choy's career has taken him to studios on the West Coast, concert venues in Japan and touring the country with artists such as the Doobie Brothers, Michael McDonald, Patti Austin and James Ingram.

Today, he still plays gigs in Honolulu and holds music clinics at the high school and college level. He is already working on his second CD, and hopes to produce a new album every December.

"I would rather be in a recording studio than performing live. I think it is a mistake for musicians to rely on an audience to validate what they've done," Choy said. "If I can feel what I've played is satisfactory, it makes me feel good—to know that I conveyed the emotion I want to convey."

MauiTime Weekly Online Volume 7 #35 February 26, 2004

For information on David Choy and his new CD, visit www.davidchoy.net. MTW

Copyright © 2004

Reprint of Page 22, 41, SOUNDSGOOD! June 1994

(Below) A Polished, Accomplished Presentation of Choice Jazz Music Phil Clore

David Choy, UH Music Students Complete Their Assignment

UH-MANOA - Weeks ago a very small article, rather, I should say announcement, appeared in the newspaper mentioning that gifted saxist David Choy was the guest performer with the University of Hawaii Jazz Ensemble.

I have to say that it never ceases to amaze me what wonderfully accomplished musicians we have here, in the Hawaiian Islands. Yet, for their musical prowess, they are poorly publicized.

A classic example, with a question in point: did you know that our University has a dynamite jazz ensemble?

A friend and I sampled the tasty wares of the 27-piece band in mid-April at the UH Music Department Courtyard. To my surprise, my musical senses experienced a polished, accomplished presentation of some very choice selections.

They opened with Without A Song, arranged by Rick Stitzel, and moved on the Glidin' In Stride, and wrapped Count Basie's Shiny Stockings around their audience like the fog that rolls into San Francisco Bay. Even the Count would have given his famous finger point on this number!

Woody Herman's Early Autumn was next in line, followed by Sweet Georgia Brown and the ensemble ended their set with arranger Dave Barduhn's Milestones.

As each number rounded by, my mind kept reflecting that these earnest students were just that - students! But they play so well! I suppose the dedication of their music director, Patrick Hennessey, has much to do with it.

Patrick, an eleven year veteran of the UH Music Department is extremely proud of his band and exclaimed to me during a personal interview that his greatest joy "is to hear his group perform their final product."

As he said, "I know what they sounded like the first day of rehearsal!"

Another desire of Hennessey's is for the public to have access to the UH jazz concerts. (Maybe former UH Music Director Abe Weinstein will consider inviting the UH Jazz Ensemble to perform during the Hawaii International Jazz Festival, earning this modest group of musicians some recognition.)

Hennessey explained how David Choy came to play with the Jazz Ensemble that evening. Simple: he accepted the invitation! The UH jazz combo was comprised of drummer Nathan Moy, Greg Chung on Sax, trombonist Nathan Tanouye (see also the Maui Jazz Fest report), Daryl Miyasato on bass, Gilbert Batangan on guitar and percussionist August Lopaka Colon. These guys whipped up some wonderful servings of contemporary jazz, including a heavy number from the Yellow Jackets album Run For Your Life.

Naturally, the best was saved for last. David Choy and the UH Jazz Ensemble rounded out the show with selections like Even More Blues by Matt Cattingub, Bob Mintzer's A Long Time Ago, Have I Got The Blues For You by Neil Finn and Roger Meyers' Hideaway.

Lest I forget, neatly tucked away in the trumpet section was invited guest John Chudoba, from Paul Anka's band. He was a nice addition to the brass section, fitting right in since John is as young as some of the students.

(Left) David Choy, having grown up in a family where both his father and uncle played instruments, and having heard jazz practiced and played at home, has justifiably been influenced to play jazz.

Studying sax on his own, then young David sought his Goliath along with his trumpet-playing brother, forming a band called Wave. Their music was bebop and funk at the old Victoria Station. David gained a wealth of experience playing with other professional musicians and observing their style.

Some of his journeyman work came through show productions, feeding his insatiable appetite for perfection.

His advice to the young melody makers of today is: listen to the recorded pros according to your instrument of interest, and compare yourself to that individual; you'll be able to gauge your progress.

David's positive manner, dedication to his profession and his determination to influence the up and coming musicians has earned him the sobriquet True Gentleman of Jazz.

David Choy, local saxophonist extraordinaire and nephew of renown Reedmaster Gabe Baltazar, joined the UH Jazz Ensemble as their special guest for an outstanding April concert.


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