Monday, March 14, 2005

Jazz In Malacca?

Baba+house+Malacca
I have just returned from a couple of days in Malacca. I've already written about the small, thriving
artists' colony there and took the chance to visit the studio and gallery of Tham Siew Inn who was excited to tell me about his new printing techniques. But the highlight was looking around some of the lovely nineteenth century Baba or Peranakan shophouses that are for rent or for sale. Some are renovated and show off the eclectic architectural styles that are the hallmark of historic Malacca, with Chinese and Dutch influences to the fore. Many others are in a state of disrepair. The shophouse is an interesting amalgam of public commercial space and private dwelling for an extended family. They invariably have a narrow frontage but can be up to 70 metres in depth – and the interiors usually contain inner courtyards, air wells and balconies to keep the heat at bay. The specific reason for my tour? I have a slightly crazy dream of opening a jazz café in Old Malacca and this was my first serious assessment of what kinds of spaces are available. I already have a name – "Naima" – for John Coltrane's famous tune and in memory of a dear friend. And I can already imagine the jazz licks enticing in the passing crowd who'd mingle with the regulars. A bit crazy? I'll keep you posted ...

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