PETALING JAYA: 86-year-old Gerald Samuel, with his hearing aid on, was happily tinkling the ivories at a jam session with his bandmates recently.
The rehearsal went on till late night but the band members, all retirees, continued practising with gusto for their upcoming gig. They were noticeably excited to be playing together after so long.
“We really want to be there,” says Rizal Kumaran, 70, the bandleader, in between pounding the drums and belting out 1980s chart hit “Jeopardy” by The Greg Kihn Band.
“It’s been 37 years since I’ve played. Naturally, we were a bit nervous in the beginning, but we’re prepared now. We’ve been practising since November,” he chuckles.
Formed in the late 1970s, Pathfinder was made up of eight part-time musicians who performed mainly for dinner and dance functions in various hotels in the Klang Valley. Their most well-known gig was a regular stint at The Paddock in KL Hilton.
Pathfinder is reuniting for the upcoming Musicians for Musicians Benefit Concert 2020 in Mines International Exhibition Centre on March 15, an initiative of the Persatuan Pemuzik Tempatan Selangor (PPTS).
PPTS hopes to raise RM500,000 from the fundraiser to change and refresh the lives of veteran musicians whose careers and creative triumphs have been interrupted by illnesses, age-related conditions, family tragedies and poverty.
Mohd Razali Ghani says that they were really happy to be part of this concert. “It’s not just that we get the chance to do a good deed, we will also be able to catch up with many friends, and see some of the old faces we once knew.”
Multi-instrumentalist Razali, who is from the Pathfinder 3.0 line-up, plays the keyboards, piano, saxophone and flute. He also handles all the song arrangements.
During this rehearsal, Razali was trying hard to convince Uncle Sam (the oldest musician who will be on stage on March 15) to change the presets on his Roland synthesiser.
“I don’t like all these other sounds,” mutters Uncle Sam, adamant about playing only “piano”. He fondly reminisces how his love affair with the pianoforte began.
“I used to be Alfonso Soliano’s guitarist. He would conduct while playing the piano. Every time Alfonso took a break, I very badly wanted to take over the band.
“So I taught myself how to play the piano and one day I simply asked him if I could conduct while he was on his break, and he said ‘yes’.”
Sam’s interest in music started while growing up in Sungai Petani, Kedah, and attending the Tamil Methodist Church there.
“My father was the church organist and that inspired me. It was one of those old organs with bellows.”
Sam was quite the singer as well, and represented the Indian community during the first Merdeka celebrations at the Lake Gardens in Kuala Lumpur, with the Hindustani song, Zindagi Kwab Hai.
The Pathfinder was always fronted by a female lead, and all three ladies from the three band line-ups will be present during the March reunion concert to perform some well-loved tunes in English and Malay.
These vocalists are 1978 Bintang RTM hot favourite and 80s recording artiste Muhaini Suratman, Fadila Abu Taib and Lina Rahman.
Muhaini remembers enjoying performing slow ballads and disco dance tunes in hotels and at functions.
Fadila’s highlights include performing for royalty and celebrities like Pakistani squash player Jahangir Khan.
Rounding up the band are Lionel Pereira on bass and K Poobalan on lead guitar. They are happy to reconnect and give the band another shot.
The Pathfinder will play 80s classics from Rahimah Rahim, Carole King and Jennifer Rush. It’s really heart-warming to see these old friends and bandmates put in so much time and effort for their reunion show.
Rizal nicely sums up why they’ve been so gung-ho about it: “It’s our desire to perform. We just want to be of service to our fellow musicians in need.”
Do lend a hand and come for this show, a reunion like no other featuring over 100 musicians.
Tickets are priced at RM100 and available at www.airasiaredtix.com. You can also call Edwin on 012 209 8849 or Raj on 019 229 7156.