Jazz has been showing tremendous progress in Indonesia. If before the music listeners seemed to dig only the light/pop side, today they show more acceptance of idealism brought by the jazz artists, meaning that the musicians are getting wider chance to make a living by still holding their idealism instead of surrendering to the current trend in the industry. Having said that, we still have to question these: how big is their acceptance towards variety of jazz, and how far can a jazz musician go fulfilling their passion and idealism in a country where jazz is not originally came from? On the other hand, we also have to keep motivating these creative heads to be brave in creating something new. That would give so many benefits to the future of our jazz development.
With all of these matters in mind, we got a good news from Boby Limijaya. Recently released his album entitled “Journey”, made by collaborating with a jazz orchestra in Budapest, Hungary, the Budapest Jazz Orchestra. Some of you might still remember when we shared the news of Boby’s trip to Budapest from 28 October to early week of November, 2012 (read it here: http://jazzuality.com/jazz-news/boby-limijaya-to-do-a-recording-session-at-budapest-hungary/). This trip resulted a fine package containing 6 pieces of rich compositions. The album’s already released and soon will be available at our online store, but first, let’s dig more about the album, what made Boby came up with this idea, why choosing the orchestra far away in Budapest and the musical concept.
Let’s begin with a little historical background. Boby Limijaya was born in Tangerang 33 years ago. He’s been playing music since he was still 6 years old. Graduated from Pelita Harapan University, majoring in piano classical, he continued his formal education to Berklee College of Music in Boston USA with the scholarship. There he took dual major, Jazz Piano Performance and Jazz Composition. Being a bright student, he received Herb Pomeroy Award in 2009 for excellence in jazz composition, handed by Berklee. His experiences gained by performing in many prestigious events such as Java Jazz Festival (2005, 2006 and 2012), JakJazz Festival (2006) besides appearances in smaller scenes. He was once the keyboardist of Andien (2004-2006), worked as the arranger for Christmas Album (2007) and the creator/music director of “Give Thanks” concert in 2006. Known as an active participant in jazz communities in Jakarta and Tangerang, nowadays he has his own orchestra, also works as an arranger and orchestrator, a lecturer at Pelita Harapan University and a pianist plus band leader of the famous trio, B3.
Based on his strong will to create his own art work and give contribution to the jazz development in Indonesia, he wanted to do something new, which he believed will add more colors to the scene. He came up with the concept of using 8 horns. He got the idea first by looking at his professor in Berklee who has 6 piece of horns in a band, but expanded it into 8 horns band. “Basically it’s an extension of the well known 6 brasses, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones and alto and tenor saxophones. But I was curious of what it would sound if I added flute and clarinet in it. I believed it would give more textures and colors.” he said. The kind of jazz orchestra, that’s the familiar way to say it, yet with a new format, focusing on the horns. He also stated that it came from an adaptation of Maria Schneider‘s concept, the later Duke Ellington orchestra (in the 50’s or 60’s) and the likes. Having heard all the tracks, he reminds us of the extraordinary Charles Mingus. In his era, Mingus is known much more than just a contrabassist. He was someone with strong character, remain uncompromised when it comes to musical integrity and of course, brilliant in writing for mid-size ensembles. Mingus’ state of mind and spirit pulses strong in Boby Limijaya’s works.
Perhaps it’s also important for us to inform that Boby’s concept of using a part of an orchestra is not about combining jazz with classical. His repertoires contain traditional sound of modern jazz, the way we enjoyed it in Blue Note’s early recordings from immortal jazz giants to the other golden jazz eras. The sound brought by the horn ensemble created rich layers, along with many playful manouvers from each section. You can sense the smell of bebop, straightehad all the way to fusion with rock toppings. In short, Boby creates a grandeur ‘jazzchestra’ soundscape, something that we don’t listen often in our jazz collection. The CD itself resembles a landscapic journey from the 50’s to 70’s jazz era. 4 or 6 brasses are easy to find, but adding flute and clarinet in it is certainly new, at least it’s the first time in Indonesia. Not a usual formation like trio, quartet or quintet, more than just a band with brass section, almost like an orchestra but smaller.
His landing on Java Jazz Festival 2012 soil was monumental, because that was the first time he delivered a unique concept of 8 Horns Jazz Band, using 2 trumpets, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, 2 trombones, flute and clarinet. The rhythm section was included, filled with piano, electric guitar, electric bass, drums and percussions. He presented his original compositions at this festival. While his mind was deep into this concept, one day Indra Perkasa gave him an info that there’s an agent in Los Angeles that offered possibility to do a recording with big band and orchestra. He was introduced to the CEO of Budapest Scoring. He then made series of research by listening to many recordings and also based on his own experiences, the possibility of formations he had seen and studying the recording result of Budapest Jazz Orchestra. Satisfied with the result, Boby opened the contact with Budapest Scoring coordinator in LA by email and expressed his wish to collaborate and make an album with them. They listened to Boby’s compositions, they liked it, the date was set, he flew to Budapest with Bonar Abraham and voila, it happened.
Another question that you might ask is, why must Budapest? Boby explained the reason to us. “To carry this concept I do need good and fully experienced players. Soundwise speaking, I want to showcase how a brass band would actually sound.” he said. The selected horn players were all members of Budapest Jazz Orchestra, they have been working together for many years so there were no problem at all in building the chemistry. “Their reading skill was also exceptional, plus the recording quality is top notch.” Boby added. So many values in one package with reasonable budget, Boby got all the reason to take this path.
They arrived in Budapest and soon joined by jazz promoter Chico Hindarto and involved in the live recording process. Boby and the whole ensemble got only 4 hours of rehearsal just a day before the recording date and only 6 hours of recording. Surprisingly, the process went smoothly. The whole 6 compositions were successfully recorded, in the end they even spared one and a half hour from the given time. The post production process was done by Bonar Abraham (editing and mixing) and Jack Simanjuntak (mastering).
Speaking of the composition, what Boby made can already be considered to be a world-class pieces of art. Prominent jazz promoter Chico Hindarto described him as “A promising talent from Indonesia with an international caliber.” That should be the fruit of his classical background and, especially, his mastering in Jazz Composition at Berklee. Eventhough he took it because he wanted to expand his territorial work to cover more than just a jazz player, his outstanding ability in writing plays a crucial part in making this concept reached its finest.
“I want to do something different that can paint new colors into our jazz scene.” he said. It’s never an easy decision to make, but he chose to push himself to be brave. “I can’t make it if I’m too scared, therefore I got to be brave.” he added. A differentiation of jazz is urgently needed if we want to see a bright future of jazz. When it comes from a genius brain like Boby, we know that it’s not just a simple differentiation but presented in such quality to match the international standard. We should be proud of having Boby Limijaya in our jazz scene, and for whatever reason we have to support him. By serving quality jazz in mid-size orchestra by involving 8 horns formation from Budapest Jazz Orchestra where world-winning compositions with all the complexity served ear-friendly, Boby Limijaya opens up a Journey (re)visiting the historical timeline of jazz throughout the revolutionary era and beyond. If the words sound complicated, in simple it’s a jazzchestra at its best.
If you want to follow the journey in fun and playful way, do grab a copy of the album, in Indonesia distributed by DeMajors. Not only you experience a different jazz approach, you will also give your support to the future of jazz world and the musicians breathing in it.
Boby Limijaya 8 Horns Band are:
Boby Limijaya – Composer and Conductor
Gábor Kollman – alto sax
Zoltán Zana -tenor saxophone
György Varga – baritone saxophone
Ákos Csejtey – flute
Zoltán Szücs – clarinet
Ferenc Schreck – trombone
Ákos Tompa – trumpet 1
János Hámori – trumpet 2
Tamás Berdisz – drums
Miklós Birta – electric guitar
Attila Juhász – piano
Viktor Hars – contrabass
– Mr M
– White Windy and Me
– Across the Street
The album will be available at Jazzuality’s online store soon. Stay tuned!
For more info and updates, follow @bobylimijaya and @Boby8HornsJazz on twitter and log on to Boby Limijaya’s official website, http://bobylimijaya.com, Budapest Jazz Orchestra (http://budapestjazzorchestra.hu) and Budapest Scoring (http://budapestscoring.com)
Written by: Riandy Kurniawan
– Photos in Budapest are courtesy of Bonar Abraham
– Photo used in the header is courtesy of Muhammad Asranur