Artist : Mahesa Santoso
Album : iPlay
Released Date : 2013
Label: MIX Pro
It’s always great to see a talent emerges early especially in jazz, one of the most influential genres that needs proper skill when playing it. It’s great having them play in the real squared circle and noticing their steps further in the recordings will be another great one too. There are a lot of things to consider in creating an album and it’s not an easy task for most of the players. Let’s now focus on drums, instruments that, for many, are mainly used for keeping the beat during a song and even dance. Some questions may arise. What do drummers have in mind when composing songs for an album? Do they only deal with the beat or also work on the melody like the way players do with melodic instruments? Is it necessary to have a lot of solo drummings in each song? Is it a must to make the listeners aware that the album belongs to the drummer? From the recordings of many great jazz drummers, we can see that it doesn’t always have to be like that. Quoting what Idang Rasjidi says, “What’s important is to play well. No need to overdo or show-off, and when drummers actually have the solo drum, they have to be able to ‘sing’ through the beat to fit the song.” To play well, to make good songs that can entertain the listeners. Isn’t that the most important thing? The young drummer Mahesa Santoso seems to root himself in it, as he embraces this philosophy in his newest solo album, “Mahesa meets Idang Rasjidi : iPlay.”
Perhaps you have ever heard the name of this boy who resides in Jogjakarta. We mentioned him when we reviewed his group Rekoneko’s debut album “Moonlight Dance” 3 years ago (http://jazzuality.com/album-reviews/rekoneko-band-moonlight-dance/). But in case you forget, let’s take a quick look of his resume. Mahesa has bagged many awards since 2003, that is when he was still 8 years old. The Best New Talent for Jazz Goes to Campus 2005, winning the first prize of Yamaha Student Competition: Solo Junior Local, First Winner of Drum competition Yamaha Student Contest 2007 in Surabaya, The Best Drum Senior II Gilang Ramadhan Studio Drummer 2008 (Cental Java and Yogyakarta) and The Best Drummer of Jazz Fusion Music Competition 2010 (Semarang) are just a few of his achievements. Since he was a kid he has played with many older jazz musicians to legends including Idang Rasjidi, Benny Mustafa, Luluk Purwanto and The Helsdingen Trio, A.S Mates and Andien. He is a certified drummer up to the Advanced III level, a jury in some competitions and now also as a drum instructor. It’s remarkable to see a teenage boy could already do so much in his musical career. He possesses more then enough skill to produce nice beat and rhythm. In his hands, drum feels alive. While many of the teenagers around his age still find it difficult to control their emotions, Mahesa can already do it. He knows when to play cool, soft, smooth, steady, subtle and when he can roar wild and ferocious with his equipment. Rising early will also give him benefit since he still has many-many years ahead to improve, upgrade and enhance himself. Don’t be surprised if we see him as one of the all-time greatest drummers of Indonesia and being noticed as the brilliant one in the world.
In this album he brings Idang Rasjidi not only as his ‘crime’ partner during the play, but also as a partner in composing and other creating process, he’s a music director and mentor. Mahesa met Idang for the first time when he won the Best New Talent for Jazz Goes to Campus 2005. From that moment, he met and played with him several times such as in Pekalongan at Idang Rasjidi’s workshop in 2007 and has been given a private workshop at home. Along with his family, he has visited Idang’s home in Bogor too.
The idea of making this album also came from Idang. He was informed by his son, Shadu that Mahesa was in the process of making an album with Troy Kurniawan, Imam Kustijono, Dony Koeswinarno and some famous bassists including Shadu Rasjidi, Barry Likumahuwa, A.S Mates and Indrawan Tjhin in a project called Mahesa’s Way in 2012. Idang was interested in making an album with Mahesa, especially after he heard one of the songs from this project. They met in Jogjakarta where they had discussions about the plan. Due to their busy activities, they could only start to work several months later. The team was cast. Other than Mahesa and Idang, the team comprises of Shadu Rasjidi (bass), Ayla Noor Iman Adjie (percussions) plus a mini choir consists of Hendra Wydha, Wisnu Arya, Najma Allyssya, Laurensia Ayudya, Lidya Ndaru and Aisya Esti Effendi.
“iPlay”‘s recording process was held for three full days, on 8,9 and 10th of July, 2012 at Rockstar Studio, Yogyakarta. “We played together in each songs, we gave inputs, ideas and sugestions to one another to complete the songs. We felt tired, but it’s really worth it. It all paid by our satisfaction and happiness because we have done our play.” Mahesa recalls.
During the process, Mahesa also admitted that he got many new skills of how to play drum. “I found out that playing drum is not just to show-off the skill or to claim what the other players can give to you, but what’s more important is to realize what we can contribute to the band.” says Mahesa. He also stated that to give comfort while playing and freedom for each one inside the team to fill in with their instruments is an important thing to do for a drummer. “Not many drummers realize the importance of it anymore”, he further adds. Mahesa enjoyed the pleasure of playing with and learning from Idang. “It’s really fun to play with one of the Indonesian Jazz legends, Idang Rasjidi. He’s been giving his time to teach me. For me, he’s also a really inspiring role model. His philosophy of life is reflected in the way he plays music. Eventhough he’s a legend, he’s always happy to share and willing to listen to my ideas. What a very valuable experience both in my life an my career.”
What makes Idang want to play with Mahesa? “Mahesa has a strong character. He’s a smart player and have a strong passion in Jazz. He also has strong musical mentality and willing to listen to one’s advices, he’s not tempramental, so it’s always comfortable to play with him.” says Idang. As a person who has known the boy since he was still 8 years old and been involved in building him up, certainly Idang is familiar with everything about him, his mentality, his character and his ability. Finally after 8 years from their first encounter, they manage to work together in an album.
5 songs found inside “iPlay”, mostly rooted in Smooth Contemporary Jazz with assorted flavors, ranging from vigorous rhythm, sweet melodies to atmospheric World Music ambience. The album opens up with “Hamase”. According to Mahesa, Hamase can be translated as God’s love towards every living things in the world. Interestingly, if you scramble the letters found in his name, you will certainly get “Hamase”. This song is built upon the African nuance, with Idang Rasjidi’s Apache-like humming follows by the choir. It’s a full-spirited song that celebrates life and God’s love in a way like bunch of joyful children dancing around the fire.
From this very catchy opening comes the energetic “Beat’s up”. Here Mahesa shows how he can provide the neat, steady beat in strong punch without necessarily having to overpower the other instruments. Nice groove, syncopatic beat, playful melodies and vocal harmony are all on point. Mahesa got a chance to barter some beats with the percussionists and established strong connection with Idang on keys. Shadu’s remarkable bass playing can be clearly heard in this one too. Drum, bass and percussion are dominating this track. Full of action, high energy, uplifting spirit.
Time to go to the softer side of the album. The mesmerizing, glittery “Breeze Tunes” greets you like being caressed by a gentle ocean wind on the beach in Smooth Jazz’s manner the way the GRP label packed it years ago. That’s how it sounds on the surface, but for Mahesa this song is the most challenging one. Besides taking the longest time in making it, Mahesa also reveals that he learnt many new knowledges in producing beat, due to the unusual beat of the song. Some Middle-Eastern touch on the keys is also a highlight in this track.
Next, “00:30”. Just like the title says, this song came up exactly when the hands of clock pointed 00:30, when everthing feels quiet and cold. Idang himself sang this mellow track fully. If you think of someone you love living far away from you late at night, if you feel lonely and need their presence most of all, this song will suit you perfectly.
Another story found in the last track, “One and Lonely.” To complete the track, Idang asked Mahesa whether he wanted an instrumental number or with vocals. Mahesa chose vocals, and the song was made. Asking the lyrics to be written in Indonesian mixed with English, Idang instantly came up with it. What’s interesting is the way Idang used the popular words among the youngsters today to picturize the most universal theme, love, especially in teenage life.
Though only 27 minutes playtime separated into 5 songs, “iPlay” is already more than enough to pleasure you, as well as feeling the fully bonded connection between two musicians from different generation along with the significant support from the rest of the team. This album suits just about anybody. Jazz lovers can enjoy the authentic Jazz patterns, the pop fans don’t have to be afraid with any complexity, since the songs are made ‘friendly’ in easy listening way. For the learning musicians, you can learn a lot from this album too, especially if you want to enhance your Jazz touch. This album comes from the partnership between highly potential young drummer from Jogjakarta, Mahesa Santoso and the legendary Indonesian jazz man, Idang Rasjidi, packed exclusively in wooden box available in two colors, brown and black. Other than the great works found in all tracks, for us “iPlay” can also be used as an evidence that in Jazz, age really don’t matter. An experienced and senior musician meeting the fresh energy of a young man will give benefit to both sides. The result is something not only they can proud of, but it creates a beautiful package where the essences of Jazz are highlighted yet able to find the taste of all kind of music listeners.
MAHESA MEET IDANG RASJIDI – ALBUM PROMO
“Swinging my drumsticks to play Jazzy tunes brings me tremendous feelings and much enjoyment. It seems that this is the right way to express my life through music. That’s no wonder for me at all, because I realize that sharing and playing with some of the amazing Jazz musicians is giving big influences and colors to my music life. By now, I want to do more and find a lot of new things with this drum.
I want you to know that I really hope for every beat and every rhythm of these songs can be there, in your heart, because this is not a competition where I always try to get the highest score … this is even more…
This is a story about me, my drum and my dream.” – Mahesa
2. Beat’s Up
3. Breeze Tunes
5. One and Lonely
Buy the album at our online store: http://store.jazzuality.com/products/cd/mahesa-meets-idang-rasjidi-i-play/