“Speaking of jazz, of all season, I think Christmas is the best season for it.” That’s what a musician told us a while ago, expressing how happy he feels during Christmas season. Well, Christmas and Jazz have been buddies for many decades, probably right after the birth of jazz. Many people enjoyed it throughout the years, today we still enjoy it. Think of how many pop artists go swingy when they sing Christmas carols. Christmas and jazz, they are hardly separable.
Braga Jazz Walk has reached the 7th edition. What a pleasant coincidence that this year’s Christmas actually fell on the fourth Thursday of December, exactly on our regular shedule. That made us able to bring our Christmas Edition right on the special day. For this special edition, we set our mind towards the variety of jazz that would make the best of Christmas celebration. Smooth jazz, swing, fusion, bebop? Checked. Traditional, modern, soulful? Checked. Full band, instrumental, with vocals and just vocals in harmony alias acapella? Checked too. From adult to children? Yes, that too. Together with our partners in crime, the venue Braga City Walk and KPH Music, we, Jazzuality.com proudly presented this edition that suit the theme of the mall: The Oldtown Christmas. What made us even more proud is that we got to celebrate it with many audience. Some came to watch it, some were the mall-goers. Together they created a joyous atmosphere inside the big hall.
The band consists of children age ranging from 12-16 called MY Kids were first. MY stands for Maulana Yusuf, the name of the street where their church stands. Billy (drum), Panji (bass), Adam (electric guitar), Korin and Miguel (acoustic guitar), Yugo (conga), Ferdi (keyboard), Louis Arnita and Syela (vocals) were found inside this team. MY Kids was formed from the GKI’s Sunday School who apparently have talents in music. They started only with acoustic guitar but then grew with more kids coming in. They have began their service since April 2011 and has been serving twice a month ever since.
Dream of cheerful Christmas celebration? The kids wanted to bring exactly that. “Allah Sumber Kuatku” was the first choice. This happy opening soon followed by “Sebab Tuhan Baik” and GMB’s “Tiba Saatnya ” which nicely included Sundanese music and singing style. “Hark the Herald Angel Sing” was delivered in quite difficult rendition but executed perfectly by these kids.
It’s always fascinating to see the kids play music. They are cute, but the way the perform, which usually are all out with ‘nothing to loose’ spirit can create surprises. The same with these kids. They are still at their teens, but they can entertain people already, as well as share the blessings. This is why we exist. The reason why we make Braga Jazz Walk in first place: to push the regeneration process forward, providing playground for the young ones to practice everything they learnt in front of real audience. We send love to MY Kids. Keep up the good work, kids! Don’t stop using your gifts to bless others.
The second session was filled by one of the prestigious Jazz Goes to Campus 2014 consolation prize holder, 5th Avenue. This band consists of a couple Chris Alfeus (guitar) and Stella Inke (piano), plus two more compatriotes AlbenOctorys (drums) and William Anthony (bass). Their playground is somewhere around jazz fusion and smooth jazz. Some of their specialties including brilliant arrangement and the scat singing along with guitar playing on the same note (or at the interval of an octave) by Chris. It brought Chris to win the Best Guitarist for Jazz Goes to Campus 2014 less than a month ago. They have some great original compositions, they do interesting covers of some famous jazz repertoires/songs. But here we got the chance to taste their Christmas menus. and man, it was delicious.
“Winter Wonderland” was served in GRP’s Smooth Jazz style. “Joy to The World” was served in more rockin’ style, Still keeping the groove but in slower rhythm, the band delivered “White Christmas” in medley with “Let It Snow”. Chris demonstrated his scat-singing style while playing guitar in perfect pitch. A lovely original song titled “Abba” was played sweetly before they ended up rockin’ on “Joyful Joyful”.
A fusion style of Christmas was served classy by 5th Avenue. We have tasted their unpredictably complex arrangement over well known songs, we enjoyed it too when they take the simplicity road. They are not agressive on stage, but they know how to grab people’s attention and make them stay until it’s done. Speaking of Christmas, they took some of the most famous songs and put up fresh colorful outfit on it. Once again a solid package from them, being given just like a beautifully wrapped Christmas gift.
For the final act, we invited a band that delivers jazz with action, the Out of 7. The band places their feet in between secular and gospel. The personnels are active praise and worship musicians beside their daily works. We used to call them acrobatic band due to their ‘stunt’ attempt in exploring wide array of genres. The keyboarist Widiyanto Sutanto is the leader who is also in charge of composing the materials. Then, the young but hyperactive lady drummer Marissa Wiguna who has catchy appearance and rich punching variety, guitarist Herman Yulianto and Daniel Christy with their rock-blues colors over jazz and funky bassist Abet Darmaji. Last but not least, the man you’ve seen in every Braga Jazz Walk edition as the MC, Erick Gabe is the vocalist. This man has a magical vocal ability. Wide range, perfect pitch, extreme manouvers, scat-singing, mouth-trumpet,trombone, beatbox and so on, you name it, he does it. Today the band has original songs (including several contemporary gospel songs). They have won the Espose 2013 band competition and landed on JakJazz 2013.
Before the band appeared in complete team, first a trio called Harmony consists of Norama Herty Yunieke, Mutiyani Repie and Lela Yuliantika Kawareh gave an acapella presentation titled “The Lord’s Prayer”. A vocal harmony group is an important subject in making up Christmas Edition, so we’re happy to have these three ladies taking on this part. After that, a duet between Lela Yuliantika Kawareh and Fredi Hendarman sang “What a Wonderful World” accompanied by Widiyanto Sutanto.
Then Out of 7 got their round. The band kicked off with “Gloria (in Exelcis Deo)”. Blues shone with “Amazing Grace” and then the swingy “Winter Winterland” with a little piece of Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy” in the middle. Their original song “Sang Penerus Dunia” with a sharp rockin’ style and then sealed it up with “Spain” . This last song was served in jamming mood with enough solo run from each of the players.
We haven’t seen them for a while, but they are still carrying the same spirit in even more enhanced skills. Composition is still their forte while the manouvers created such attraction that’s fun and entertaining. Since they are building their career in both secular and gospel, let’s wish them the best. One thing for sure, with the way they play, surely they can really spice up both world.
The jam session was opened shortly after and quickly taken by some of the attending musicians. Chris Alfeus and William Anthony of 5th Avenue was back again, also Widiyanto Sutanto and Marissa Wiguna of Out of 7. Then three members of Talking Jazz: Steven (piano), Billy (saxophone) and Jabez (guitar) also took part. On vocals were three men from the audience: Mr Simon singing “White Christmas”, Alex from Timor Leste took on “Karena Cinta” and Prof. Dr. Amri Amir, SpF, SH from Medan sang The Beatles’ “Yesterday”. One singer from MyKids Louis was back too with “The Christmas Song”. It was already 10:30 pm, still we got one more batch singing Michael Buble’s “Home”. Rizky Jonathan (vocal), Andre Fernando (guitar) and Yosua Setiawan (bass) were the last participants.
We started the jazz community event in the first month of 2014, now we have reached the last presentation for this year in Braga City Walk. We have run more than 20 editions and so far presented musicians from Bandung, Jakarta, Sukabumi, Bali and also from Malaysia, France, USA and Australia, plus the more recent, Timor Leste. There are many things we still have to work on, but so far we are happy and satisfied with the way things are. The regeneration process is on going. We have met and provided familiar playground to so many newcomers ranging from solo to full bands, welcoming the well established and experienced musicians/bands that wished to support the new players and presenting unique formation/combination that are rarely found in today’s stages.
It feels good to end our 2014 series with a joyful Christmas Edition. Such happening crowds, such joyful performers. The variation was on top since this edition contained many styles from swing, bebop, fusion, soulful to even rock, presented instrumentally, with vocals and acapella by adults and early teenagers. As for the age, this edition stood above all because the range was unbelievably wide, from 12 to 73 year-old.
As the disintegration is taking place here and there by some people, we do hope jazz can stand as a great tool to promote peace and unity among people and nations, making it appears as an example of peaceful, full-loving and tolerance world. On behalf of everyone in Jazzuality.com and Braga Jazz Walk, let us wish you Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Holiday to you all. Let there be peace on earth and joy to the world.
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Reporter: Riandy Kurniawan
Photographer: Titus Firmanto
Video Editor: Vierna Mariska Kurniawan