Saturday, May 30, 2015
Jazz News



Rachel Guerzo Productions launches “Alfonso 25”: A various artist album featuring re-arranged original compositions of legendary Alfonso Soliano.

There’s a very interesting project being made in Malaysia. This project project is not only about music, but about how a national heritage must be conserved and how important it is to pay homage to those who have broken down barriers for us. It’s a project involving various artist, featuring re-arranged original compositions of legendary Alfonso Soliano which is packed in one album titled “Alfonso 25″. This album is produced by none other than his own granddaughter, jazz pianist/singer who has been honing her art and cementing her reputation for over two decades, Rachel Guerzo. The title of the album is a play on numbers related to Alfonso’s birthdate (he was born on February 25, 1925, and this year actually marks the 25th anniversary of Alfonso’s demise.

alfonso soliano, rachel guerzo, alfonso 25

Alfonso Soliano was a pioneer in Malaysian music industry. He started his career professionally at the age of 7 by playing as a pianist for the Grand Jubilee Bangsawan troupe with family members in 1932. He was instrumental in setting up our nation’s first orchestra for Radio Malaya, infusing modern music elements with traditional Malay music. Speaking of jazz, Alfonso is also known as Malaysia’s father of jazz. He trained generations of Malaysian musicians, he broadcast sounds of Bebop, Cha Cha and Rhumbas into Malayan homes, thereby shaping musical consciousness of a modern nation. Alfonso had a very illustrious career for over half a century. Today, his influence continues in the form of jazz inflected Malaysian music which can be heard in Angkasapuri and Dewan Filharmonik Petronas. His protégés include Dato Johari Salleh, Dato Ahmad Nawab and Michael Veerapen. Alfonso’s compositions which run into the hundreds, have never been catalogued.

Since the album is produced by Alfonso’s own granddaughter, we think it would be interesting if we could dig some of the memories of him from Rachel herself. “I was still 16 and alone at home with him when he suffered his final stroke.” said Rachel. “Most times, I would play piano when he was napping. Thinking he would not hear my mistakes – but he would get out of bed to correct me each and every time I made one. He could never stand a wrong note!”. On the day he had his last stroke, Rachel was practicing and he did come downstairs twice to correct her before he got the fatal attack. 25 years later, this girl paid respect and brought the unforgettable works of Alfonso into a whole new, modern horizon. “He was a wonderful grandfather who spoilt all his grandchildren. A pat on the head from him meant the world to me and I would only get that when I played all the right notes – which wasn’t often.” Rachel added, smiling.

alfonso soliano, rachel guerzo, alfonso 25

The book “Rosalie and other love songs” written by Saidah Rastam and published by Khazanah Nasional, was among the catalysts for this project. A journey into Malaysian music heritage, “Rosalie” highlights Alfonso’s contribution to our music industry and how the ‘Negaraku’ came to be. “Alfonso 25″ features most popular original compositions by Alfonso Soliano, made popular in the 50s – 60s by legendary artists such as Asiah Tuah, Zain Azman, Ahmad Daud, Dato’ Julie Sudiro and Kartina Dahari. These famous songs of Alfonso are rearranged freshly, aims to bring his music to contemporary audiences. Songs in the album (listed below) were given fresh arrangements and re-recorded by The Guerzos, Bihzhu, Ali Aiman and Lokman Aslam.

Tunas Kasih – Julie Sudiro
Ku Puja Alam – Kartina Dahari
Memujuk Cinta – Zain Azman
Rindulah Rindu – Zain Azman
Teruna Idamanku/Gadis Idamanku – Asiah Tuah/Zain Azman/Ahmad Daud
Airmata Berderai – Zain Azman
Malam – Asiah Tuah

Let’s take a closer look at those names. Jazz pianist/singer Rachel Guerzo studied at Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts. Born into Malaysia’s most influential music family, the Solianos, Rachel has emerged as one of the most exciting and innovative jazz musicians in her own right, honing her art and cementing her reputation by playing to discerning live audiences over the past two decades. Rachel is a fluid pianist with a rich and sultry voice to match, a charming personality with a great sense of humor. She is a naturally gifted entertainer in a class of her own. Rachel’s most unique ability to breathe new arrangements to already popular jazz standards, R&B and chart topping tunes is her winning trademark. She has worked alongside very fine musicians such as Jeremy Monteiro, Michael Veerapen, Pascoal Mirelles, Steve Thornton, Valtinho Anastascio, Lewis Pragasam and Farid Ali. With a resume that includes a sell out performance at Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (DFP) and two albums that has garnered local and international buzz, Rachel continues to strengthen her portfolio and remain relevant to the regional jazz circuit

alfonso soliano, rachel guerzo, alfonso 25

.Rachel’s siblings are also involved. Together the band’s called The Guerzos. The band consists of Alfonso’s grandchildren: Rachel Guerzo (piano and vocals), Don Guerzo (bass) and Dado Guerzo (drums). The Guerzo siblings who are all well renowned musicians in the local music industry, have a diverse repertoire and a formidable musical lineage. Currently working on their debut album, the Guerzos are fourth generation professional musicians, all natural born entertainers and have worked extensively with various musicians and bands before coming together to form this one of a kind trio. The siblings love different genres of music, from Pop, Rock, Jazz, R&B, to Malay Classics and Brazilian Rhythms. They often blend these various styles to produce their own unique sound.

Lokman Aslam is indeed KL’s latest sensation. He’s a newcomer in Malaysian Contemporary Jazz Scene, but the clarity and crispness of his voice, soulful and tender, plus his effortless style of singing confirms him as a rare talent in recent time. His debut album “Namun Engkau Tahu” (“But You Know”) garnered over 100.000 views on YouTube. Currently signed onto Alibi Music as a singer-songwriter, he is currently working on his latest single “Melodi Cinta” (originally by Mazlan Hamzah) and upcoming plans include a collaboration with Jazz songstress, Atilia; and Tilu the experimental, funk and jazzy band consisting of 7 members from both Malaysia and Indonesia.

Then there’s Bihzhu, 2013 Voice Independent Music Award “Song of the Year” winner and “Vox-Pop Winner” in the Cabaret Song category for USA-based 12th Independent Music Awards. This Penang-born lady is gifted with rich, soulful voice and rapturous performances. She’s just recently returned from a 3-city tour of China and continues to enchant audiences from intimate acoustic concerts to festivals in all around Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea and Australia. Her latest single “Bright Veins” follows in the tradition of her hit single “The Heart Way”. She was also chosen for a Penang Global Tourism ad featuring the famed shoe couturier Dato’ Jimmy Choo on the Asian Food Channel that aired in for 14 weeks in 10 different countries.

Also featuring Ali Aiman. He is without a doubt, one of the few standout producers/singer-songwriters to emerge from the KL music scene in 2014. Known for his sparse, electronic and down-tempo piano-anchored tracks, Ali Aiman’s debut EP, “Overture” has earned rave reviews from local and international medias. His “Every Little Thing” from “Overture” topped the charts while his other songs have appeared on local radio stations. Speaking of magazines and newspaper, he’s all over it too. Together with his trio, Ali Aiman has performed at major festivals and events.

The first release consists of two songs, “Ku Puja Alam” by The Guerzos and “Gadis Idamanku” by Lokman Aslam. “Ku Puja Alam” originally was made as a ballad ‘bolero’ rhythm and sung by the late Kartina Dahari. Later the instrumental version was rearranged and recorded by Orkes Radio Malaya. Classified as R&B with a touch of Pop Rock, Ku Puja Alam featured a well crafted rock guitar solo by Wan Gigi. “Gadis Idamanku” on the other hand, is considered a classic and Alfonso’s most famous composition. This song has been recorded quite number of times by Asiah Tuah, Datuk Ahmad Daud, Zain Azman,The Solianos and Rachel Guerzo. Originally the song’s called “Teruna Idamanku”, sang by Asiah Tuah in bossanova, now this song got a contrasting arrangement by injecting a R&B feel. Lokman’s soulful vocal is perfect on this song. These songs is available on iTunes (

The album will be time released and sold online in three stages over a period of six months. A double CD limited edition will be made available by end of September 2015. The final product will contain 8 re-arranged and 17 originally recorded Alfonso compositions. All tunes will retail online via iTunes and Spotify, at USD.99 cents per song. Pre-orders for the final product can be made via email to

This project/album is important and interesting. Interesting since it’s produced by someone who’s really close to Alfonso which is none other than his own granddaughter, it involves great all-star lineup and the arrangements are made fresh to suit the taste of today’s music listeners. It is indeed important, since this album can remind everyone of the legends who have started it all so we all can pay respect to them and continue their legacy. “I do hope with this project, to create awareness and to continue in the legacy of my beloved grandfather.” said Rachel. We do hope so too.This project contains good stuffs that you can both enjoy and learn from, made beautifully in memory of the great legend Alfonso Soliano. Let’s support it.

All photos are courtesy of Rachel Guerzo, used by permission



The world of music has lost a legend with the passing away of blues singer, songwriter and guitarist B.B. King (September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015). He was nicknamed ‘The King of the Blues’ and one of the ‘Three Kings of the Blues Guitar’ (along with Albert King and Freddie King).

Though I was lucky to hear Albert King in concert (and other blues greats like Buddy Guy, James Cotton, Jimmy Smith, Koko Taylor, Stevie Ray Vaughan), I missed the legendary B.B. King. When I was training to be a radio jockey at WMUA FM 91.1 in Amherst, Massachusetts, the blues featured prominently in my early mixes, especially the soul-searching vocals of B.B. King and the hypnotic riffs on his guitar, Lucille.

bb king

Though he witnessed humiliations and discrimination during the racial segregation days in the US, B.B. King continued to tour and play across the US and around the world, inspiring people of all races and nationalities with his devotion and brilliance in music. Here are 60 quotes which capture some of the spirit and experience of B.B. King, whose music has influenced blues, jazz and rock musicians for over five decades and will continue to do so decades to come.

  • A lot of times I say to myself ‘I wish I could be worthy of all the compliments that people give me sometime.’
  • A rose is a rose. It’s pretty. But that doesn’t mean you want to snap it off and put it on your lapel.
  • America might be a little eager too go to war. We don’t consider the cost of what this is going to do to us in the long run.
  • Blues don’t necessarily have to be sung by a person that came from Mississippi as I did, because there are people having problems all over the world.
  • Blues seemed to be right at the bottom of the totem pole, and because of this I always felt that I wanted to bring the kind of respectability to the music.
  • Blues was started by the slaves and I think everybody thinks that it all should be sad … even some of the slaves had fun with it.
  • Don’t matter if you’re gay or straight, Black or White, you still have the same problem.
  • Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but no one wants to die to get there!
  • Everything I record, I just try to sound like me and come up with songs that suit what I do, and then just go for it.
  • Guys who would ask me to play a blues song would always tip and maybe give me a beer as well!
  • I believe all people are good. Some just do bad things.
  • I call myself a blues singer, but you ain’t never heard me call myself a blues guitar man.
  • I don’t think it’s meant for man to know everything at once.
  • I don’t care for the music when they’re talking bad about women because I think women are God’s greatest gift to the planet – I just like music.
  • I don’t like anybody to be angry with me. I’d rather have friends.
  • I don’t think anybody steals anything; all of us borrow.
  • I don’t think it’s meant for man to know everything at once.
  • I don’t try to just be a blues singer – I try to be an entertainer. That has kept me going.
  • I like to feel in most cases like I’m a big guy with long rubber arms that I can reach around my audience and swing and sway with them — move them with me.
  • I like to feel that my time and talent is always there for the people that need it.
  • I love women most of all.
  • I never use that word, retire.
  • I started to like blues, I guess, when I was about six or seven years old. There was something about it, because nobody else played that kind of music.
  • I still think I’ve got a head on my shoulders, and it pleases me.
  • I think I’ve done the best I could have done. But I keep wanting to play better, go further.
  • I think maybe I’ve earned the right to sit down now.
  • I think of guitar players in terms of doctors: you have the doctor for your heart, the cardiologist, then one that works on your feet, your leg. But I believe George Benson is the one that plays all over. To me, he would be the M.D. of them all.
  • I tried to connect my singing voice to my guitar an’ my guitar to my singing voice. Like the two was talking to one another.
  • I was born and raised in a segregated society, but when I left there, I had nobody I disliked other than the people that’d mistreated me, and that only lasted for as long as they were mistreating me.
  • I’d rather be B.B. King. I try to do what I do better, not get away from it.
  • If T-Bone Walker had been a woman, I would have asked him to marry me. I’d never heard anything like that before: single-string blues played on an electric guitar.
  • If there was no ladies, I wouldn’t wanna be on the planet. Ladies, friends, and music – without those three, I wouldn’t wanna be here.
  • If you can’t get your songs to people one way, you have to find another.
  • I’ll keep playing until I feel like I can’t.
  • I’m no good with chords. I’m horrible with chords.
  • I’m still searching even today for a sound, like the guy that’s searching for a home. I haven’t been able to find that completely.
  • It can never be perfect, it can never be exactly what it should be, so you got to keep going further, getting better.
  • I’ve been married twice. Most women would rather not be married to a traveling blues singer.
  • I’ve put up with more humiliation than I care to remember.
  • I’ve said that playing the blues is like having to be black twice.
  • Jazz is the big brother of the blues.
  • Nobody loves me but my mother, and she could be jivin’, too.
  • Some people say that blues singers are always cryin’ in their beer. But you know what? I don’t drink.
  • That to me is heaven, being out in nature.
  • That’s one of the things about being an entertainer. What we do — it’s just sharing the thoughts that many people have.
  • The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.
  • The blues was bleeding the same blood as me.
  • The blues was like that problem child that you may have had in the family. You was a little bit ashamed to let anybody see him, but you loved him. You just didn’t know how other people would take it.
  • The crowds treat me like my last name. When I go onstage people usually stand up, I never ask them to, but they do. They stand up and they don’t know how much I appreciate it.
  • There are so many sounds I still want to make, so many things I haven’t yet done.
  • There’s a sadness to all kinds of music if you want to hear it. There’s also happiness to it if you want to hear it.
  • Touring a segregated America – forever being stopped and harassed by White cops hurt you most ‘cos you don’t realise the damage. You hold it in. You feel empty, like someone reached in and pulled out your guts. You feel hurt and dirty, less than a person.
  • Water from the White fountain didn’t taste any better than from the Black fountain.
  • We all have idols. Play like anyone you care about, but try to be yourself while you’re doing it.
  • When I do eventually drop, I pray to God that it’ll happen in one of three ways. Firstly, on stage or leaving the stage, then secondly in my sleep. And the third way? You’ll have to figure that out for yourself!
  • When I go onstage each night, I try my best to outguess my audience.
  • When people treat you mean, you dislike them for that, but not because of their person, who they are.
  • When you don’t have much money, you worry that they’ll just put you in the ground someplace and your loved ones won’t know where you are.
  • You got to pay attention to the language, hear what it’s really saying.
  • You never miss what you’ve never had. I never had any other life. I didn’t know any other life.

by: Madanmohan Rao
Editor & DJ, World Music and Jazz; Bangalore
Global Correspondent for



Many would agree that the variety of theme offered is very, very limited at the recent time. There are some brightly creative talents manage to create something interesting, yet most of them fail to enter the market that’s ruled by the unseen hands. The question is: does our music scene today still have a room for new comers? And, if they are not with the big labels, do they have the chance? Well, the chance might be small, but we like to believe that there is. There are evidence too can be found in the industry. Those who started from scratch, struggling hard, fighting with and sacrificing anything they have to succeed. Some interesting and big potential talents have emerged from the independent/indie road. By being creative, one can still dig some more ways in the independent road to fulfill their dream and calling.

Panda Pangeran Muda Terpaku (3)

Meet the young talent whose career has just entered the new, more promising dawn: Pangeran Muda ‘Panda’ Siagian (twitter: @PangeranMudaPM). He rose very early and have gained so many experience since he was still a little kid. We will let you know more about this, but let’s focus on his most recent move. As he’s preparing his debut solo album, last Saturday (March 14, 2015) he launched his single “Terpaku” (‘Stunned’) at Tokove Cafe, Kemang, Jakarta. This single is made light and easy listening in R&B mode with a little pop jazz and tells a story that’s close to us. The main theme is love, but Panda views it from quite a different angle. He might have dissapointed the one he loved many times, but still he receives love and happiness from her. So he expresses his love to her, telling her that his heart’s locked on her and let her know that he wouldn’t be able to live without her.

This song is produced by Tommy Widodo (co producer of Pongky Meet the Stars Album). Amazingly, throughout the process of making the album, Panda invites everyone to support him by being Co Producer. That’s the reflection of the spirit of unity, something that he has inside his soul. He truly believes that wherever there is unity and the will to support one another, the result will be something that can inspire many hearts.

Panda Pangeran Muda Terpaku (4)

So far he has prepared 6 songs, all written by himself such as “Daraku”, “Bergegaslah, Kawan!”, “Akulah Pangeranmu”, “Bully”, “Kaulah Yang Ku Sayang” and “Hidup Sederhana”. As shown on the title, Panda take many daily life’s story as the theme, more than just simply about love. “True, there are so many love songs already, but we don’t fall in love everyday. So many other stories in life that we experience every day.” he says. Based on that, he speaks loud on life motivation, family, friendship, nature and even anti bullying. Quoting him, “We need more songs that can help to express our feeling on a daily basis.” In cooking up his meal, Panda doesn’t want to trap himself into any particular genre. He describes his music as “Complicated Pop” that accomodates all the music styles/genres that he likes, from Soimah (Soimah Pancawati, a presenter, singer, sinden, comedian) to Amy Winehouse.

On one hand, Pangeran Muda launched his single “Terpaku” as the first step towards a successful solo career. On the other, he also used the momentum to launch the Crowdfunding GO PANDA! campaign. This is a creative move made by him that openly involves the fans and wider society to support local musicians. Here’s how it goes. Panda and the team will visit many places to run a campaign in a hope to move many people to support the album. Using people’s power for a positive cause? That’s inspiring. If this idea works, many artists could follow his step, so they can keep working and progressing independently without having any intervention and/or coercion from the ruling people/elite  at the top. It will give more alternative for music listeners as well as creating and enriching healthy music scene.

Panda Pangeran Muda Terpaku (2)

If you still don’t know him, allow us to bring you closer to him. This young man has achieved no less than 200 achievements throughout his career. The prestigious Java Jazz Festival and JakJazz are just a few of the event that he’s in. He has performed in Hong Kong and Macau and crowned as the Ambassador of Jakarta Musical Production Ministry. Speaking of competition, he won the Sherina Star Kids Competition in 2000, McDonalds Kids Awards in 2002, Heartline Gospel Singing Contest (2006), the winner of talent search show produced by Trans TV “Suara Indonesia” and runner up of Bintang Radio Festival in Jakarta, 2005. Last year he reached the Top 20 in Indonesian Idol 2014. As if those are not enough, he also exists as an actor. He starred the musical series “Peri Cinta dan Anak Jalanan” as the leading role as a part of the 9th Anniversary of SCTV. His voice was heard in some jingles for tvs and radios such as Honda, Spacy, Madurasa and Aneka Tambang. Recordings? Been there done that. He has released a couple of albums, particularly gospel. Two gospel albums in 2009, one Batak and one Christmas album “Colours of Christmas” in 2011 listed in his portfolio. What a shining resume, amazingly achieved before he even reaches 30 years of age.

We have had him on our very own regular event, the Braga Jazz Walk. Like a giant magnet he dragged mall goers to his show, joining the medias and attending fans who already stood near the stage (read the report here: From what we have seen, this man has it all. He has beautiful, soft and tender voice that will melt the girls’ heart, and wide range too. He has the look, smiley, familiar and friendly. He is also a prince charming that can create happy mood when he’s around. He has everything (including the ‘it’ factor) needed to success. A career in music is clearly his calling as his happiness can be felt throughout his performance.

Panda Pangeran Muda Terpaku (1)

“I wish to present a more real form of art that can be enjoyed at any time. And my dreams won’t stop there. I also wish to motivate young generation in Indonesia to be fruitful. Despite anything they lack of, they should know that they still have the chance to make something according to their calling and gain success. ” he said. Then continued, “As a part of long term mission, I have the vision to give support and appreciation to them, so they will know that by making serious effort, they can also make themselves and their works heard by many. ”

As what we have said in 2014, the year 2015 might become the best year for Pangeran Muda aka ‘Panda’. After Tulus, he is the next big thing. Let’s wish him the best, for the released single “Terpaku”, for the Crowdfunding “GO PANDA!” campaign, for the process of making up the album and of course for a successful career.

Written by: Riandy Kurniawan
Photos courtesy of Pangeran Muda




As a universal language, music has uncountable purposes and can be beneficial in so many different ways. While most of people probably use music for the sake of entertainment, music actually can be used for good causes and charity. Jazz, one of the biggest, most influential and respected style of music are commonly used everywhere to raise an awareness for something the public should know of and have a certain kind of force to stand as a theme in fundraising concert.


Gala Jazz and Fine Arts - Fundraising for Kids with Cancer (1)


Based on that spirit, here’s what happened in Medan last week. YOAM (Yayasan Onkologi Anak Medan), currently headed by Rizanul Arifin of ‘Medan Bisnis’ with the support of the Vice Governor of North Sumatra, T. Erry Nuradi in cooperation with Waspada Emusic (WEM), the affiliated media-company which specialized in bringing jazz as the part of the city’s culture and art by their finest jazz group, ‘Erucakra Mahameru & C Man Band’, plus The City Hall Club (Medan’s premier private membership club located in The Aston City Hall which exists to serve and facilitate communication, exchange of ideas, interaction and camaraderie supporting the development of local industry and infrastructure including culture and arts) held a special jazz-based fundraising event intended to support kids with cancer. It’s called: Evening Gala Jazz & Fine Arts ; Fundraising for Kids with Cancer.

Rizanul said, by looking at the new and different ways to spread the awareness, this time they relied on jazz music which has become more and more accepted by the public, also fine arts including the painting/photo exhibitions and auctions. There was also fashion show to introduce the city’s most notable talents. They hope this event could raise more funds to support the medical treatments for kids with cancer. The event was attended by the city’s governments and US consul for Sumatra in Medan, Robert Ewing, as well as the donators, sponsors, medical doctors and medias.


Gala Jazz and Fine Arts - Fundraising for Kids with Cancer (3)

Opened by Rizanul and the caretakers of the foundation, the event featured jazz music performance by Erucakra Mahameru & C Man. For this charity project, the band consists of the frontman guitarist/vocalist Erucakra Mahameru, Dian (bass), Alfred (bass), Budi (keyboard), Rusfian (drum), Bryan (saxophone) and Noni, Ega & Linvia (vocals) played jazz tunes such as Miles Davis’ “So What”, “Celebration” and Indonesian famous jazz song written by Dian Pramana Putra/Deddy Dhukun and popularized for the first time by January Christy,  “Aku Ini Punya Siapa”.

Other than delivering well known songs in cool rearrangement, Erucakra & C Man also played two original compositions, “Balap Liar” (Illegal Drag Race) and “Mohax”. After that they turned to James Brown with “I Feel Good”.




“This album is all about my self-journey and based from what I’ve seen and experienced, the music that I’ve been into in my career, both in concept and the music style. In short, you will know who I am and the kind of music that I like by listening to it.”

That’s what Indro Hardjodikoro said to us about his new solo album entitled “Cerita Baru” (“New Story”). This album was launched last Monday (June 16, 2014) at his regular event @Jazz Spot. This album is the continuation to the first one “Feels Free”, released in 2010. This newly launched album simply plays a sequel, the next chapter of Indro’s life story, 4 years later.

No one would argue that Indro Hardjodikoro is one of the most important figures in the development of jazz in Indonesia in the last 2 decades. He has inspired many musicians either as an active player or a teacher – many upcoming young bassists started out as Indro’s pupil. As a player, he’s been active since the late 80’s by being involved in many groups and recordings. He was in the famous fusion band in the 90’s, Halmahera before he got in the first formation of Riza Arshad‘s simakDialog besides other muti-genres projects and recordings. Indro in the old days was, and still is, a high-demanded sessionist due to his versatility and distinctive playing. But he’s been concentrating in making his own works for several years for good reasons. He want to craft some of his original pieces that can be enjoyed by music listeners longer than his life, and of course he wishes to develop Indonesian music industry. “That’s what I always keep in mind whenever I do something.”



One day in 2007 while he played in a concert, he found enlightenment. During the play with an orchestra he suddenly thought, “I won’t go anywhere if I don’t make my own work, something that represent myself and lasts longer than my age.” From that point on, he worked on his first-ever solo album that finally released in 2010 which established the new day of his life as a soloist.

He was great back then, but he seemed to get much more energy after taking this important move. Soon after he established his group named Indro Harjodikoro & the Fingers. This unique group places bass in a totally different way. In this group he pushes his instrument, bass at the front, that said without diminishing the role of other players. Starting with four basses, now the band is satisfied with 2 bassists, Indro himself and his former student, Fajar Adi Nugroho.

One album entitled “Traveling” received success in the market, and they have gained popularity not only in Indonesia but stretched much further to Russia. Recently the band got a new drummer, an 18 year-old prodigy Yandi Andaputra. The second album of Indro Hardjodikoro & the Fingers is currently in mastering process, you can expect it to be released soon.




In 2011 a young guitarist originally from Bekasi, West Java but then lives in Bandung released an album titled Tesla Manaf feat Mahagotra Ganesha. He made and distributed it totally independently without having any labels to support and without anyone sponsored him. Think of it. How many of us dare to keep going in that condition? But hey, it’s Tesla, a real die-hard fighter type of person. If he’s a boxer, he’d keep on standing back after being knocked several times, until all the blood being drained from his body, and until his brain stops working, until his very last breath. It wasn’t his first album, but proofed to be the most successful one to date. The fact is, this album is phenomenal, both in quality and acceptance. This album which is titled “It’s All Yours” established him as one of the most brilliant (jazz) guitarists in Indonesia that everyone should seriously keep their eyes on.

Perhaps it’s important to see a brief biorgraphy of him first. The little Tesla showed his interest in music since he was still at the 5th grade of elementary school. It wasn’t guitar but classical piano. He switched to guitar, still classical at the junior high school. He got many achievements as a classical player, but later he found some obstacles, especially since the patterns and rules of classical made him unable to have freedom in doing his work. In Bandung he finally found his ultimate peace in jazz, the music that’s actually already familiar to him. It was his father who made him familiar with wide variety of genres, fusion from Gentle Giant, Mahavisnu Orchestra, Soft Machine, ELP (Emerson Lake & Palmer) and Pat Metheny, from Brad Mehldau, Dream Theatre, Nirvana, Slipnot to Hans Zimmer, Debussy, Bella Bartok and Krzystof Penderecki. These later names have given him inspirations especially in terms of composing something with odd melodies.

He made some albums like Grace & Tesla (with Grace Sahertian) and Ivan & Tesla (with Ivan ‘AJ TheReal’). Another album was in the making but failed to meet the market with G/E/T (with Galang Perdhana Dalimunthe an Edward Manurung). Then he ended up with this album which became a breakthrough in his career.



It’s actually not a surprise and definitely not about luck. In this album he utilized everything he has inside. His passion, feeling, ability, brain, taste and skill to create a masterpiece. It’s unique, grand, magical and mystical. If you listen throughout the tracks which speaks about the relationship between human and nature, the disaster that could happen by human’s unfairness in treating all beautiful things God has given us. Having this as the elementary idea, he developed it into a long duration song divided into 6 parts. Just like watching a movie, the storyline has a beginning, conflict, climax and closing. It’s intense, full of drama and connected. If you want to understand the whole idea, you should listen to it in order from the first track to the end without any break. Along with some of his closest fellow musicians he opened up a connection with Mahagotra Ganesha, an art unit of ITB (Bandung Institute of Technology), and the rest is history.

The combination of modern, Western instruments and traditional, Eastern (in this case Balinese) instruments (gangsa, ceng ceng, kantil, jublag-Balinese gamelan, gong, kemplug) can be found in it. all has their own role, sharing each room in balanced portion. You can clearly hear the progressive jazz, but at the same time you will get the pure, mystical Balinese music. Not to mention the special segment where Jauk Keras (the Red-face Masked dancer) appear and walks around the audiences.  Calling this ensemble as Tesla Manaf feat Mahagotra Ganesha, they all open up a new musical world as well as proving how jazz could blended perfectly with just about any kind of music, including the traditional Balinese music and using it to send an important, positive message to everyone. (Read our review on the album here:





Herbie Hancock says: “Jazz has been the voice of freedom for so many countries over the past half century, so what the world needs is a little jazz diplomacy.”

Meanwhile the UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova says “Jazz has been a force for positive social transformation throughout its history, and it remains so today. This is why UNESCO created International Jazz Day,”

Yes, we do love jazz. We get entertained with it. Some of us play it, but don’t forget that jazz can function much, much more than just that. It can be used as an educational tool as well as a force for peace, unity and dialogue, and to enhance cooperation among people/nation. All will embrace the opportunity to foster greater appreciation not only for the music but also for the contribution as it can make to build more inclusive societies.

The spirit of jazz is the spirit of openness. The spirit of jazz is the spirit of friendship and mutual respect. The spirit of jazz is the spirit of sharing, appreciating and giving. The more people love music, the more peaceful and happy the world is. Jazz can be a great tool to promote peace and unity among people and nations. If you’re a jazz musician you can spread the message through your music. If you’re a jazz lovers, you can share love to others. Jazz people should be able to become an example or miniature of a peaceful and full-loving world. That’s what God wants, that’s what we need. Think of it. If you dream to have such world, you should start doing something real.

From our desk, we wish you Happy International Jazz Day, jazzy peeps! Let’s swing the world with love, peace and harmony! 

Written by: Riandy Kurniawan




Since 2012, the world has been celebrating a special day for jazz lovers called International Jazz Day. Herbie Hancock as the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and the Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova proclaimed April 30th as the date and set it to raise awareness in the international community of the virtues of jazz as an educational tool as well as a force for peace, unity, and dialogue. Jazz musicians and enthusiasts around the world celebrate it in their own ways. Just as we are getting closer to that day we received a very good news that should make us all proud. The little boy piano prodigy by the name of Joey Alexander is invited to participate in the annual benefit Gala Dinner of Jazz at Lincoln Center on May 1, 2014.

If playing at this jazzy corner of the historical complex of buildings in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City is already highly prestigious, Joey is going to get even more honor, because there he will perform with the living legend Wynton Marsalis and the great, great Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO). The concert is titled “LOVE, LOSS AND LAUGHER: THE STORY OF JAZZ”, set to be held at the Frederick P. Rose Hall, “The House of Swing”. Standing at the host is none other than famous movie star/comedian/MC, Billy Crystal. Joey is native Indonesian, and he’s still 10 years old. What a beautiful way for us Indonesian to celebrate this year’s International Jazz Day. And for your information, Joey is the only foreign musician that has an honour to play at this legendary concert. Way to go, Joey!



In conjunction with Joey’s upcoming performance “Love, Loss and Laughter: The Story of Jazz with Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Orchestra, a press conference was held on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 located at iCanStudioLive, Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta. Joey was there to explain everything about his involvement in this concert. It was a bit rainy out there and the press conference started later than on schedule. But joey warmth us with his magical hands on solo piano performance.

Then MC officially opened this press conference by greeting us and let Lucy Willar as the host of iCanStudioLive to give a little explanation about this wonderful kid and how he become one of featured artist at that concert. Denny Sakrie were also there to give his opinion about Joey from the expert view. He told us that Joey has a common thing with Indra Lesmana. They got their beautiful talent since they were toddlers. Denny believes that Joey will bring a great impact to Indonesian music industry. Lucy Willar called him as a ‘black diamond’ while Denny Sakrie mentioned that medias have called him as ‘Harry Potter of Jazz’. As you know, Joey always wear glasses that make him look exactly like Harry Potter, of course also the wizardous jazz piano playing. That’s the way we love to call him since the first time we spotted him in 2011 (

With the innocence of a child, Joey gave us a little explanation about how he started all of these until he could receive so many achievements internationally. It went really well and intimately. The attending medias congratulated him and asked him about how he prepared himself for this concert. We asked him will this concert affect him, he said that this is going to be one of his life’s legendary moments. He’s really excited and he is also ready to play there.

By now you should already be familiar with this wonder-kid. Imagine where you were and what you were doing at the age of 10, Joey has done things that not even adults or seniors can achieve.



Here’s a little profile of him. Joey was born in Denpasar, Bali on June 25, 2003. His parents bought him a mini keyboard when he was 6 years old. They got caught by surprise when noticing little Joey was already able to play the melody line of Thelonious Monk’s classic, “Well You Needn’t” out of nowhere. His parents directly gave him piano lesson. This little boy chewed everything up in no time. In just a year or so, he could already play difficult jazz renditions, mastering the improvisation with perfect skill that enabled him to play alongside big names in spontaneous jam sessions. For him, jazz is really great. You can play it spontaneously, with a coll improvisation. Jazz also gives him a freedom at playing and also, swing… That’s why he prefer jazz rather than other genres, such as modern or classic.

We met him for the first time at Indra Lesmana’s RW Jazz Lounge: The Christmas edition 2 years ago. At that time when he was still 8 years old he already stunned everyone by executing “My Favorite Things” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” flawlessly, just like a pro. At the age of 9 he already played alongside jazz giants and legends. He was invited by UNESCO in December 2011 to play solo piano in front of the jazz living legend Herbie Hancock during his visit to Inodnesia as a goodwill ambassador of UNESCO. He has graced many international festivals such as the Java Jazz Festival, JakJazz, Jazz Goes to Campus, World Youth Jazz Festival in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and gained spot at television. After winning the Grand Prix award of the first International Jazz Improvisation contest, Master-Jam Fest in Odessa, Ukraine last year by topping hundreds of other contestants (it was awarded not only for professionalism and talent, but also for whose performance became a phenomenon of jazz life), this year he’s in the news again by being featured in The Good News with the Ellen Degeneres Show.

In the invitation letter, Jason Olaine, the Director of Programming and Touring Jazz at Lincoln Center said this: “In my capacity as Director of programming and Touring for Jazz at Lincoln Center, I have the pleasure of inviting Mr. Joey Alexander to New York to participate in our annual benefit Gala with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, May 1, 2014. As a rising star on piano, we recognize his artistry and musicianship and would be honored to present him to our American audiences in New York City.”

If you ask us, Joey really deserves it. You will know it once you listen to his play or watch. We have seen him pinning complex compositions from Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter and Chick Corea just like a long time experienced pro. The last time we heard his piano playing was in a track “Glory Glory” with Benny Likumahuwa Jazz Connection in the new CD “Rekam Jejak Vol. 1″. In this track if you don’t see who plays, you will never dare to take a guess that it all came from a little boy. He plays maturely with high skill, really good at controlling and fully understand his role when playing with other cats. His improvisations are flawless and always appear in the right moment. Normally something like this only come from players who have been doing it for many decades, yet Joey is indeed one of a kind. He’s cute, sometimes shy, just like any other kids, but once he’s placed behind the piano, it’s all a different story.


Rio-Sidik -Sound-of-the-Mystical-Vibe


Although trumpet has existed long before jazz was born, trumpet has a significant role in this music. The trumpet has been using as the lead instrument since the birth of jazz in New Orleans. The character of trumpet which is loud and cutting can always allows the melody to be heard regardless what the other instruments are doing. Trumpet can carry the melody, can be seducing, can be provocative and of course able to run manic improvisations. From time to time Indonesia’s blessed by having great trumpeters. One of the leading ones is Rio Sidik.

Born and raised in Surabaya, the capital of East Java and build his carrer in the Land of Gods Bali, Rio has been active in the music scene over the years with many shiny achievements. The most recent one was when he collaborated with trumpeter Maurice Brown and the fab Incognito at the Bali Live International Jazz Festival 2014. What’s next? Well, Rio decides to move fast. Along with his group the Rio Sidik Quintet, he’s set to release his second album titled “Sound of the Mystical Vibe”.



Rio Sidik who also stands as the producer for the album decides to make it in different way. “This album is going to be made as Audio & Video Recording, because I want the fans to capture the energy when we perform live on stage. CD is good but it can’t hold the visual aspects.” said Rio during his live recording session at Ican Studio Live, Jakarta on Tuesday Night (April 1, 2014).

In this album, Rio Sidik leads on trumpet and vocal. Joining him are Ito Kurdhi (bass), Eman (keyboard/piano), Jeko Fauzy (gitar), Eddy Siswanto (drums). The album contains 10 songs, mostly written by Rio himself. I wrote some songs during my trip to Europe. That’s why there are some songs with the title of “Autumn in Moscow” and “Barceloneta” among them.” he said.



If you still don’t know much about this experienced trumpeter, let’s see a brief biography of him. Said to have music as a part of his life even since he was still in her mom’s belly, Rio seems to get it from his grandfather, also a trumpeter, Daryono, a big band leader. Not only the talent, but Daryono is the one who inducted him into music, built him to be an excellent trumpeter as well as strict education, strong work ethic and commitment. Other than his grandfather, his grandmother was a singer too that then continued by his mom and aunt.

This elder brother of soap opera actor, Dian Sidik has already played trumpet since he was still 8 years old. He started gracing the stage since 11-12 years old. “So I’m the third generation (in music),” he said while stating that he’s been playing all over places as early as 14 years of age.

His name rose after Indra Lesmana brought him inside the Reborn group/project in the first year of the third millenium. He frequently appeared with the late legend Bubi Chen, Erwin Gutawa Orchestra and with his music partner, keyboardist Erik Sondhy among others.

Speaking of live performance, he’s done it all. He has been touring to South Africa twice, frequently visits Malaysia at least twice a year, Singapore, Australia, Portugal, Spain, Netherland and Russia, just to mention a few. With his world music fusion band Saharadja he has participated in the first Java Jazz Festival in 2005 among many other prestigious spots.



In this live recording session, Rio Sidik got a surprise. Right after he sang “Tak Bisa Mendua”, a beautiful lady who belongs to a girlband Princess suddenly approached him on stage and handed him a bouquet of red roses. “Rio’s performance is awe-inspiring. I always love his songs. I wish to collaborate with him someday,” she revealed after the session.

Jazz means Freedom

Now let’s go more specifically to Rio Sidik and his jazzy side. According to him, jazz is not something he planned, but it’s more like something that flows naturally. “I play all kind of musics. About jazz… I just like it. Jazz means freedom. But I don’t want to be labelled as a jazz musician, because I’m willing to play the other genres too, as long as it is good.” he explained.

It can be clearly seen by the song choice he put up on the Sound of the Mystical Vibe where you can find variety of musical colors inside. “This one is more into soft jazz, more easy listening. Some has jazz standards pattern, but there are some pops too. (The album is) rich in variety, just like the process of life”, he said while smiling.

Speaking of his quintet, we enjoyed the performance at the Java Jazz Festival 2012. Being inspired by all time great trumpeter such as Miles Davis, Freddy Hubbard, Arturo Sandoval and Dizzy Gillespie, possessing a special gift in music and wide arrays of experiences shape him to be an acclaimed musician. Some says he’s playing a world class jazz fusion, but he often covers much wider musical terrains. He mixes his virtuoso trumpet solo with cool smooth, soulful singing style. He’s a charismatic band leader yet he’s easy going and joyful on stage which often brings happy mood to his audience. He’s capable in writing and composing too. All of these are the quality found inside Rio Sidik which should be able to bring him as one of the top world musicians particularly in jazz.



Along with the release of Rio Sidik’s second album “Sound of the Mystical Vibe”, he wishes to add more colors into the Indonesia’s music market and also the international scene in general. “May this album bring happiness to the music lovers and make more people listen to my music”. 10 songs found in the album are Too Much to Forget, Whisper from God, Kesari, Autumn in Moscow, Tak Bisa Mendua, Andai, On My Scooter, Hope and, Love, Make Somebody Happy.

We congratulate Rio Sidik for this new album and wish him the best. If you live or visit Bali, check out his gig schedule in his page and Twitter You can listen to some of his songs at Soundcloud and Myspace Get ready to grab his newest album released in both audio and video format, and experience the mystical vibe with your ears, eyes and senses.

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Written by: Riandy Kurniawan
Source (texts and photos) are provided by Syahnoer




In 2010 ESQI:EF made a big breakthough with a very successful album, “Anytime”. This follows the first one made 3 years earlier which created a solid start entitled “Buat Kamu”. We called Anytime a breakthrough because it got good result in cross-genre Indonesian independent music scene right from the first time it was launched. Some songs became big radio hit such as the disco beat “Sayang Sayang Sayang”, the power pop “Kekasih Palsu” and the candy sweet bossa, “Anytime”. Well, these songs were released 4 years ago. Many of their fans would wonder what’s next, where they would release the new album and most importantly, what concept would they bring. We have heard about the making process of this album since at least 2 years ago. We have even heard one song, “Morning Coffee”, sung by Syaharani herself on the stage of Jakarta Blues Festival 2010. But the album didn’t exist… until now. If you’re their fan, you should be excited because ESQI:EF a.k.a Syaharani and the Queenfireworks has finally released the third album by the title of “Selalu Ada Cinta” (In English: “There’s Always Love”) via DeMajors.


The first launching was held last Saturday, March 9, 2014 at Driving Range, Senayan Jakarta early in the morning, around 9:00 am. If you wonder why, ESQI:EF thought it would be perfect to launch the album where the single “Morning Coffee” existed at the morning coffee hour. Because of that, the scene we got was different than others, because before the ceremonial show took place we saw everyone enjoying coffees on their tables. You can imagine the scene.

Then the complete team of ESQI:EF came in. Surprisingly, they didn’t talk about the album first, instead they served an early morning live performance. Syaharani (vocals), Didit Saad, Donny Suhendra (guitar), Fajar Trias, Andy Gomez (keys), Sirhan Bahasuan (drums) and Kristian Dharma (bass) were all there looking happy like a happy family.


The first few songs surely set brighter mood for everyone. Then Syaharani led everyone to sit in front, explaining about the third and new album, “Selalu Ada Cinta”. In this morning talk, Syaharani explained that Donny Suhendra contributes big deal in this album as something like music supervisor. Meaning that he has to make sure that everything fit in place. So Syaharani writes, Didit works in the studio, and then the final word would come from Donny, the most senior and experienced figure in the team.

ESQI:EF actually is a brainchild of three musicians with quite different backgrounds. Syaharani is known as an iconic jazz diva, Didit Saad is an important figure in independent music scene, at since geng Potlot. Then there’s an all rounder guitarist, great in blues, rock and fusion besides the other music styles, Donny Suhendra. With the various background of these three figures, plus the rest of the players which bring many other influences, you can take a guess why ESQI:EF never stays in one particular genre. Hence, their music is rich and colorful in style.

According to Syaharani, what makes the ESQI:EF concept rich is that they all don’t stay under just one band. Each of them play in many projects or listed in different bands with different flavors. This fact gives the band plenty of variation to choose. Such evidence can be found in any of their album. Whether it’s Light Jazzy, Power Pop, Acoustic, Ambience, Lounge Dance, Groove, Blues, Soul, Rock, Bossa, the indie music, the sound of the 70’s and so on, that know how to present their flow of taste.


For this third album, eventhough they are still digging up wide variety of sounds, the concept is actually different. Syaharani herself explained that while they still keep the habit of highlighting something retro, this time it’s different. “We did different guitar reamping and so on, so soundwise speaking, it’s different.” explained Syarahani. Other than that, you will find cozier and calmer songs in this album and two vintage swing, scatting, except the album carrier “Morning Coffee” which lies inside the frame of rock n’ roll. Simply put, the ESQI:EF taste can still be felt, but it’s time for them to move into another zone, while still easy listening, melodical, fun and enjoyable.

Following the release of this album, ESQI:EF plans to go on tour, visiting West, Center and East Java.

Another story is coming from the title which clearly speaks about love. When we see this word, most likely our thoughts would go to romance between couple. Well, that’s not their intention at all. Listen to what Syaharani says: “This album is not about people fall in love, but it’s more about love as a blessing. As long as you have, find and feel love, no matter what your condition is, you can cope with everything.” She also said: “In the mortal world, everything will always come and go, but love will always exist.” The album is also made after a very long process. Even so, they weren’t rushing everything at all. Instead, they just let it all flow. It’s some kind of natural process of soul searching, where the hearts of the team go at present time that got translated into music. What’s also important is that every song they make is special. So in order for you to get the message and enjoy it at max, you should listen to all songs from start to finish.

After some more explanations, they performed again, carrying about three more songs including the carrier “Morning Coffee”. During this session they also presented video trip when they were in Banyuwangi for the purpose of making Morning Coffee video clip. We all could see that they were serious in exploring every side of Banyuwangi without losing the fun factor at all. They all looked happy, cheerful and took it actually as a long holiday.  The ceremonial tumpeng (a special rice dish that is usually served in Javanese traditional ceremonies or to celebrate events) cutting took place too. David Karto of DeMajors was the first one being handed by Syaharani.


Another thing that hopefully can be felt is that the group is getting more solid than ever. It’s not even a group, it’s more like happy family. So whenever they create something, you can expect good stuffs within. Listen to all the songs in the album, you will get their true heart and trueself, at the most honest way. Once again this album is made as a tribute and love to the roots of music, without taking any sides, served humbly but tasty in ESQI:EF’s cooking style.

We congratulate our dear friend(s), Syaharani and the QueenFireworks for the new album. May this album be as successful as the previous ones, or even manage to climb another height. Whether you’re one of the fans or not, as long as you’re into good music, ESQI:EF’s “Selalu Ada Cinta” will quench your thirst. Music to share, they say, we say it absolutely is, in a very lovely way.

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Reporter/Photographer: Mia Damayanti
Written by: Riandy Kurniawan