As Java Jazz Festival 2011 gets nearer, it’s time for us to feature some of the must-see bands or artists who will give their best shot at this biggest jazz show on earth. While you might have been waiting for the international artists such as George Benson, Santana, Kenny Loggins, Fourplay, Acoustic Alchemy, Corrine Bailey Rae, Sondre Lerche and others to drop their bomb on Java Jazz Festival 2011‘s ground zero, there are some of the bands from our own land really worth to check out. They are great for their authenticity and uniqueness in creating something new like you’ve never heard before. One of them is Iwan Hasan, Andien, Enggar Widodo and Metta Legita‘s Chamber Jazz. This band offers something different. They are rich in creativity and often manage to surprise us with their music concept. There are many things to talk about them. Let’s take a closer look at this very interesting Chamber Jazz.
This Chamber Jazz is a unique collaboration between four musicians creating a unique combination of guitar, vocals, piano and tuba. Each of the four musicians is well established in their individual careers in the Indonesian music scene. There is no drummer in the group, and the tuba functions as the bass player. While traditionally the tuba is used in early pre 1920 forms of jazz such as in “trad jazz” or Dixieland, the group plays in a predominantly modern jazz style, besides incorporating classical, contemporary, and occasionally Indonesian ethnic influences.
The beginnings of this group started as an idea after Iwan Hasan and Andien had collaborated on various occasions since 2005, when Andien started to often sing with Iwan’s band Discus , especially singing their song “For This Love” (from Discus’ 1st album) live in Discus’ concerts throughout the years. Outside Discus, Iwan and Andien had also collaborated on various occasions, whether performing as a duo or with a back-up band. Occasionally Iwan also guested on Andien’s solo show. Eventually Discus brought Andien along to Germany to sing “For This Love” and one other Discus song in their performance at the prestigious Frank Zappa tribute festival “Zappanale 2009” in Bad Doberan, Germany. Iwan and Andien had also performed as a duo in Brussels.
Building on their chemistry as a vocal – guitar duo, Iwan’s knack for experimentation, taking risks and doing the unusual started to fill up his head. He imagined they could work with a tuba player (functioning as bassist) and a pianist to form a chamber music group. He would draw upon influences from both his contemporary classical composition and jazz training altogether, and combine them to create a new chamber jazz sound with classical sensibilities. A leap into the unknown, considering there had been no precedent regarding this format. There had never been a permanent group with the lineup of guitar, vocals, piano and tuba, without percussion, and playing jazz instead of classical, albeit classically influenced. While their repertoire consists mainly of jazz standards, unknown waters are still to be discovered as the group freely explores any direction they could ever imagine, occasionally incorporating ethnic Indonesian influences and avant garde experimentation, while still maintaining an accessible jazz sound. In some occasions they also play rearranged versions of songs from Andien’s and Iwan’s albums. Despite this breaking of boundaries, the Chamber Jazz is still a jazz group, hence improvisation still plays an important role in the music.
This very interesting group consists of 4 musicians. The creator/founder/brain Iwan Hasan (also on guitar and vocal), the sweetheart Andien on lead vocal, Enggar Widodo on tuba and trombone and last but not least Metta Legita who has just replaced Mery Kasiman on piano. Let’s take a dive into each personnel’s profile.
Educated in jazz and classical, Iwan Hasan is known as the founder, music director, guitarist, lead vocalist and main composer of the ethnic progressive band Discus, considered as the pioneer of Indonesian progressive rock. The band’s albums had been released in Italy, France, and Japan as well as Indonesia and had toured North America and Europe several times, performing in various festivals such as the Zappanale festival in Germany, ProgSol in Switzerland, Baja Prog in Mexico, ProgDay and Knitting Factory in the US, as well as Java Jazz Festival 2006. They headlined their own show in Wurzburg Germany in 2005 with Swedish band Liquid Scarlet as their opening act. They also won two Anugerah Musik Indonesia (AMI) awards, and the Belgian progressive magazine Prog Resiste listed their first album “1st” as one of the world’s five best progressive albums in 1999. Discus is the only Indonesian band listed in the Progressive Rock Handbook, by Jerry Lucky. CG Publishing, 2008, ISBN 978-18949-59766. Their albums earned criticial acclaims in various progressive magazines and websites in the USA, Germany, Belgium, Italy, France, Uzbekistan, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Japan and the UK. Iwan studied at Willamette University in Salem, Or, USA and received the Music Department Outstanding Student Award.
During his Willamette years in the late 1980s he became one of the most prominent jazz guitarists around the Salem area. He had the experience of sending the crowd in hysteria at Mt Hood Jazz Festival in Oregon with his guitar playing with the Willamette Jazz Ensemble. On other occasions he had jammed with Lew Tabackin and Don Lanphere, among others, and was semi finalist in 1991 Portland Classical Guitar Competition. He also is an orchestra arranger on Indonesian Top 40 pop albums such as various albums by Ungu, ST12, Boomerang, Getah, and others. His discography includes 23 albums to date in which he appears either as artist, guest performer, composer, music director, vocal director, arranger or producer. He is also one of only two harp guitar players in Asia and his solo harp guitar performance is released on an American harp guitar compilation album called Beyond Six Strings. His contemporary classical chamber music composition Images was premiered in Salem, Oregon, USA in 1991 to a standing ovation. He was also one of Indonesian composers featured in the prestigious Pekan Komponis IX in Jakarta, 1998. Since mid 2010 Iwan resigned from Discus to continue with other musical activities.
Andien is one of Indonesia’s most prominent jazz singers. Starting her career by earning three times weekly champion in Asia Bagus singing competition in Bali in 1999 as well as copper prize in Shanghai Asia New Singer Competition in 2000, she has released four albums to date which had produced many hit singles. She had also won three Anugerah Musik Indonesia (AMI) awards in 2000 and another two in 2002 and several Indonesian Music Video awards in 2000 and 2002. In 2001 she won the Best Female Newcomer in Planet Music Awards, Singapore as well as being nominated for Best Artist that same year.
She studied jazz singing with Elfa Secioria and later with Deviana Daudsjah, two of the most prominent jazz educators in Indonesia. Although her albums lean more to a jazzy pop direction, she also sings jazz standards and is active in the Indonesian jazz scene, often featured in the country’s various jazz festivals. Since 2005 she had often collaborated with Iwan Hasan and his band Discus, including performing with the band at Java Jazz Festival 2006 and at the prestigious Zappanale festival in Germany in 2009, as well as performing with Iwan as a duo. She had collaborated with Jeff Lorber in Java Jazz Festival 2005, Bob James in ASEAN Jazz Festival 2008 in Batam, with Japanese vocal ensemble Jammin’ Zeb in Java Jazz Festival 2008, as well as Griffith Frank and Bubi Chen in Java Jazz Festival 2010. She also often performs with various orchestras in Jakarta such as the Twilite Orchestra, Magenta Orchestra and Dian Indonesia Band. In mid 2010 she had released her fourth album “Kirana” which featured her new hit single “Moving On”. (Check out our review of this album here). This song quickly became a major hit in Indonesian music charts as well as video charts. Her second single “Pulang” is currently being promoted. Andien also appeared as guest artist on the recent Ungu album on the hit song “Saat Bahagia”, with Iwan Hasan as her vocal director.
Enggar Widodo is the most in demand session trombonist and tubist in the Indonesian jazz, classical, and pop music scene. He plays with many different orchestras and often appears in numerous Indonesian TV shows. He is also one of the founders of Pitoelas Big Band, one of the best jazz big bands in Indonesia.
Metta Legita holds a bachelors degree in music from Institut Musik Daya Indonesia, in which she studied under the tutelage of Deviana Daudsjah and is a rising young pianist and jazz arranger. Currently she is also a faculty of Institut Musik Daya Indonesia where she teaches piano. Last December she showed up at the Sunday Jazz’ Jazz & Perempuan as a celebration to the Mother’s Day in jazz at Potluck Kitchen, Bandung.
This project is the brainchild of Iwan Hasan. Since its inception, the group had created a refreshing alternative in the Indonesian jazz scene. The material performed mainly consists of jazz standards, some songs from Iwan’s and Andien’s albums, and adaptations of Indonesian traditional ethnic songs. One of their staple pieces is the “JAVANESE SUITE”. An idea by Andien, it is a collection of four traditional Javanese folksongs she learned as a child, arranged, recomposed and structured by Iwan to form a suite, in which Iwan plays the prepared guitar (acoustic guitar with staples on the strings – an adaptation of John Cage’s prepared piano technique) to simulate gamelan sounds with no electronic effects.
Occasionally (but not always) the group collaborates with the Saxophone section of Pitoelas Big Band, the big band that Enggar founded. In the future, the group plans to record an album together. One thing for sure, the authenticity of this group sparkles within the rarely unique concept. Chamber Jazz is very potential to be one of the Indonesian jazz milestones, and definitely capable to stand as the ambassador of our jazz throughout the world. It’s one of the show you should not missed at the Java Jazz Festival 2011. Stay tuned for their performing schedule.
Watch Iwan Hasan, Andien, Mery & Enggar CHAMBER JAZZ performs JAVANESE SUITE
Special thanks to Iwan Hasan