Java Jazz Festival 2012: Héctor Infanzón, Chaseiro, Joey De Francesco, Shadow Puppets feat Nesia Ardi, Emerald BEX and Nils Wogram Nostalgia

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The last day of Java Jazz Festival 2012 was spectacular! Colorful music styles and lots of unique performances from all jazz artists hypnotized everyone at JIExpo Jakarta. It became an essential big music event for world jazz scene. Several musicians who eventually rocked that venue are Hector Infanzon, Chaseiro, Joey De Francesco, Shadow Puppets feat Nesia Ardi, Emerald BEX and Nils Wogram Nostalgia.

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If you want to hear jazz with all its improvisation being channeled into Latins in perfectly fine blend, one of the artists you should listen to is Héctor Infanzón. This Berklee College of Music alumnus doesn’t just put over some Latin percussions or sound into jazz, or trying to squeeze in jazz into Latins, but he just naturally use both as the media to pour out his feelings and expressions. Some traces of classical can shine here and there, adding up the tonal hues into her sparkling music.

Perhaps one might wonder how this man find this winning formula. Listen to what he said: “I was raised on Latin music and improvisation is the channel for me to express all my emotions, ideas and the personal way I conceive the world; through improvisation I can explore different musical forms, that..s why I try to experiment with different musical elements every time I play and compose”. Yes, Infanzon established himself in between Mexican folklore, classical, Latin American music idomis, Afro Carribean tradition plus jazz where he can express himself totally through improvisations.

Standing tall as a pianist, composer and arranger, he has worked with so many names in the Latin world, took part in two Grammy Award winning albums with Sin Bandera, involved in Ricky Martin‘s world tour between 1999 to 2001 and performed with Dave Valentin and Carlos Santana among others. He has written music for various shapes of band and wide array or genres, from jazz trio to string quintet and piano even further to reach orchestra and piece for harpsichord and piano. After performing in some international festival such as Montreal Jazz Festival in 2009, finally he got the chance to share his sophisticated taste of music for us at the Java Jazz Festival 2012.

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It’s not easy to keep the same band members for many years. We have seen many solid bands had to suffer when some of their fellows decided to leave the band for many reasons. But here we have a legendary vocal harmony group that still solid as one team after passing through the test of time. This year they will celebrate their group’s 34th anniversary. That’s not a short time. Everything could happen during those years, but somehow they are still together, even closer than ever. Yes, we are talking about Chaseiro.

Ear catchy melody, top-notch vocal harmony and smart lyrics (including many socio-political critisms and spirit-uplifting words) served in rainbow-like variety of genres have become their strength from the start. Candra Darusman (keyboard, vocal), Helmie Indrakesuma (vocal), Aswin Sastrowardoyo (guitar, vocal), Edi Hudioro (flute), Irwan Indrakesuma (vocal), Rizali Indrakesuma (bass, vocal) and Omen Sonisontani (vocal) are still passionate to sail over the most current music scene along with much younger bands we know today. They still have many things to prove, and what’s great about it is that they still have the power to do so. Not long ago they released a new album entitled “Retro”, consists of their rearranged hits to suit today’s music trend. Soon they will hold their special concert entitled “Chaseiro Music & Friends” at The Hall, Senayan City on March 16, 2012 featuring stars such as Andien, Lala Suwages, Iwa K, Riza Arshad and many more. Before that, they landed first on the Java Jazz Festival’s stage and brought their fans into a memory lane with their evergreens.

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Joey DeFrancesco is one of the most famous jazz organists in the world that has inspired many successful musicians and has been working for years in music scene with uncountable wondrous artists such as Ray Charles, Bette Midler, David Sanborn, Arturo Sandoval, Frank Wess, Benny Golson, James Moody, Steve Gadd, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Cobb, George Benson, John Scofield, Joe Lovano, and more. During his career he has received many prestigious achievements. Two of them are Down Beat Critics and Readers poll since 2002 and Jazz Journalist award. In 2004 Joey was nominated for a Grammy for his record “Falling In Love Again” and again for “Never Can Say Goodbye” in 2010.

Along with his trio, he has played around the world and also with David Sanborn. If we look back to his history, we’ll find that he grew up in musical family, his father John DeFrancesco was a jazz pianist and his grandfather is Joseph DeFrancesco was a reed man. When he was in his teens he signed a contract with Columbia Records and released “All of Me”. He made his own quartet and years after he jouned into a group “Free Spirits” with drummer Dennis Chamber. At last year Java Jazz Festival, he amazed the audience by playing hammond organ together with Byron Landham and Paul Bollenback on his side in bringing out the special tribute to Michael Jackson, just like the theme of his album “Never Can Say Goodbye”. It was a really great performance, so great that he made some of our musicians got inspired by him. Some have even established their own bands right away, like Mr Funkenstein and Fanny Kuncoro Organ Quartet. This year he’s back again with another selected songs, but still with the same strong jazz statement over his Hammond weapon. It was an honor to watch Joey again at the same festival in 2012, public was treated to smart compositions and posh arrangements by world class musician like him.

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From four to two, this is the latest formation of Shadow Puppets after the separation of two fellows. This time Irsa Destiwi on piano and Robert Mulyarahardja on guitar brought two additional players, Elfa Zulham as drummer and Kevin Yosua Makarawung as upright bassist without losing the original ingredients of Shadow Puppets. This group is well-known for their uniqueness and productivity in music, especially jazz. Irsa and Robert also do some other projects besides shadow puppets and these things add the richess of their musical taste and make them expert in playing many genres outside jazz. Their creativities were poured out within the tracks they served tonight for the flocks and the performance was complete also because Nesia Ardi as one of few competent jazz singers. Recently she is trusted to be the occasional vocalist in Shadow Puppets, giving freshly ambience, and Irsa said they will selectively choose some tracks that suit Nesia’s voice.

It’s not easy of course to keep the band balance after losing two of its members, but we know Robert and Irsa will fight to keep it shine. Having some highly capable musicians to replace what’s empty inside the band is one of the right move. All ran smooth tonight without any problem. It’s interesting to see the new shape of Shadow Puppets, and it’s even more interesting to see what will come next from them. Keep going and keep the spirit up, Robert and Irsa! And as we always say, Long live the Puppets!

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You might be familiar with the name Emerald-Bex (BEX=Band EXplosion) or you might be enlightened by the first word of the name, Emerald. Yes, Emerald or now will be more known as Emerald-BEX is the same as the legendary jazz fusion band you knew in the old times. They reunite again with the same players such as Iwang Noorsaid as keyboardist, Roedyanto as electric bassist, and Morgan Sigarlaki as electric guitarist. Besides the three seniors, this group also presented one potential young drummer, Riyandi Andaputra, still 15 years old.

As a prolongation of the former famous Emerald, they already have their own special segment of fans. We can see their truly lovers assembled tonight to listen the power fusion they played and the way they brought us back into the glorious late of 80s and the early of 90s. A long journey of music career has taught them to maintain the spirit, energy, and passion within their selves; therefore an audience once said, “They are already blended completely with their instruments…it’s not someone playing music anymore, it’s the music that comes alive.” when they performed in North Sumatera Jazz Festival 2011.

This worth-waited, across generations collaboration group brought their famous hits such as “Meet at Peacock”, “Journey to Sabang Street” and “11 Juli”, a song that reflected the day they were born in 1986, among other cool explosive fusion compositions. BEX Emerald consists of experienced musicians who can make their band and music shines and valuable like emerald. May they keep on shining in the future.

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Nils Wogram is not only a German composer but also a well-known trombonist, counted as one of the most enterprising jazz musician in European music industry. A flawless formation of the great talents when he together with Brian Charette (Hammond organ) and Dejan Terzic (Drums) proposed a formation of live performer in those stages of jazz sphere in the name of Nils Wogram Nostalgia, but for exception we can listen to Florian Ross’ tunes on B3 Hammond organ in one of their recording format.

Wogram is a real multitalented musician as we know he dived into some different genres in his journey in music industry. About the group Nostalgia, it came from his love towards stunning trios using Hammond organ that he had seen many times in Harlem during his stay in New York. He finally established his own trio in 2004 and due to the idea of bringing back the memory, he named the trio as Nostalgia.

Tonight we are indulged with his ability in playing European contemporary tunes. These German artistic musicians delivered manic explorations without losing the grip to have fun on stage. He could rely himself on the unconventional beats (like the way the group play their song “Friday the 13th”), reggae and pop arithmetic shimmering with melodica (for example in “Swing ‘em Home”), stomping analog fake electronic beats (“Copenhagen”) and epic melody and harmony arcs (“Fundamentals”) in addition to the obligatory syncopated 4/4 trips through time. Many tastes, flavors and styles on the plate, but no matter what they are always connected one to another just like a triangle, where you can find your delight in every corner. A really wonderful choice from Serambi Jazz to include this group as their represntative at the Java Jazz Festival for the first time. We really enjoyed it. Ein herzliches Dankeschön, Nils Wogram Nostalgia Trio and Goethe Institut!

So, that was some great and world class shows. How time flies too fast. Sunday was over but the atmosphere, the crowd, and whole situation at Java Jazz 2012 was unforgetable. Public was addicted to this event, and for sure Java Jazz will get more and more number of audience next year. Are you ready to make a fantastic blast in 2013? Don’t miss it.

See more pictures:

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Team on duty:

Reporter: Riandy Kurniawan, Ata Michaella, Mellysa Anastasya, Ghea Sagita, Bintang S Tania, Fardhani Ramadhana, Daniel Irawan, Vierna Mariska, Muhammad Fadhly
Photographer: Omar Arif Maulana, I Putu Surya KB, Praditya Nova, Dwi Ratri Utomo, Febrian Dirga

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