How was your Saturday night? Well ours was double thumbs up after a whole day at Jakarta International Expo Kemayoran with the Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival 2013. Day one sent us home with smiles and so did day two, so far with bigger smiles indeed!
Like yesterday, the second day bloomed fast with Diego Maroto‘s second session and a very special project which involved a lot of stars with Ambonese origin called Amboina. These two shows ran together with Mery Kasiman Project ft. Aksan Sjuman, Riza Arshad, but special for today, they had Monita Tahalea as guest stars at Semeru Garuda Indonesia Hall. Mery Kasiman found her passion in jazz/pop music instead of classic and has been active inside the squared jazz circle for quite some times. When we heard about her having a session at this festival for the first time, we felt happy because we know she deserved it. Aside of supporting her husband Julian ‘Joy’ Marantika’s upcoming album, she works hard on establishing herself too.
This project with Aksan Sjuman, the man whose ability in playing drums is undoubtedly acclaimed, and Riza Arshad, the unique musicians who loves the experiment in mixing jazz and traditional music brought a very interesting performance. This pairings might sound like a surprise to you, but actually they have been playing together many times. In fact, Mary also has a role in Aksan Sjuman and the Committee of the Fest and active as a copyist and movie scorer orchestrator with Aksan. As predicted, she played wonderfully tonight. Trust us, you will hear her a lot more often soon because this girl is really something.
A dear friend of Indonesia’s jazz scene, Jeremy Monteiro graced the soil again, this time with his electrifying new group, The Asian Jazz All-Stars Power Quartet. The name could sound heavy, but it’s exactly like that if you look at the personals inside. Other than the Singaporean virtuoso Jeremy Monteiro himself on the piano, the group features the internationally famous guitarist from Hong Kong, Eugene Pao, innovative drummer from Thailand Chanutr Techatana-nan and amazing sax-man from Philippines, Tots Tolentino. You could only imagine how the jazz would shape in the hands of big cats like this, but from our point of view, it’s the spectacular combination between colorful sceneric sound of piano, kaleidoscopic saxophone sound scape, the groovy swingin’ polyrhytmical drum pattern and daring guitar stunts. This group had huge success in their Asia-Europe Autumn Tour in 2012before they came back for an exclusive concert in Singapore. It’s impossible not to have this kind of supergroup in a festival like this, apparently the Java Festival Production seemed to think the same. Three South East Asian musicians plus one from the South-Eastern part of Asia joined forces with an excellent outcome. Having a players like this should make us all proud, because they have given such strong statement through their music that the South East(ern) Asian nations are not the second class in the world’s jazz scene.
Taking a step into a new adventure of soul and jazz is Lauren Kinhan. She is also a member of a few music projects such as Moss, Jalala and New York Voices which the latter is also on the list at this year’s Java Jazz Festival. Her latest album Avalon is another fine example of how she comfortably bridges the jazz and adult alternative worlds and how Lauren herself comfortably bridges her songs and her talent with the audience. She created a lounge-ish ambience, we felt like sitting in a comfy jazz club, relaxing with a glass of wine.
Speaking of Big Band in Indonesia, there’s a relatively new one that’s been doing really well. It’s the HajarBleh Big Band. It’s not easy to carry on the big band concept when the mainstream doesn’t go to that direction, yet this band has tremendous progress. Led by Robert Joko (Arranger, conductor, mentor and keys), this unique ‘crazy gang’ could shape themselves in various formations according to the needs. They bring the big band concept to a new phase, with the joy of playing, harmony, freedom and variety placed on top.
They delivered top jazz and pop tunes such as “Mercy Mercy Mercy”, “Sing Sing Sing”, “Bananeira”, “St. Thomas”, “Summertime”, “Incompatibilidade de Genios”, “Chamelon”, “Barcelona”, “The Best of Earth Wind and Fire” plus their new original song “Bulan Di Atas Teras Kota”. “It’s a blessing indeed, finally we got the shot to perform here!” said trumpeter Wildan Abdat in joy. We felt that too in their session. Not just a band that’s big which plays swing, they can widen their concept to give surprises. Just like the meaning of HajarBleh, an Indonesian slang which encourages people to just go for it and be brave, this gang of happy souls plan to paint the big band formation with more colors and possibilities. Keep up the good work, guys! Hope to see you again in the other festivals soon. “Playing music is not for showing off, but music is an expression. If you do something wrong, don’t be afraid, just try again.” Said Roberto Joko.
Indonesian Youth Regeneration (IYR) was another group that caught many eyes and ears upbringing the future of Indonesian Jazz into a broader stage of listeners in fun, groovy way. The current members of IYR are Dennis Junio (saxophone), Demas Narawangsa (drums), Albert Fakdawer (vocals), Reno Castello (guitar) and Ankadiov Subran (Bass). Meanwhile, huge bash in the great stage came from the Extra Large! Comprised by Davina in vocal, Pandu in bass, Agape in drum and Pandji in guitar, they are capable enough to perform and give different taste of jazz music colored with the fun beat. If they named their band by how they see the size of their members, well we’ll say they’ve got extra large talent and an extra large crowd loving them for sure.
George Duke and Stanley Clarke as Clarke/Duke 4 took place again, this time at the D2 Djarum Super Mild Hall, enabling those who missed their performance on Friday to finally got the chance. Kaori Kobayashi is the talented jazz saxophonist from Japan. She started play music on her very young age and played a piano before she was join on the band and start to play flute. She hanging for just four years on the flute, and choose to played saxophone. She got the learn from Bob Zangu how to play the saxophone in a jazz setting. If we have seen saxtress from the west such as Mindi Abair, Pamela Williams and Jessy J, now we experienced saxtress from the East who can play just as good. We had a quick interview with the beautiful Kaori where she said it is her first time at Java Jazz and she’s extremely happy to be here. Kaori played flute in an amazing “Loving You”, continued by covering “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Life for You” with her saxophone and a closing of “City Lights” which blew the audience away. She’s also happy that she’s with two other performers from Japan, Noon and Fried Pried and satisfied with the crowd and enthusiasm here at Jiexpo. Asking about other saxophonists in Japan, Kaori stated that now in Japan, the amount of saxophonists are increasing. So maybe hopefully for other performances we will be able to see more talents like Kaori Kobayashi.
The newcomer Yassovi marked her way big time by joining this year’s lineup. After we enjoyed her youtube videos; some were made in her room; now we caught her in person. Beautiful girl, beautiful voice with beautiful sets of songs, this girl will be the next Raisa.
Let’s check out what was going on at the other spot. Talking about Smooth Jazz on acoustic guitars, the name Earl Klugh must always come to mind. Known as one of the finest acoustic guitar players for many years, Klugh was founded by Chet Atkins on the Perry Como Show at the very young age. He has a remarkable style in fusing jazz, pop and R&B beyond a melodious contemporary music and speaks mostly about love. Through the years, Klugh has recorded over 30 albums with 12 grammy nominations, one OST recording from a sweet movie “Just Between Friends”, many collaborations with various jazz legends such as Bob James, Ramsey Lewis, Joe Sample, George Benson and also legendary divas like Patti Austin and Roberta Flack. Many songs of him still remains in our hearts such as “Living Inside Your Love”, “Magic In Your Eyes”, Al Jarreau’s “This Time”, “Crazy For You”, “Melrose Place’s Theme song”, “Wishful Thinking” and “If You’re Still In Love With Me.” In this year’s episode, Klugh gave something very special by collaborating with the other famous smooth jazz saxophonist, Nelson Rangell.
Although known as a famous smooth-jazz saxophonist, Nelson Rangell actually started with picollo flute. His success was sparkling on the late 80s when Rangell signed by Larry Rosen and Dave Grusin at the legendary GRP Records. In there, Rangell straightly gained success, joining other famous jazz saxophonists like Eric Marienthal and David Sanborn. Over 8 albums and many collaborations at GRP including with The Rippingtons, Patti Austin and Chuck Loeb, Rangell keeps himself on track with Shanachie Records until now. His most famous work in Indonesia is the instrumental version of Janet Jackson’s “Let’s Wait A While” which is listed in the album “Playing For Keeps” (1989). Two smooth jazz heroes shared the stage in one pleasuring session, we can’t help but wish them to come again. It was another memorable moment from the Java Jazz Festival 2013.
Soul Music System took over the Citra Intirama Stage, then Bandanaira and Mellow Motif launched their musics in the other corners. Mellow Motif were back on stage after gathering a large crowd on the first day. Continued with Bandanaira, a duo of Lea Simanjuntak (vocal) and Irsa Destiwi (piano). They have been friends for a long time, since they both studied at FKIP Atmajaya University Jakarta. The name comes from the beautiful island in Maluku Islands (Moluccan Islands). They came up with the beautifully song from Indonesian traditional songs or maybe some of folk songs with the taste of jazz so they will make us proud of our traditional songs that wrapped with something awesome like jazz.
Eldar Djangirov, the so-called “Tiger Woods of Jazz” who put up another fascinating show in front of a great crowd, got his second performance today, then a group called Next Project jazzed the Masima Stage. Almost at the same time a legendary guitarist brought a swingin’ delight. Oele Pattiselano is the master of inserting moods in every strum to create one pure, natural swing. Often he sounds simple, his calm expression can be deceiving, but once you listen closely, it’s magical. Not often brought by him, this year he expanded his horizon by playing in the shape of septet. Not only we enjoyed a made-simple but lovely concert, we could also learn and taste the pure swing, came from the heart of this legendary guitarist with international reputation.
A masterpiece of eighteen members, Dutch Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw steps in to delight the fine night with their ear-pleasing flow of rhythms produced by the musical instruments trumpets, trombones, drums, guitar, double bass, reeds, and piano, conducted by the bandleader Henk Meutgeert. They are known as the current most talented jazz musicians around the Netherlands – exactly; all the way from the land of the Oranje to our very own Java island! A band called Next Project rest their case on the Masima stage.
Akira Yokota with virtuoso guitarist Norio virtuoso run in the name of Fried Pride, a duo who annually delivered album since their selftitled in 2001. “Street Walking Woman”, “Heat Wave”, “That’s My Way”, “Two, too”, “Musicream” and “Milestone”; those list in red line to recognize their existence in American music scene without omitting their tag as featured in Japanese Concord Label.
If this duo came from the Land of the Rising Sun, the other stage rocked with a fast-rising duo from our own soil, Bubu Giri. This dynamic duo which consists of Setia Giri Agung/Giri (guitar) and Ratna Dewi Anggraeni/Bubu (vocals) gave tasty groovy jazz blues with spontanity, the thing that makes them stand differently from any other players in the field. This time, in fact, they gave us some fresh stuff – beatboxing a Dave Koz cover! Moreover, they also put up a real good show when they passed us a Sundanese atmosphere with the bamboo flute. They come from Bandung and established good communication with the audience while singing and playing, resulting a very unpredictably entertaining session.
Tulus’ tender crooning vocals also lit up our Saturday night. He has been on many stages building his way up through the lists of top performers. He’s proven to us that hard work does pay off because he’s been through his own journey through music events and festivals like this. It’s always hard to let go of the romantic scene that he is always able to create every time performing on stage. But on the other hand, his voice was also able to get us off our feet and dance. His voice just never fails to please the audience. Tonight at the Java Jazz Festival 2013 Tulus had his performance accompanied by all his music pals who were also there during the recording for the making of his album. To top it off, it is also this time that he gladly sang every single song in his album, plus two other new ones. Now this has formed some real satisfied audience, hasn’t it? During Tulus’ show, Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin once again gave tremendous highlights at the A3 BNI Hall, and Spyro Gyra changed their role, this time presenting a music clinic. It was such a surprising number of audience there at the area.
In the other side of the venue, we caught the very popular bassist especially among youngsters, Barry Likumahuwa with his group. For the fusion fans, the name of Weather Report will always ring the bell out loud. As one of the most important pioneer of American fusion back in the early 1970, the contribution of Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, Jaco Pastorius, Peter Erskine, Narada Michael Walden, Alex Acuña, Omar Hakim and the other players who colored this group in various formations of the band are countless to shape the form of music; where jazz, rock, R&B, artistic to ethnic music live in harmony; into a new, innovative and challenging hybrid. The band is gone, but certainly not forgotten. Many musicians still inspired by them and carry their legacy, including Barry Likumahuwa who has this group as one of his important inspiration. So it’s about time for him to pay respect to the band with a special tribute. What’s interesting is he chose to launch the concept with his popular band which usually goes more into the funky, groovy pop jazz, the Barry Likumahuwa Project (BLP). While some of us might be surprise with this move, we have to know that the members are highly capable to bring this concept alive. Still keeping the intensity of the original Weather Report by playing their famous repertoires including “Birdland”, “Man with the Copper Fingers, “A Remark You Made”, “Black Market” and “Ellegant People”, they presented it chilled to meet the satisfaction of their fans, including the youngsters who might have never heard Weather Report yet. A smart decision executed at the best one can, BLP has moved further in cooking up their musical concept for the Tribute to Weather Report. Magnus Lindgren and Gregory Porter repeated their cool collaborative act, followed by B.D.G and Jose James at the other rooms.
Time to catch the Special Show! If you grew up in the 80’s and loved to listen to the radio, you should be familiar with this beautiful lady’s unique wide-ranging vocals. Basia Trzetrzelewska, best known as just Basia, has her own hits when she went solo such as “Promises”, “Cruising for Bruising”, “Baby Your Mine” and “Brave New Hope”, but let’s not forget that she already shone bright when she was still joining Matt Bianco, producing hits such as “Just a Minute” and many other ones. There were a lot of buzzes in 2009 about her participation in this festival, but we didn’t see her at all. Now she finally made it, delighting all of her fans with her popular songs. She jazzed us up tonight with “Cruising”, “From Now On”, “Olive Tree”, “Time and Time”, “Copernicus”, “Half A Minute”, and “Promises (Yearning)”. We have been waiting long enough for this gifted Polish lady, now the long waiting’s over. Basia did give a performance we will never forget for straight one hour. If you read this, Basia, you should’ve known by now that you have a lot of fans here in Indonesia. We hope you enjoy your visit and plan to come again in the near future.
It’s usual for a band to have a bassist, but it’s rare if we can find two bassists at the same time. Indro Hardjodikoro, the smiley bassist who has been pursuing his career for over 20 years has the idea to put the sound of walking bass on top in unique way. He started with three or four bassists at the same time, but now he settled down with two, himself and his former student Fajar Adi Nugroho. The contribution of keyboardist Andy Gomez and drummer, Yesaya ‘Echa’ Sumantri played a big deal in creating a strong concept. They have graced Russia three times and gained popularity in there, they have played with traditional musicians, now it’s time to see the Indro Hardjodikoro & the Fingers collaborating with the iconic Tompi. Their songlist was “The Fingers”, “Andong”, “Rambut Ijuk”, “Panon Hideung” and “Gadis Shanghai”. It was amusing and very interesting.
Dewi Sandra has received many awards as a pop singer in Indonesia and released six albums since 1996. Java Jazz 2013 was a distinct place for her to spread her jazz side out. That was a good challenge and people didn’t want to miss her show as a jazzy singer just for one night.
James Carter started playing saxophone at 11 years old, and now we can say that he’s one of the best saxophonists, clarinetists, and flutists of his generation. At his youth, he was a member of Lester Bowie’s quintet and it brought him to collaborate with other musicians. He has released countless albums and won Down Beat magazine’s Critics and Readers Choice Award as a baritone saxophonist, also received The Dr. Alaine Locke Award. At Java Jazz 2013, James Carter Organ Trio carried vigorous melodies and heated the ambiance of the hall.
Eyes still ready for more of Saturday night’s second round of day two? We’ve got ‘em listed for you!
See more pictures:
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Reporter: Riandy Kurniawan, Daniel Irawan, Khairiyah Sartika Syofian, Mellysa Anastasya, Ata Michaella, Sharon Patricia Kandou, Bintang Steffy Tania, Kenny Laia, Ghea Sagita
Photographer: I Putu Surya KB, Praditya Nova, Anggha Nugraha, Qaedi Fuadillah, Omar Arif Maulana, Alfi Widoretno
Team: Vierna Mariska Kurniawan, Muhammad Fadhly
photos of Hajar Bleh Big Band are courtesy of the band, used by permission