There are so many ways to celebrate the Christmas season. You can have a family dinner or party, exchange gifts among friends, go to your favorite locations for a holiday, and yes, you can feel the joy through music. There are so many Christmas Carols you can enjoy in variety of styles, and jazz has been one of the most favorite ways to bring it. Now, what if the connection between jazz and Christmas brought grand, not only audibly, not only in small event but in the scale of a festival? That would be something right?
Medan, the capital of North Sumatra has made it happen. The team of M.O.G (Musician of God) initiated the first annual Medan Jazz Christmas this year. Perhaps it’s quite risky since Indonesia is currently facing some instability/intolerance issues, but we are happy to inform you that this new festival made a very successful start. This event took a big step by presenting iconic names in jazz, including legends, new sensation, today’s popular and important figures in Indonesian jazz development today. Held at the Ballroom of Grand Aston Hotel located at the heart of the city, the 1st Annual Medan Jazz Christmas 2016 spread the message of love, peace, unity and happiness through jazz to the audience.
The event opened up with the youngsters’ idol once labelled ‘The John Mayer of Asia’ by Channel [V] and Philippines: Calvin Jeremy. Having Batak ancestry from his father: Dash Sihombing, this young Indonesian singer that started his career around 6 years ago said that he felt like going home to perform at the show. Singing some of his hits like ‘Berdua’, the song-sequel ‘Tak Berdua’ and the upcoming single ‘Kita’, Calvin also delivered the Christmas classics “The Christmas Song” and the medley of “Jingle Bells”, ?White Christmas” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”.
The next performer showcased a showdown between two amazing funkin’ jazz talents: the bass sensation, producer, Beatluz founder and the man behind the famous BLP, Barry Likumahuwa and the saxman who can bring seducing mood as well as boppin’ groove, saxman Ricad Hutapea.
Playing classic Christmas song from 1941 “Little Drummer Boy” they carried on with the medley of “Seorang Anak T’lah Lahir (Penasihat Ajaib)”, “O Holy Night’ and selected Church songs also in medley in each solo runs, they lit up the show like a glorious praise and worship. Barry and Ricad closed their performance with the gospel classic ‘Go Tell it on the Mountain’ in stunning jazz duet.
Imagine the heat created from the encounter of two funky musicians. Sharp, exploring bass lines and free-flowing groovy sax attacks were served chilled, while at other times they sent love soft and smooth. Just two of them, yet these young men are highly capable in delivering expressive, captivating performance.
The show continued on with the Berklee College of Music alumnus, pianist Boby Limijaya and young Indonesian drummer Yesaya ‘Echa’ Wilander Soemantri joined forces as the Boby Limijaya and Echa Soemantri Project, This is a project consisting of three members of his new band N.E.W.B. Other than Boby and Echa, its bassist Wesley Geraldo (who also plays for RAY) was with them. On guitar was Austin Ong, and on vocal was one of Eunomia, Cassia Agata.
This group started by playing Boby’s composition “The A Song” and “SBNF” written by Echa, their duet song “Pelangi-Pelangi” came right after. This solid unit ended their performance with Echa’s Christian song “Kasih yang Tak Pernah Gagal.”
The collaboration between Boby Limijaya and Echa Soemantri has been going on for some times now. They have blessed many people from one stage to another. These two lethal musicians lately has extended their collaboration in a group called N.E.W.Bwhich has been going on for at least more than a year now, yet when needed, they can appear with the project like this two by getting full support by some fellows. Just like Barry and Ricad, they represent the force of jazz from young generation today in Indonesia.
It’s almost midnight, but then came the highlight of the night, one that the audience have been waiting for. The jazz maestro Indra Lesmana came up on stage with his most recent group, the Indra Lesmana Keytar Trio. This group consists of Indra on keyboard, Sandy Winarta on drum and Indra Gupta on contrabass. With this trio, Indra has released an album dedicated to his lae dad, the father of Idonesian jazz, Jack Lesmana. It’s simply titled “About Jack”.
First song was a composition written for Jack titled “Mountain Pass”. If the trio should already do, Indra’s daughter who is now having a huge success as a singer and actress Eva Celia then joined them singing “The Christmas Song” also known as “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire”.
After introducing his compatriotes, high skilled young guitarist Gerald Situmorang made the stage merrier by playing a lovely version of ‘Silent Night’ with Eva Celia on vocal. Leaving Gerald playing solo guitar with his composition titled “Solitude”, the show went on with “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” brought by them altogether. Two of Indra’s instrumental composition; “Long Journey” and the epic “Bulan di Atas Asia” then played by the trio plus Gerald on stage, followed by the upbeat Christmas classic, Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas”. It became a perfect finale to wrap up the event.
Indonesia has had many annual jazz festivals throughout the archipelago, but of course there is still plenty of rooms for new ones to take place. Medan, once known as a city of rock has been showing its jazz pulse which is getting stronger for the past several years. It already has its annual jazz festival, but now a new one has come, ready to spread the combination of jazz and Christmas in December.
We hope this event to keep going for years to come. If this kind of event still kind of difficult to be made in most of the cities, we hope Medan can become a role model of high tolerance, peace an harmony, something this nation was built upon. Congratulations and thanks to M.O.G and all participating artists. Wish you all a Merry, Jazzy Christmas! God bless you all!
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