Braga Jazz Night #34 : The Report

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Again, a great edition. The Braga Jazz Night #34 carried the torch passed by the artists from previous edition in triumphant. We are really satisfied by how this event goes. While we are still holding our mission tight by supporting the young talents, introducing newcomers and keep following their updates, there have been many well-established, successful artists and even legends happily join the fun. From musicians, vocalists to music producers have left their valuable signatures on our stage, establishing it as a playground everyone can learn from. These luminary artists came not only from Bandung and Jakarta, but also from abroad like Australia, Italy, France, Mexico, USA, Singapore and Malaysia. That makes this simple community event, with all its limitation, stands differently unique and special.

This time there were two bands performing to promote their new singles, then one multi-talented young girl in her solo career movement. Also in this edition another country has been added: Cambodia. No, it wasn’t a Khmer musician but a native Indonesian talented lady who currently resides in the city of Phnom Penh. We will talk about her later. First, let’s see the first session where the multi-talented Mirna Nirmala introduced her solo project.

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Perhaps some of you still never heard of her name. But for us, she is not a stranger at all. We knew her for the first time when she served as the vocalist of jazz band Continuum. We later found out that she once was active as a percussionist in the ladies percussion trio Rookie Cookie, also works as a teacher and MC until now. Speaking of her experience, she has tasted the experience of performing in prestigious festivals like the Java Jazz Festival, two times in Sarawak, Malaysia and last year in Taiwan. She can pin jazz standards, she has world music/traditional background and seems to place her foot on pop folk as well. Mirna also has quite unique character on stage and in her appearance, which often become one of the defining factors in one’s success.

Backing her up in this event were her friends Ditra Prasista (keyboard), Rio Abror (drum) and Satria Mulya (bass). As how we mentioned in the promo materials and info, there should have been a saxophonist in this band. But the players couldn’t make it due to some reasons. Luckily they knew how to deal with the situation and played as if they weren’t lost anyone.

Mirna started with Kandace Spring’s “Neither Old Nor Young” which directly showed that this girl and her friends has a really different approach to music exploration. The next song was a famous Batavia/Betawi folk song “Kicir-Kicir”. It wasn’t the first time for us to listen to the jazz version, but this version perhaps was the most complex so far. Ditra on keyboard got a lot of space to do finger-manouvers over the keys. “I Asked” from Becca Stevens became their third choice. Mirna’s soft but strong vocal character, free-flying music using many unpredictable chords and her ‘deep in the zone’ appearance gave such different spirit to their performance. To seal their gig, Mirna sang her original song titled “Selamat Datang”.

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This original song kind of describes who she is, musically. She doesn’t want to be listed in any particular genre and has her own style which is unique. Mirna already has her own character and course to direct her music to. It’s not easy to build a solo career, but we hope what she has could give her a strong ground to stand on. From the vocalist of some bands and projects, from a percussionists, now she is committed to express her musical true-self. Let’s wish her the best, may she follow the success of many stars who started from community stages in local areas like her.

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The atmosphere quickly change as we were dragged back in time like riding a time capsul. The appearance of the next band allowed us to visit the 30’s era in France when the Gypsy Swing/Jazz Manouche movement took place along with the later scene when Chanson Francaise reigned. From Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli to Edith Piaf, this 7 piece band created one multi-dimensional music like none other. The band is called Madame dan Toean, in French: Mesdames et Messieurs.

This ensemble is unique in many ways: in their crafts, concept, formation and instruments used. Let’s look at the personnels inside. There is Opik Bape, an expert in fingerstyle guitar playing who has been consistantly digging this particular side of music since many years ago, from the Gypsy Swing guitar duo Satura to his other running bands today B.O.A, Jane & BO and the newest one, Little Madame. Then there’s the femme fatale Rahma Savitri. She sings and playing melodica. Her appearance and vintage dressing gown never fails to catch the attention. The guitarist of pop organic band Elpucino who lately shows huge interest in digging this particular music from the past Charly ‘Achay’ Septiana is standing side by side with Opik in presenting the vibrant color of French Gypsy Swing. One of the most demanded bassist Ilham Septia Inda Nugraha goes with contrabass in this band. Dwi Prayoga, the founder of music organizer Fun Java Music is seated behind the percussion set. Adding up the richness of their sound are two female string players: cellist Mega Ariani and the newest member Dira Egaliani Hartanto, a member of Keroncong Orchestra Ranisinar on violin. What’s interesting about this act, other than their unique soundscape they created, is they bring in humorous theatrical story-telling stage act in their gig which also resonates the old French way of entertainment.

Their uniqueness was felt right after they took position on stage. They all dressed up as if they were from more than 80 years ago and surprised everyone by singing “Les Yeux Noirs“. This Django Reinhardt’s song is a French reinterpretation of probably the most famous Russian folk song titled “Ochi chornye”. Interestingly, there is also a Sundanese version of this song written by Ismail Marzuki. The sharp Gypsy Swing caught the attention of many passers-by as Madame dan Toean got more and more people watching them. Rahma’s teasy act perfectly suit the next song, “Je Cherche Un Homme”, originally by Eartha Kitt.

Each of personnels took their turn in explaining the (his) story behind each song beforehand. That way, the audience would know what they are singing about. Back to their performance, they took one of Ismail Marzuki’s evergreen, “Bandung Selatan Di Waktu Malam”.

As we mentioned before, Madame dan Toean didn’t just explore the beauty of Jazz Manouche era but also the cinematic Chanson Francaise experience. The fourth song gave us exactly that. It was Edith Piaf’s famous song “Sous Le Ciel de Paris” , the soundtrack of a movie of the same name from 1951.

BragaJazzNight-34-Madame_dan_Toean (3)As much as we enjoyed the musical time  tunnel, they reached the last presentation, the French version of Brian Hyland’s “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini”  which is simply titled “Itsy Bitsy Petit Bikini”. In the late 80’s this song was brought popular again by Bombalurina and Timmy Mallett in disco beat. If you were born around that time, you should be familiar with the song as it was quite a big hit in Indonesia at that time. In this cheerful song Opik and Achay demonstrated how good they are as team mates. They played

It’s not easy at all to deliver this kind of music, and certainly it’s not easy to execute it with lots of instruments. But Madame dan Toean is one of a kind. The sound of many strings created such beautiful harmony which allowed our sense and imagination to go back through time. What’s cool is that this ensemble is not only playing music, but they do love fashion as well. Even before they started playing our eyes were treated with lovely costumes from the exact era when this music led the scene.

Bandung is also called “Parijs van Java” since the colonial years centuries ago due to its beauty, and the historical Braga area where this event is held was the centerpoint which gave Bandung that nickname. So, having Madame dan Toean performing in this particular area not only brought us to feel the vintage Paris scene but also Bandung tens of years ago. Encore une très jolie présentation, Mesdames et Messieurs. Merci beaucoup!

BragaJazzNight-34-MettaLegita-Friends (3)The third session featured an artist who became the reason of why we used the photo of the ancient temple Angkor Wat in Cambodia in the e-flyer/poster. As we mentioned earlier, it wasn’t a Khmer musician but a native Indonesian, a very talented female pianist and composer we have always been proud of. She originally is from Bandung but has been living in the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh for at least the last two years. She is the one and only Metta Legita.

We have known Metta and her gifts since she began her jazz music career here in Bandung while still pursuing her formal education at the Faculty of Law at Padjadjaran University. After she graduated from there, she moved to Jakarta to fulfill her passion in music by submitting herself to Institut Musik Daya Indonesia (IMDI) under the guidance of founder madame Professor Tjut Nyak Deviana Daudsjah. She received her Bachelor of Music degree majoring piano in 2010 with cum laude and Mater of Music with major in Arranging Orchestration with magna cum laude soon after. She took master classes from the likes of Robert Davidson (Topology), Veronica Nunn, John Hondorp, Masako Hamamura, Ernst Glerum (Boi Akih Group), Mike del Ferro and the legendary vocal group, Swingle Singers.

Then in Jakarta she made a very successful career. We saw her success in many different groups, like Contra Indigo, Iwan Hasan and Andien’s Chamber Jazz and variety of projects. All of these brought her to grace many music festivals including the Java Jazz Festival since 2007Jakarta Blues Festival, Jazz Makassar, Locafore Jazz Festival, Manado Jazz Festival and Jazz Traffic just to mention a few. As now she resides in Phnom Penh following her husband, she continues on building her career in there. As we predicted, success is an inevitability for her.

In this coming home gig, Metta Legita was accompanied by three of her dear friends consisting two ladies and a gentleman: two co-founder of SHE band Arnie Christanti (bass) and Adisty Zulkarnaen (drums) and a high demanded trumpeter who has also been a long time member of the fabulous Salamander Big Band, Brury Effendy (trumpet). She simply called this project Metta Legita & Friends.

BragaJazzNight-34-MettaLegita-Friends (9)She gave a pleasant surprise by presenting three original songs never been played anywhere else before. One of those became their first choice. Metta told us that she just gave the title earlier: “Gee It’s a Freedom” (later she decided to rename it to “Here’s Freedom”). This song has an infectious moving rhythm and melody which quickly dragged and trapped everyone to stand in front of the stage watching them. Metta’s cheerful expression while letting her fingers danced above the keys, Arnie’s cool sway in working her bass lines and Adisty’s beat dropping were simply irrisistable. And hey, Brury stood strong and tall in front throwing sharp punches with his trumpet. While the song worked like a charm, the musicians were attractive too. “Wow, this one is going to be cool. Let’s stay a while more.” said one of the audience to his friends. Many seemed to share the same thought as Metta Legita and Friends gained more and more people.

The next song was another cool song she wrote titled “Scenic Spirit”. As it was written when she was inside a yacht, this song gave us the feeling of having a wonderous, majestic and epic voyage to the seventh sea of jazz. It was magic which gave them lots of applause right when the melody began to sail smoothly.

For the third song Metta brought in Dyah Sekar to join her team. Dyah is the newest member of SHE and has been digging jazz together with Arnie and Adisty for around 5 years ina trio called Jazzy Juice. Dyah used a small portable keyboard supported by a strap around the neck and shoulder (a mini keytar). From quartet to quintet, they played a standard from Miles Davis’ collection, “Nardis”. It was all eye and ear catchy. As much as we enjoyed their performance, Metta led her friends for one last song which was written by her too called “I’ll Be Back”. This sweet piece once again proved her ability to compose something friendly even to the common ears yet has more than enough space to explore and improvise on.

BragaJazzNight-34-MettaLegita-Friends (6)Metta and Friends delivered strong jazz-statement, simple, charming yet adventurous. Jazz purists would love them and their music, those who aren’t familiar with jazz would too. A strong quartet of friends (plus one featured pianist) shared their passion and love through the combination of triumphant original songs and a jazz standard from the 50’s, which reminds us of why we are really into this music in first place. The young musicians could learn on how to cook up jazz in simple manner by hanging on to what their hearts and souls say. Also to learn that there’s no need to think too complex or too much in cooking jazz. Just be honest, play what you feel and share it to the audience.

Metta is simply one of the great jazz musicians this nation has today. Arnie, Adisty and Dyah showcased how good they handle pure jazz the way they have been doing in Jazzy Juice. And Brury is indeed an excellent trumpeter who can always spice any gig with his delicate sound. A wonderful coming home gig that we will remember for a long time.

What makes us even happier is that they enjoy being as a team and are going to continue this project as they are marching into the recording before Metta flies back to Phnom Penh. Realizing that it began from our stage makes us proud! As what the last song said, we hope to have her back on this stage again on her next home trip. We are looking forward to hear new songs from her and hey, it could be for album launching! We wish Metta the best in continuing her career in Phnom Penh following every good things she has built here in Indonesia. Thank you for having us presenting your coming home gig with an awesome team. Aw-koon ch’ran!

BragaJazzNight-34-Baru (5)For the final performance we featured a band filled with our friends and loyal supporters. We have featured them not long after they were established, now they have moved much forward not only by getting themselves in many events but also with one single titled “Jadi Milikku” (Become Mine) released last February which has been doing very well in some major radio stations. The band is BARU.

Baru is an Indonesian word means New. Other than stating that they are a new (and happening) band, they also mean to offer fresh new music to enrich your playlist. Our long time buddies, musical soulmate Farhan Faikar and Raka Rizkyandi carry on with this band after being together since high school with groups like the naughty blues trio GFR with the late Guntur Satria, MotionVibe and Rizka Adlina. Wahyu Andrian also continued what’s left with MotionVibe with this band. Standing as the vocalist is a man with R&B vocal style, Drastian Yuseima.

Now the band has added more colors into their music canvas by having two more players: Rifqi Mochamad, the pianist of Panorama and Fauzan Hakim, saxophonist of Joy Invasion Project.

Their catchy, trendy music filled the air from the start, playing their original song titled “Kejelasan”. The sax and piano sound enriched their music texture while Drastian flew above with his soulful voice. Then they sang a very popular song 10 years ago, one of the Float’s song from “3 Hari Untuk Selamanya” OST entitled “Sementara”. Covering a popular song that has its own signature is not easy, but Baru refreshed it nicely.

BragaJazzNight-34-Baru (3)Then came the moment to listen to their single “Jadi Milikku”. This song has all the ingredients to be a radio hit. The music has sweet melody, the lyrics speak about the daily life of youngsters, and it fits the current trend. By the way, you can support the band by getting this single on the digital stores like iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, Napster, Amazon and others. Simply follow their instagram account @barumusik to get the link of their song from these digital stores. The decided to seal their gig with one of today’s big hit, “Closer” by The Chainsmokers.

This band did very well in their first gig for us a year ago, but now they are clearly enhanced in every aspects, from music, execution and appearance. Their melodious pop jazz music with catchy lyrics and youthful spirit. All these young dudes are skillful musicians rooted in jazz and blues. We always need pop jazz band like this to reach the non jazz listeners as well as introducing jazz in friendly way to the young music fans. We hope Baru the best of success. May the single become a big hit and the upcoming album place their existance at the top of the game. Keep it up fellas!

BragaJazzNight-34-NayraDharmaTrio (1)We still got around 15 minutes before the mall closed. Realizing that there were many musicians came to this edition, we decided to open up the jam session. 16 year-old female guitarist Nayra Dharma, 15 year-old bassist Nicholas Dheo (bass) and 22 year-old pianist Jason Limanjaya who just finished their regular in a restaurant/cafe just across the mall apparently still had some energy left and quickly jumped onto the stage. They shared joy through two songs. Dheo now sang too with Nayra, and although they don’t have a drummer, they worked their appearance really well.

In the last song, Dheo approached Nayra’s guitar and played bass on it. So, one guitar played by two, where melody, chords and bass lines were delivered by them. We have seen their new innovation on instagram, but now we got the change to see that in real. It was awesome and attractive!

In case you don’t know, this is the newest formation of Nayra Dharma Trio. So for us, having this trio on stage was like a big bonus. Thanks folks, we missed having you on stage!

BragaJazzNight-34-Tidbits (2)One band promoting their singles, one unique vintage performance, one coming home gig and one new solo project made this edition shine in variety where rainbow-like colors of jazz presented by good musicians from the young guns to experienced, well-established pros. This is exactly how we like this event to be, a familiar playground for everyone to perform, where you can learn from and can entertain just about anybody. We thank all performers, the supporters/partners and everyone who have come to this edition. We really appreciate your support! Next month we will present a debut of a young girl who sings and plays piano and a new project of a young man with excellent guitar skill. We will keep you updated. See you again next month in episode #35 !

Watch the highlights on our Youtube channel:

See more pictures:

Reporter, Photographer, MC, Event Curator: Riandy Kurniawan
Video Editor: Vierna Mariska Kurniawan

Special thanks to KPH Music, Gita Bawana, Zahar Mustilaq

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