Indonesia has just celebrated its 72th Anniversary last Thursday, August 17th, 2017. Coincidentally, that date fell exactly on our regular schedule for Braga Jazz Night, which comes every third Thursday of the month. We dedicated this 38th episode to this occassion and called it Special Independence Day Edition.
For this Braga Jazz Night #38 : Special Independence Day Edition we continued what’s left from the previous episode, showcasing and supporting only interesting, potential and talented youngsters who are deeply passionate in jazz. Many of them have gained shiny achievements, making breakthroughs in such an early age, some has creatively took brave explorations into the wild jazz terrain. Amazingly, all of them have to make good arrangement of their time since they still have to do their formal study. So, all young, all talented, all skillful, all creative and innovative, all passionate. We are really proud of them and feel blessed to be able to give our support to each and everyone of them. We could give the tagline “Young Guns II” as the theme, but we decided to just go with Special Independence Day while still carrying the same idea. To fit the theme, we asked these boys to include any patriotic anthem or folk song within their repertoires.
This edition kicked off big with the winner of the 39th Jazz Goes to Campus (2016) and third place holder of MLD Jazz Band Wanted in Surabaya, the Hareguna. This band formerly has Anugerah as its name, showing how they take the band as a blessing from Above. That was their name when they won the Jazz Goes to Campus against so many great finalists. This band only needed 4 times of practices to win. In the final they took away the hearts of the judges Indro Hardjodikoro, Adra Karim and Andre Dinuth by genius rearrangement over well known standards and executed them in free/modal jazz fashion. They played clean, sharp and neat, including or especially in the tutti parts, a passage intended to be executed by everyone simultaneously.
Hareguna was a trio consisting of Trinanda Imawan Wibisono (piano), Brian Abraham Pangondian Napitupulu (bass) and Pefiri Ari Wibowo (drum). Now the band becomes a quartet, adding up a vocalist Nydia Ekalistha Hermawan. As a note, Wibi the pianist also won the Jazz Goes to Campus band competition two years earlier with his then-band from Surabaya, 4/4. He won the competition with the band and also as the best pianist. Pefiri and Brian were in the competition too back then.
The crowds filled up the space in front of them as they started with Amalur’s “Tortuga y Cronopio”. Right from the start they demonstrated such ultimate freedom in playing by playing outside notes with interesting chord progressions. Amazingly, their solid connection made them able to perfectly executed the song. Since they love to play outside notes, it’s certainly not easy for Nydia to keep singing on track, but she did her part really well.
On the second song Hareguna pinned a patriotic anthem written by Ismail Marzuki, “Halo Halo Bandung”. They rearranged this song totally and surprised many audience. Again, it was made with high difficulty but they nailed it tight and clean. It soon followed by Stevie Wonder’s classic “Isn’t She Lovely” also in an interesting modal jazz way. We could imagine how difficult it would be for Nydia to sing what these dudes play, but somehow she always sails safely until the end. The hit of a young newcomer in Indonesian music scene originally from Brunei Darussalam, Jaz (Aziz Hayat) titled “Dari Mata”.
And as the last song, they covered a song written by the late Franky Sahilatua, “Pancasila Rumah Kita”. This song is perfect to choose for this special Indonesia’s Independence Day. As this song has been covered by many today’s artists from Glenn Fredly, Trio Lestari, Edo Kondologit to Isyana Sarasvati, the version of Hareguna was made by staying true to the heart and soul of their concept.
Hareguna knows how to make complex compositions in spicing up anything they play, and also knows how to serve them chilled to everyone. For the musicians and people who understand technique, they would know what these three young men and a lady do is far from easy. Plenty of manic improvisations that requires immidiate, spontaneous response from team mates. They all locked up during the play which made them able to play solid, tight and clean. In order to do so, they have to know one another’s character very well and certainly, it needs skill and takes a lot of courage to execute. From Hareguna we got many things, from jazz-pedition, killer punches, sharp bites to the smart way of composing.
For the next session we welcomed a newborn group from Jakarta, also comprised of teenagers. They may still in their teens, but speaking of skill, these boys play like a pro, as if they have been active twice or third their age. The name of the band itself is interestingly using an African language, Salaamata, means Peace, referring to their wish to bring peace through music.
Salaamata is built on three pillars: Nicholas Dheo (bass), Nathan Gulo (drum) and Kasyfi Kalyasena (piano/sax). Nicholas Dheo is a 15 year-old bassist who is currently growing very fast. We know him for the first time as the bassist of Bandung-based Nayra Dharma Trio. Since Dheo lives not in Bandung, it took a big effort for him to go back and forth from Jakarta to Bandung. Not easy, but he happily did it. Now he established several groups in his hometown like D.R.T and this new one Salaamata, also supports Natasya and Friends.
Together with Kasyfi, he recently made a breakthrough by using the technology to collaborate with saxman from Dallas, Spenser Liszt. Speaking of Kasify, this young dude called himself saxo-pianist, showing his passion to play music by utilizing both saxophone and pianist. He is now 15 year-old with quite experience on performing including his regular at Ritz-Carlton Jakarta with Chroma-ticz and some valuable activities around jazz communities in Bandung and Jakarta. He is certainly among interesting young guns today in our jazz scene.
As for the drummer Nathan Gulo, this boy made huge wave 7 years ago when he stood as the bandleader among the lineup of prestigious festivals like Java Jazz Festival, Bekasi Jazz Festival, JakJazz and Jazz Goes to Campus when he was still 6 year-old. Imagine how a 6 year-old boy could do that, locking with complex jazz standards and nailed each one with perfection. Sounds quite impossible, but he did it. If you wonder when he started learning drum, it was when he was still a toddler, 3 year-old. He then made some more moves including sharing the stage with father-son Benny and Barry Likumahuwa. We didn’t hear him much after that, but recently we found out that he’s been active mainly playing at church. We feel glad to get an update of him, picking up what’s left from 7 years ago by having him in our own yard.
They promised to bring out their fullest force to this event in order to make their debut gig meaningful. And yes, that’s exactly what they did. What’s amazing is that they already have some original songs, and began with one of them, titled “Change”. This song has a rapid drumbeat and smooth, uplifting melodies which made us feel like watching the changes they have throughout their growing process as musicians and how they look at their future positively. Then they carried on with a national song written by Ismail Marzuki, “Indonesia Pusaka”. They made a smooth groovy jazz rearrangement which gave the impression as if this song was made as a jazz song.
After that, they took a famous song of Chick Corea, “Morning Sprite”. Like other Corea’s songs, this one ain’t easy to play and shone from Corea’s trio with the caliber of Dave Weckl and John Patitucci. Knowing that they are still teenagers and able to nail this song perfectly is simply awe-inspiring. For this song, Dheo replaced his gear to contrabass.
After a morning tune, Salaamata embraced the night by presenting another original song titled “Moonless Night”. This song amazed us the most, due to its ‘grand-voyage’ nature. It’s like watching a movie or reading a book consisting some chapters, adventurous, glittery and landscapic. Such an epic which should stand as their masterpiece, a winning song that gives an excellent portrait of these highly gifted boys in writing, composing and playing. Two more songs came from them, the classy and stylish “Joy Spring” and Fourplay’s “3rd Degree” from the album “Let’s Touch the Sky”. As the jazz world is still mourning the passing of Chuck Loeb just a couple of weeks ago, this song in a way gave deep respect to him. They took this song and made it a playground where they unleashed every drop of energy they had left inside and reached the end in such style.
Dheo told us that to him this is a family band. Meaning, he takes his fellows just like his own brothers. “We grow together, if we fail, we fail together. But hey, we are going to succeed together!” he said. Looking at the skill, passion and efforts, we have no doubt that this trio will achieve success, if they keep going together. They are still young, but they are blessed and know what they are doing. They are on the right track, so we hope they will keep going. One day, these boys and hopefully the trio will stand among the tops. What a magnificent performance dudes!
For the final act, we presented a multi-faceted band that can easily suit appear in different genre but clearly has jazz as one of it roots: Sasadana. This band was formed 4 years ago by a group of friends who were still in high school and junior high school. Eventhough they were still in their teens at that time, these boys were really brave in crafting their music.
They combined both modern and traditional instruments in making wide exploration in sound. They used to be five, but now the band is settled as a quartet. The founders Pangestu Hning Bhawana (violin), Rifky Adam Rahman (bass) and Digun Guntara Barnas (drum/tatabeuhan) are still in, plus a cute young lady positioned on keys: Ratih Putria who has been joining the team for some times now.
Based on the unique combination they are using and the wide musical backgrounds these musicians have, they can play jazz/blues standards in different ways, or traditional/ethnic songs in progressive fusion. They have graced many stages from Margo Friday Jazz, Klab Jazz events to Blues events and others.
This band has a lot of friends and fans. Look at the fact: eventhough they have been in hiatus for about a year, they brought in many supporters for this show. Under thunderous applause, they started big by combining Indonesian (Minahasa) folk song, “O Ina Ni Keke” with the epic song of Java Jazz, “Bulan di Atas Asia” aka “Moon Over Asia”, featuring Tiara Putri Effendy on vocal. Estu joked that this one should be titled “O Ina Ni Keke Di Atas Asia”. None of us would imagine to combine these songs, but they proves that it works amazingly well. Estu in front gave a brilliant, wide exploration of sound which got strong support from Ratih, Digun and Rifky. They played joyfully with lots of smile and laughters. What a way to start. Blazing and fun from start to finish.
Estu threw couples of jokes to engage even stronger connection with the audience and then played a song that has the same title of their name: “Sasadana”. Of course they name the song that way, since this song represents them perfectly. The east meets west, the modern, progressive jazz with delightful, mystical Sundanese taste in this song is so irresistable. And as we said, all flew naturally. Huge pops from the audience showed how much they loved it. Then, Sasadana gave another song which let them explored freely. Found inside it was another folk song from West Sumatra, “Ayam Den Lapeh”. Plenty of theatrical acts and solo runs were found in both of these songs which attracted many passers-by and mall-goers to stay watching them. Again, loud applause were given. Again, loud applause were given.
For the last song, Tiara came back to sing “Janger Bali”. Estu was triumphant with his violin, bringing the mystical Balinese feel to life. Tiara put her voice on top of everyone which captured the Balinese spirit even stronger. Ratih’s fingers worked like a Balinese dancer above the keys. Strong groovy rhythm on bass and the cool, playful drum beating from Rifky and Digun were also hypnotizing. Besides the main theme, it’s incredible to see how they run freely in the middle of each song, having fun with improvisation as much as they like. Imagine playing the authentic sound of Bali in Sundanese style, they did it as if it was something normal and easy. The audience asked for more, but since the time was already close to 10:00 pm, the event had to reach the end.
Mind-bending, unpredictable and sharp, Sasadana surprised everyone with their wide musical scope. These young explorers boldly penetrated the world of music more than what musicians their age normally do. We have been wanting to bring them in for years, finally they landed on our stage. The freedom and fun of playing music is what they have in mind, and with their skill and braveness, the Sasadana presented progressive jazz fusion that’s not only interesting but also entertaining. Full of action, full of twist. What a blazing climax it was, thanks to Sasadana!
The Braga Jazz Night #38: Special Independence Day Edition turns out to be a very interesting event where the young guns spread madness within their trailblazing works. You see, these musicians are still in their teens or just turning into young adult, but they are already deadly and venomous in playing music. These young lads turn their instruments into lethal weapons and stunned us out throughout the show.
Also in this edition we got a special guest. Not human, but a ball python named Ongol aka Ongi, a pet belong to Nayra Dharma and her family. Since this beautiful snake lives in a jazz family, he seemed comfortable with the atmosphere and music. We think it’s cool to have different kind of visitor like this, we hope Ongi will come again in the next edition, and who knows, probably he will have his own appeareance too someday. Why not? Anything can happen on jazz stage, especially ours.
We thanks Sasadana, Salaamata and Hareguna for making this edition special, especially to the two last mentioned bands who put up big efforts by coming all the way from Jakarta. We are really proud of you guys! Also thanks to the soundman, Gita Bawana who has helped us with the instruments and of course, to everyone who came to watch it. We hope you enjoy the performance and continue your support to our small community jazz event.
We will be back again in September with another fresh batch. We have some interesting plans for the upcoming 39th edition, including the runner up of The Voice Indonesia 2016, a newcomer with unique obscura style and a mind-bending ensemble. We will let you know more details soon.
In the end, let’s pray for Indonesia. 72 years ago our foundingfathers proclaimed the independence day of Indonesia. The problem wasn’t over right away, because then we had to fight against military agressions. Today, we are still facing a lot of troubles. Multi-dimensional problems, financial crisis and disintegrations are just some of the things that need extra attention. Let’s become a good citizen, let’s spread peace and friendship to others. Say no to hatred and let’s do our best in the field of work we are in so we can give contribution towards a better Indonesia.
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