Braga Jazz Night #40 : The Report

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We began the Braga Jazz Night (formerly known as Braga Jazz Walk) in September 2014, now we have reached the 40th edition. Showcasing 3 or 4 bands in one edition, that means we have featured hundreds of bands and musicians. Some of them started from our stage, we still remember when they were still shy and fought to overcome the stage fright, but now they have succeed in running their career. Some have played alongside mega stars, even top international musicians, gracing prestigious jazz festivals or making their way to perform abroad. There are very young musicians too who now appear on TV shows, commercials and so on.

Everyone can use our stage to practice what they have learnt, try new concept, new band, gain more experience or promoting their movement. It’s an event where everyone can make themselves at home. This event is just a small community event, but it has bore good fruits. This month the Jazzuality Community was also chosen to participate in Bandung’s grand fest, Seni Bandung #1 representing jazz as a part of art forms found in Bandung. We are happy to see jazz is accepted as one of the arts. All of these motivates us to keep going for the sake of Bandung or even Indonesian jazz development.

In this Braga Jazz Night #40 once again we gave support to the young musicians, not only those who live in Bandung but also from the capital city, Jakarta. All young, all passionate, all skillful and has big potential. We wouldn’t be surprised if they stand as the top stars in the near future, we’d be happy that they were once found on our stage.

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Performing first is the 11 year-old wonder girl, Nadine Adrianna with her trio simply called after her name, NADINE ADRIANNA TRIO. This girl started from this event, when she was still 8 years old. From playing solo, we encouraged her to form her own group and write songs. She did that in no time, with remarkable result.

If you listen to her compositions, you would be surprised that the songs were written by a little girl. Not long after that, she joined The BFG and landed on the Java Jazz Festival earlier this year. She didn’t just perform but also joined the after midnight jam session where she played with the likes of Maurice Brown. She then went to Bali and mentored by Indra Lesmana. While she was there, she got the chance to perform here and there with Sandy Winarta, Indra Gupta and Kevin Suwandhi. Now she occassionally plays with West Java Syndicate, a band who put their feet on both traditional ethnic and modern, progressive fusion jazz. Isn’t it difficult? She says yes it is, but it’s really fun as well. And she loves it.

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What we haven’t mentioned is at the present time she also has her own trio. This latest formation with Jere Fernando (bass) and Shallom Tangki (drum) has been running for a year. This team is rock solid with strong chemistry. Here in this edition, finally we got the chance to introduce them to the jazzuality universe.

We still remember when she did her very first composition honoring Wayne Shorter titled “Wayne Street”. Two years passed, she now has a lot of compositions which are not only improved but also rich in variety, interestingly inspired from everything she found in her daily life. For this gig we got the chance to enjoy her masterpieces, especially the new ones.

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Nadine, Jere and Shallom started with “Coconut Jam”, served grand in swing. Starting from the second song “Rabbit”, Gilang joined the trio and added more tone with his tasty trumpet sound. These band which is led by a little girl played like a real jazz pro in the turn of modern jazz era. If you don’t see the musicians, you wouldn’t dare to guess that this kind of music comes from musicians as young as them, and the compositions were made by an 11 year-old girl.

Nadine showed a great leadership to her team, controling the pace, the dynamic, the turn and so on. Such evidence continued to be seen in the next two songs, “30 Seconds” and “New Eleven”. All the way to the end Nadine and her mates demonstrated how fluid they are in playing jazz. All the joy, the fun, the free flowing, the dynamic and fun of improvising were captured from their performance. The audience gave high respect to Nadine and the band by pouring them cheers and applauses.

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The Nadine Adrianna Trio speaks pure jazz fluently and played like a pro. The original compositions are so beautiful as if they were made by jazz giants from the golden era. It’s almost hard to believe that it all comes from a trio led by a girl who hasn’t even reached the teenage years. What’s even more unbelievable is that this girl can already play and compose pentatonic-based jazz songs which probably would still be difficult to do by musicians double or even triple her age.

Jere and Shallom are perfect to accompany her. These young musicians know exactly what to do and have strong sense of dynamics. Comparing to how she did back then, now Nadine is much more calmer, equipped with more ammos, really great in controlling the emotion and dynamics. She is much more improved! We love the trio too. We are proud to have her back along with this wonderful formation. We hope to see this trio back again some times soon.

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The second session was taken by another trio, this time from Jakarta. The name is J/E/G TRIO, consisting of Joshua Alexander (bass), Ersandy Nasharizky (tenor sax) and Gearda Dewantara (guitar). These are young musicians who just began their journey but surely has everything needed to stand at the top of the game.

This trio was born after these three friends felt connected from series of jam sessions they participated in at the famous jazz community event in Depok, the Margo Friday Jazz. Ersandy has been inspired by senior saxophonist Arief Setiadi and his group, while Gearda is a proud student of guitarist Tiyo Alibasjah. If having these names as mentors is already awesome, they are also monitored by the founder of Margo Friday Jazz, legendary jazzman Benny Likumahuwa every week. These mentors have one thing in common: they play jazz with heart. They are not the kind of ‘show-off’ musicians but those who pour their feelings out into beautiful streaming of jazz. We expected the same from these young guns, and that’s what we really got after watching them on our stage.

Look at how the opened up their gig, swinging with a song from 1968 by Duke Pearson Trio: “Jeannine”. We were directly treated with sheer jazz extacy. Pure jazz played simple, elegant, honest as if it was coming from true jazz musicians who have been active for ages. Then they went on with a more famous jazz standard, “S’wonderful” that interestingly served different than usual. This new treatment makes the song appears as new. They went on swinging with another classic from many decades ago, “East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)”. Up to this point their explorative attempts were appreciated by the audience with applauses.

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The next song was an original composition written by Ersandy for her father who sadly passed away just last month, “Kembali Pulang”. According to Ersandy, the song was actually got its titled here in this event. Although the song contained deep emotion, the J/E/G Trio didnt want to make it as a sad song. Instead, they made it sweet and smooth in bossa. For the last song, they covered a song from Nial Djuliarso which was written for his wife, “Hello Gib”. Again we enjoyed their easy going gestures in building up a song. A gentle song full of love landed right on point through the hands (and hearts) of these three young dudes.

Playing jazz is never about showing off your skill but how to make the audience feel what you want to share to them through music. You can play something simple, but when you have your audience feel you, they will remember it and take your performance as something special. The J/E/G Trio showed us the essence of jazz performance. They flew together smoothly and delivered the beauty of this genre pure, clear and bright.

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Swing and Brazilian are their forte which they often bring altogether. They are still young, but they play like traditional jazz musicians who deeply depend on their feeling in executing each song. It makes us happy to see a swingin’ jazz band this good coming from the new generation. And for us, the way they play and their music remind us why we love jazz in first place. We really appreciate them for coming all the way from Jakarta, struggling with a terrible jam caused by the development of ‘dystopian’ new city located at the eastern part of Jakarta that forced them to spend more than 8 hours to reach us. We hope they are not traumatized and willing to be back again some times soon.

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The soundscape suddenly changed in the third session. Here we featured a band who refer themselves as a cute, relatively harmless but have sharp spikes. This animal is also like a superhero in the legendary Sega games. Yes, it’s none other than THE HEDGEHOG. This band is a quartet consisting of former ITJazz Chairman Mikhael Martin (guitar), Rinomulat Sembada (drum), Leo Hansen (bass) and Ditra Prasista (keys). We haven’t got Leo on this event for almost 3 years since he played with Olteje back then. Ditra Prasista was here a couple of months ago supporting his friend, he also has a band that’s currently working on the studio The Blue Ocean Project.

The Hedgehog is not a new band, it was established last year, but for some reasons they haven’t been appeared that much just yet. We heard about this band around a month ago and knew we really have to feature it in this event.

Being inspired by the likes of John Scofield’s Überjam Band, MMW (Medeski Martin and Wood) also the famous old school funk band Lettuce, this band plays intoxicating music, cored in the groovy funk jazz/avant funk, hardbop/soulbop with strong scent of psychedelic sound from the 70’s. We don’t get to hear this kind of music so often nowadays, so it’s surprisingly interesting for us to have them taking us back to the glorious psychedelic years.

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This cool sound appeared first through a song taken from the collaborative album between Medeski Martin & Wood and John Scofield (MSMW) called “Little Walter Rides Again”. Doping funky drumbeat and bass, the graphic guitar melody, the naughty, steamy sound of organ created ‘dirty’ avant-jazz-funk music, so dirty, you could get high and trip over the tune.

These Hedgehogs continued stabbing us with their spikes by going back almost 40 years earlier with a historical gold from The Meters, “Cissy Strut”. Rino captured the high-flying drum sound really, really well along with the chunky, crunchy basslines from Leo. Jazz-rock fusion guitar playing by Mikha and the teasy organ melodies from Ditra blew our mind away.

As we were still like being high on drugs, they ‘tortured’ us even more with Oasis’ “Stop Crying Your Heart Out”. For the last song they kept the psychedelic funk in pocket by covering today’s avant jazz funk band based in Boston USA, Lettuce. The song title is “Reunion”. We still wished for more, and the band actually still had some on their list, but as we still had to showcase one more band while the time was running out, The Hedgehog had to rest their case.

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How relevant is jazz funk in modern days? For us, funk has been infecting many musical areas throughout the decades, even rock, and it will continue to live on forever. The Hedgehog captured the rebelious underground form of expression very well. Their psychedelic music gives a strong statement of funk in its finest, fusing sophisticated techniques of playing with strong spirit and creativity by using the right funk idiom. We know we ain’t see nothing yet, we are not satisfied just yet, therefore we are definitely going to invite them again soon. How about revealing the funk side of 70’s rock from a band like The Doors? Well, stay tuned for the updates. One thing for sure, The Hedgehog’s funky spikes are infectious, we want more!

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For the final act we introduced a new band in town: THE NEW BLOOD. Although the band is new, it has 5 young wizs with amazing skill. On guitar is Anjuan Julio, a jazz genius who has started his career early. With his band AFA Trio, he has landed on the Java Jazz Festival and currently working on the debut album. Then there is Jason Limanjaya on keyboard. This dude is expressive and brave in exploring the keys. He is active in some other bands too like Nayra Dharma Group and Funktop.

Then there’s a young prodigy, Philip Manfred Pincencia on saxophone. This boy has saxophone as his forte, but he can also play piano just as good. He began his journey right here two years ago, but he’s been progressing fast. So fast that he has performed alongside today’s top stars like Tulus and Isyana Sarasvati. On bass is Ezra Manuhutu, the son of Venche Manuhutu and brother of David Manuhutu who also plays in New Equinox, a band that already has 3 released albums. Then, Sugih Gumilang on drum is no stranger since he is a proud member of Mahagaza, a pop jazz band with a successful single over the radio charts. As you can see, these boys have achieved great things in their career. Formed by jazz/bluesman Hari Pochang, this band becomes the new force in our jazz scene.

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These young guns appeared mad right from the start, blazing like a wild fire by serving up a medley of Chad Lefkowitz-Brown’s “Blues for Randy” and Mezzoforte’s “E.G. Blues”. Three frontliners: the bandleader Jason Limanjaya on keys, Anjuan Julio on guitar and the young sax prodigy Philip Manfred worked together in harmony. They knew when to trade punches, when to attack together, when to move in front and when to step back. The cohesive work between Sugih’s drumming and Ezra’s bass delivered rock solid attractive groove. Together they built momentum in such madness.

Just when we thought they were already on the top of the game, they rose the intensity even more. For the last song they threw Michael and Randy Brecker aka The Brecker Brothers’ song, the title track of their album that won the Grammy Awards a decade ago, “Some Skunk Funk”. It was a fierceful execution that kept us at the edge of our seat, or made the standing ones unable to still. Not only us, even the New Blood boys went mad. Jason expressively showed how he couldn’t sit anymore near the end. He stood up, exploded in every key he pressed and led the rest of the boys to detonate the rest of the bombs (and energy) they had left. What a thrilling performance by these funk skunks. Too bad we couldn’t get more since the we have already way passed the closing time of the mall. As much as we still want more, we got to seal this edition right here.

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As what we have predicted, this group is a stunner. These young lads played great like a long time experienced pro exceeding their ages. As we mentioned before, all of them have been doing and achieving remarkable things with their bands, they have gained many valuable experiences and made some breakthroughs. They know when to serve, when to guard and when to run wild in front. Each of them can become a vital role even a standout band leader, but what makes this cohesive unit works is that eventhough they are all very talented and skillful, they are humble and happy to work as a unit instead of being individual.

The New Blood shows how intense jazz can be. If some of you still think jazz is only about relaxing tunes, these boys proved that jazz could offer a non stop action that would push everyone to the edge of their seat. If in football there’s something called dream team, the New Blood represents it inside the jazz world. It’s certainly a pleasure to feature the new force of Indonesian jazz in this episode, and we hope to bring them again in more comfortable time in the near future.

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The Braga Jazz Night #40 is very interesting for having all high-skilled, hard-working and commited musicians who share the same passion in jazz. Other than that, it’s also a full round showcase of young musicians (starting from 11 year-old) who play by feel. From swing to Brazilian, to hardbop, funk and to fusion, all were heartfelt but also full of action. This #40 edition defines our mission in any way. Words can’t describe how young musicians could bring madness in the name of jazz.

We will be back again next month with a fresh batch. There will be a jazz guitarist from far away city situated in the island between Indonesia and Singapore. Also, there will be a young indie singer originally came from even further island in the eastern part of Indonesia. It’s going to be another interesting chapter before closing the year with a Christmas edition in December. We thank all musicians, partners, supporters, soundman and everyone who came to watch the shows. We couldn’t do it without you! See you again in November!

Watch the highlight of Braga Jazz Night #40

See more pictures:

Reporter and photographer: Riandy Kurniawan
Video editor: Vierna Mariska Kurniawan .

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