We have reached the 45th edition of Braga Jazz Night (formerly known as Braga Jazz Walk), a community-based jazz event made by Jazzuality.com in cooperation with Braga CityWalk. In each and every edition of our event we think of presenting young talents who have the passion in jazz, supporting the established musicians as well as introducing the rich variety of jazz to the society. We always look forward to the chance of expanding our support to musicians outside the Bandung city region. So far we have succeeded in it by having fellow musicians from other cities like Jakarta, Sukabumi, Majalaya, Tangerang, all the way to the mid part of Sumatra, the city of Batam. But that’s not all, because we have stretched our wings further across nations, welcoming singers/musicians from Malaysia, Australia, Mexico, Italy, USA and Cambodia. We are thankful for the opportunity and wish to be able to continue for many more years to come.
In the Braga Jazz Night #45 we presented three sets of performance featuring musicians/singers ranging from the young fellas to the successful ones who have been active in the scene for more than two decades. Speaking of style, it was wide that we got a unique trio using the combination three instruments that are rarely found in jazz scene today especially in Indonesia. We invited a band from a city around 2-3 hours by car to reach Bandung, Majalaya, and we paved the way for a boy who did very well in the famous singing competition on television to build his career in jazz.
This boy started first. His name is Akbar Herliansyah, better known as AKBAR IDOL JUNIOR. As we said earlier, he rose to fame by ending up in the 10th place on the second season of Indonesian Idol Junior. We met him in person last month when he competed in the Jazzphoria, a jazz competition made by MLD where we served as one of the judges. We were quite surprise to see him, knowing that he didn’t show any sign of jazz during the Indonesian Idol Junior. Realizing this fact, we invited him to join the community so he could find out what kind of jazz suits him the most, while we tried to find a slot for him. Akbar showed a good spirit. He came and took the chance getting on stage in our events several times. And now, finally we could provide a slot for him to perform.
If usually he appears as Akbar and Hudda, this time he built a band. Joining him were Hi-5 Indonesia’s cast Reza Eka Putra (keyboard), Rommy Hendrawan (guitar), Yudi Aditia (bass) and Rivandi (drum). It didn’t take long for Akbar to wow us. why not? He took an evergreen “What a Difference A Day Made” and sang it with deep feeling. No rush, just relied on his inner heart, served by nice, solid band behind him. Of course, he bagged applauses from the audience with this kind of opening.
Akbar then moved on directly by going local, taking on Sandhy Sondoro’s big hit “Malam Biru.” This song works fine with him as well. So does A Great Big World’s “Say Something (I’m Giving Up On You)”.
Back to the time when we met him at the competition, we suggested Akbar to dig Jamie Cullum because we think the more modern jazz style and character of Jamie would be fit on him. He listened. For the fourth song he took Jamie Cullum’s signature song, “Mind Trick”. This song fits him like a glove. Not only Akbar’s vocal work and the substantial play by the band were great, they delivered it joyfully too. Akbar and the band clearly had a lot of fun during this song, and that transfered the cheerful vibes to everyone.
Quite variety of style rooted in jazz has been served by Akbar Idol Jr. For the last song, he surprised us by taking a very difficult song to cover, that’s Etta James’ “At Last”! According to Akbar, it was his uncle, a jazz singer who offered him the song. Amazingly, Akbar successfully nailed this ‘heavy’ song. He attached his heart fully to sing it, which actually is the right way to do, resulting a stellar final. Not a senior jazz diva, not a long time male singer, it’s a 14 year-old boy who took it, a boy who just had his debut on jazz stage, but he claimed this evergreen to be his.
We feel happy and proud to be able to provide the new chapter of Akbar’s career where jazz is written in bold. Tell you what, this boy is not just talented but full of spirit. He is serious, he is humble, and he still has a very long year to progress. Excellent song choices shows that he really know who he is, musically speaking. After the show, he told us that he only got two practice sessions, and they were still unsure what to bring until the last minute. But all the songs he sang were bullseye, right on target. The band also worked really well on him. Reza, Rommy, Yudi and Rivandi were solid in every style. We know he would be great on jazz stage, yet he still surprised us by performing much better than we expected.
This won’t be the last for us to feature him, because we want to follow his update and support him to stand solid in jazz. The way he sings his heart out is always nice to see, and we won’t be surprise if he rises to be a prominent jazz singer in the near future. Keep it up kiddo!
The next session was taken by a jazz-rooted band who took a big effort to participate in this event. They had to travel almost 3 hours, passing around 50 km from their hometown Majalaya to reach Bandung. This band captured our attention when they competed in Jazzphoria like Akbar. It’s a band of 6, consisting of all young dudes. It’s SAVASIKA.
Other than able to play good, this band has a strong endurance. The band was born around 7 years ago, they did everything to stay alive against all odds. They kept their existance even when they still got no vocalist for years, until finally they found what they were looking for in 2016.
So, life is not always easy for this band. There were times that it was difficult to find gigs, at other times the personnels might be busy with their own agenda. They even went to hiatus for a while. But what’s good about Savasika is that they always bounce back, which led us to meet them at the competition. Speaking of the competition, they became the runnerup in the end.
So, today the band comprises of Tomy Fhaisal (bass), Naufal Trisna (percussion), Wili Rizki Ismail (drum), Ryzky Ramdan (keys), Erfan Iksan Fauzi (vocal) and Kiki Gusdiana or Rian Ahmad Fauzi (RAF) on guitar. For this event, it was Kiki who’s in charge with guitar. Too bad Naufal couldn’t make it due to his work and the vocalist was having a bad cold, but even so, Savasika gave a strong performance without losing a grip even a bit.
Savasika directly shows how good they are right from the start. They began with an instrumental track covering Tohpati’s composition from his album “Song For YOu” titled “Happy Jazz”. Not really an easy one to go with, but they did really, really well. We like their style which was served more in fusion than the original speeding ragtime version. As this song originally has a lot of room for the band to play around freely, the boys of Savasika brought that idea by doing it in a fun jamming mode.
The music suddenly switched to a famous song of Tania Maria from 1983 without having a break, “Come With Me”. Let us ask you a question. How often do you hear this song on male voice? This song has a strong sexy vibe, that’s why it usually goes with female singer while male normally would avoid it. But Erfan’s brilliant falsetto technique could make it work like a charm. They wowed us with this one in the competition a month ago, they did it again this time, even when they had to do it without having the percussions which becomes one of the important essences of this song. If Tania Maria were there watching them, we believe she would think it’s funny that a man could do the song that nice.
For the last song, Erfan sang another Sandhy Sondoro’s song from 2010, “Superstar (How Could We Not Love)”. His high pitched falsetto and his normal singing voice worked out fine, as if he was fully healthy on stage. His unique body gestures helped to keep us energized. The solo runs from Tomy, Kiki, Wili and Ryzky were cool too. They gave a strong performance all the way till the very end.
Savasika is a good band. They play well, the players are connected to one another and they know how to give an entertaining appearance. No wonder they ended up in the second place at the Jazzphoria. For us, Sava Sika can become an evidence of a good jazz existance in Majalaya today. This is a happy news. If before we never knew how the jazz scene is in that city, now we know that it’s alive and kicking. So many great musicians live in Majalaya, and many of them actually are into jazz. We are proud to present the runner up of Jazzphoria in this 45th edition, and we will invite more jazz-oriented bands from the city to take part in this event. We do hope to see Sava Sika again in the future, if they are still willing to go extra miles to be with us.
For the third and last act we got three magnificent musicians who have been doing their career for many years. They are Ammy Kurniawan (violin), Rudy Zulkarnaen (bass) and Opik Bape (guitar). As you can see, these gentlemen shapes a trio with unique all-strings format, rarely found in Indonesia (maybe even the only one). Ammy named the band TRIO BIGIBAS, the BIola (violin), GItar (guitar) and BAS (bass).
If in Indonesia this concept or formation is rare, in the international scene it is too. We know that the late Didier Lockwood established this exact formation in honoring the legendary Gypsy Jazz musician, Stephane Grappelli. Other than Lockwood, Ukraine violinist Sergei Bolotny has done it too. So, true, some have tried this formation, but still it’s rare comparing to other regular formations.
It was Ammy who told us about this new band, and that caught our interest right away. Probably this is not easy to do, but in the hands of musicians their caliber, we simply got the best ones to make it work. They have known each other for many, many years. Ammy and Rudy have even been playing in the same bands a couple of times, for example in 4Peniti and Rudy & Band Listrik. While Opik is certainly a perfect pick due to his skill and musical background which is spanning wider than just the vintage swingin’ era in the USA but also the French Gypsy Jazz/Jazz Manouche when he stablished Satura some years ago. Today he is still going vintage with Madame & Toean ensemble and plays with Mary Jane. Ammy Kurniawan has just released an album titled “Let’s Play Violin!”, and Rudy got the AMI Awards a couple of months ago for the best sound production (Tulus’ album, Monokrom).
Ammy told us that the embryo of this trio has actually began long time ago with his then-group called Bandung String Ensemble. “But it was short lived, unfortunately,” he said. Rudy was there too, but now the guitar position is taken by Opik Bape, who, according to Ammy is a really, really good and unique guitarist.
The original plan was to use contrabass, but Rudy thought it would be best to use electric to deal with the sound and condition of the venue. Not long after they took position in the middle of the stage, out of nowhere, huge number of crowds quickly gathered in front of them! That created a wonderful scene.
After giving a warm greetings, Ammy led Rudy and Opik to sail. First, they took Chick Corea’s jazz standard written in early 1970’s that speaks loud about celebration, “La Fiesta.” As if the trio wanted to invite everyone to join their party, they played it so merry with cheerful and playful stage act, resulting a very loud applause when they sealed this one in grand.
For the next song they took us to Paris and had us waltz with them with a composition of Richard Galliano. As this theme flows through the veins of Opik who is famous for being a French Gypsy Swing/Jazz Manouche guitarist, Ammy and Rudy teased him with their instrument and funny face mimic. How nice it is to have Jazz-Bal-Musette style appeared on our stage. That’s certainly not the music we found often here in Indonesia especially in Bandung. Without having any accordeon, the Trio Bigibas amazingly captured the scene and sound.
For the third song they gave a special tribute to the late violinist Didier Lockwood by playing a song taken from Lockwood’s album in 1990, “Tiny Twins”. Cute and simple melody, easy listening, but the trio decorated it with their touch. Ammy stepped down the stage playing his violin near the crowds, making their show felt even more intimate that it already was.
Since we still got much time, the Trio Bigibas was very kind to give us two more songs, all taken from Ammy’s latest album released just in May last year, “Let’s Play Violin!”. The songs he chose were “Duo Etude” and “Encore”. If originally “Duo Etude” is played by using just violin and guitar, this time it appeared in trio format. By having Rudy, the song felt slightly different. Richer sound yet still have all the beauty essence of the original. The happy tune of “Encore” which has a slight country feel gave us all a pleasant final for both Trio Bigibas’ session and the event.
The BiGiBas Trio offered multi-dimensional jazz by using three stringed instruments, showing us that the combination of these instruments could create such magical sound. Relating to Star Wars, this session feels like a showdown of three Jedi masters. High amount of action was there, effortless playing made their appearance special. As we always want to show the variety of jazz with all the possibilities, this final round of Braga Jazz Night #45 stood up high. We always love to see something new, we always wish to see innovations, therefore we feel blessed to have these gentlemen landing on our soil.
What an interesting edition this was. Different style, different concept, different format played by former Idol Jr, a band from Majalaya and a trio of experienced, high skilled musicians presenting the unique music crafted from rare combination of all-stringed instruments were on the menu, giving us moments to remember.
We thank every participating musicians, soundman, the venue, our partners and everyone who came to this event. We will be back again in April with another batch. Stay tuned for the upcoming 46th edition, see you again next month!
Watch the highlights of Braga Jazz Night 45:
See more pictures:
Reporter/photographer : Riandy Kurniawan
Video editor : Vierna Mariska Kurniawan .