For 5 years we have been running monthly regular event inside the Braga CityWalk situated in the historical Braga street of Bandung. This event was formally named Braga Jazz Walk but then changed to Braga Jazz Night since last year. With this event, we offer new musicians a home, a place where they are welcome to perform and promote themselves. We think it’s important since usually it would be hard for newcomers to find a place to play. By providing them the chance, we hope to see them grow to fulfill their passion to become a musician.
Eventhough this is just a small jazz community event, we have been seeing many young musicians who started sailing from here found their dream as an established musicians. There are community members who now have their own bands and projects, making interesting theme or concept and so on. Some have made singles and albums, some have even played alongside local and international giants. We have got many international musicians gracing the stage, legends, seniors who are willing to share their experience and happiness with the young musicians.
On the other hand, we provide jazz entertainment with easy access without charging any dime, letting us introduce the unlimited color of jazz to the music lovers in Bandung and beyond. We feel blessed that this simple idea works really well, more than what we ever dreamed of.
Now we have reached episode #51. In the Braga Jazz Night #51 we featured all bands or groups who made their debut in it. Many of them consisting of familiar faces, but still they were performing inside the bands that we have never showcased before. For around 3 hours straight, these bands delivered the wide variety of jazz in front of many audience consisting of fellow musicians, those who especially came to enjoy the show, mall visitors and passers-by.
While having bands on our stage, we always keep our eyes on some good ones and try to push them further. One of the good ones is Putra Pardamean Kusumanegara, better known as Dony Manurung. He is still young, but he’s been active mainly as sessionist and also as a teacher. A couple of weeks ago he told us that he now has a new band and wished to take part in Braga Jazz. We quickly found him a spot in this edition.
The band is called THE SESSION, based on the same background of the personnels as session players. In here Donny joins some of his fellow musicians, who are actually in our radar too. They are the drummer of New Blood Sugih Gumilang, guitarist Swain Samuel and bassist Emannuel Mozes Domingus Tuhumury. The Session was established on 25 February 2018 and still in process of expanding their canvas and make themselves heard. That makes this event a perfect habitat for them, and we are more than happy to have them in.
Donny added synth above his keyboard and took the timeless standard, “Summertime” with his fellas. If you thought you knew the song, think again, because they made it fast-paced, intense action packed which is far, far different than the way we usually hear it. The roaring thunder drumming from Sugih provided strong base for the rest of the boys to have lots of fun. Donny tranced on keys with some effects on the synth, the playful rockin’ guitar from Swain and the funky chops on bass by Emmanuel took us all on the edge of the seat. What a spectacular opening which brought them loud applauses from the crowds.
Not only mind blowing with the arrangement and execution, they also love to surprise us with song choice. Look at how they play our mind with The Beatles’ “Come Together.” Once again they made something totally new out of it. If originally the song was made in power rock, they redressed it smooth, calm but still nail-bittingly chilling. The part where Swain roared wild rocking with his guitar was sensational. The synth effects, the abusive keys, killing bass lines and manic drumming created a whole different story of how The Beatles made it.
Emmanuel got the chance to funk us high on the last song, Reza Artamevia’s hit “Berharap Tak Berpisah”. Just like the first two songs, they brought the new dimension of it, digging it from different angle that actually works really well. The Session still kept the familiar melody, everyone would easily notice the song yet it’s taylored nowhere near the original, as if it was made in another world. Lots of improvisations, lots of fun, the boys of The Session danced merrily with their instruments. Stand out individually, rock solid as a unit, in fine blend.
Taking the jazz road for a career is not easy. That’s why we always proud to see bands like The Session who dare to enter it because they simple love the genre. Imagine if there is no youngsters to play jazz anymore, how the future of jazz in this nation would be like. On the opposite, imagine if good skilled and passionate musicians like these four young cats still bravely go against all odds establishing and building their career in jazz. That would keep the regeneration of jazz musicians alive in good quality.
We know how good every head existed in this group is, so we already predicted the band would be great. Now that we have seen them performing, what they offer is far better than we have ever expected. we found out that not only they have solid teamwork and shine individually whenever they got their wicked solo runs and improvise. The word spectacular will never be exaggerating when given to them. We hope The Session to have success. Not only it will be good for their career but it will also give benefit to Indonesian jazz future.
The second act featured a duo consisting of a little girl who soon will turn teen: Favel Fatima (vocal) and a boy still in his teen: Luqmanul ‘Uman Bott’ Hakim (guitar). The duo is named after their names: FAVEL/UMAN.
We came to know Favel based on recommendation of some musicians earlier this year. When we checked her Youtube channel, we were surprised to hear her voice, a thick, soulful voice with jazz vibe that sounds much older than her age, which is still 12 year-old. Most of the songs she sings in her channel are jazz standards, showing how much she is into jazz. That’s pretty amazing for a little girl her age.
Meanwhile, Uman is no stranger to us. He has helped us in documenting the event when he was still 10 years old alongside her mother, Mia Damayanti who has been with us along the way. A few years ago we heard that he got interested in guitar, and soon found that he learnt from Hardi Suryana, a senior jazz guitarist. He’s shaped up fast, and soon we got him and his teacher/mentor performed in this event.
The Favel/Uman has performed together in many occassions including Ruang Putih and last April in Afternoon Tea, an event commemorating the Asia-Africa Conference (KAA).
Three months ago we tried to invite Favel and her newborn duo with Uman. Unfortunately Uman had busy schedule at school and had to have his part taken by his mentor, Hardi Suryana. Now finally we could have the duo on our stage.
Favel and Uman began sailing with Don McLean’s classic hit from the 70’s that speaks about the life, works and tragedy of Post-Impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh, “Vincent (Starry Starry Night)”. We got used to hear this song on male’s voice, now Favel showed us that thick female voice with jazz vibe would work fine too.
When Favel performed in this event three months ago, we challenged her to take Etta James’ monumental song, “At Last”. This song has such high level of difficulty to sing and need more than just good vocal, if the singer wants to deliver it the best way possible. It’s not usual to hear this classic from a 12 year-old girl like Favel, but looking at Favel’s unique singing voice and her good control, we dared her to do it. In this event, Favel proved that she could take it without any problem. Uman worked his fingers efficiently, showing his true musicianship in completing Favel’s voice. Favel/Uman then did one of Favel’s favorite tune, “Somewhere Beyond The Sea”, crafting it simple yet meaningful.
They then surprised us by going out of the box, taking a cinematic indie pop hit of Fleurie, “Hurts Like Hell”. Not wanting to make it depressing, she delivered it light yet deep. What’s amazing is they made the song suits perfectly being on the jazz stage. For the last song, the duo took a popular standard which is based on the instrumental song written by Charlie Chaplin for his movie Modern Times (1936), “Smile”. Just as how the song was meant to tell us to cheer up and hope for a bright, better tomorrow just as long as we smile, Favel/Uman’s simple and sweet version painted happy smile on our faces.
It’s always fascinating to see young talents inside the jazz scene, especially promising ones like Favel/Uman. They keep it simple by focusing on the essence of each song, not to show off. Uman played effective to back Favel up nicely, while Favel did well in letting her golden voice flying over the streaming melody. Give this kind of duo more chance, you will see them grow fast since they have what it takes to be a good artist. It may not be easy to lock them up again since they both are busy with school, but once we find the right time, we will invite them again. On the surface the song might look easy to sing, but actually it isn’t since McLean tells a life story in poetic way. And Favel did well. Eventhough she clearly looked shy and nervous, she’s still able to connect with her feeling and made it heartfelt.
The last act featured a groovy, soulful pop jazz band established 5 years ago, FORTUNATES. Calling their genre as “Creative Music”, this band takes music as the result of love, feel and creation, also a universal language to be connected to others. Started the band as the media to fulfill their hobby in 2013, the band has been moving further by playing in many events, festivals also actively join the band competitions anywhere.
The band is now consisting of Rena Pradhita Suwandani (vocal), Lira F Ramdani (guitar), Asep Rijwan (bass), Juli Ahadiyat (keyboard), Raiwan Ramdani (drum) and Rizaldi (saxophone). They have catchy, pop jazzy singles and creative in redressing today’s famous songs (including dangdut) to suit their music style. We have put them in the schedule since two months ago and finally got them in this 51st edition.
It didn’t take long for them to grab our attention by swinging with Armada’s big hit, “Mau Dibawa Kemana.” Marcell has done it before, but it still feels different in the hands of Fortunates, especially with Rena’s strong soulful voice. For the next song, they introduced their second single, “Love You”. This ear-catchy, groovy jazz-based pop song has lyrics that’s relevant to everyone who fall in love, especially the youngsters’ love life. Fortunates has many original songs and several singles already, and this one here can show how good they are in fitting today’s music trend by still holding on to jazz.
The third song brought in another suprise. If you are Indonesian, you should know how popular the modern Dangdut song “Lagi Syantik” by Siti Badriah today. Fortunates did a cool remake in soulful pop jazz. They kept it simple but believable, as if the song was made Fortunates’ way. Since the song is familiar, there were many passers-by stopped in front of the stage, recording the band with their gadgets while enjoying the new version of “Lagi Syantik”.
For the last song, they mashed up two songs from different decades: Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music” (1976) and the huge hit written by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars that became a phenomenon all around the world with major impact on pop culture, “Uptown Funk”. Fortunates is smart enough to combine both songs seamlessly, making it as one. They funked us up with retro-modern style which reflected the glorious soul/jazz funk in the past but still captured recent music trend. As the original members of the band Rena, Lira, Asep Rijwan, Juli and Raiwan played solid with chemistry that has been built for 5 years, the newest member Rizaldi on sax merged naturally with no problem. This happy song with funky bites gave us the chance to have a party mode ending, what a way to seal up this edition of Braga Jazz Night.
In their first attempt performing for us, Rena wowed us by reaching the high notes effortlessly. We thought she has been doing it for years, but actually it was the first time for her to do so. “It was the first time for me to reach that high, I’m doing it for Braga Jazz Night.” she told us. We appreciate it, and of course proud of her. Tonight Fortunates shows that not only it’s a pop band with jazz-spirited members, they can also swing their songs.
Jazz opens up possibilities to be creative. Sometimes being creative doesn’t mean that one has to think too much or creating too complex crafts, creativity is also shown by doing something simple yet on target. Taking popular songs from totally opposite genre and make something good out of it is one of the examples, or maybe, simply making a jazzy tunes by still keeping themselves updated with today’s scene could be another one. Often these kind of moves able to attract followers and fans from outside the genre a band is in. The Fortunates has this within their blood veins. They keep themselves relevant to pop without loosing the grip as a jazz-oriented band. They also know how to attract people with their interesting and tasty version of today’s popular dangdut songs, not to mention the play solid and tight as one unit. A feel good band, soulful, groovy and fun, that’s what we feel after watching their appearance. We know they still have many interesting stuffs in their shelf, so we do hope to invite them again next time.
Another interesting edition is added into this event. From a duo, to a jazz quartet, to pop jazz band, altogether creating a colorful jazz presentation. We are happy with the result and send respect to the participating bands and musicians. We also thank all parties who have supported us all the way, and certainly the audience for there won’t be any successful event without people watching it.
We will be back again next month with another batch. Among them including a native USA man working as a UFC licensed Jujitsu coach, formerly a journalist and happen to be a musician. He has already wrote tens or even hundreds of songs cross genre, he plays instruments like guitar and drum, but when you hear him sing, he has a comforting voice like John Denver that could go further to high pitch in executing rock-based songs. Keep yourself updated, follow our social medias, see you again next month!
Watch the highlights of Braga Jazz Night #51
See more pictures:
Reporter & Photographer: Riandy Kurniawan .