We always try to sync our regular event, including or especially this Braga Jazz Night to any celebration or special day. Why? Because we always believe jazz can have its way to make any celebration merrier. We are just done with Christmas Edition, now here we are celebrating the Chinese New Year, The Year of the Pig. Of course, we got to cook something different for a different theme, and invite bands or musicians that we know can live up the theme.
The lineup is interesting and very special for us. There’s a jazz trio consisting of three highly talented beautiful ladies, an amazing 18 year-old girl who have high skill in guitar as well as sing with strong bossa spirit, and the return of a band whose career actually started right here in this event 4 years ago.
For this Braga Jazz Night #55 Chinese New Year Edition under the theme of Shanghai Night Jazz, we got Barongsai or Lion Dance attached for the very first time, provided by the Braga CityWalk. The Barongsai was set right before this event by the mall management. We didn’t want to make this interesting show apart from our event but be integrated. So we asked one of the featured band to join the party, making a special appearance alongside the Barongsai. It was Jazzy Juice who stepped up the plate, collaborating with Erick Gabe.
At first the Barongsai (Lion Dance) from Tian Long Kungfu performed normally, starting from the entrance all the way straight in, teasing and entertaining the mall-goers before they ended up right in the same spot where they started. Jazzy Juice and Erick Gabe then asked the Lions to join them. What they chose was a famous Ambonese song titled “Rame Rame”, written by the late Christ Kayhatu and appeared for the first time in “Nada & Apresiasi album (Granada Record) in 1982. Two lions danced in front of the stage following the song, that created a unique scene of the lion dancing with jazz instead of the traditional Chinese music. It was a surprise to many mall goers as they came watching to see this magical moment. Loud applauses and cheers were thrown to the Barongsai and the band. What an unforgettable scene for this event.
After this surprising opening, the Braga Jazz Night officially opened. Taking the first shot was a very talented young lady, still 18 years old but already able to play/perform like a long time pro. She’s able to play complex compositions with her guitar, amazingly she often sings too. While she is a technical guitar player, she has a strong bossa spirit, meaning that anytime she plays bossa, she creates magic. She is none other than NAYRA DHARMA.
Talented is a strong factor in her success, but that’s not the only thing. She is dilligent and persistent in her commitment to be a musician. If girls her age usually spend time in between study, hang out either in real life or through the social medias, Nayra spends most of her prescious time practicing at home, and it could take 6 to 8 hours a day. And let’s not forget that as the daughter of maestro Pra Budidharma who co-found the supergroup Krakatau, she inherits his DNA.
A couple of months ago she released her first solo single around 6 months ago, titled “In A Blur”. This song is built in Bossanova, but still has tight jazz progressions but not difficult at all to digest even to the non-jazz listeners. Speaking of the lyrics, it gives a portrait of her struggle as a teenager that is taking a step into maturity.
Since we haven’t got her solo performance for quite some times, we decided to have her in this simplest format for this edition. Right after we introduced her, she spread the love of bossa starting with Djavan’s “Embola a Bola”, followed by Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto’s “Doralice”, where she scat-singing along with the melody she created with her guitar. Listen to her, you’d wonder how a girl as young as her able to sing fluently in Portuguese, without having any script or note. No, she wasn’t born in Brazil, nor that she spent some of her life there. In fact, she hasn’t even been there. But apparently Nayra is talented not only in music but in language as well. And it’s evident that she’s persistant, focus and real serious in doing this.
Her father, Pra Budidharma who watched from the right side of the ring looked proud of her and enjoy every minute of her appearance. According to her, she now has no less than 300 songs in her repertoires, where most of those are in Portuguese. That’s unbelievable.
The beauty of bossa continued on with another gold often considered to be the first recorded bossa song by Jobim and Moraes, “Chega de Saudade”. Nayra breathed her soul into this legendary song that holds such important history, singing it with respect and admiration yet made it easy going and flew naturally as if it was hers.
Then it was time for us to enjoy another Jobim’s song from the 80’s, the quirky, imaginative and playful “Two Kites”. While keeping the pushy bossa groove, Nayra kept on building the momentum through the repetitive chords. All these treats weren’t all, because she also sang “Outro Lugar” and “Juras” for this special edition.
We think having her in this event is essential. Not only because Nayra is a superb musician who has a beautiful stage presence, but as a Buddhist she celebrates the Lunar New Year. This event is no stranger to her since she has performed many times, from the early stage of her career some years ago to some more appearances later on, either as the highlight or sessionist. No stage is too big for her. So, celebrating Chinese New Year with Bossa Nova, why not? It was beautiful. Another captivating, intimate and sweet performance by Nayra for this special edition of Braga Jazz Night.
The next session got a band with 8 players, all still in high school, who has won 11 out of 13 competitions they have been ever in. The band’s name is LASTORIA.
Aside of their marvelous achievements mentioned above, this band is very special to us. Why? Because the embryo of this band came to life actually right here in this event 5 years ago. In March 2015, at the 11th edition we introduced a band consisting of junior high school students of Kalam Kudus Christian School. They were trained by guitarist/gym personal trainer Jerry Gates, drummer Andreas supported by guitarist Thomas Sylvester and now-inactive vocalist Billy Likumahuwa especially to perform here. At that time the name was still Hexatonix.
We didn’t hear anything about them anymore after that event, until several months ago their formal coach Jerry told us that the band is still alive and already much improved. The name has changed, the band got larger, with several new players and replacements. Today Lastoria consists of Erick Surya (guitar), Cecilia Antonius (vocal), Rainer James (saxophone), Meylinne (vocal), Neysa Agustin (vocal), Kirana Ariel (bass), Vincent Simon (keyboard) and Kevin Natanael (drum).
Tonight they had to perform minus one player, since unfortunately Neysa couldn’t be in. Yet that didn’t stop them for giving their best. These millenial boys and girls stays true to their era, playing the current hits that are surely familiar to everyone. Starting with Isyana Sarasvati’s “Kau Adalah”, they hooked the audience up with their tasty groove neatly. Erick demonstrated his ability in singing and beatboxing without losing his grip on guitar. For the second song, they gave a jazzy version of “Inikah Cinta”, made famous by ME in 1998 that has been cover by so many artists until now.
They made the party merrier by singing Stevie Wonder’s song which became a hit again later on from other artists including Incognito, “Don’t You Worry Bout A Thing”. Lastoria made it fully in disco way, a good decision for a festive edition. The new hit from Rizky Febian “Berpisah Itu Mudah” was delivered chilled and cool.
For the last song they sang in Chinese, covering David Tao’s hit “Marry Me Today”. According to Ariel, they chose this song because they wanted to bring something special in celebrating Chinese New Year. A really, really good song this one is, and we are happy to have a Chinese song on our stage, the second time after Out of 7 did last year. Rainer kept his sax bites sharp, the beat-boxing from Erick, the clear and sharp vocals of Cecil and Meylinne, smooth finger-dancing of Simon on keys and punching beat from Kevin gave a strong finale.
4 years ago these boys and girls have just began their music career. Now in the first month of 2019 they re-appeared with much more solid and stronger than before. This is what we always wish to see from any new bands that we feature. We want them to have a good start in familiar ground, find their grip to grow so they can keep growing to be better and better. The fact is, as much as we wish for that, there are many bands that unfortunately have a short run, but we are happy that Lastoria is not one of them. This band has grown so much since the last time we saw them. They now enjoy their performance which makes them able to execute each song nicely. We feel their energy and fun, and that’s important because no matter what, in the end music should be able to entertain the audience and also the band itself. We are proud of you guys. Keep it up, viva Lastoria!
For the final act we got three ladies who always remind us of Charlie’s Angels. They are beautiful, stylish and cheerful, but they can be deadly when holding their weapons. Yes! Adisty Zulkarnaen (drum), Arnie Christanti (bass) and the youngest of them all Dyah sekar (piano) are the pillars of a very interesting jazz trio that has been in business for quite a long time, the JAZZY JUICE.
We have seen this band since the beginning and watching them evolving. From playing simple standards and Brazilians to wicked explorations especially in their originals. They can be so funny while performing. They joke around, the call and response is on all the time, attractive appearance are just a few of the good things you will get from cute ladies of Jazzy Juice. They were once went with two saxophonist, but then shortly after the band became trio. FYI, these three ladies are also together in the legendary Bandung all-female pop rock group, SHE.
Arnie said that they haven’t played together as Jazzy Juice for more than 2 years. They were excited to finally reunited again
As mentioned earlier, Jazzy Juice already gave one stunning opening collaborating with the Barongsai. Now in their own full session, these ladies directly dropped the bombs by playing sharp and tight right from the start. Their first one is their original song we haven’t heard for quite a long time, “Pohaci”. We still remember this song originally has a haunting melody along with humming and poem reading, but this time they rearranged the song to fit the theme, using the melody of Wong Fei Hung, Once Upon A Time In China theme song. Arnie stood up gave her extra part with the mike, working on the lyrics both sung and spoken in Sundanese. So, the combination of Chinese tune, Sundanese and Jazz by them creating a mystical atmosphere around the venue. It was indeed brilliant.
For the second song they played their first single written by Dyah Sekar which we don’t think any song writers would care to talk about, “Death of Mosquito”. This is served in dramatic and in a way, tragic feel. It has some light classical part and even the ‘stingy’ one note by Diah suggesting the attacking sound of mosquito. Intensely build, groovy and full with emotion, this song is always a winner for us.
For the last song they picked one of Dave Brubeck’s masterpiece from the late 50’s, “Blue Rondo à la Turk”. This song is quite challenging to play since it has additive rhythm and a free-flowing swingin’ part. These ladies show their remarkable skill and chemistry by executing the song with no mercy, flawlessly. What a joy to see them locking up in action.
“Blue Rondo à la Turk” was supposed to be the last presentation, but Erick Gabe asked them to go for one more shot. With Blues guitarist Eki Johan joined the stage, they gave one last jam with Sting’s “Englishman in New York”. Erick’s blazing voice matched the Jazzy Juice’s wild play, plus Eki’s roaring Blues guitar sound, that created one stunning finale of this edition.
Solid package of trio with seamless chemistry and very talented, that was so perfect as the finale. Not only that, they were highly entertaining and eye catchy too. The combination of candy sweet jazzy melodies from Dyah, tasty and steady beat from Adisty and the monster groove of Arnie served in pleasuring joyride mode is simply irrisistible as always. We feel blessed that we could bring the jazzy Charlie’s Angels in this special edition of Braga Jazz Night.
It might not be easy to make a jazzy Chinese New Year edition, but we did it once again. It’s made possible mainly because Bandung has never-ending source of talents associated with jazz which we take as a blessing. We give thank and send big respect to every participating musician and everyone who has been giving us tremendous support. We will be back again next month with another special edition. As it’s going to be in February, the theme will be Valentine. Do join us and celebrate the day of love together, and keep supporting our community, jazz in Bandung and all the musicians breathing in it. See you again next month!
Watch the highlights of Braga Jazz Night #55 : Shanghai Night Jazz
See more pictures:
Reporter and photographer: Riandy Kurniawan .