One of our overseas readers once told us that he’s amazed to know that Indonesia actually has many jazz-related musicians. Well, it’s true that jazz was originated in USA which is far, far away from Indonesia. But jazz has been here long time right after this music took the world by storm shortly after.
Today we can be proud to see that there are so many young musicians are still attracted and attached with jazz. Some of them embrace the pop side of it, some preserve the traditional, some coin it with the ethnic musics, there are also those who go further creating something new. We realize it and know that in order to keep the flame, we have to provide playgrounds for them to explore the music. Often the case is that there are many who are interested in jazz, but they don’t have enough place to play on. That’s one of the main reasons that made us establish this community event called Braga Jazz Night, hoping that this can be a friendly and familiar place for them to start, grow and achieve their dreams. We hope to stimulate the musicians to go jazzy, keep pushing the established ones and at the same time spreading the good news that jazz actually has so many styles where some should be able to accomodate one’s music taste or preference.
The Braga Jazz Night #57 was held on Thursday, 21 March 2019, that’s the third Thursday of the month, the schedule we have been keeping on for almost 5 years. This time we featured all young players bringing jazz in rainbow-like variety. And, we got a pleasant surprise during the jam session by the participation of a wonderful, beautiful female jazz singer/composer from Italy.
We are also proud to tell that this edition got big number of audience as seen on the photo above. Some of them came to support their friends and family, some to watch and some were the mall-goers who happened to be there during the event.
The first one taking the stand was a very interesting duo who combines classical and jazz, ellegance and wild. They are Jesy Dewinda and Jason Limanjaya, fused as one as Jesy/Jason.
Jason is no doubt one of the most spellbinding jazz musician from the young generation in Indonesian jazz scene today. Came to Indonesia during holiday from his study in Singapore, he quickly sunk into the jazz pool and never stop making waves in it. From joining the New Equinox, a reliable partner of Nayra to his on-going existance as a proud member of a wicked jazz band The New Blood, plus establishing his own trio and many projects, all shows the track that this dude is indeed genius. Last month he told us that he got a new concept by pairing with a young lady with classical background, Jesy.
Jesy realized her passion in music since she was still 3 year-old. She started learning classical piano at the age of 4, graduaed from ABRSM grade 8 and then became the runner-up place in a classical piano competition in Jakarta. She joined the choir as chorister, artistic division, also as the junior conductor in campus and then conducting workshop with Dr Brady Allred (USA). Jesy has composed “Ave Maria” for Unpar Choir at the Parahyangan Heritage II in Bandung, Jakarta and Surabaya, learned classical singing and ended up as the semi finalist of Catharina W Leimena’s National Classical Vocal Competition. You can read more details about Jesy here https://jazzuality.com/jazz-events/braga-jazz-night-57/.
So, a girl with classical background on piano and vocal pairing with the wild, young jazz genius? For us that’s really interesting of course. So we quickly arranged a slot for them in this edition.
After a brief opening, Jesy and Jason took their position on the left and right side of the stage. The first song was written by Jesy titled “Goodbye”. This ballad quickly drew attention from the mall goers, and that’s no surprise. Why? Because the song has everything to love. The beautiful melody, the lyrics that would reflect what many of us feel at certain times, the captivating soprano vocal and the amount of spirit she breathed out into the song to make it so alive. As she slowly built the momentum, Jason added up more flavors from his keys. Just a little, but significant.
For the second presentation Jason left his keyboard and sat right beside Jesy. Using one keyboard, they gave a song from maestro Mochtar Embut, “Setitik Embun”. This song suits Jesy’s vocal type really well. But that’s not the only good thing from this one, because they made a surprise too. Jason kept on changing place with Jesy, who also played the piano along with singing. Imagine this. While the classical basic of this song was saved in the hands and voice of Jesy, there was Jason who went wild above the keys. From left to right, right to left. It was surprisingly attractive, no wonder they bagged loud applause in the end.
A cute but lethal female drummer Marissa Wiguna then joined the party. A little bit about Marissa, she’s an active church drummer who embarked her secular career with Out of 7 and recently gets busy with Nissan Fortz. With Marissa, they expanded the canvas with more beat, making the next song felt like appearing with full band. The title is “Tunggu Dulu”, made by both of them on their second meeting. This song reminisced the joy of pop jazz groove we loved back then around the late 80’s and early 90’s, as well as showing that Jesy’s soprano voice is great on singing this style.
For the last song they played another original, written by Jason and Anjuan, “Gagu”. The syncopative rhythm should be quite challenging to execute, but they successfully funked us up. Jason acted like a bassman, standing and holding his keyboard just like a bassist, spreading high dose of funky virus.
Using only two keyboards and one additional drum, Jesy/Jason with Marissa Wiguna managed to bring richer sound than one would imagine, thanks to Jason who programmed the sound of other instruments in his keys. The combination of classical and jazz isn’t new, yet this fine young musicians somehow manage to bring something fresh. Catchy melody, charming appearance and really entertaining. A unique concept like this deserves recognition since it opens up a new musical horizon and perspective that there are so many things we can do in jazz.
While we already know Jason as a jazz wiz and Marissa is a complete drummer, a very talented, charismatic beautiful girl like Jesy should have a good career to as an active musician. She’s well equipped with skill, she can sing just as good as her piano playing, she’s capable of writing/composing songs, she knows what to do when encountering jazz and has a charming stage apperance too. We will surely keep our eyes on this duo. If they continue the partnership, we will definitely invite them again to check what’s new in their shelf.
The second session belong to Joe Project. Joe Project is a band built by young bassist Joe Bastian. Joe certainly is no stranger to us since he’s been participating a lot for about 4 years, when he was still studying at STiMB majoring electric bass. Today he’s having some regulars and seriously maintaining his own band, the Joe Project while happily serves as sessionist.
For this edition he appeared with some of his buddies: M Rizqi Pratama (guitar), Ian Kalangi (drum) and Razita ‘Zizi’ (vocal) and Sheira (piano).
Look at how they opened their gig. What a surprise to see Joe and his mates started by pinning one of Casiopea’s hits, “Mid-Manhattan”. Full speed, full power, great technique, this song is perfect to show each of their individual skill and their harmony as a unit. Also, it’s a right pick for a band leader who plays bass like Joe. Strong fusion statement was driven out of their instruments through sharp punches. The roaring rocking guitar sound, merry finger-dancing on the keys, power drumming and of course, kiling bass jabs made the venue filled with jazz-rock spirit. They carried the momentum with Mezzoforte’s song from 2004 , “Nightfall”. These two songs shows how good this pack is in riding the fusion wave.
Then Joe called Zizi. According to Joe, he met Zizi by chance during one of his regulars. Realizing that Zizi has a good singing voice with power, he invited her in on his gigs. Starting with Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep”, we directly stunned with her strong charasteristic voice. Other than she’s the right one to sing Adele’s, it’s just cool to hear a jazz fusion version of this famous song.
Eventually they reach the final song. It was Stevie Wonder’s from 1973 that became the signature song for Incognito a decade later and covered by Tori Kelly for Sing OST, “Don’t U Worry Bout a Thing.” With this one, they served one last party and drained every bit of energy they had left.
Having a bassist as the band leader is always interesting. It gives us the chance to get the extra groove in front and every wonderful things a bass could give. From fusion to pop jazz to RnB, Joe once again shows that he’s a good bassman with the ability to lead. Always nice to have him and his fellows along. Note that he never has the same lineup twice, but amazingly all play just as good. Will you see him again in the future? You bet.
The final round featured a funky jazz band full of young wizs, The Commitment. This band made their second appearance on our stage after 5 months ago when they debuted in the 52nd edition.
As mentioned, the band is built upon young musicians with amazing skills. They are Anjuan Julio (guitar), Daniel GT (drum), Vico Wibowo (keys) and Kevin Jonathan (bass). Having skilled players with strong passion makes this band able to tackle challenging compositions, where some of their repertoires are originally made by the members.
Sharp, wicked, this band of youngsters blasted with an original song titled “Groove Minder”. This song is spirited, full of chunky bites with lots of toppings, brought razor-sharp by these boys. Tight, fully rounded, these boys ran wild like a pack of wolves hunting the melody, the beat and chew them all ferociously. Anjuan is without a doubt magical with his guitar, then the wicked Vico tranced behind his set of keys. Then look at the expressive face of Jonathan who is always in extacy along with the monster groove he produced with his bass. Daniel, the calmest member is actually a killer when he’s with the drum. Quickly they drew passers-by to watch them.
For the second song they went remembering the late musician, composer and producer Alvin Lubis who passed away too young at the age of 37. If usually a tribute to the loss of someone dear made sad, they chose to remember the good thing in cheerful mode. High octane jazz-rock that would be driven anyone to the edge of their seats.
One of the audience told us that the Commitment played so neat and strong, it’s like watching a long time pro performing at the Java Jazz Festival. Well, he’s not that wrong, because some of the boys in this band has tasted that grand stage before. But even if they hadn’t been there, they really play like old timers who have been playing together for ages. It was that good.
After those two instrumental goodies, Juan invited Aldo Suherman to the stage. Aldo is originally a drummer but currently switches to be a singer, and that’s not wrong since this young man has delightful voice that would be great to sing RnB and soulful songs. The first one with Aldo was Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie” rearranged to be more jazz rock.
For the last presentation The Commitment and Aldo gave Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”. Aldo is not just a good singer with RnB vibes, he also has wide vocal range and the ability to reach much higher notes, something that this song of Stevie requires. Near the end, Anjuan introduced each mate and let them had their solo run. Jonathan was even stepped forward and got huge applause when he nailed his solo while expressing his joy on his face.
While being busy with the preparation for World Youth Jazz Festival in Kuala Lumpur on 3-5 May 2019 and finishing the album with New Blood, Anjuan still has so much more to explore, and the Commitment becomes the home where he can unleash it. Having four pillars with complete skills makes the band able to fly high. Not only wide exploration with lots of improvisations, they are also attractive and charming to watch. We have no doubt that they will climb higher and higher until one day this band stand as one of the best from the young generation. Until that time, we will keep on following their updates and of course support them with any which way we can.
Since we still got some spare time and lots of great musicians, we opened up the jam session. What a pleasant surprise that we got a very special participant. It’s a jazz singer and composer from Hong Kong who’s now pursuing her career in Italy, Heidi Li. She has shared the stage with the likes of Jeff Ballard (a jaz drummer who has played with Ray Charles, Pat Metheny and Chic Corea among others). She was on her first ever holiday trip to Indonesia and apparently was in Bandung after visiting Bali.
As The Commitment still stood on stage, Heidi joined them and sang a jazz standard “There’ll Never Be Another You.” She has a really beautiful voice and charming smile, a perfect combination to sing this classic from early 40’s. Other than being mesmerized by her appearance, it was cool to see The Commitment went smooth swinging after playing powerful jazz fusion just a couple of minutes earlier. Erick Gabe couldn’t resist the fun, he jumped in and played mouth trumpet with Heidi and The Commitment.
We spotted another male singer among the audience and invite him to have the mike. He is Diwo Giri. Still with The Commitment, Diwo sang a famous song first published in 1964 and became a big hit again in the millenium by Michael Bublé, “Feelin’ Good”.
More players followed the jam. The new set including Joe Bastian (bass), Frank Navayo of 5Petani (guitar), Aldo Suherman (bass). Vico’ still in charge on keys. With Erick Gabe, they launched Chick Corea’s evergreen, “Spain”.
Heidi Li who was still watching the jam accepted our invitation to go once more, She chose a song written by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell in a third floor apartment while having their thoughts over the pleasant Southland, “Georgia On My Mind”. “Really love her voice. Really beautiful”, said one of the audience to us. This song wrapped the 57th edition in the sweetest way possible.
All young musicians, passionate, skillful and creative, that’s the menu for this edition that went out well, thanks to the musicians who gave their best. We will be back again next month with different lineup and story. Thank you for being with us, see you again soon.
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Reporter/photographer: Riandy Kurniawan .