Starting 2017, one of our events is freshened up with a new name. After two and a half years using Braga Jazz Walk, from now on the name has changed to BRAGA JAZZ NIGHT. This edition was our first event in 2017, the first under the new name, and number 31 of all editions we have been serving at the Braga CityWalk.
As we are getting closer to the Lunar New Year, in sync with the mall’s programme “Night at Old Shanghai”, we made this edition to celerate it. Braga Jazz Night : Night at Old Shanghai featured artists from local sources and also a guest star coming all the way from Sydney, Australia, reunited with her college friend after 11 years. The lineup this time consisted of active musicians, experienced ones, teachers and amazing young talents. Speaking of variety, this edition got wide range of styles from swing, bop, jazz-rock-soul-funk fusion to the Sundanese ethno-jazz where traditional instruments met the modern, western ones.
Performing first was a new band, The BFG. BFG is an abbreviation of Best For Groove, consisting of gifted kids in jazz with age ranging from 10 to 19. Eventhough the band is considerably new, the personnels are certainly not. Look at its pianist, Nadine Adrianna. She debuted at the age of 8 right here in this event. From time to time she continued to surprise us with her fast grow. She is also the only talent who has performed in three different religion-based special editions of this event: Christmas, Ramadhan and Lunar New Year. From a shy little girl to an excellent band leader, she has been showing her ability to write songs too. She already has 6 original songs at this current moment, something that not many children could do especially in jazz.
Then, there is Vico Wibowo, also a genius singing multi-instrumentalist. For this band he mostly serves as the guitarist, but when needed he could go to piano. Two other personnels are also great young talents: Raihan Ardisoma (drums) and Sean Zuffar (bass). They both have played alongside Nadine uner the name of Nadine Adrianna and Friends in this event before (http://jazzuality.com/jazz-event-report/braga-jazz-walk-24-special-ramadhan-edition-2-the-report/). Now they become a quartet as a brainchild of Angga Wardana of Butterfield Jazz Society who also formed 5Petani and AFA Trio among other interesting new bands from Bandung.
They began sailing with a new song by Nadine, “Alley Blues”, portraying the alley near her home. Vico roared wild with her guitar along with Nadine’s explorative bluesy piano playing. Strong beat and rhythm were provided by Sean and Raihan. Nadine’s first ever composition “Wayne Street” which is inspired by Wayne Shorter’s pieces then appeared in new quartet arrangement. As we are all still mourning the passing of an influential jazz musician Riza Arshad, Nadine dedicated a song that she actually wrote to honor him. The song is titled “Harewos Bulan”. “I made this song because I remember uncle Riza loved to play pentatonic scales”, she said sadly. This song was played in deep respect as well as showing us that this 10 year-old girl can already bring a pentatonic-based composition inside her jazzy soul. Also for this song, Vico demonstrated his awesome ability to stream with keyboard.
They carried on with the only cover, Indro Hardjodikoro’s “Up and Down” from his latest album “Get Closer”. Sean shone in this song by showcasing how fast he could walk the bass without hitting wrong notes. “The next song was Vico’s. It’s called “Thoughts”, telling us how he see music as the representation of heart (feels), mind (thoughts) and soul. This is quite a complex composition involving intense connection between keyboard and piano, superbly done by Vico and Nadine. The bass and drum role are not easy, yet the boys did very well too. For the last song The BFG played another new composition by Nadine, “Kimba Dancing” that visualized Nadine’s playful cat, Kimba. Vico’s manic finger-dancing over the keyboard really brought the feeling of jumping, dancing playful cat. This song has a lethal dose of groove which reminded us of the funky post bop era as if it came from Herbie Hancock around his “Maiden Voyage” years.
It’s amazing to see young talents could play this good. The BFG may be the proof of how Indonesia is blessed with early-born talents where many of them actually hatched from Bandung. While we have been keeping our eyes on the awesomeness and vast progress of the genious Nadine and Vico, Raihan and Sean are much upgraded too in every aspect. Beside of being individually good, they has a good control over the tempo, dynamics and connection. The BFG is currently working on their debut album and aiming Java Jazz Festival this year. We do hope these magical kids will make it and shout loud of their existance and awesomeness to the world.
The second session featured a fusion group that has been keeping its existance for almost 8 years, the 5th Avenue. This band is certainly not new for us since they have been featured quite many times before in various formations. Today the band consists of founders Chris Alfeus (guitar) and Stella Inke (piano) plus renowned bassist Ilham Septia Inda Nugraha. To complete the lineup, they brought in fellow Ryan Napoleon (the drummer of Cakra Khan) to fill up the drum position.
5th Avenue plays fusion with their own signature. Chris in front is an excellent leader who can go further than just being skillful. He can scat-singing following the stream of notes he plays on guitar the way George Benson does. His ability got well noticed by the juries of Jazz Goes to Campus 2014 Band Competition which brought him to be the Best Guitarist as well as placing the band as one of the winners. Their music got richer with the beautiful melody from Stella’s piano playing and sharp groovy rhythm from the Ilham’s bass. As for the drum, while they are still looking for permanent new member, Ryan completed every round for this event.
Composition and arrangement as one of the things that for us stand as their forte quickly appeared on the first song, Fatima Rainey’s “Hey” in pleasuring smooth jazz rearrangement. Chris showed his scat-singing over the notes he played from guitar in this song. Then they played their original which we have been familiar with and loved for at least the past two years, the cheerful “Found You”. A song from 1980 which is mainly associated with Teddy Pandergrass, “Love T.K.O” was made nicely as if it was their own.
An evergreen made for The Jackson 5, “Never Can Say Goodbye” became their fourth presentation. They rearranged this song into sweet, smooth jazz which worked really, really well. Their version could become a hit had it was made into the recording. For the last song, the 5th Avenue gave a fine execution on a delightful jazz fusion from Brian Culbertson, “Another Love”.
From smooth jazz to funky light jazz fusion over the combination of original songs and cool covers, 5th Avenue once again brought joy to this event. Other than keeping their success as Divo Music Management, we do think it’s important too for them to establish the band in the jazz squared circle. The combination of ellegant jazz-rock guitar playing with scat singing, beautiful stream of notes from the piano, rich melodic rhythm from the bassist and power drumming over fine arrangements should spoil the fusion fans who watched them. A good band like this should be able to find a solid stand, have some albums and fly high. One thing we always know is, whenever we need a good band, 5th Avenue is always an excellent choice.
In the third session, a lovely reunion took place. It was between two friends who haven’t met each other for 11 years since they both pursued their formal education in Australia, Michelle Efferin and Jessica Kung. After they graduated, Michelle went back home to Bandung, opening her music school ME Music Centre and establishing her career as a jazz pianist, while Jessica became a successful singer including joining a well-respected jazz gospel vocal ensemble in Australia led by Joy Yates and David McRae: Jubilation. We heard about the reunion plan a couple of months ago from Michelle, we are glad to be able to provide them place and chance to do so. For us, not only the reunion is important, but for the first time we feature renowned artist from the Land Down Under.
For you who haven’t heard of Jessica, she is indeed a carming and captivating vocalist of the highest degree. With such gifted voice and experience, she is shining in any kind of performances, from fronting a large band to an intimate duo. Speaking of music style, she is versatile in an array of genres ranging from Jazz to Latin, Pop, Soul, Gospel and RnB, bringing charisma and finesse to all her performances.
She studied vocal technique and approach with Bob Tasman-Smith in her teens then continued her study with some of Australia’s finest musicians including Sean and Greg Coffin, David MacRae, Mark and Tracy Costa at the Australian Institute of Music (AIM) in Sydney. In 2007 Jessica graduated from AIM with a Bachelor of Music (Hons). Not long after that she joined the Jubilation, one of the most respected and revered vocal groups featured in the Woolworth’s Carols of the Domain. As part of Jubilation Jessica has worked with many stars such as Jimmy Barnes, Jessica Mauboy, Paulini (Australian Idol), Samantha Jade (X-Factor), Delta Goodrem, Leo Sayer, Deni Hines just to mention a few.
Aside of an artist, Jessica also has the calling to educate and share, which brought her to be a teacher. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and experience in hopes to mentor, teach and equip young singers and musicians with the necessary tools they need flourish in their own musical journey; whether that be for leisure or for a future in the music industry. That’s why while she is visiting Bandung, not only she was featured in this event, she also gave Vocal Masterclass on Wednesday, 11 January 2017 at ME Music Centre.
For this event she was fully supported by ME Music Centre. Her dear friend Michelle Efferin herself was on piano, Michelle’s husband Richard Sirait on drums, Ogie Samuel on guitar and Iwan on bass. The school’s senior vocal coach Yosep ‘Othep’ Asrom was a part of the team, along with some students of ME Music School including Patricia Angelica, Madeline and the ‘ukulele girl’ Celline Indrawirawan.
Jessica, Michelle and the whole team kicked off with Tania Maria’s classic, “Come With Me”. While Jessica and Michelle were complementing each other, Richard, Iwan and Ogie gave substantial contribution to this song. The three ladies and their vocal coach really spiced things up. It was beautiful, so beautiful that a tourist who happened to be there couldn’t help herself not to dance. She danced happily throughout the song. That created quite lively scene.
Jessica then sang the first hit of Frank Sinatra, “Polka Dots and Moonbeams”. We don’t get to hear this song being sung often anymore, so it was great to have her reminding us of this gem in such beautiful way. Then she carried on with “Georgia On My Mind”, again by placing her heart into this sentimental evergreen. Enough with ballads,our mood became cheerful again with Antonio Carlos Jobim’s masterpiece, “One Note Samba”.
Othep took over the mike and sang “Moody’s Mood For Love”. Not an easy song to sing, yet he nailed it like a champ. Jessica invited all singers to join her for one last song, this time presenting the urban sound of neo soul by covering Jill Scott’s hit “A Long Walk”. A very nice choice to seal their lovely session.
For the first time we featured an international artist as a part of the show which turns out really, really good, thanks to Michelle Efferin who introduced and provided us the chance. A superb quality of jazz singing from a charming, warm-hearted lady from Sydney has added a wonderful story of this event. Jessica is a remarkable singer who has it all. She doesn’t need to show off. She sings from her heart, get totally into each song and keep the beauty of the melody, resulting a heartfelt performance. Her collaboration with Michelle Efferin and the band, plus the bright students of ME Music Centre worked really well too. A small regular community event like this are held within the limitations, so, we send big thanks and respect to Jessica Kung for be willing to come and join us. We wish you all the best in your career both in entertainment and education, and we certainly hope to be able to (re)unite you again with Michelle in the future.
Jazz and traditional Sundanese music come from different place and era. But since jazz is able to absorb influences from diverse local music or culture wherever it lands, the combination of jazz and the mystical, enchanting Sundanese music could open up a different realm of a dimension. Especially when it was formed by a great band or ensemble, we would be able to feel this kind of realm in such unforgettable way.
Meet a great cross jazz-ethno ensemble from Bandung, the West Java Syndicate. Formed in 2010 as the brainchild of drummer Zahar Mustilaq, this band is getting better and better in fearlessly combining two spheres: the progressive, modern Western Jazz with the mystical, traditional, ancient Sundanese music. Their music often fuses with other influences. Complex, yet friendly to even the most common ears. What’s cool is that they often demonstrate ‘dialogues’ between instruments both in live performance and recordings. That makes their music feels alive and full of spirit. Other than Zahar, today this band consists of Dede SP (bass), YD Nafis (keyboard), Randy Gevenk (traditional bamboo-made woodwinds) and the newest member IpinZbet on kendang. They have released one EP titled “Album Leutik” (in English: Mini Album) in 2013 and currently is working on their second album at one of the best studios in Bandung, the Studio 8.
Randy Gevenk started with karinding to open up the surrealistic musical dimension before moving on to bamboo flute. The Sundanese pentatonic pattern with the combination of traditional and modern beat from them was breathtaking. One of the new song “Child’s Play” took us deeper into this different world where they demonstrated their ability to play this quite complex concept along with joking and laughing at the same time. “We are not musicians, we are jokers”, said Zahar in teasing us with their concept.
YD Nafis’ composition “Tembang Katresna” (in English: “Love Song”) offered us to enjoy ballad in another unique way. The blending between kendang and drum, the piano playing which basically was built within pentatonic scales yet could fly wide to reach jazz, third stream or even new age, the sound of traditional woodwinds and the rock-titude bassist created something we don’t get to hear often. Then they played another new song, so far titled “One Night”. This groovy beat and the uplifting song invited the listeners to dance or at least tapping their feet. Since it was already way past the closing hour of the mall, they had to come to an end. But wait, not before one last song, which turned out to be a big blast. The song is called “Gending Rame Ku Kendang”, listed in their first EP. This song served a perfect climax: intense, loud, loads of action. The tarompet sound, the mind-bending drum and kendang attack, the ferocious piano playing and unpredictable bass lines which is served interestingly with wild stage act caught everyone off-guard. Eventhough Zahar already warned the audience that this song could ‘make your ears bleed’, there were so many elements of surprise blasted everywhere, making this song should stand as a masterpiece.
West Java Syndicate demonstated how unique the sound is when modern jazz meets the traditional Sundanese ethnic music. More than just letting us feel the harmonious combination of two worlds, the way they perform was highly entertaining, humorous and interactive too. We haven’t got the chance to bring them for more than a year, but since they are going to release a new album, the timing was actually perfect.
We hope their appearance in this event could become a good promo towards the society. And of course, we wish them all the best with the album. West Java Syndicate is not the only band that has the Sundanese elements in the music concept, but these dudes certainly has a strong character in their music. We say, being different is actually awesome. And, these guys proves that music and comedy can go hand in hand to give the best of entertainment. Lively, funny, creative, attractive and genuine, always great to have them on our stage.
As the Lunar New Year for 2017 is on January 28, we dedicated this event to celebrate it. We hope our attempt of bridging Sydney, Shanghai and Bandung would be enough to let you feel the joy of this Chinese New Year. We will be back again next month for Valentine Edition. On behalf of us all, we wish you a Happy and Prosperous life in the upcoming year of the rooster. Gong Xi Fa Cai!
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