After more than a month in hiatus (the last time was on August 1, Road to Indonesian Jazz Festival 2015), Braga Jazz Walk is finally back in business. This regular event continues its service to feature jazz-related talents from Bandung and nearby. We provide space for newcomers to gain experience by playing in front of real people, we give spot for bands/artists who wish to promote their album or want to have fun together with us. Some bands use it as a tryout, some for introducing themselves to public, some others as a meeting point with fans and jazz lovers. Occasionally Braga Jazz Walk appears in Special Edition, featuring national/international stars and collaborate with upcoming Jazz Festivals as one of the pre event spots. The point is, Braga Jazz Walk is, and should be a familiar home for everyone. It should be able to give benefit to the musicians and entertain the audience at the same time.
The Braga Jazz Walk #15 featured 4 groups that uniquely have one thing in common: guitar played a very important part in them, even crucial. But, eventhough guitar showed its dominance, the concept of each bands were totally different from one to another. This 15th edition was very rich in variation. There were Swing, Pop, Soul, Bossanova, Rock and wicked Crossovers flew freely from them. If that’s not enough, the jam session after the performances was hot too. We will share more about it later. First, let’s go with the first performer: Haara.
For the first time we featured fingerstyle guitar style at Braga Jazz Walk. And the good thing is, it came from the founder of Indonesian Fingerstyle Guitar Community (IFGC), Haara. He’s skillful, no doubt. But that’s not all, because he’s also a guitarist with strong character. Starting with drum and then learned classical at one of the top music school in Bandung, he then decided to follow his heart, chosing to play a style that’s difficult to play but full with freedom. That’s the fingerstyle guitar playing. For you who are not familiar with it, it’s a style of fingerpicking. Instead of strumming chords, the player pluck the strings directly with the fingertips, fingernails or picks as opposed to flatpicking. What’s unique is that this style is actually used in almost all genre. Classical, gospel, blues, country, ragtime, rock, jazz, top 40, fingerstyle can give a totally different touch when used.
The first song he played was his own song, the title track for his upcoming EP “Enigma” where he immidiately showed his ability in living this style. He went deeper As currently he’s focusing on establishing a strong grip for his solo, he told us that he’s avoiding any collaboration at this moment. This young man already has his own songs. Some are quite complex and challenging to play but somehow nice to listen to. Haara continued with Erik Mongrain’s “Salvation” and his own song, “Hollow”. He closed his session by covering another Erik Mongrain’s song that has a Latin flavor, “Verso”.
One of his song “Incarnation of Dark” which will be listed in the first ever fingerstyle album compilation ever made in Indonesia named “Seventh String Sonority”. His EP titled “Enigma” is in the making. Let’s wish him the best. We knew him just a couple of month, but we know how talented this man is and how serious he is in it. It wouldn’t be surprising if someday soon he stand among the big cats, and it’s not impossible at all to see him in the international scene. For us, Haara is a versatile fingerstyle guitarist with character. He doesn’t neccessarily play jazz standards, but you can feel how he embraces this genre either through chord progression or while building rhythm. We are happy to feature a unique talent that has added more colour into our pallette. Hopefully after this we can have more fingerstyle guitarists to join in, and of course, it’d be great to have Haara again in other editions.
The second session belong to Billy Likumahuwa under a project called Billy “Sings Jobim”. We knew him since he came to one of our events a couple of years ago. He then established a band named Find Taste and often helps Chakraborty as a guest vocalist. He is frequently seen at Braga Jazz Walk and involved in the jam session whenever possible. Billy is still studying in a music college, taking vocal as his major. Even so, he’s currently taking guitar private lesson too. He has an illustrious background in music. He once sang dangdut, ethnic and campursari (a mixture between dangdut and other genres especially Javanese. When he moved to Bandung he came to know and fell in love with jazz. He’s been singing jazz standards ever since.
But this time, in his first ever solo performance he agreed to try something new, a genre that he lately loved, that we think suits his unique baritone voice better: Bossanova. What’s even better is, he took a special theme, tributing the primary force behind the birth of Bossanova, a legendary man with many, many legendary hits that amazingly are never out of date, Antonio Carlos Jobim.
Appearing just by two with guitarist Joe Bastian, Billy kicked off with one of Jobim’s earliest songs, “Chega de Saudade”. Billy dared himself to sing in Portuguese and he did it well. The next song was “one Note Samba”, “Desafinado” forced him to sing in Portuguese again. Right after that he switched to Utha Likumahuwa hit, “Esok Kan Masih Ada”. The next song perhaps is the most famous song of Jobim, “Girl From Ipanema”, which filled with scat too. As much as we loved his bossa tunes, he had to seal it with a golden hit, “Wave”. He sang it in both English and Portuguese.
With that kind of unique heavy baritone voice, it could be tricky for Billy to find songs that suit him. Bossa seems to be a good choice. The good thing is, he actually likes singing this genre too. We really appreciate his effort in memorizing the Portuguese lyrics and sharing a little bit of history about Jobim and Bossa Nova that he shared during his performance. And, let’s not forget that now he has added another style into his colourful resume. After some previous tributes, now we have got a new for Jobim being added into Braga Jazz Walk. How nice is that.
Third performer was a dynamic duo consists of vocal powerhouse Agis Kania Kusumadewi and swingin’ guitarist Opik Bape. Together they called Agis Bape. This duo was born from DuoTone event made by KlabJazz in 2014. It wasn’t the first time for them to join forces because they have been working side by side in another band with strong French aroma, Satura, but here they establish more solid connection between them.
After appearances in many events for a year, they finally stepped higher by releasing their debut single, “Embun Pagi” made in two version: combo and duo. This feel good, happy mood pop swing song cheered everyone up and served beautifully as the final song, but the other songs they sang were cool too especially since they delivered the songs free flowing, groovy, soulful, swingin’ and full of spontaneity.
They started sailing with Tuck & Patty’s song “One For All” then made up a very interesting version of “Moody’s Mood For Love” with reggae beat. Again, the arrangement is the key when they sing Ellie Goulding recent hit, “Love Me Like You Do” in bossa. Etta James’ “Something’s Got A Hold On Me” reflected the power of Agis and how her soul connected with Opik. One ballad from Billie Holiday, “Don’t Explain” flew beautifully before they asked everyone to sing and dance along with “Embun Pagi”. This song, no doubt, has the power to be a big hit in Indonesia as well as the vehicle for this duo to stand among the popular bands.
Agis Bape shines in minimalist concept. Their gifts, skills and experiences, plus the tight chemistry between them make each song appears as a winner. Agis’ voice somehow acts like an instrument, on the other hand Opik’s guitar playing sings. No wonder they never fail to wow the audience even just by two. They have promoted the single in several radios, and hopefully in near future, Agis Bape will stand among the top duos in Indonesia, following the footsteps of Endah N Rhesa, Bubu Giri and Sarah N Soul. They do have the power to do so. We smell success from them. For you who have listened to Agis Bape, we’re sure you agree.
Nissan Fortz set the fire and burned everyone with his mind-bending, jamming-spirited music package. If you’re active in whatever music community in Bandung, you should have already known and wowed by him. He’s the brain behind many successful groups such as The Trias (formerly known as Trias Akustika), Sarah N Soul ad Blues Libre. You should be able to see him too when you have Erwin Saz on stage. He’s a super busy all-rounder who seems to have limitless energy when it’s about music. Why? It’s obvious. Even when he’s already have tons of activities, he still feels like establishing his solo career. And the time has come for him to do that.
For his solo career he brought in strong lineup including Destra Sandjaya (drum; vocalist of Elpucino), Ade Irvan Riswandi (keyboardist; founder of ethnic band Pancasura), Sumi (bass) and Eggy (trumpet/flugelhorn; one of Salamander Big Band’s troops). This lineup is simply an all-star cast, based on their ability and experience. A perfect team for someone like Nissan to establish his own name strongly in the industry.
Before the album’s out, he’s been busy promoting his new move by playing here, there and everywhere. For this Braga Jazz Walk he started sweet and smooth with “” before hitting the roof with Blues Libre’s “Baby Come On”. Eggy’s trumpet shone in this, also the bassline of Sumi. His single “Cantikku” began with ballad led by muted trumpet before the whole band built this reggae-ish song to perfection.
After one hot jamming with his original “Way Out Song”, Nissan called in many musicians to join him on stage. It didn’t take long for the stage to go crowded. All-star jam session occured. Agis Bape, Billy, guitarist Jerry Gates, violinist Pangestu Hning Bhawana were there, playing one last party with “Route 66”.
Just like what he has shown many, many times, someone like Nissan Fortz is already above genre. He clearly reflects his roots and every music he has encountered along his career, but he never wants to be trapped in any small, particular box. Instead he just go following his feeling. Therefore no matter what he plays, it’d be difficult to tell what genre he’s actually play in. Crossover in full spontaneity, a free flowing madness, unpredictable twists and turns, all created magic in nonstop action. He is a one of a kind. It’s always great to have him in an event, especially when he’s empowered with all-star cast like this. Let’s see where he’s heading with this move, but for us, he deserves to stand among the top guns and leaders.
So there’s the highlight of Braga Jazz Walk #15. Since the #14 edition was quite long time ago on June (we took break during the fasting month of Ramadhan and then we launched the Road to Indonesian Jazz Festival 2015 as a special edition), it surely feels good to be back in service. There are plenty of bands we haven’t presented just yet, there are many bands that we want to invite again to see their updates. And we want to support any bands who want to promote themselves to public and community members. On top of that, it has to be able to provide good quality jazz-tertainment.
We will be back again next month with another fresh batch. Remember, now Braga Jazz Walk will come on the fourth Thursday of the month. Do remember it so you don’t have to miss any edition. Thank you for supporting us, the community and Indonesian jazz. See you again in four weeks from now.
Watch the highlight 0f Braga Jazz Walk #15 on our Youtube channel:
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