We have our hopes and dreams when we started running the regular community event. Other than penetrating public with variety of jazz, we want everyone to have easy access to it. Not only as the audience but also as players. We love to feature them, and we would be really happy if they can evolve from our stage. Any new bands can use the stage to gain experience and in terms of promoting themselves. The successful ones are welcome too, either just to support the younger ones or to get advantages, if there’s any, like album promo, warming up, trying a new concept and so on. Simply put, we want everyone to be able to enjoy (be entertained) and learn. We want the event to give benefit to them according to the needs.
That dream was brought to Braga CityWalk after the contract with the previous venue ended. Calling it Braga Jazz Walk with the tagline of “Ngariung, Ngajazz, Ngabaraga”, this event has been running well for more than a year. Other than the regular schedule, Braga Jazz Walk occasionally appeared as Special Edition like tributing an artist, as one of the pre-event spots of big festivals or in sync with the mall’s theme.
We have just finished with the Braga Jazz Walk #17. In this edition new bands/groups dominated the lineup. One of them wasn’t really new, but they just put a name on the project and wish to embark a new journey afterwards. One of the band consisted of experienced jazz musicians from Jakarta that has just established their partnership as a trio.
This 17th edition began with a beautiful lady with unique fashion style that is kind of combining the rebelious punk with colourful Harajuku style, with gothic . Her name is Caroline Boenardi, but to make it simpler, you can just call her Caroline. She has realized her music passion since she was still a little girl, but she didn’t get much chance to get into it. After many years of struggles, finally now she got the chance to do that. She takes singing lessons with Erick Gabe and guitar with Jhonny Sitompul. These two mentors’ methods proved to work. Caroline works fast and in just a year she manages to enhance her talent. Now she’s ready to sail.
Both Erick and Jhonny happily supported her debut on Braga Jazz Walk, plus Donald (bass) and Wandi (drums). Caroline sang Martin Nievera’s song “Stay With Me” continued with the popular song from RAN, “Dekat Dihati” then CoCo Lee’s “Before I Fall in Love”. Erick Gabe then came on stage to sing one of today’s top 40 from Meghan Trainor and John Legend, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You”. A big surprise came in the end when Caroline and her gang pinned Psy’s “Gangnam Style” in totally different style, in funky, bluesy Latin rearrangement. A strong ending from Caroline’s gig.
She started her career quite late, but what’s good to know is that nothing’s ever too late in music. What’s great that she clearly has very reliable troops to march with. We are happy to provide a playground for her, hopefully this could be a good place to start from. A girl with catchy look singing and playing guitar? That’s always nice to see isn’t it? Tonight she did very well. And the help from her mentors really spiced her performance. Keep going, Caroline! Like we said, it’s not too late. It’s never too late. Go answer your calling and enjoy fulfilling it.
Next we featured a dynamic duo with strong chemistry: Uku et Alia. This is the fruitful collaboration between the young female jazz singer with amazing vocal Puspallia Panggabean (vocals) and sharp musician who can perform like an ensemble by using only acoustic guitar, Benyamin ‘Benny’ Mattarang (guitar). They met 5 years ago, being introduced by friends. It didn’t take long for them to feel connected and soon after, they found themselves playing in some cafes. Everything looked great, however Benny decided to take time out from music. In 2013 they reunited and got regular gig at a resto at the upper side of Dago area, Bandung. This was the period where they explored many songs as the bond got even stronger between them. It was all good, but it happened again. In 2014 Benny quit playing in there. But this time it wasn’t for long. They met again and quickly decided to establish a solid group with a name, that’s Uku et Alia refering to the way they were called in their childhood. Having a name for the duo shows that this time they plan to do it seriously. Just as they did so, we came in. And the Braga Jazz Walk became the first event they were in after they got an official name.
What a joy to have them on stage. Just two people but it was tight and strong. Puspall and Benny directly made us feel like relaxing inside a cozy lounge on a Valentine’s Day with “Sabor A Mi (A taste of Me)” and then sang the classic “Bluesette”. Benny’s favorite song from Sting, “Moonlight” was really beautiful. The romantic night continued on with “A Felicidade” from Antonio Jobim where Puspall demonstrated how well she could do the streaming fast scat-singing and then they delivered a song quite difficult to sing but done really, really well by them, Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” and then reached the end of the line with “Orange Colored Sky.”
Clearly they showed how good they are as a unit. Puspall’s mature control over her voice while breathing some jazz matched Benny’s superb guitar playing. Benny is Puspall’s favorite pair, vice versa. If you ask us to describe their gig in three words, we would say it was romantic, sweet and dreamy. We are sure everyone who watch them would feel that they are a good duo, not only while singing and playing but also in friendship. Indonesia is blessed to have many great duo, yet there’s still room for ‘new’ ones to shine. Uku et Alia is promising. Puspall is curently getting more and more exposure nationally by playing with legends and big names in Jakarta, so hopefully she will find the way to share some of her busy times to build this duo. If Puspall and Benny maintain the partnership, we have no doubt that they will be succeed.
The third gig drove us into the wild ride. The band’s called BlackTail, consisting of 5 young dudes who met at an Independence Day celebration in a housing complex in the Southern part of Bandung: Firdi (vocal), Osep (lead guitar), Reno (bass), Dico (guitar) and Dewa (drums).
We thought they were going to bring fusion into the plate, but these guys chose to be true to themselves as a heavy metal band along with the gimmick and attitude. They roared wild as if it was a rock fest. Two songs are their single: “Catching Fire” and “Flying V”, and then 2 other songs are from the mini album: “Pairy of Bird” and “Hello Stranger”.
We knew Osep for quite a while, since he frequently came to our event and took part in jam session sometimes. It’s good to know that now he has a ‘home’ where he can explore everything he learns and grow together with his band mates. A heavy metal band on jazz stage? Well, why not. As Herbie Hancock once said “The Spirit of Jazz is the Spirit of Openness”, we always welcome those who want to be on jazz stage without denying their identity. Plus, we haven’t got heavy metal in this event since the first edition. We want people to know jazz not only by the music style, the chords progressions and the way it’s played, but what’s also important is to see it as a non judgmental, open-minded and friendly genre. A metal band came to play on our jazz stage, that’s how the music should be.
The last on the list was a newborn trio from Jakarta who served pure jazz. They are called N/T/P, stands for Neo Trip Project. Highly skilled and capable players are found inside: Julius Ferdian (piano), Dave Rimba (drums) and Indrawan Tjhin (bass).
This jazz trio was born from Julius’ wish to play modern jazz that’s still strongly rooted in traditional jazz standard both in repertoire and instrumentation. According to Indrawan Tjhin, N/T/P’s arrangements are built within original compositions influenced by Brad Mehldau, Aaron Goldberg and Robert Glasper. Indrawan is a long time friend of ours who found his way through Shadow Puppets Quartet, a group he was in not long after graduated from the Koninklijk Conservatorium of The Hague, Netherlands. Being taught by the fabulous Hein van de Geyn, former bassist of Chet Baker. Indrawan was the bassist of amazing quartet W/H/A/T (along with Riza Arshad, Sandy Winarta and Sri Hanuraga) and of course, the leader of the cool straightahead band, Indrawan Tjhin Group. Other than teaching in Universitas Pelita Harapan, he is also a proud member of JPCC Worship, playing there since 2013. Quite shining portfolio isn’t it? Well, that’s not all because he is also a loving husband and father. Julius is an alumnus of Universitas Pelita Harapan (UPH), majoring Jazz and Popular Performance. He learnt from Julian ‘Joy’ Marantika, Boby Limijaya, Nial Djuliarso and Sri Hanuraga. Dave Rimba is a young drummer from Bintaro who currently is still studying at UPH. He learnt drumming from Handy Salim, Elfa Zulham and Tobias Ringga.
Many young musicians from Bandung came especially to watch N/T/P. Without further ado, Julius, Dave and Indrawan played “On Green Dolphin Street”. The trio immidiately locked to one another and served the song chilled with thick, strong jazz-titude. They carried that on to the next song, another jazz standard from the late 30’s, “A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square”. The third song was Indrawan’s original composition once featured in Shadow Puppets Quartet album, “The Problem is Yours”. We saw many smiles in admiration toward the N/T/P boys. Indrawan showed how good he masters the contrabass. Just as the way we know him, he was expressive. The audience would be able to feel how much he embraces the song just by looking at his body gesture and facial expression during his play. Julius was mesmerizing behind the piano. His fingers ellegantly streamed along the keys creating beautiful melodies. As for Dave, eventhough we could only provide the electric drum due to the mall (venue)’s policy, he made us forget about it and thought he was using the acoustic one. We wish to see more, but since the time was already late and they still had to drive back to Jakarta, “The Problem is Yours” became the last piece from them.
Speaking of jazz, Indonesia does have bands who preserve the traditional jazz standards without compromise. They are not intimidated by the way music trend goes in Indonesia, they simply carry on fulfilling their passion and enjoying every second of it. N/T/P is still a baby when it comes to age, but they have everything needed to stand among the top. We are proud to be the place for them to begin with. One day when they fly high, we will remember that our stage, the Braga Jazz Walk stage was where the initial gig of N/T/P took place.
All featured bands and groups have rested their case, but the event was still not over because jam session was then opened. The phenomenal 9 year-old girl we featured last year named Nadine rushed to the piano, ready to jam along with other players. Billy Likumahuwa also came in and from the audience, Mrs. Ratu gladly joined them. “Moliendo Cafe” (also popular as “Kopi Dangdut” in Indonesia), “Spain” and “L-O-V-E” were delivered. Then a duet between Billy and Angelica Siahaan covering Yura and Glenn Fredly’s hit, “Cinta dan Rahasia”. Rama Raditya provided the melody on piano. Two Indonesian Idol alumni, Andre Arizky and Ryan D’Angga who also came took part on stage. They sang a couple of songs including a beautiful solo of “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” and Keenan Nasution’s “Nuansa Bening” (which was re-popularized by Vidi Aldiano a couple of years ago). There were still people watching and musicians still wanted to keep playing, but since we already passed the closing time by 30 minutes, we got to end it.
New bands, newcomers, new names. ‘New’ might be the keyword for this 17th edition but each of them got good things to offer. While some were still fresh, some were successful artists who embarked a new journey. Speaking of variation, we got bebop, straightahead, folk-ish, groove, jazz in soulful acoustic and even heavy metal in this edition.
We are preparing a special Chrismas Edition in December. We still don’t know when or who to bring in, but we will keep you updated. Thank you very much for all musicians who have participated in this 17th edition, also to everyone who came. See you again in December.
See more pictures: