Braga Jazz Walk #30 Christmas 2016 Edition: The Report

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As usual in previous years, we dedicated the December edition of 2016 to celebrate Christmas. Calling this event simply as Braga Jazz Walk : Christmas 2016 Edition, we featured young talents who were happily celebrating it with their own music style. As the result, we got rich variety of music, from swing, straightahead to grunge rockin’ blues. Lots of Christmas carols, original songs and jazz standards were found during the 3 hours plus show. What’s also cool is that the age range were wide too. For the first time we featured a little girl, still 5 year-old but is already able to sing jazz standards in tune. While for many Christmas songs often associated with swingin’ jazz, these musicians showed that Christmas can be celebrated with any kind of music. We are happy to be able to showcase that in this edition.

Many groups to showcase, so the schedule was tight. Performing first was the combination of students/teachers of ME Music Centre, highlighting a gifted little girl who could already sing jazz standards in such young age.

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BragaJazzWalk30-Christmas2016-KeziaAlexis_Friends (4)What can you expect coming from a 5 year-old girl in jazz performance? Normally we can’t hope much, but wait, some children are blessed with special gifts including in music, particularly in jazz! Meet Esther Kezia Alexis, the daughter of pianist/music school founder Michelle Efferin and drummer Richard Sirait. According to her mom, Kezia actually already sang before she talked. She got quite access to music and jazz since she is around her mom most of the time. Realizing her talent, her parents decided to put her in singing lesson. How amazing it is knowing that this little girl is really smart. She could already sing some jazz standards, even memorizing the lyrics. We happily provided a slot for her with a hope that she could learn and feel the joy of performing in front of people with confidence. For this event she performed under the name of Kezia ‘KZ’ Alexis and Friends along with some other students from her mommy’s school, M.E Music School.

The band consisted of Michelle on keys, Richard on drums, Ogie Samuel (guitar) and Iwan (bass). This session began with 4 girls from ME: Patricia Angelica, Sydney Gabrielle Dione, Madeline and the girl who we have featured singing with ukulele, Celline Indrawirawan. The opening tune of “Don’t Worry Be Happy” led to “Winter Wonderland”. These girls worked as a fine vocal harmony group which was also shown in the next song, “The Christmas Song”. These girls have landed on our stage before, but this time they did Christmas carols very well.

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Then Kezia stood alone in front. She’s still shy to speak, but not when it comes to sing. “Beautiful Day” was the first choice , then she surprised us by singing “Summertime”. She memorized the lyrics and sang in tune. “Happy Birthday Jesus” was the song she chose to fit the theme, well done. For the last solo she pinned even more difficult song, “Take the ‘A’ Train”. A 5 year-old singing this signature tune of Duke Ellington? We don’t find it often. Note, she didn’t only sing, but also did scat-singing on this one. We got one more treat where three of the girls: Celline, Patricia and Sydney joined Kezia to sing the classic nursery rhymes, “Old McDonald Had a Farm.” Again we got lovely harmony from the girls.

Isn’t it amazing to have a 5 year-old girl sing jazz standards in tune, using English language, able to overcome the pressure of singing on stage with full band? Almost impossible, but Kezia did it! That’s something that might be difficult to find even for kids double her age. She set the bar as the youngest performer for this event. If before we have featured children around 7 to 12, this time the number reaches 5! “God is good.. just want her to have fun making music”, said proud mommy Michelle to us. We want the same, and happy to give small contribution towards her growth. Definitely she got talent, and it’s great to see her growing in the perfect family.

She is still like other children, being shy and all, but her gifts enables her to step forward singing live in front of real audience. As she is currently learning piano and just did her first exam with great result, we hope to see more of her in the future. Kezia, you are awe-inspiring! Remember this event as your own home, we can’t wait to welcome you back again!

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Then it’s time to check out Christmas celebration in rocking Blues way from Green Dolphin Street. The name should remind you of a popular jazz standards made famous by Miles Davis in the late 50’s. What’s funny is, this band doesn’t swing or bop. Instead, they embrace blues in funky rock  The band now consists of three musicians: Yosia Herdian Widianto (drums), David Alexander Manullang (guitar) and Okapatria Christie Adryan (bass).

The band has released an EP earlier this year and then performed in this event as a part of their promo tour. Before that, they also released a Christmas album which offers the celebration in blues. Now they already have a new album and working on a single projected to release in the next couple of months.

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According to Dave, the band is heavily inspired by the 60’s music, but they do listen to today’s rock and blues. The amalgam can be traced in their music. They kicked off hard with Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious” in heavy rockin’ fashion. The second song showcased their ability to rearrange any song to fit their style, “Silent Night” in dark rock tone. Green Dolphin Street then delivered the song from the new album, “Yesterday I’m in Love” that perfectly reflected the 60’s vintage rhythm and blues nuance. They sealed up their performance with the upcoming single intended to spread positive message through music, “I Live My Life”. In this song they released all the energy they had left in such attractive body moving.

This band has done a lot of gigs in Bandung, Jakarta and beyond. We consider them as a successful band that penetrates more than any specific genre. While Christmas songs are often related to swing, Green Dolphin Street shows that it could sound just as cool in sharp rockin’ way. Captivating performance by this rockin’ jumpin’ trio.

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We enjoy jazz from bands in various formations. From Trio, Quartet, Quintet, Combo to Big Band, All is fine, but let’s not forget that jazz can also appear in its true beauty from groups that mainly use the ‘ultimate instrument’, human voice. There are vocal harmony groups, there are also acapella which push the use of instruments aside. We have invited Pitupella to show it before, for this edition we proudly presented a considerably new acapella group from Jakarta who remarkably reached the semi final of NET TV’s Go Show not long after it was formed. This group of seven called themselves Inner G.

We found one of currently inactive acapella group Pitupella members inside the Inner G: Siska Napitupulu, taking the role of mezzo sopran. The rest are Lona Cindy (alto), Dicky William (beatbox), Deasy Amalia (sopran), Ion Prayogo (bass), Derry Aksera (tenor) and Nadya Neema (mezzo sopran). Formed on August 1st 2016, Inner G based itself on bringing the concept of acapella with unique arrangement. As you can see, beatbox and bass are involved too, but fully using voice instead of the respective instruments.

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They were already attractive even before the show when they did soundcheck even gained some applauses. When they finally got the stage, the number of people increased quite dramatically. The harmony was great from the start, so did the entertaining factor. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” directly showcased their awesomeness. Vocal party with some dancing brought the festive mood up high. Two more Christmas carols came in right after, “White Christmas” and “Jingle Bell Rock”, both in really unique and playful arrangements. Between here and there, they threw jokes which made the venue warmer.

Then they presented one of their most recent uploads on Youtube video, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. You can check the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaEE6BV9SGc, but we were lucky to be able to listen to it in live performance. Not only upbeat, happy songs, Inner G is also good in heart-warming ballads, such as when they sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. They included some Sundanese touches in “Jingle Bells”. The audience loved it as we saw smile upon their faces.

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The Inner G has a fun way in introducing the members, they even added some more songs in this occasion. Isyana Sarasvati’s big hit “Tetap Dalam Jiwa” redressed to fit the acapella. As much as we loved the show, they came to the last drop. Not one song, but a cool medley involving some ethnic nuances. “Gloria in Excelcis Deo” got some Batak-tribe beat and tor-tor dance, then “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” then the keroncong mode on “Go Tell It On the Mountain” , all in Indonesian language. Huge applause and cheers were given to these 7 vocal masters.

Gaining popularity from a TV show which brought them to the big four should give them benefit. But by looking at their gifts and creativity, we think that’s a certain thing. It’s not easy to bring this concept alive, yet the Inner G proved that they could bring it clean and solid.

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The final band was ready to go. But before that, we gave a little featurette, divided into two groups. One, 6 girls from GKI Pagarsih singing “The Lord’s Prayer” then two sisters Jovita and Jocelyn singing “O Holy Night”. Spontaneously, they were reinforced by the final band of the night, Out of 7, except the keyboard position was taken by their vocal mentor, Erick Gabe. These little/teenage girls successfully made their first ever stage debut.

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A band that once was promising in bringing modern jazz with cool twists. We are talking about the next performing band, Out of 7. Established about 3 years ago, this band ran quite fast from communities to big festivals and famous jazz venues. The name refers to their mission to bring unlimited varieties out of 7 notes. They released one single “Kita Indonesia”, but then they hybernated due to some personal problems. For this Christmas edition, they decided to come back in full team.

The squad still consists of key-wiz/arranger/band leader Widiyanto Sutanto, cute but powerhouse, hyperactive drummer Marissa  Wiguna, fusion guitarist Herman Yulianto and bassist Abet Darmaji, plus the vocalist who loves to do more than just sing, Erick Gabe. They haven’t been here for more than a year, so it’s good to have their reunion in this special Christmas celebration.

Out of 7 went swinging right away with “Winter Wonderland” followed by “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. After these two songs, they increased the game with “Silent Night”. Different than the rock version from Green Dolphin Street, they opened up the song with cool solo drum by Marissa Wiguna. More information about this lethal young girl drummer, she currently serves as the drummer of senior rock guitarist from Singapore, Moliano Rasmadi for Moliano in Rock. Since she got power, she perfectly fit to play rock, but when it’s about jazz, this girl can bop and swing just as good. Back to the coverage, this song was served in full traditional swing where we got some tradings between the female drummer and the rest of the band.

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Two years ago Out of 7 released their first single titled “Kita Indonesia” (“We are Indonesia”), right before they went on hiatus. Looking at the current condition of this nation today, this song became relevant. Unlike the original version back then, this time they put different concept on this song. More upbeat, more lively and richer in variation, including some reggae beat and disco. Good message from the song, reminding the listeners that eventhough there are differences, in the end we are all united as one. For the last song they turned to rock, It was like a mash-up between Linkin’ Park’s “In the End” and  “Gloria in Excelsis Deo”. This song created a climax not only for them but also for this 30th edition.

The manic finger dancing on keys, rich beat from drum, melodious rhythm from bass, fusionesque guitar sound and the top-notch vocal combined altogether, plus the creative arrangements always make this band interesting to hear and watch. Looking at a young girl on drum, cute but has the power like a strong man gives a different sensation in watching their performance. What we hope is that the band finds its way to start running again. Why? Because we think this band is promising and can contribute something in the current jazz scene.

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For this edition we brought in jazz or music in wider horizon. Not only swing, bebop and straightahead were captured, but also rockin’ blues, all to bring the celebration to the audience, mall-goers and passers-by. From a very talented 5 year-old girl to young adult, from a debut, rebirth to a semifinalist of talent search program from Jakarta, all made this special Christmas edition full of joy.

We will be back again in January 2017 with more bands to feature which we believe will open up your perspective of how rich jazz really is, and that this nation does have unlimited creative musicians. On behalf of us all, we wish you who celebrate Merry Christmas 2016 and Happy New Year 2017. May peace, love and happiness always be upon you, may you have better and more prosperous year ahead! See you again soon in the new year, God bless you all!

Watch the highlight of Braga Jazz Walk Special Christmas 2016 Edition

See more pictures:

Reporter and Photographer: Riandy Kurniawan
Video Editor: Vierna Mariska Kurniawan .

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