In this month of February we got the green light to run the JAZZUALITY @ TP twice. We proposed The Papandayan Hotel to consider to double it up permanently, not because of our own reasons but due to the overwhelming response from the musicians to take part in this event. Unfortunately we failed to get the approval. Anyway, it’s still lucky that in this month of love we could go twice, as there are some important features that we really should highlight.
The JAZZUALITY @ TP .04 was held a couple of days ago on 11 February 2018. Since this event was held near Valentine’s Day, we invited a real-life couple who could let us taste the romantic atmosphere of love through music performance. They are not just a couple, because they use the combination of instruments that’s really rare to find especially on the jazz stage. Then, we feel proud to continue our support to a lady with amazing soulful voice who is now on her move to go international. Last but not least, we featured a unique ensemble who brings traditional Minangkabau (the tribe of West Sumatra) into a new height, progressively. This edition has such a super cool batch that shows the rich variety and true heart of jazz.
To our surprise, this edition was fully crowded! Most of the audience stayed until the end, they enjoyed each of the performance, taking pictures and recorded the shows. They gave loud applause and cheers, and that made the this even ran lively.
We planned to start with the couple Dyah Sekar and Dan Nicky, together as SEKARA. Dyah is known as the keyboardist of famous girl band, SHE and also one of the Jazzy Juice. She’s cute, can look a bit shy, but when she’s placed next to the piano, this girl is always playful in letting her fingers dance some jazz above the keys. She’s absolutely no stranger to us since she has been participating in our event many times, including our two first events 5 years ago.
Now let’s talk about Dan Nicky. Dan is different, as if he was born on the wrong side of the planet. He is native American, but he is 100% Sundanese at heart. He can speak Sundanese fluently, he plays traditional Sundanese music and has a big concern about preserving the traditional Sundanese culture. Many of you especially those who live in West Java should be familiar to him already because he has appeared many times on television, radio and newspaper.
From Dyah we heard that they are working on a project combining two instruments from diffrent side of the spheres: Sundanese harp (Kacapi Sunda) and piano. It’s really rare to see this kind of collaboration especially on jazz stage. Of course they caught our attention and directly featured them here before Dan goes back to Chicago.
Sekara is supposed to play first, but we thought of something different. Before they started their gig, we decided to go first with one song involving all the bands. It was unique. Not only because most of the musicians still didn’t know one another but also the variety of instruments being used in it. Imagine, this early jam session got two sets of talempongs (sets of kettle gongs, the traditional instruments of West Sumatra), Kacapi Sunda (Sundanese harp), Sundanese bamboo flute along with the usual modern instruments. Both Dyah and Nicky were participated in, then from Palanta Line Art there were Kiki Septian and Sandi Ndung stood behind two talempong tables plus Arts Fiaris on guitar, Qorry Restu on keyboard and Shendy Susanto on bass. Representing Agis Kania was Fuad Rudyan. They all played a Sundanese traditional song “Mojang Priangan”.
The appearance of Dan in the middle became an interesting sight. He’s dressed in traditional Sundanese including the headband, played flute, harp and also sing! As far as we know, a jam session using this kind of combination never happened anywhere else before. And that’s not all, because they also executed the song really great. Loud applauses were given to the jamming participants in the end.
Everyone left the stage except Dan and Dyah as Sekara. What they presented was not just music but like a semi theatrical performance. They did some jokes in between songs by playing words between Indonesian, Sundanese and English.
This scene directly appeared from the first song, their original called “Bulan Maret” (“The Month of March”). The glittery piano opened it up before Dan joined with his instruments and then they sang together. The way Dan sings reminds us of Hugh Jackman’s style in his most recent blockbuster, “The Greatest Showman” which is not only singing the song but also telling the story.
Then they took Coldplay’s hit from 2002, “The Scientist”. Dyah played really beautiful, making us felt like watching them stargazing on a clear dark night, sharing every drop of love they have to each other. “Just Another Chance” and “Setting Sun” gave an excellent proof that the Sundanese harp works really well with piano. Serene, peaceful and romantic.
For the last song they took Sundanese folk, “Es Lilin”. What’s unique is that they made an English version of it and made some jokes inside it. The audience loved it and gave them loud cheers and applause as a way to thank them for a sweet and entertaining gig.
Different, romantic, beautiful and relaxing. That’s what we have in mind from Sekara’s music performance. We have heard many bands whose music lies in between two worlds, but we haven’t heard the kind of harmony produced by the combination of Kacapi Sunda and Piano like this. The way they were romancing through their passion in music is really beautiful to watch and listen to. For us, a unique collaboration like this is always important if we want to see fresh, new things in music. Even if it doesn’t work well, it’s still worth to try. But when it works like a charm like what Sekara does, with the semi theatrical and the jokes, it creates magic. We hope they will continue developing this project, trying and finding new possibilities, experimenting on new stuffs which in the end will give benefit to the world’s music especially Sundanese traditional music and culture.
From West Java we went straight up to the West Sumatra, switching from pentatonic to diatonic, courtesy of the distinctive Minangkabau music brought progressive and modern by a mind-bending ensemble, the PALANTA LINE ART.
Minangkabau music has spesific music rhythm and melody. It’s captivating and dynamic, it could be energetic and uplifting but also smooth in terms of romantic or sad. Whatever the sound is, you will easily notice if a song has Minang sound in it. The question is, how often do we find it in jazz scene? Well, there were some famous ones from the likes of Karimata and Emerald, we did find it in a jazz festival in Batam a couple of years ago, but it’s still quite rare, at least comparing to the Sundanese.
That’s why we felt so excited when we found them, thanks to Zahar Mustilaq of West Java Syndicate. The Palanta Line Art was established in July 2012 by traditional Minangkabau woodwinds virtuoso Maspon Herizal and has becoming the answer of every wedding who needs traditional West Sumatra ceremonies in West Java ever since. They do great in it, but the band actually has the passion to explore wide and try new stuffs, which of course naturally made jazz as a perfect habitat for them to live in.
What’s cool is that Maspon brought in with many young talents to play the side of music that is not easy. Arts Fiaris (guitar), Qorry Restu Qodirullah (keys), Kiki Septian and Sandy Ndung (talempong), Shendy Sutanto (bass) and Regi Permadi (drum) do really well in delivering the concept and they seem able to enjoy it too.
The combination of Western, modern instruments that we often find in jazz and other American music with traditional Minangkabau like saluang, sarunai (bamboo flutes), talempong (a set of small kettle gong) and tanduak, a small flute made from horn bull creates such mystical vibes in no time. The overture directly took us all into the wonderful land of Minangkabau. As our mind went wondering, all of a sudden they played a very familiar tune which caught everyone by surprise: Chick Corea’s “Spain” ! The crowds popped big time as the cheers went up high above the roof.Probably it was the time when the audience realized that this Minangkabau ensemble play like no one else. Look at how they executed the tutti on that famous verse which involved both sets of talempong. It was absolutely beyond believe, you can never imagine how amazing we feel that this happened in our event. Sensational!
After this surprising opening, the Palanta Line Art made another cool move by taking us to the land of the Gods with “Djanger Bali.” Once again they gave something unique, since this song now played not with gamelan but talempong and Minangkabau woodwinds. Maspon and his young mates managed to capture all the mystical elements of this song, but more than that they sprinkled more magic dust with the arrangement and traditional Minangkabau instruments. After that they slowed down with a Minangkabau evergreen, “Sansaro” (“Misery”). Maspon painted all the pain and sadness by ‘crying’ through his flute.
Then they played Maspon’s new original song, “The Magic of Sampelong”. Maspon told us that this sampelong instrument (much bigger size of bamboo flute in a shape and length like a big water pipe) was associated with dark/black magic ritual in the old days, and almost extinct because of that. “Now I’m throwing the ‘black’ but keep the ‘magic”, said Maspon, as described by him in the composition. The low tone of Sampelong sound is indeed haunting. It created eerie feelings, but by combining it with the modern instruments, it actually opened an imaginative musical dimension that probably has never been opened for ages.
For the last song the Palanta Line Art played another Maspon’s masterpiece which according to him was made together with the boys. This song is named “Andalas Raya”, a grand, majestic song picturing the beautiful landscape of Sumatra island. They built the momentum with increasing dynamic all the way until it reached climax. If you listen to it while having your eyes closed, you’d be able to see the fascinating landscape of the island by imagination, as if you were a free-flying eagle admiring everything you see from high up above.
Speaking of authenticity and uniqueness, the importance of preserving the traditional music as a part of our rich culture and the regeneration of musicians, the Palanta Line Art has a big role in all of those subjects. Yet, even if these are not important matters to you, we are sure you’d agree that this band plays like none other, has a very unique concept and highly entertaining. By having Palanta Line Art in our circle, we can (re)introduce the beauty of distinctive Minangkabau music sound and show how jazz can accomodate the multi-dimensional exploration these musicians are into. Simply magnificent music form. Traditionally authentic, yet progressive and boldly provoking today’s music trend.
For the final show of this edition, we proudly welcomed AGIS KANIA to promote her new single “Erase My Number” aka “EMN”, released just last week on February 2nd, 2018. Produced by Tabriz Muhajier ‘Ajier T-Five’ Effendy and Inal Chaniago, this single will follow the huge success of the first one “Baby You” last year.
We are happy to continue our support to Agis after having her launching the “Baby You” single in our Ramadhan Edition of Braga Jazz Night (http://jazzuality.com/jazz-event-report/braga-jazz-night-36-ramadhan-edition-the-report/). This single has been doing really well eventhough it’s only available digitally. It became chart topper with most downloaders came from overseas. This fact helps establishing her name internationally as she continues to receive praises from nu soul lovers all over the world.
In still considerably young age, Agis has been wandering through wide diversity of genres. She’s been singing Pop Sundanese, Keroncong, Pop, RnB, Blues, Jazz and everything else in between. We met her in her jazz period when she existed with Satura and then Agis Bape. Yes, she sings jazz very, very well. And yes, she’s still singing jazz every now and then. But since last year she found her lucky charm which turned out to be a genre which has been living in her every breath, soul. As we mentioned, the first single was a huge success, and this new one is right on the same track. Just a couple of hours after its release in major digital stores, she already got listeners.
This second single she’s promoting “EMN” features a super talented, phenomenal young blues guitarist Ginda Bestari. “I’ve been his fans since I was still in high school, and guess what, finally it happens. I have him featured in this song. I’m so proud of it!!” said Agis excitedly. If you know Ginda, you will surely agree with her. If you don’t know him yet but listen or watch him play, you will too. This man is an authentic blues guitarist with natural talent, but he’s easy to find in jazz events too. So you can imagine when someone his caliber join forces with Agis Kania and her excellent team. It’s awesome.
We tried to have Ginda for this gig, too bad he already has another schedule. But hey, we are lucky that Agis Kania performed in full team. That included both producers Ajier T-Five (guitar), Inal Chaniago (bass), Ezra Abraham (piano) and the fine youn drummer who kindly rushed back here after having a gig with Tulus, Fuad Rudyan (drum).
Right after she and the band started playing, the strong soul atmosphere immidiately filled the room. The first song she chose was her first single, “Baby You.” Her voice, the melody, the music and her body language suggested the sensual feel, describing what the song is all about completely. Since the composer Ajier played in this gig, this song found its perfect form. Inal, Fuad and Ezra did their role flawlessly.
“Insanity” a song taken from Gregory Porter’s Grammy winning album “Take Me to the Alley” (2016) which featured Lalah Hathaway was the next choice. Agis demonstrated her powerful and spirited voice with such deep soulful emotion in this song. Ajier gave a strong flavor too which for us was like the second ‘voice’ in the frontline. Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” offered a happy mood. some of the audience swayed or tapping their foot enjolying it.
Time for Agis to let us hear her new single, “Erase MY Number”. This song has every reason to be a hit. The catchy lyrics, the storyline, the uplifting, infectious melody, and if you watch her life, you would add fine performance too. It won’t be difficult for you to remember the song especially the refrain part. As an evidence, even most of the audience listened to this song for the first time in this gig, they could already sing along with her. In one part, Agis even conducted everyone, dividing the audience into three parts to be a big choir.
For the last song she took Eric Clapton’s famous song from 1996 Phenomenon, “Change the World”. Many of the audience sang along with her while again enjoying Ajier’s captivating guitar playing. Then Agis made a surprise. She called up Anjuan Julio to replace Ajier, and we got this genius guitarist painting different pattern into the song with his distortive improvisation. Realizing that there was another established guitarist from Tulus’ band, Topan Abimanyu, Agis had him replacing Anjuan to give another vivid color. Using this song as the last party, she said thank you to everyone for staying with her all through the gig and sealed her show.
If you listen to Agis Kania’s singing voice, you will know that she should stand among the best (nu) soul artists in the world today. She doesn’t just sing, she attaches her heart, soul and emotion that makes each song feels alive. From what we heard, “EMN” will be played in so many radio stations all over the world, not only in Asia but also USA, Europe and even South Africa. This is a very wonderful news. We know from the first time we met her that she’s different and has all the potential to be an international (super)star, now she’s getting closer than ever to it. We hope to see her stepping higher. We won’t be surprise if one day she will become more than what we ever imagined.
Found among the audience were two of the groups who qualified into the next round of Jazzphoria, the jazz competition made by MLD. We didn’t want them to go home empty handed, so we asked each of them to sing one song. First, Akbar and Hudda, two young boys still in mid teens. Akbar Herliansyah is a former Indonesian Idol Jr 2017 who reached top 10. They sang “Jati Diri Urang”. As you have probably seen when he competed in the Indonesian Idol and from the Jazzphoria, Akbar is indeed a singer who emotionally attached to anything he sings. That has become his forte other than having a good singing voice. Hudda blended with his voice seamlessly which makes him more than just playing the melody.
Then, we got two of Sava Sika on stage featuring Hudda’s father, Indra on piano. They went bluesin’ together and enjoyed their moment on stage. We feel happy that the stage can provide happiness even to the musicians who are sitting in the audience’s seats or to anyone who feel like playing/singing. That’s how we want our event to be, therefore we always feel great when things like this happen.
What an interesting edition this is. Three showcases got amazing world-class acts who flew over wide musical territory, taking us travelling through cities, tribes and even realm. From West Java to West Sumatra, to the modern Nu Soul with Blues, all are glued together with jazz. We are lucky to be able to bring these talented people as one, united together in the name of jazz and created such an unforgettable moment.
The next edition will be on 25 February 2018. If you are curious who will be in it, it’s going to be a well experienced jazz guitarist as a trio all the way from Batam, the jazz quartet of a UPH student who is having Sri Hanuraga as his teacher and a real life couple who have been supporting each other in real life, church services, wedding ceremonies and jazz stages. It’s going to be interesting as well, we hope you will enjoy it with us.
Thank you all featured artists, participating musicians, the soundman, TP Stage crews and The Papandayan hotel, Mr Bobby Renaldi as the Grand Manager, Mr Doni, the manager of TP Stage also to those who came. We salute you! See you all again in two weeks.
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