Jazzuality @ TP 05 : The Report

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In this February we are fortunate to be able to run JAZZUALITY @ TP twice. We have received overwhelming requests by musicians from Bandung and other cities to participate in this event. And that’s quite surprising since we actually just started last November. With so many musicians to accomodate, from the young guns who still need to gain experience to the established musicians who need to promote their new project or album. By having two shots, we could support more bands than usual.

So, what do we get in the Jazzuality @ TP 05? If in the previous one we showcased the magic of traditional musics from West Java and West Sumatra brought progressively in jazz and the fantastic nu soul singer in her single promo, this time we were focusing more on jazz. Swing, bebop, straightahead and the joy of having an octet complete with brass section. From the regional side, this edition stands out differently because each band came from different cities. One representing the well established community in Batam Kepulauan Riau, one from Jakarta and one from Bandung. As you can see, this edition also stands in its own way.

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The rain poured really hard outside since an hour before we started. We was worried that no one would come under the terrible weather. But surprisingly, while the rain was still heavy, the audience started coming and made the TP Stage became full house in just a short time! We feel really happy with it since this venue is not a mall that has its own shoppers. In other words, it needs efforts for them to reach here. Looking at this fact, we highly appreciate it and send our gratitude and respect to everyone who came to support the musicians, our community and the event. Thank you!

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We began with the band of highly talented young musicians from Jakarta, led by a pianist who is still studying at the Universitas Pelita Harapan (UPH), Steven Christian. As he is the band leader, he simply named his band as STEVEN CHRISTIAN QUARTET. As we have mentioned, he is still very young, born in 1997. But make no mistake, he is already a really good jazz musicians. By having this kind of special talent, he rose fast and gained his chance to taste the prestigious events like Java Jazz Festival, Bogor Jazz Festival, Locafore Jazz Festival, Jazz Reunion ad so on. He has also being awarded many times in various music events and competition as the best keyboardist. In some ways, he reminds us of young Sri Hanuraga (Aga), a jazz virtuoso who is now based in Jakarta, and that’s no surprise since Steven is a proud student of Aga.

Since last year he started writing his own compositions, which of course would lead on making up an album. And that’s what he is working on right now. What he brings for this event are the exact same team as the recordings: Jabez Chan on guitar,Timothy Investario on contrabass (he is a proud student of Indrawan Tjhin) and a drummer based in Bandung who has helped us a lot, Alman Naufal. Steven’s debut album already has the title, it’s “In Real Time”. We have heard some of the compositions in his instagram, all are made really fine as if they are written by a long time pro.

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Steven Christian Quartet is consisting of young musicians who are mostly students, but they surprisingly played like longtime pros. All songs are original and brilliantly made. Right from the very first one titled “Pepperoni”, Steven’s band exploded and put everyone at the edge of their seats. Intense, dynamic and filled with all the fun of jazz that makes us fall in love with, including a tight trading between the drummer and the rest of them.

For the next song Steven explained that it was built upon the rhythm changing. Thunderous drumming from Alman gave us a clue that this song was going to be something. And yes it was. “On the Riverside” has a very complex rhythm, certainly not easy but they all made it like a jolly playground. The audience rewarded them loud and long applause.

JazzualityTP-05-StevenChristian (5)After two full action-packed songs, Steven Christian went romancing with his sweet ballad, “You and Me” made in 3/4 time. This song is really beautiful, it’s like watching a lovely couple waltzing together under the moonlight with love. After that, Steven played the soon-to-be title track for his upcoming debut album, “In Real Time.” These boys were like having their energy restored, they went speeding with this uplifting composition in extreme pace.

The way Steven played really reminds us of his mentor, Sri Hanuraga. Steven’s fingers streaming fast like bullets, so fast that we couldn’t see them with naked eyes anymore. As he went mad on piano, the rest of the band traveled with the same speed of light, in real time. Alman gave even heavier thunderous beatings, Timothy hit everything right while exploring the fret of his contrabass and Jabez shared the melodious spotlight with Steven. Just like the previous ones, they all got their own shining moment which gave them lots of applauses, cheers and even shouts from the crowds.

We thought it was the climax, but we got one last treat, a grand, glorious original composition titled “Remember Me”. With this kind of composition and execution, we believe everyone presented in the room will remember them.

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A triumphant show it was. The fired-up performances, the winning jazz compositions, the dynamics, the way they build each piece and hit the momentum, the skill, passion and perhaps dreams, the fun factor, all fell in the right place, a wicked showdown of young wizs that far exceeded our expectation.

A band like Steven Christian Quartet is what we are looking for, the main reason of why we keep our community event running. Once again we see the evidence that age is just numbers when it comes to music. As the band leader, Steven successfully shows a good leadership. He gave enough room for his mates to shine, but when he got his turn, he didn’t waste even a bit. From time to time we see the birth of great jazz musicians, in this one we witness it again. We have no doubt that Steven could become the next Sri Hanuraga, Timothy would one day stand like his mentor, Indrawan Tjhin, and Jabez and Alman also have the same bright future. Fun to watch, high-octane, really entertaining action and lovely songs, these young lions are really something.

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For the next round we warmly welcome a solid community from another city quite far away from our homebase. It’s a trio representing the BATAM JAZZ SOCIETY, came all the way from the wonderful city of Batam, Kepulauan Riau (Riau Archipelago). The trio is motored by a swingin’ jazz guitarist Tchepy Wijaya Soekardi, former student of the living legend Oele Pattiselano and Kadek Rahardika. On bass was the bassist of unique Melayu fusion band Geliga, Muhammad Gusrianto (Ryan) and Sofyan Nur (Yayan), the new drummer of Geliga who came in at the last minute, they reflected how lively the jazz scene in Batam today.

The Batam Jazz Society was established more than 18 years ago, just a year before the millenium to be exact. Since then, they have been penetrating the city with jazz, performed by so many great talents. They also proudly held the International Jazz Day in Batam, officially chosen by UNESCO ad the Thelonious Monk Institute which they have been doing since 2014. This community has plenty of events and so many great jazz musicians.

We never met Rian and Yayan before, but not Tchepy. We met him for the first time at Asean Jazz Festival 2012 in Batam. At that time he still played fusion, but soon after that he switched to swing. We think it’s the right decision since he has a delicate swing soul just like his teacher Oele. We became close friends with him since last year by communicating a lot eventhough we live in different cities.

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JazzualityTP-05-BatamJazzSociety (5)Right after we introduced them and the jazz community, they went swingin’/soul boppin’ with a song from Hank Mobley, “This I Dig of You”. Tchepy let his swingin soul flew out naturally through his fingers, complimented with the melodic rhythm from Ryan and exactly the right amount of beat from Yayan. Just the three of them, yet the sound was fully round.

The second song was Tchepy’s original composition that he wrote just a couple of days before he came to Bandung. Originally it was named “Simpang Jam”, the new fly over in Batam, but to make it easier to remember, Ryan suggested the title “Flyover”. This song is brilliantly made. It has the cool avant funk feel like what we found in Medeski Martin and Wood (MMW)’s signature. Just a couple of hours earlier this trio went into the Studio 8 in Bandung to record this song and made it done in just one simple take. This is the kind of song that would make you feel high without taking any drugs. For the last song, the trio selected a classic from 1940 that we don’t hear so often anymore, “Broadway”. This jazz standard has been long associated with the Count Basie Orchestra, but Tchepy, Ryan and Yayan could work it nicely with just a trio.

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It’s certainly fascinating to be able to bring the authentic Batam jazz scene to Bandung. And we are really happy to have our buddy Tchepy back with two new friends from a fellow community far away, the Batam Jazz Society, to be with us. Not just the spirit of friendship and togetherness, but we share the same amount of love to jazz and hope for a better jazz future here in Indonesia. May we continue to work side by side, and we wish Batam Jazz Society and everyone living inside it the best. Thank you for coming guys! Keep jazzin’ up Batam and never stop contributing to Indonesian jazz scene!

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Whether you realize it or not, jazz has becoming a favorite theme in wedding parties. As we want to expose the jazz scene in real life, we think it’s important to bring this kind of side too. From time to time we invite bands or musicians who exist in weddings. This time we featured one of the most successful ones in Bandung especially with its jazz core, the W.ID MUSIC EXPERIENCE.

JazzualityTP-05-WIDMusicEntertainment (9)W.ID Music Experience was established in March 2013 by a pianist/composer/arranger Widiyanto Sutanto. This man is a genius in music, has a very good hearing and also able to make compositions and arrangements either on jazz standards or any other well known songs, from semi jazz, pop jazz, pop, soul, RnB and even Rockestra. Speaking of size, he is capable to make the arrangements for big band and orchestra too, amazingly all self-taught.

If you wonder how he could do that, we think it’s his activity at church plays a big role, something he has been doing for more than a decade. He’s been jazzin’ up the church along the way, and that’s the reason why we’re connected with him some years ago. As an evidence of his jazz skill, he reached the semi-final of a worldwide jazz competition, the Master-Jam Competition held in Ukraine. Not long after that, he founded his own band called Out of 7 which remarkably reached some prestigious international jazz festivals such as Kampoeng Jazz, Espose and JakJazz. The band is currently on hiatus, but even so, we just brought the band back to life just a couple of days ago at our event in another spot, the Braga Jazz Night Special Chinese New Year edition (http://jazzuality.com/jazz-event-report/braga-jazz-night-44-shanghai-night-jazz-the-report/).

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JazzualityTP-05-WIDMusicEntertainment (6)In this event as mentioned earlier, we feature his successful music/wedding entertainment W.ID that he’s running with his wife, drummer Marissa Wiguna. They have been hired not just in Bandung but also in another cities or even nations. As the W.ID has been consistently specialized in jazz weddings and events, we invited them for the first time in full team to bring the jazzy wedding scene in this event.

And yes, full team is what he really brought. Joining him for this gig are Marissa Wiguna (drum), Daniel Christy (guitar), Reinhard Woran (bass), two saxophonist Erik Chandra and Aziz, and a male singer who made a successful attempt in The Voice Indonesia two years ago, Rizki Jonathan.

John Coltrane’s classic dedicated to bassist Paul Chambers, “Mr PC” was first. Quite bumpy at first, but then Widiyanto quickly dealt with the situation. This song showcased sax duel in the frontline, something that we don’t get to see often. Erik and Aziz teased, mocked and battled each other, creating an entertaining show. The band leader used his keyboard more than just an instrument to sound some jazz but also like a control panel to make sure that everyone in the band functioned just like the plan.

The second song was a classic instrumental funk that was found in the B-side of James Brown’s single in 1969 but then made famous by Jaco Pastorius, “Chicken”. The battle between brassmen continued on while Marissa on drums, Daniel Christy on guitar and Reinhard Woran on bass got more space to expose themselves. This funky jazz tunes were popular among jazz musicians and fans as many of them in the venue enjoyed it. Marissa’s solo run was rewarded loud applauses. Significant response were given too to the rest of players whenever they finished their solo runs.

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The vocalist of W.ID Music Experience Rizki Jonathan then came onto the stage. Rizki is a young singer with heavy soulful singing voice that has gained experience in some talent searches show on television, most notably when he went all the way to the battle rounds of The Voice Indonesia 2016 (Season 2) under guidance of coach Ari Lasso. With him, the WID presented a song written by Widiyanto that calls for peace and unity among us titled “Kita Indonesia” (“We Are Indonesia”). Unlike the original version, this one is made more cheerful and upbeat. If usually we hear it through the RnB vocal style of Erick Gabe, now we know that the song fits very well too with Rizki’s deep heavy soulful voice.

For the last two songs, Rizki told everyone that they were going to bring two songs of Phat Phunktion, a band from USA who combines the 70’s funk, jazz, RnB and the smooth 60’s soul. The song they chose were “Well Run Dry” and “Knockin’ em Down”, both from “High Fidelity” album in 2011. A cool selection that we don’t get to hear often, it became a funky party that officially sealed this fifth edition of Jazzuality @ TP.

We realize that it wasn’t easy to manage a heavy artilery like this. So we can understand that some flaws were found in it. But what we can learn from them is how to deal with any obstacles that occur during a performance and keep going strong until the end. That’s also a valuable thing to learn. Speaking of fun factor, they did it very well. The fired-up appearance from them are highly enjoyable. In the end, music should be able to entertain people. The cute lady with remarkable drumming skill, the leader with strong jazzy spirit, good bassist and guitarist and the cool sax duel in front, the funk bites, jazz chops and sharp solo punches were found in this act. Probably they don’t have to play this wild in wedding parties, but when there’s a chance, they can go high too on jazz stage. Keep the success up W.ID Music Entertainment! Don’t stop jazzin’ up the weddings and other parties!

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Since we still got some spare time, we invited the musicians to jam. The first batch got Tchepy Wijaya Soekardi (guitar), Steven Christian (piano), Timothy Investario (using Ryan’s electric contrabass) and Jabez’s younger brother, Jesse Chan (drum). They went boppin’ with Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation”.

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Christian stayed on stage and joined by Marissa Wiguna (drum), Muhammad ‘Ryan’ Gusrianto (bass) and Jabez Chan (guitar). This second team took on Duke Ellington’s gem “Take the A Train”. Since the vocalist of Serendipity Habbits who has a very unique style and appearance Madam’s Rama was there, we invited him to take a bite. Accompanied by husband-wife Widiyanto Sutanto (piano) and Marissa (drum), he gave tribute to Frank Sinatra including a cool take on “Fly Me To The Moon”.

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Three bands, three showcases representing three cities makes this fifth edition stands differently. Add a happening jam session, that’s what this event is all about. We thank all musicians who participated, the soundman, Mr Bobby Renaldi as the GM of The Papandayan, Mr Doni the manager of TP Stage and everyone who came to have fun with us. We can never make it without you.

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We will be back on 25 March 2018 for another special edition. This time a trio of wild, mad men will come to tear down the house. Yes, it’s LIGRO TRIO in complete formation (guitarist Agam Hamzah, bassist Adi Darmawan and drummer Gusti Hendy ‘GIGI’), they are set to launch their new album “TRANSISI” in Bandung. Warning: their music is controversial, haunting, provocative and even brutal! If you haven’t heard them just yet, get yourself ready because this trio will shake your perception of music, particularly jazz. Please save the date from now, we hope to see you again next month!

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Reporter & Photographer : Riandy Kurniawan   .

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