Jazzuality @ TP 07 : The Report

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The Jazzuality @ TP began in November 2017 as a community event created by Jazzuality.com in full cooperation with The Papandayan Hotel Bandung. Since then, we have showcased variety of jazz from traditional, modern, ethnic-fused to the most extreme corner, brought by newcomers, young bands, season’s edition, special projects, tribute, single and album promo, and the special appearance of top stars/virtuosos. We are happy to see the fact that we have significant growing number of audience as you might have seen from our documentations in either website or social medias.

Now we have arrived at the seventh edition of Jazzuality @ TP. This edition is special, because there will be a unique trio with rare format paying a tribute to legendary jazz violinist who passed away earlier this year. Then, there will be a soulful lady who is just releasing her new single featuring a jazz sax virtuoso from USA. To complete this edition, we will also feature a project of senior guitar teacher.

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The solo project of senior guitar teacher started first. He is Jhonny Sitompul, a guitarist graduated from North Sumatra University who has been working as guitar teacher at Purwa Caraka Music Studio for no less than 18 years. Not just great in playing guitar, he is also a great arranger and composer. Speaking of composing, he has done it since he was still in college around 1986.

JazzualityatTP-07-JhonnySitompulProject (5)We have had him in this event last December when he supported young female singer Luis Anastasia on Christmas carols. This time he is bringing back his own solo project called JHONNY SITOMPUL PROJECT. We have featured this project about two and a half years ago in our other on-going event in Braga CityWalk. We think it’s time to bring it back.

Fusion is what his project is based on. Joining him are his most reliable partners who he has been playing with for ages: Wandi (drums), Donald Tobing (bass) and the guitarist who already has his own album Muhamad Choirul Rifki aka Mbot Irul.

They began by taking a song titled “Jawab Nurani”. Probably you notice this song from SORE, but it originally came from a band existed in early 80’s named Transs, the band consisting of giants like Fariz RM, Erwin Gutawa and the late Uce Haryono in the early stage of their career. None of us expected this choice, so it came out as a pleasant surprise. The vintage sound from that time was kept chilled by them. The chunky guitar sound, the thick groovy rhythm and beat and nice vocal work from this band was like taking us back to the year when this song became a hit.

.JazzualityatTP-07-JhonnySitompulProject (10)Enough with coversong, Jhonny told the audience that he’s ready to bring all his original compositions. The first one, “Let’s Play” appeared as fun musical voyage served in light pop fusion sprinkled with ethnic sounds find in the archipelago. Just like the title says, the song is made playful and fun

The next song was dipped in 70’s disco funk style titled “Yuk”. While the song was written by Jhonny, he told us that Irul contributed in lyrics and music as well. Aside of the retro funky disco, this song got the sound of obscura indonesiana, a little bit noir but at the same time uplifting which made us feel like dancing.

Irul still carried on his role behind the mike along with playing his guitar at the same time for the last one, “Mungkin”. Just like the previous one, it’s him who write the lyrics. This song got thicker noir obscura indonesiana sound. The tight connection between the groovy basslines and sharp on-point drumming from Donald and Wandi provided solid ground for Jhonny and Irul to fly freely. The audience love their music and performance as they bagged loud applause and cheers in the end.

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Not only good play and composing, Jhonny Sitompul Project has their own style too, which seems to be rooted in noir indie pop with light fusion. No doubt, Jhonny is a sublime guitarist with good ability in composing and arranging. His original songs tells a beautiful story through music. We know that he is active in teaching, but we hope he realizes the importance of being serious about his solo career as well as a musician, especially since he has a really strong team for his project.

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After the nice first round, it’s time for us to present TRIO BIGIBAS who is really unique and highly entertaining. The trio gave a Tribute to the legendary French jazz violinist Didier Lockwood who passed away suddenly at the age of 62 last February 2018. Didier has inspired so many musicians. As a disciple of Stephane Grappelli, Didier never stopped in one place. He kept on trying and inventing sounds using his violin which often far above genre. One of the successful musicians who is inspired by him is the renowned jazz violinist in Indonesia who is also an amazing painter, Ammy Kurniawan. Not long after Didier died, he told us that he would love to make a tribute show honoring Didier. Of course we digged it and prepared a slot right away.

JazzualityatTP-07-TrioBigibas (3)Ammy makes the tribute by having his extraordinary team, using a rare format by combining violin, guitar and contrabass. Interestingly, Didier did make a similiar formation around 7 years ago when he gave tribute to Stephane Grappelli. As you can see, this session contains a lot of history, love and innovation, spontaneous and unpredictable twisted improvisations, and full of jokes. Other than Ammy, the trio has a remarkable fingerstyle guitarist with an old soul Opik Bape and the ‘immortal’ bass virtuoso Rudy ‘Aru’ Zulkarnaen.

The embryo of this format began some years ago by Ammy, named Bandung String Ensemble. Too bad it didn’t go far due to their tight schedule. Rudy was there too as apart of the team, but now as Trio Bigibas, they bring a fresh player, a fantastic fingerstyle guitarist possessed with old soul, Opik Bape. Ammy told us that he wish this trio to have a long life. Not everyone can carry this concept, so if they can keep going, it will give benefit to our music scene with all its variety.

At first we thought Rudy would use his contrabass, but he caught us off guard by having acoustic guitar as his gear instead of the big double bass. They placed three chairs in the center and did their session mostly by sitting. Interestingly, not even chair could hold their madness. Ammy introduced the band and the concept as well as telling about Didier, his mentor Stephane Grappelli and also Jean Luc Ponty, adding jokes here and there.

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Yes, Ammy likes to joke around and tease his mates even while they are playing. That makes any show where he is in become highly entertaining. But sound-wise speaking, once the trio started playing, the audience would find that they sound like none other. Feels like they are taking us into a French cafe full of fragrant flowers in spring. Yes, that’s how this session is like. Since this event was held just a day after Indonesia celebrates the birth-date of a heroine who fought for the emancipation and education of women, R.A Kartini, they inserted “Ibu Kita Kartini” as an intro for Didier’s song from 1985, “Martinique”. If the original was served in Latin dance style, this team takes it into another level by playing it with their own flavor. What a magnificent opening, The sound of appreciation from the crowds went above the roof.

Trio Bigibas then took a song Didier liked to play in his concerts, a classic French song “Indifférence”. They built this song upon the French musette waltz which made us felt as if we were watching Django Reinhardt and Grappelli in trio format. The way the improvise is really breathtaking, they flew freely yet still tightly stick to one another.

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Ammy called famous drummer and producer Ari ‘Aru’ Renaldi (Rudy’s younger brother) to join them on stage. The formation became unique, because they almost formed the stunning 4Peniti band (Opik is the only player that’s not a member of 4Peniti). A stunning solo violin by Ammy served as the prologue of “Tiny Twins”, a track found in Didier and Uzeb’s collaborative album. Although they had no preparation of having a drummer, Ari’s skill and experience made him able to join without any problem. He even created richer sound texture with his drum beat. .
JazzualityatTP-07-TrioBigibas (9)For the next song, they gave “The Kid”, originally came as a funky, soulful jazz-rock from Didier’s album in 1983. This song’s feel good tunes never fails to give a party mood that’s perfect to create a happy ending. Ammy, Opik, Rudy and Ari poured all of their energy as they being carried away deeper and deeper into the song. Manic and high octane solo runs shone out from this last drop. Ammy teased the players one by one, they played around like bunch of kids in the park. Rudy did his solo expressively since not only his mind and soul but also his facial expression and body got affected as well. The audience gave the best appreciation they could. So loud and long, showing how much they loved what they just saw.

Unique, heartfelt and hillariously entertaining. That’s probably the easiest way to describe this final show in general. High octane acrobatic musical performance, that could be a good way to illustrate it too. If you were watching this life, you’d know that it was far more than that. Instead of mourning, the tribute celebrates the fruitful life of Didier, his music and exploration, also we could feel how much inspiration Ammy and the trio draw from him. In the end, we feel blessed to have a stunning showdown of three ‘jazz jedis’ with all their force creating magic in this edition. It was mad, it was full of action, it was funny, a nutricious entertainment that took us to the edge of our seat. In short: wow!

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The third and final session featured GRACE SAHERTIAN with the purpose to promote her newest single, “Beautiful”. This song contains a lot of story. It has a really beautiful music, inspiring lyrics with positive message and also special since it features a living legend, saxophone virtuoso who has been gracing the music scene in wide scope for several decades, the one and only Kirk Whalum. For you who still don’t know him, you would know him right away when you listen to Whitney Houston’s most famous song “I Will Always Love You.” If you remember the ellegant, fine sax solo in the song, that’s Kirk who did it. He toured with Whitney for 7 years, but Whitney is not the only one he’s worked wih because he has also worked with Luther Vandross, Barbra Streisand, Al Jarreau, Quincy Jones, Babyface and Lalah Hathaway, just to mention a very few.

JazzualityatTP-07-GraceSahertian (10)Grace met Kirk at last year’s Java Jazz Festival 2017. It might look like a coincidence, but we do believe that it’s a match made in heaven. Kirk watched Grace’s show and liked what he saw. He offered Grace to take part in his upcoming album. At first Grace thought of making a song for that album titled “Beautiful” but apparently Kirk already fell in love with one of her song, “Fallin'” and have worked on rearranging it. So, since the song which mainly reflects on the quality of human being, power of humanity, faith, love, empathy, compassion, and invites people to feel positive about themselves has already been made, Grace asked Kirk to fill in some part. Kirk happily agreed.

We have heard about this surprise from Grace in November 2017 and felt really happy about it. Grace is like a very close friend, a sister you may say, because we have been watching her growth since 10 years ago. Kirk came to Jakarta in January 2018 to do the recordings. It got substantial support from Kirk’s producer, trumpeter James McMillan in Jakarta.

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So, this gig is mainly given to Grace to promote her new single featuring Kirk Whalum. Tonight Grace brought slightly different team than the recording, including Omega Touselak (keys), Faishal M Fasya (synth bass), Rio Al Abror (drums) with Devina Ompusungu and Johanes Fayakun on background vocals.

Just like what Kirk said to Grace about her performance in general, the word ‘spiritual’ might be the best way to describe her song, her vocal quality and the way she sings. Look at how she hypnotized everyone by using the title track of her album “Hela” as the first song. This one gave a stunning imagination of the philosophy of her family name, Sahertian which turned out to be a sailor. The song made us feel like rowing together with her ancestors, facing from smooth waves to thunder storm to reach the safe land. Imagine how a song could bring so many scene, Grace brilliantly did that.

For the second song she took us into another journey musically with “Sun of Hope”. She also asked the audience to become a large choir by singing a word in Yamdena language repeatedly. “Be a part of the preservation of nearly extinct language”, she said. Just like the first one, “Sun of Hope” also contains a moving emotion. We imagine running fast into the dense rain forest to find the sun of hope right in the heart of it. Simply breathtakingly beautiful.

JazzualityatTP-07-GraceSahertian (9)Grace then changed the atmosphere with gospel-Motown style on “Better to Love”. Omega gave an awesome gospel piano playing in this one. Faishal created much more color with her synth bass. The miraculous work of Johanes and Devina as the backing vocal is also noted. Just the two of them could create a full choir. And the new drummer, Rio Abror proved that he’s the right one to take that position.

The last song was the latest single, “Beautiful”. Since Kirk Whalum lives in Memphis, USA, of course we couldn’t have him in. But what’s interesting is, instead of playing Kirk’s part or finding a sub, Grace decided to just leave the sax lines out. It turned out to be a good choice since “Beautiful” is still enchantingly beautiful even without it. We also feel proud since this event become the first time for Grace to sing it live in public.

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Looking back at the time when we saw Grace as the vocalist of Palm From Moodytunes around 10 years ago, we knew that she got something special within her that would one day make her a star. Amazing quality of singing voice, charismatic and expressive appearance, beautiful smile, smart song writing with positive message, her artistic vibe are just some of the winning factor. But for us, what shines the most is how she is always true to herself, which is reflected throughout her illustrious career up until now.

After her successful debut solo album “Hela” and before her second album, she releases a single “Beautiful” featuring the legendary US saxophonist Kirk Whalum. This is a heavenly match, a blessing that we all can listen to. We hope this single become a success internationally and place Grace higher than ever before. And we do hope that the making process of the second album can go smoothly according to her plan. We feel proud to support her and the new single. You can’t imagine how wonderful it feels to see the ‘evolution’ of a dear friend now reaches this certain height. Really wonderful, it really is.

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This event is going to take a break in the next two months for the holy month of Ramadhan and Eid al-Fitr, and still waiting for confirmation whether this event will continue or not. Thinking positively, if this event is carried on, we will bring plenty more great talents with their interesting concept or project. We thank all participating musicians and wish them all the best, we thank The Papandayan, the Howling Channel and everyone who have given us tremendous support, and certainly to you all who come to this event. Keep supporting local jazz community near you!

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Reporter/Photographer: Riandy Kurniawan   .

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