Christmas Time was approaching. It was the beautiful night on December 23, when we thought most of the Jakarta people have gone to enjoy their holiday. We predicted the street would be more friendly than any previous Fridays. But alas, it was totally the opposite. We had to go through total jam everywhere. It took 4 hours for us to finally arrived to feel the goosebumpin’ Christmas spirit… in jazz! Yes, that night was special because Red White Jazz Lounge was presenting the Christmas Jazz Special, featuring lots of stars and also bags of surprises as how they always love to give. We knew it’s going to be a fired up jazzin’ Christmas and that’s exactly how it was, if not even more. “Whatever the religions are, what’s important is the spirit itself, the Christmas Spirit,” that’s what Indra Lesmana said, and we’re right with him.
It’s really cool to see how the Mostly Jazz has been growing up to this point. From a monthly event, twice a month and then weekly, somehow Indra Lesmana and Honhon Lesmana together with the venue Red White Lounge even stepped deeper on the pedal, to run it faster than you’d ever thought. Yes, since October this event turned into a five days a week show, presenting nothing but the top jazz superstars in respective schedule. Some programs are repeated, means you can catch the next one if you miss to see your favorite artist or group. With this attempt presented in very affordable price, now it’s much easier for us to pleasure ourselves with selections of jazz every week. Some jazz fans called us time after time to ask where they could have some jazz in Jakarta, thanks to this move now we have no problem to answer that questions anymore.
Let’s get back to the Christmas Jazz Special event. We arrived a bit late due to the irritating Jakarta’s infamous traffic jam, and at that time Monita Tahalea was on stage singing “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”. LLW (Indra Lesmana, Barry Likumahuwa and Sandy Winarta) was the group who accompanied her. This song which firstly popularized by Bing Crosby in 1943 before it got covered by hundreds or even thousands other artists was presented perfect in their hands, especially through Monita’s sweet voice. Not so much improvisation on this one, but it was the simplicity that actually made this one served even more meaningful. Many celebrities, friends and fellow musicians were there like Titi DJ, Matthew Sayersz, Glenn Fredly and Shadu Shah Chaidar just to mention a few. Monita carried on by singing “Bridge Over Trouble Water”, an evergreen from Simon & Garfunkel that was brought in softer and more relaxing way. The sweet, adorable and ‘lushy’ vocal of Monita blended with Indra Lesmana’s essential touch on keys, Barry Likumahuwa’s soft contrabass plucking and Sandy Winarta’s smooth drumbeating would make any of the attendance soon forget about everything. Monita left the stage under applauses from the attendance.
Indra Lesmana then gave his opening speech. “It was nice having you here..now I’m going to introduce someone to you.” Then came one of the surprise. “I know you won’t believe this, but he’s still a kid. He came to me one Sunday night and had a jam with us. At first I thought, who’s this kid? But as soon as he played, I was like, wow…he is great!” said Indra. Then he called the kid to come forward. His name is Joy Alexander, a cute 8 year old boy wearing glasses. Some of the ladies among the crowds seemed couldn’t help themselves not to scream. “What will you play Joe?” Indra asked. “My Favorite Things!” he said innocently, and that made the lounge filled with laughs and claps.” His look reminded us of Harry Potter, and when his tiny fingers started to touch the keys, he suddenly sprinkled the magic like the real one. His play stunned people. It surprised them, inspired them. “Is he really 8 years old? Seriously! Maybe he’s already 40 or 50 in a shape of a boy.” said one of the audience who couldn’t believe his eyes. That spontaneous comment made sense, since not only he could play great but he could already give cool improvisations. Barry and Sandy were having fun teaming up with him.
After this first one, Joe continued with “Santa Claus is coming to Town” which appeared in hard bop with massive improvisations. We approached him after that and asked when he started playing piano and why, here’s what he answered: “Since I was six and a half.. I chose piano because it has many keys.” What a adorable cute boy. He also stated that his favorite pianists are Herbie Hancock and Indra Lesmana. His father told us that earlier in the afternoon he played in front of Herbie. The kid clearly has a great future ahead, and we are happy to meet this future jazz star. “Simply phenomenal” said Indra.
Mike Mohede, the winner of Indonesian Idol season 2 then got his turn. We always love his gifted vocal, but now we got the chance to hear it with notable improvisations. “Grown Up Christmas List” was delivered nicely before he went on with “Jalin Kasih”. He changed the pace right after by giving up a jolly swingin’ presentation with “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” Mike went up a lot on this one in tune and that brought a lot of Christmas spirit in the lounge.
Indra Lesmana then introduced Ian Ingram, a flugelhorn player and trumpetist who has been playing in the Indonesian scene frequently, like with ESQIEF for example. Together with LLW Ian gave “Jingle Bells” in boppin’ attitude. After that Indra was ready to give the next surprise. “You know..the miracle of Christmas is really happening to me tonight. First I can play again in Red White Lounge and meet you all lovely people. Second, LLW is going to Tokyo to play in Blue Note Jazz Club. (Read all about it in this article: http://jazzuality.com/jazz-news/llw-to-perform-at-blue-note-tokyo/) And third, after I haven’t seen her for a long time, my daugher Eva Celia is here. She’s ready to play with us!”
The crowds gave their best applauses for that. Eva who’s attending the music school in Los Angeles was there in a very magical night. It was the first time she sang with her dad as well. She started with “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. Unlike Monita’s soft voice, Eva actually has a very strong and unique voice. Next song she sang was “This Christmas.” A part of the lyrics said “And this Christmas will be A very special Christmas for me…” and it really is. A fully happy facial expression appeared on Indra’s face all the way through their collaborations. It was simply a magic moment, something unforgettable for Indra Lesmana and the family and also for the attending guests as well. She wrapped it up with “God Bless the Child”. “It was the first time for me to see and hear her sing… so cool, love it!” said Matthew Sayersz later on his Twitter.’
The next performer was a legend who sang lots of phenomenal hits that are still loved by us until today such as “Kuta Bali”, “Bidadari”, “Karena Ku Tahu Engkau Begitu” and also a memorable collaboration with Julio Iglesias in “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”. Yes, that’s Andre Hehanussa. Appearing under a heavy rain of applause, he gave his first shot, “The Christmas Song” right away. After that he picked up his guitar and sang “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” The launge got heated as the crowds sang together with him. He could really connected with the audience in a very short time, something that can make his fans involved in his session instantly. He’s not just a singer, he’s an entertainer too. With a little Latins in the intro, Andre sang “Winter Wonderland” in a whole new nuance. It was a fabulous performance. For the last round, Indra Lesmana called all the vocalists, Monita, Mike Mohede, Eva Celia to join Andre Hehanussa. Together they sang “Holy Night” to close this special night.
What a performance it was. They called it Christmas Jazz Special, that turned out to be a real one, a stunner. We enjoyed everything that night. The song selections, the jazz dressings to fit those songs, the lineup, the surprising guest stars, the ambience and everything else. Thank you to you all for making up another memorable night at Red White Lounge. Keep the spirit up in becoming the “Jakarta Hottest Jazz Lounge”, may the Christmas Spirit brings more power to you in achieving that.
On behalf of the whole Jazzuality staffs and crews, we wish you all, our excellent readers all a Merry Christmas. May this season brings you all the joy and happiness. Let there be peace on earth. Let’s celebrate it jazz style, let’s bop to the top!