Salihara Jazz Buzz 2014: Sri Hanuraga & Adra Karim “Thelonious Monk’s Blue Note” and Indra Lesmana Group “To Chick Corea”




After four previous showcases (First week: Nita Aartsen and Nial DJuliarso then second week: Glen Dauna and Indro Hardjodikoro & the Fingers, the annual program of  Komunitas Salihara, the Salihara Jazz Buzz reached the third and final week with two shows. One was about two pianists Sri Hanuraga and Adra Karim taking on Thelonious Monk’s Blue Note and the other was Indra Lesmana Group told stories about Chick Corea through adventurous jazzploration.

Let’s see what’s happening on the 4:00 pm show first. Having two jazz pianists in one show is not something we see often, especially when it gives tribute to a jazz legend like Thelonious Monk. But two young but very talented pianists, Sri Hanuraga and Adra Karim gave us that kind of ride in a very different way.

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If you’re into jazz, then the name of Thelonious Sphere Monk should be familiar. As one of the founders of Bebop, Monk is widely known as a pianist with dramatic improvisation. His vision was uniquely ahead of its time but still deeply rooted in jazz tradition. At the time when most of the pianists played sparse chords in the left hand while fast streamy notes were given by the right hand, Monk showed that both left and right hand can go equally active in reaching the whole keys along the piano. He got different phrasings, didn’t like to make ‘unnecessary’ notes, he could even give space and silence a new meaning. For those who have watched him play, he’d be remembered as a tall, bearish man (often) with hat and glasses that loved to be eccentric both in real life and on stage. He swayed back and forth, from one side to another, with feet that flapped on the floor. For us, he’s like an eccentric Jazz Architect that knew how to build an interestingly unpredictable structure in economy. Every note he played, every pauses and stops he made had reason. He has given enormous contribution towards Jazz and the modern music as well as inspiring uncountable musicians around the world, including Sri Hanuraga and Adra Karim who paid their respect to the master in this show.

Both of them have encountered piano from their young ages. Aga; that’s how Sri Hanuraga’s friends call him; was graduated from Conservatorium van Amsterdam majoring Jazz Piano, Adra carried on in ArtEZ School of Music and Prince Claus Conservatorium Groningen, Netherland. Both of them have gained experience internationally. Aga even builds his career in there and has a multi national band named The Brag Pack but occasionally back to his own land and always loves to grace up various events whenever he’s around. Adra spent a couple of years in that part of Europe but still managed to keep his band Tomorrow People Ensemble (TPE) alive. TPE is a band that loves to funked up our ears with their intoxicating avant funk that can make the fans or whoever listen to them get high and stoned without having to take any drugs.

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They began with “Pannonica”.  As this song told about a wealthy jazz patroness and writer named Kathleen Annie Pannonica de Koenigswarter who was also a descendant of the prominent Rothschild international financial dynasty that was tightly connected to Monk, during this song they played a video showing Pannonica’s mansion with Sri Hanuraga played following the speech on it. Adra sounded his Hammond organ relaxedly.

“Thelonious Monk has given us a lot of good examples in exploring alternatives, being brave… Monk’s music has different sound.. he’s really different especially in the 40’s. His style was harmonically and rhythmically new, highly textured arrangement. He’s great not only  as a pianist but especially as a composer,” said Aga.  For Adra Karim, Monk’s music actually felt so strange, but admitted that if there was no Thelonious Monk there wouldn’t be such music like what we have today.

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Started with long melody lines from Adra, the next song was”Played Twice”, a song they are interested in since it has same rhythm but with different tap. They sound created by the prepared piano was so rich, we could even feel the beat as if it came from the bass. The tempo got slower until they reached the end. Both Aga and Adra told us the reason of taking Monk as the theme. It’s because the curator of Salihara Tony Prabowo asked them to select one composer and present it in a duo format. So they chose Monk to share his spirit while also casing an unusual concert to the audience. In other words, they both believe that there’s no bigger respect that can be given to the legend than playing his masterpieces in whole new approaches.

Sri Hanuraga gave some speech, and told us that the American avant garde composer John Cage was the first person who found the tehcnique in composing for prepared piano. The prepared piano enables a musician to find a new sound effect, making more rhythmical arrangement and so on which is influenced from electronic musics by placing object between or on the strings, on the hammers or dampers. In this concert Aga put toys, clay, keys among other objects to produce different sounds. “Ruby My Dear”, a song named after Rubie Richardson, Monk’s first love which is famous both in solo performances and versions with Coleman Hawkins and John Coltrane became the next meal. Adra Karim was in charge this time. There was again the different instrument’s timbre from the prepared piano, and electro sound from hammond organ ended “Round Midnight” with a minimalist touch.The next one was “Four in One”, with a lighting speed approach the way Aga arranged it.

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Sri Hanuraga and Adra Karim chose their favorites from Monk’s collection, also took some of the less famous pieces that are rarely played with the reason to introduce them to the Indonesian audience. The next choice was “Think of One,” the song recorded in 1953 which is rarely exposed. Sri Hanuraga demonstrated his skill by using both hands crossing each other. Surprisingly Adra came to the grand piano and they played together attractively in upbeat mood. This action was loved by the audience as they gained applause many times during this one.  One of Monk’s earliest composition that was once used as the theme of Minton’s Playhouse “Ephistrophy” became the last song from them.

[flickr id=”12174888456″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”false” size=”medium” group=”” align=”left”] Speaking about their bands’ next step, Sri Hanuraga’s The Brag Pack is planning to record a new album in March in Poland. He hopes to bring The Brack Pack back again to Indonesia next year. pefully next year The  Brag Pack will come back to Indonesia. As for Adra Karim’s band, Tomorrow People Ensemble, they are ready to play at the Java Jazz Festival and shared to us that there will be new concept and new album projected to launch some times in mid year. For Sri Hanuraga, last year he played with his trio in Salihara. He got freedom to do what he wanted, supported fully by Komunitas Salihara.  For Adra Karim, eventhough this was his first time, but he enjoyed how Salihara took the concept seriously and happy that his music got appreciated. Thelonious Monk’s eccentricity and excellence in making new musical (jazz) approach could already stand tall in the headline, but the way these two young talented pianists crafted the compositions made this concert even more magical. Imagine the combination of strange sounds from prepared piano, the electro-vintage sound from Hammond Organ, the collition of two amazing musicians and a tribute to one of the most important figures in jazz along some historical facts, all roled into one. What more can we say? It’s simply outstanding and deserves standing ovation.

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[flickr id=”12174367095″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”false” size=”medium” group=”” align=”right”] The next concert to seal up the Salihara Jazz Buzz 2014 was Indra Lesmana Group taking on Chick Corea. Before we bring you to the coverage, let’s see a little story behind this one. This concept was firstly brought last year in Indra and Honhon Lesmana’s Red White Jazz Lounge.  Indra Lesmana actually almost turned down Salihara’s invitation because he got probem to fill up the drum position. He asked the bassist Shadu Rasjidi to find him candidates to replace Demas Narawangsa, the former drummer who’s currently continuing his study to USA. He got three candidates, so Indra studied each one in Youtube. Finally he chose Dion Subiakto.

In this final concert which was totally full and attended by many fellow musicians, Indra Lesmana Group started exactly at 8:30 pm with such extraordinary magnificent performance. The first song they played was “La Fiesta” which directly (and not surprisingly) brought them huge applause. The guitar lines was provided by the one and only Tohpati. Other than these two senior and iconic jazz musicians, this group brings very talented and skillful young players such as Shadu Rasjidi on bass and two rising stars Ricad Hutapea (saxophone) and Dion Subiakto (drums). The combination of long time experienced musicians and the young lions like this is always interesting because the knowledge transfer, youthful energy and large amount of passion and spirit could be passed to one another in one single live shot.

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To Indra Lesmana, Chick Corea is a very influential figure. Chick Corea was considered to be very modern in jazz during 60’s. As a member of Miles Davis’ band in that era, he participated in the birth of electric jazz movement. His name has been described as one of the most important jazz figures to mention in the post Coltrane era. Not only influenced with his playing, Corea’s strong character also meant something to Indra. Moreover Indra said that Chick Corea’s music is very easy to be distinguished. “His music has powerful color. He is one of the most influential electronic keyboardists, composers and innovators in jazz.”

[flickr id=”12174987616″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”false” size=”medium” group=”” align=”left”] In the next song “Sea Journey” we could hear electric guitar effect coming out from Indra’s keyboard. Then he gave some speech. “This is my second time in Salihara but the first time to play in Jazz Buzz.” said Indra. He also said that he’s lucky, because after listening to Corea’s songs since he was 12 years old, he got the chance to watched Chick Corea’s live concert in Sydney in 1981 when he was still 16 years old. At that time Indra was still living in Australia. Indra got even better chance to meet Chick Corea at backstage. Chick Corea was very humble, that’s the impression he got from this first meeting. The fate brought them to another meeting in 1983 when Indra went to Los Angeles then came to Chick Corea’s house. Some of you might still remember Indra Lesmana’s album titled “For Earth and Heaven” released in 1984, this album was recorded in Chick Corea’s studio. Until now Indra is still keeping touch with him via email and Facebook. Maybe because Indra’s connected to Chick Corea not only in terms of music but also knows him in person, he can interpret Chick Corea’s compositions in a deep, heartfelt approach the way he showed along with the group in this concert.

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Indra Lesmana’s solo on grand piano shone bright on “500 Miles High”. Then it’s time for Ricad Hutapea to blow his Tenor Saxophone, adding up some rock and roll feels to it. Chick Corea once adapted Alice in Wonderland in his 1978 album, The Mad Hatter. The song from this album, “Dear Alice” was taken, where Indra shared his moments with Shadu Rasjidi. Once again they got big applause from the fully excited audiences.

Corea’s classic “Spain” made everyone wanted to dance, even when the saxophone rolled in solo runs. Indra then shared another story. In the 80’s Indra  played with Chick Corea Elektric Band, for example in 1986 during the Asian tour when they visited Indonesia. Chick Corea’s songs are not easy to play. There are some ‘simple’ songs, still they are quite complex to play. Corea is not only a jazz musician but he is also into classical, enjoying the musics of Bartok and other contemporary classical music. Chick Corea once took up drums, something that later influence his piano playing style especially when he improvises. It also makes Chick Corea’s composition rich in harmony, often appear in complex notations, and the best way to play it is by full discipline and accurate precision tempo.

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Indra is grateful to find the multi generation players in his group. “Before the group was built, there was a workshop to dig Chick Corea’s composition. It enabled me to find young musicians who has the specific technical background and requirement to be in my group,” said Indra. The group marched on with “Ginkakuji” a song about a temple in Japan which is also known as “Silver Temple”.

[flickr id=”12174365415″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”false” size=”medium” group=”” align=”right”] Here’s a sidestory. Speaking of Indra Lesmana, who doesn’t know about his daughter, Eva Celia? Indra also told us about Eva Celia’s passion in art. Not only she shares the same passion of her parents in music and movie, she also likes writing, painting, reading, and fashion. For Indra, whatever she could make, do and create, he’ll happily support her. Her dedication in music and movie is really big, as we will see in her upcoming classic martial art movie produced by her aunty Mira Lesmana, “Pendekar Tongkat Emas”. Almost a year she has been practising. Moreover Indra told us even at 8:00 am she already goes to practice wushu. We heard about her long before she became famous in her own homeland. She was featured in Indra Lesmana’s innovative digital exploration album “11:11” ( in a song entitled  “Angels on My Side”, then sang it live from Los Angeles in the official launching and 1st ever gig of the album in Jakarta, made possible through Skype (read it here: We watched her crowded performance at the Java Jazz Festival 2013, and now she emerges as one of the brightest young force in both movie and music industry. The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree they say, that’s really true when we see her talent.

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To be a good musician requires good skill in rhythm, especially in Latins such as Bossanova and other Brazilian and Afro Cuban, as said by Indra. Since piano belongs in the percussion family, Chick Corea  has a background in this area. That makes his composition feels natural. Back to the concert, from Indra Lesmana’s most favorite Chick Corea album “The Leprechaun” they took “Nite Sprite” and delivered it in a very progressive way. This song also contained powerful solo drum by Dion. All of a sudden they ended the concert right after this, but then dragged back again by the loud applause from the crowds. Indra thanked everyone who came and hope this event to keep running every year, then gave an encore taken from The Chick Corea Elektric Band’s eponymous album released in 1986, “Rumble.” With this song, the concert and the Salihara Jazz Buzz 2014 was completely wrapped.

Throughout the month of January 2014, Komunitas Salihara spoiled the jazz lovers especially those who reside in Jakarta a full package of awesomeness. Selected bands/groups/collaborations/artists were spread in 6 different shows, each one tributing either a master or era, ranging from the Western Classical period, the early jazz years, the British invasion of rock (n roll), the rockin’ years, the rise of modern jazz to the time when electric fusion jazz emerged. All are important in the historical musical timeline, played by who’s who in our music world that can create magic with their jazzpression. Throughout the whole series we see how jazz can create a totally new musical species from another genres including those which have different patterns, types and disciplines than jazz, jazz is also capable to recreate its own species into new creatures. We also see good interaction between audience and the musicians. The appreciation given by this type of crowds would encourage musicians and other artists to be more inventive. All of these are shown clearly in the Salihara Jazz Buzz program.

We extend our grattitude and respect to Komunitas Salihara for presenting this program. Each show could be a media to learn, to expand the mind’s horizon of possibility in crafting music or simply a place to find high quality entertainment. Hope to see another Jazz Buzz next year at Salihara with other themes and performers. We believe an event like this would give benefit to our music industry, to the people living in it especially to the jazz development in Indonesia. See you again next year.

See more pictures:

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Reporter: Reita Wijaya
Photographer: Fennysia Wijaya
Editor: Riandy Kurniawan


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