The beatiful day of jazz already took place at Ubud yesterday, courtesy of Ubud Village Jazz Festival 2014. (read the report here: http://jazzuality.com/jazz-event-report/ubud-village-jazz-festival-2014-report-day-1/). Now we are going to let you know what’s happening on the second and final day of this second episode of this annual party.
Two bands started exactly at the same time: Openmind Quartet and Gustu Brahmanta Trio. The Openmind Quartet consists of musicians from the Universitas Pelita Harapan Jakarta such as Michael Setiawan (grand piano), Kevin Yosua (Electric Bass), Dion Jana Pria (Electric Guitar) and Joshua Setiawan (Drums). Once again reprised their great role in last year’s edition in pouring this event with cool swingin’ straight ahead. They played the traditional style of jazz, yet felt very fresh, something that we really needed while covering the event under the warm Bali temperature. Not only they cooled us up, but they also gave a beautiful start for the second day. Neat, tight and clean play from these very talented and skillful younger generation. They were playing originals by Michael and also some standards such as Rhythm-a-Ning by Thelonius Monk.
For those who wished to enjoy jazz with authentic Balinese taste, Gustu Brahmanta Trio gave exactly that on Subak Stage. Think of this: a trio with the combination of western and Balinese instruments, you should get something different from it. The group which has Ida Bagus Putu Brahmanta (drums and percussion), Ida Bagus Indra Gupta (contrabass) and I Wayan Suastika (rindik, gamelan) served mystical pentatonic pelog scale with jazz as the foundation. What’s a rindik, you might ask? Well, a rindik is an instrument made from bamboo with 11-13 keyed xylophones tuned to a fairly even tempered scale.
Other than rindik, the trio also modifies the drumset with kelenang to add even more Balinese nuance. What’s unique is that, if the usual Balinese gamelan orchestra could have from 10 to 20 players with varieties of instruments, this three dudes dare to bring the Balinese jazz concept alive with just minimalist formation. From what we heard, they proofed it to work perfectly. This is the kind of jazz that we really want to see from jazz fest in Bali, thanks to Gustu Brahmanta Trio, we could get it very early on Saturday. The attempt of fusing traditional music of Bali with jazz has been done by so many musicians both from our own source and international, yet this trio is able to give something different while still rooting in the same spirit. Mind you, they are all native, so what we got from them was the authentic Balinese music with seamless jazz vibe inside. They showcased true Balinese ethnic music fused with modern jazz grooves, and they kept the rhythm in the pocket with just this formation. The show was simply educational, interactive, entertaining, magical, without having to lose the strong ethnic element. Ubud Village Jazz Festival just got defined.
Then came the time to be entertained by the founder of Underground Jazz Movement also the founder of this very event, Yuri Mahatma. Once again he teamed up with dear wife, lady pianist Astrid Sulaiman. Using his weapon guitar, he led the quintet consists of Helmy Agustian on bass, Steve Bolton on drums, and Pramono Abdi Pamungkas on saxophone. One song that caught our attention is when they played “Hallucinations”. That song is always overlooked by many musicians but Yuri and Astrid nailed the song just right. Anyhow, the crowd seemed very relaxed from the cool grooves this band offered. This team opened up the Giri Stage just a few minutes after 5 o’clock in the very late afternoon.
Back to the Padi Stage we saw The Shadow Puppets played their delicate jazz. The original members Robert Mulyarahaja (guitar) and Irsa Destiwi (piano) was there, along with two other compatriotes Kevin Yosua (bass) and Elfa Zulham (drums). Not many band can still hang on after losing two players, but the Shadow Puppets still stands strong and active by getting the support from their friends to fill the empty seats in the band. The first album (EP) was released in 2010, then followed by a unique collaboration with a string quartet a year after. Robert then released his solo album which revisited the glorious Bebop era titled “Gratitude” in 2013.
In this gig they played quite many beautiful songs including Indonesian evergreens like “Aku Pasti Datang”, “Esok kan Masih Ada” and Adji Bandi’s “Damai Tapi Gersang”. Beautiful, ellegant and charming as always, these four young talents did very well in pleasuring the fest-goers including those who just came in. A sweet performance like this is always great to see in the jazz fest. The fact that it came from the skillful players made it filled with quality. A nice show in the late afternoon it really was.
The number of jazz flautists might not be as much as the players of instruments we often found in jazz, yet there are many respected ones in the history like Dave Valentin, Eric Dolphy, Herbie Mann, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, James Moody and Hubert Laws. What about a female flautist? Rare, yes, but that doesn’t mean that there are none. Meet Erica Tucceri, a Melbourne-based flautist and composer from the younger generation. Not only she plays great, but she’s been working hard in developing a prototype electric flute that has a unique sound in conjunction with various ‘normal’ acoustic flutes.
For this event, she is backed up by local Balinese Catur Kurniawan on bass, Ade Surya Firdaus on keys and also Melbourne-based Tommy Harrison on drums. They played some covers such as “Footprints” and also Erica’s original called “Sunset Drive”. Erica showed strong latin feel and rhythm in her playing and composition, as if we were listening to female version of Dave Valentin.
When asked about her type of music, she answered “it’s a bit of a mix”. And we got what she meant during the performance as she reflected tunes beyond ordinary jazz. Speaking of her show, we experienced something we don’t find in many festivals: a relaxing getaway. It was chilly and windy, and Erica’s playing of her woodwind really set the mood right. Not to mention that the sound of flute in jazz is always sexy. Indeed, they served a delightful package.
Dwiki Dharmawan was supposed to play with Kamal Musallam. But since the coflict occuring in the Middle East, sadly he had to pospone his participation. But the show must go on. So Dwiki took the part and played alongside Sandy Winarta (drums), Didiet Violin, and Indra Gupta (contrabass).
Dwiki started with a beautiful solo piano recital covering an Indonesian folksong “Cik Cik Periuk” that apparently becoming the opening for a Borneo tune “Paris Barantai”. To respect Kamal, Dwiki went on playing Kamal’s composition called “Rima”. He carried on with an intense number from his World Peace Orchesrra album that usually played with Frank Gambale, “Arafura” and surprisingly invited Dale Barlow for “Janger Bali”. Just when the audience thought it was over, he called up Deva Permana to join and together they served “Numfor” as the ending.
Dwiki is an awe-inspiring jazzman. No one denes that. But at the same time undoubtedly his heart pulses strong Indonesian is 100% Indonesia. By saying so, no matter what he plays, there’s always Indonesia in it. And for that, we should give him a lot of respect. Other than participating, he also serves as the Event Advisor for this second edition. Too bad Kamal couldn’t come, but the rest of the team saved the day.
There are so many fantastic jazz artists in Japan who gained popularity and success worldwide. One of the names you should know is definitely Chika Asamoto. Interesting fact about this performance: Chika was backed-up by her longtime friends, the legend from Malaysia Michael Veerapen (piano) and her fellow Japanese musician which is idolized by many young guitarists in Japan today, Toshiki Nunokawa (guitar). They studied music together at Berklee and ever since then they played many gigs together. In rhythm section there were Daniel Foong on bass and Steve Nanda on drums, both young promising musicians from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The performance was like a splash of water on the face. While most performance plays bop, free-jazz, hard-bop, these cats funked the house down! Tight groove, cool rhythm, they managed to get the audience to groove along. One of the songs they played was an original called In Paradise. So funky and the chemistry was strongly felt because they have played together for a couple of years in Japan, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
As we said, the performance was like a splash of water on the face. Freshly entertaining!
Almost at the same time, Alexandre Cunha had the second show on Subak Stage. Both jazz and Brazilian have different rhythms, but Alexandre knows how to swing the Brazilian rhythm up spontaneously and naturally. The way he produces the beat is like inviting everyone into a party and dance. After the cool run in the first day, there he was again gaining applauses and cheers from the audiences for his final shot. Ana Paula Moreti’s performance as the vocalist was even more captivating and seducing than the first day. There are so many great drummers in the world of jazz today, for sure Alexandre Cunha should always be included.
An Israeli-born guitarist Gilad Hekselman ruled the Giri Stage around 8:00 pm. Although he is still considerably young, he has played with many great names such as John Scofield, Ari Hoenig and Mark Turner and has released four albums as the leader including the latest one “This Just In” (2013). Being mentioned as a guitarist who should stand in the same line as Pat Metheny and Kurt Rosenwinkel, this man has everything to proof so. Even though the audience has been offered a lot of heavy jazz throughout the second day of a festival, this trio successfully entertained the audience even with their very much heavy jazz. The trio was tight and Gilad’s unusual approach of jazz guitar playing really inspires not only musicians, but also the audience. Reminded us of Ulf Wakenius in some way. It was a shiny tour-de-force from start to finish.
Look who performed on Padi Stage at 9:00 pm! It was a legendary band formed in 1998, then went on hiatus since 2001 due to the busy agendas of each players, but then just decided to reunite again last June, JIWA BAND. They have held the reunion gig a couple of times, but here at this Ubud Village Jazz Festival 2014.. BAM! They appeared in complete force for the very first time.
Rio Sidik (trumpet), Koko Harsoe (guitar), Ito Kurdhi (bass), Sonny Rywis (drums) and Erik Sondhy (piano) finally gathered on one stage again after 13 years. The energy blasted from the stage was really amazing. They played the new arrangements of the old songs and some new ones.
Since this is like a story in the making for 13 years, allow us to extend the story about this reunion. How did the band find the way to reunite? According to Rio, it was when he saw Koko Harsoe in one of his gigs. “As you know, I still play often with Ito Kurdhi and Erik Sondhy. But not with Koko Harsoe. When I saw Koko, I thought like, why don’t we play together again? The rest is history.” he said. They were all excited with the idea, and soon locked up playing together again. “I got goosebump during the practice sessions. The energy was unbelievable.” said Rio. “It was like people who fall in love, none of us wanted the session to end.” Rio also told that each of them brought their new arrangements in. All the journey they have gone through individually now collided in one massive harmony. “Love, that’s what I felt the most.” Rio said in expressing his feeling to be reunited with his buddies from his first-ever jazz band which was formed when he was still 19 years of age.
If you really have to put it simple, they play fusion. But mind you that it’s not the ordinary fusion. Each of them can be a leader and stand as a great composer/arranger other than mastering their instrument. Spirit-wise, it’s an amalgamation of the ‘meditating’ paddy rice field and forest in Ubud and the raving beach party in Kuta, as well as the collision of styles possessed by each player. What’s great is that they can merge themselves to form a whole new dimension instead of trying to be the ruler. Giving birth to a new hybrid? Perhaps. At least we think so.
Enough about the band. How was the performance? Romantic. Remember, romance can’t always be related with mellowness. First of all, the band has not been playing together for so long, and the ‘missing’ feeling between the members could be felt by the audience. The spontaneity on stage, the laughs, the fun, and mostly their energy. Their music was driven by each member. Erik with his synth sound and modern jazz playing (now we understand why he’s being called Mr Fingers for so long), Koko’s jazz guitar tone and Metheny-ish solo, Ito’s and Sonny’s solid monstrerous groove, and the way Rio pushes the band from his tone and solo. Second of all, the romance was helped by the rain. Yes it was raining, but surprisingly, the audience stayed for the show! And it was amazing to see the band played their original such as “Put Yourself Together”, “When I Miss You”, and the very interesting unison intro between piano and guitar, “Singgasari Suita – Number One.”
The reunion has given tremendous positive energy to the members, may the flame continues on inspiring more players across nation. They hope so, we do too. We were trapped in nostalgia, but please don’t set us free. Well, welcome back Jiwa Band, we look forward to see new achievements to be added in your history.
While Jiwa Band enjoyed their reunion, another action took place at the other spot. It was Widi Noor & Answara Project. Once a student of the late legend Bubi Chen and now stands as one of the important names in Bali music and jazz development, Widi Noor should be someone to look for in this festival. This time he presented his project named Widi Noor & Answara Project which consists of two keyboards (including Widi Noor himself), drum, bass and vocal choir. Just like what they gave at the Road to Ubud Village Jazz Festival, they served a nice blend of jazz fusion with vocal harmony and improvisations. Considering the talent of these youngsters brought in by Widi Noor, we can see the jazz movement in Bali is running very well. This act became a window for us to see the regeneration process of jazz artists in Bali.
No strangers in Balinese local scene, Dian Pratiwi and Uwe Plath once again took breaths away. As if natural-born jazz musicians, they swung the venue like crazy! Uwe Plath’s playing was magnificent with his aggressiveness and choices of notes that somehow felt wilder by the appearance of Ondrej Stveracek as his partner. Dian’s long-term expertise in singing jazz was shown, when she scatted the song away, effortlessly. This became another nice coming home gig for Dian, and in some ways for Uwe too. They already got the Ubud spirit inside their veins and have it side by side with jazz DNA that flows freely from deep within. With this act we reached the end of the whole 2014 edition of Ubud Village Jazz Festival.
For two days straight Ubud area in Bali was painted with vibrant colors of jazz. The musicians, the venue and the surroundings was just magnificent. Yes, it’s true that Ubud is Bali’s cultural heart that’s still preserved all the natural essences of how a paradise island should be. It still has strong spiritual atmosphere by the existance of ancient temples and castle, traditional art shows, art/painting museums, sacred forests and caves. Hey, even the rice paddies found in that area can be really relaxing to watch. It can be a perfect spiritual and self-recollection place, thus can stand as another catch to be in Bali other than the rave party and Kuta beach. Now if you hear the name Ubud, you should also think of a new home of jazz, thanks to the existance of Ubud Village Jazz Festival, the brainchild of the founder of Underground Jazz Movement Yuri Mahatma and the owner of ANTIDA Music Productions. AA. Anom Wijaya Darsana. Anom once said that Ubud location is perfect for jazz, and after being inside this year’s edition, we can’t be more agree with him.
Since the beginning Ubud Village Jazz Festival was built not to be just another jazz festival which has floods the country. It’s not just a party but a source of high quality jazz with hopes that this can be accepted as a significant contribution to boost the sense of appeciation of art especially music among Indonesian, as well as to add some more values to our cultural and tourism agenda. It carries a mission to re-introduce jazz to the Indonesian society especially in Bali, reminding everyone that jazz has been evolving rapidly since it was born more than a century ago. Jazz now reaches much wider than the style of the origin, absorbing the arts, cultures and musical forms from wherever it lands, accomodates the trend change while amazingly, preserving the original tradition at the same time. We can’t deny that jazz is not just a part of music anymore, it can also be a symbol of a lifestyle and any other forms of social symbol
What we should praise is that the festival wasn’t made just overseas players-oriented, but the local and national talents got fair portion too, both in numbers and in the playing spot distribution. We also saw a good percentage of well experienced players and the young lions. The cross-nation collaborations took place in many shows, which can be a miniature of the united world of jazz that we wish for.
Moreover, it’s also important to mention that this edition marked the collaboration between Yuri Mahatma and Ben van den Dungen, the initiator of the Jazz Summer School in Korea. The product is the first ever Bali Jazz Summer School that’s planned to be annual. How great is that.
Perhaps it’s time to see new faces, as there should be so many of them are waiting for the chance to get in. Jazz doesn’t belong only to Jakarta and other big cities in Java, it has a home in Bali too. Soon in the near future, tourists don’t go to Bali only to enjoy their holiday but also rush in to be a part of this jazz fest.
We thank everyone who have given their best efforts in keeping this festival running. There are homeworks waiting to be done, but we have no doubt that this event will become one of the most awaited jazz festivals in the world and noted in the playing wishlist of musicians around the world. Thank you Ubud Village Jazz Festival, thank you all commitees, performers, supporters, audiences and everyone involved for making an unforgettable two-day jazz party. Also thank you very much for your hospitality and great service towards us, a media partner. Keep the jazzy vibe on the Ubud sky.
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