After a cool, colorful Day 1 of the 5th ubud Village Jazz Festival (http://jazzuality.com/jazz-event-report/ubud-village-jazz-festival-2017-day-1/), here’s our coverage of the 2nd and final day for 2017 edition. This 2nd day got 11 shows separated over 3 stages: the biggest one in the center Giri Stage, the one near the entrance Padi Stage and the cozy, green one at the back, Subak Stage. Lots of attraction, variety of colors were presented by well selected musicians from many different nationalities. Combine it with the tranquil, peaceful nature of Ubud, the atmosphere created is indeed one of a kind.
Opening the second day was Bonny Trio. This trio led by Bonny Man, a senior musician and teacher who has been active for no less than 2 decades. He was once the piano teacher of the phenomenal kid who already announced as Grammy nominee for two years in a row, Joey Alexander when he was still in Bali. Although you might not heard his name often most probably because he hasn’t appear much in the national music scene, Bonny actually has released 5 albums independently from 1997 to 2002. One thing you should also know is that other than teaching piano, he is also a Japanese teacher.
Bonny took in drummer Panji Baskoro and bassist Ucok in his trio. Bonny played 2 standards, The Sound of Music’s “My Favorite Things” and “Moment’s Notice”, but what’s important is that he played 4 of his originals: “The Last Train from Shanghai”, “Samba Man”, “Waltz for Mariko” and “I Love You So Much”.
Bonny effortlessly served good opening. He kept it simple, enjoyable and ellegant. He is a prominent figure in Balinese jazz scene who has contributed in producing good talents for 20 years. But aside from that, we think it’s also important for him to establish his name as an active player. He has regular gigs in Bali, and hopefully after this he will get more appearances in bigger events like this one. Not only it will be good for him, the students can also learn on how to play jazz good by watching him live. Such a good opening for day two.
For many years, the French cultural institution, the Institut Français d’Indonésie has been giving much effort in establishing solid relationship between France and Indonesia through jazz. They have endorsed many great jazz musicians and artistes from France to have a concert here, which often enables musicians from both nations to exchange culture and knowledge that will improve their scope. For Ubud Village Jazz Festival this year, the insitution proudly endorsed a unique saxman Samy Thiebault under his most recent album ‘Rebirth’ touring.
Samy appeared under a trio with his ‘Rebirth’ team mates Sylvain Romano (double bass) and Philippe Soirat (drums). Listening to his music either in his album or live performance, we can’t help but amazed by his way to take us into his kaleidoscopic journey which spans from Africa (ranging from Ivory Coast to Mali), Venezuela to the music and rhythm of the Persian Gulf, all resonate through his tasty modern jazz. We say it’s a tour de force, and certainly we would love to see him again someday if not soon. Really interesting show here, c’est magnifique!
Then it’s time to check out the other stage near the entrance. Performing there was the co-founder of yours truly festival and the brain of Underground Jazz Movement, Yuri Mahatma. This man has a deep, recolective way of playing jazz that can always touch your soul. Playing with him were his dear wife also the Vice Chairman and Marketing Communication of the fest Astrid Sulaiman (piano), Iman Najib (drum) and Helmi Agustian (bass). This time he featured two brass players from The Glen Buschmann Jazz Academy: Mathias Bergmann on trumpet and a saxophonist from Czech Republic, Petr Kalfus and also a great female jazz vocalist from Jakarta, one of the best from today’s generation, Nesia Ardi.
Nesia is one of a kind. She doesn’t just sing but also a real entertainer who is good in bridging the stage with the audience. Speaking of style, she would remind you of the great female jazz and blue singers from the golden era, which makes every jazz standard she sings feel alive. Other than that, for us she is someone who could always create something surprising. For example, she established Nona Ria Trio that is cored in ragtime and swing, taking on old Indonesian songs from 30’s to 40’s. In there, she also plays snare drum while singing. Then she was found in Lantun Orchestra which combines jazz with Indonesian traditional keroncong, followed with Orkes Gembira and the most recent one a quartet named K/N/I/T.
Yuri led the team to deliver bossa evergreen “One Note Samba” for a start, followed by Wes Montgomery’s “Fried Pies” and “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes” and Monk’s “In Walked Bud”. Nesia joined the crowds on stage and threw three songs: “Don’t Put Sugar in My Coffee”, “Honeysuckle Rose” and another classic from 1930 “On the Sunny Side of the Street”.
We always know that this festival is a perfect ‘habitat’ for her. Nesia is a full package jazz artist. She can sound a lot of instruments with her mouth which often boosting up the entertainment factor. Having her singing alongside jazz guitarist Yuri Mahatma should be like heaven for pure jazz lovers because then they can feel the inner beauty of jazz in a natural way.
The brainchild of Yuri, the Underground Jazz Movement got their own show at the Subak Stage. This jazz community has the mission to introduce jazz to young musicians, especially those who live in Bali. They gather mostly on Sunday afternoon until night and fill it with open discussion, talk and have fun playing together. They went boppin’ with plenty of tradings and improvisations found in each turn.
As a quartet with Ade Surya Firdaus (piano), Dede Indra Putra (guitar), Fendy (bass) and Wisnu Priambodo (drum) represented the spirit of this festival as they were focusing on how to serve pure jazz delight by playing it the right way. It’s always nice to see the continuation the jazz movement in Bali. A community always plays an important role in developing something. As we are also commited in pushing up the regeneration of jazz in our hometown, it’s wonderful to see a fellow community in Bali is doing very, very well.
On the biggest side at the center of the venue, we got an exceptional jazz nightingale from Netherlands, Maaike den Dunnen. This lady is talented in many areas more than just sing. Let’s see. She can compose, writelyrics and play piano. Then from the appearance side, she is charming and warm. She reflects her musical personality through the combination between beatiful voice with strong jazz vibe, soul-connected singing, humor, lyricism and intelligence. As Maaike has been doing great in establishing her name in the jazz scene, it’s about time to have her in this land of Goddess.
Maaike directly bagged loud applause right from the start with her original song from her debut album, “The City Lights”. From there, she kept wowing the audience with more than just her beautiful jazzy vocal. That includes using megaphone and singing a famous house song from the 90s, “Show Me Love” in totally swing arrangement. We also love her charming appearance on stage.
She came here right after having her moment at the North Sea Jazz 2017. Thanks to Ubud Village Jazz Festival, we don’t have to go far away to reach the North Sea Jazz to watch Maaike. Year after year this festival in Ubud presents great selection of female vocalists from abroad from Laura Brunner to Deborah Carter. This year it belongs to Maaike den Dunnen. Een mooi concert van Maaike. Dank u wel!
Then it’s time to check the performance of a living legend who has been having such illustrious career for more than half a century. He’s none other than Benny Likumahuwa. Living inside the jazz scene for almost all his life made him listed in many cornerstones of Indonesian jazz (music) history. He was in many legendary bands like Cresendo, rock band The Rollies, The Jazz Riders, Ireng Maulana All Stars just to mention a few. Other than that, he has his own band Benny Likumahuwa Jazz Connection where his son, famous bassist and founder of BLP Barry Likumahuwa joins in, and of course, the band of him and Barry called Like Father Like Son. He is a multi-instrumentalist. He was once a bassist but then switched to brasses and woodwinds. Trombone is his main gear, but he often plays flute too. Simply put, you can place him in any position, he will breath some pure jazz.
Other than bringing Barry, joining him were pianist Christ Stanley, saxophonist Geraldo ‘Bass G’ Bhaskara Putra and drummer Dimas Pradipta. This team directly blasted the atmosphere with lethal dose of funk. Bites, chops, twists, all served interconnectedly with a good flow of a story. Barry kept on teasing and provoking Christ and Bass G with both his bass and expression. Meanwhile, Dimas Pradipta was kept busy serving nonstop beat with his drums. Benny Likumahuwa on the other hand showed that age is just a number, because he can still funk like his much younger mates. Nesia Ardi later joined them, singing 3 songs .
When they reached the end, Yuri Mahatma and Antida Darsana, both founders of the festival handed Benny Likumahuwa a Lifetime Achievement Award. Looking at Benny’s illustrious career spanning for more than half a century, all his achievements and contributions, he really deserves it.
This show gave us many things to admire. The pure spontaneous performance, the reflection of more than 50 years jazz journey, the love between father and son shared using jazz language, the joyful and connected show, all these we captured from this gig. May God bless Benny with good health, so we can see him playing for many more years to come.
Around the same time of Benny Likumahuwa, a senior guitarist originally from Malang but live and build his career in Bali took his moment on Subak stage. He is Koko Harsoe. This man fell in love with jazz very early, so early that he has established his own jazz band at the age of 14. He is a proud member of a great band of friends, Jiwa Band which has spread madness here a couple of years ago.
Like his performance in 2015, Koko Harsoe embraced the modern jazz fully along with a strong team such as Sandy Winarta (drum), Indra Gupta (double bass) featuring a Spanish flutist who has been studying, researching and performing in many corners of the globe from Canada, New York, Norway to Cambodia and Indonesia, Rodrigo Porejo. Speding his life in so many countries has shaped him to be a versatile musician and improviser. Other than mastering the jazz, classical and contemporary-avant garde and rock, he is also influenced by wide spectrum of house music, from Brazilian, Cuban, Arabic, Flamenco and so on.
As expected, Koko Harsoe’s show gave us chance to enjoy jazz at its most natural state. He kept his music chill and gave enough room for his compatriotes to have their moments. The connection between Indra Gupta and Sandy Winarta were solid, and Rodrigo Porejo just made their canvas appear with much more colors.
Koko Harsoe is a versatile musician who loves to explore. He has collaborated with exotic traditional instruments, from tabla, djembe to digeridoo, the Aborigin instrument.
Some ethnics are reflected smoothly here and there along with his down to earth music. Koko embraces his music with his soul, ‘painting’ and ‘sculpting’ the jazz like a fine art artiste, which in the end allowing us to feel the beauty of it. Having a strong team with distinctive format made his show appeared simple yet grand.
Then it’s time for us to see one of the main attractions in this 5th installment, the great Gerald Clayton Trio, consisting of Gerald William Clayton (piano), Joe Sanders (bass) and Gregory Hutchinson (drums). In his young age, Clayton has already had remarkable achievements. This man has been nominated four times with Grammy Awards: 2010 Grammy nomination for Best Improvised Jazz Solo for his arrangement of Cole Porter’s “All of You”, Best Jazz Instrumental Composition on 2011 for “Battle Circle”, his composition featured on The Clayton Brothers’ recording “The New Song and Dance” (ArtistShare) and nominated in 2012 and 2013 for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for “Bond: The Paris Sessions” (Concord) and “Life Forum” (Concord), his second and third album releases.
Before all these nominations, he finished at second place in 2006 Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Piano Competition. He has performed and made recordings with variety of stellar artists including Dianne Reeves, Diana Krall, Roy Hargrove, John Scofield, Avishai Cohen, Peter Bernstein and Kendrick Scott just to mention a few, also with Clayton Brothers Quintet which includes his father and uncle. That shows that this man doesn’t only have the skill but also deep sensibilities too in presenting music. Just a couple of months ago he just released his latest album “Tributary Tales”
His two partners are special too. Joe Sanders is, without doubt, one of the most sought-after young bass players of this era. Recently he placed 2nd in the finals of both the International Society of Bassists Jazz Bass Competition and the Thelonious Monk Institute’s International Jazz Bass Competition. Gregory Hutchinson is an American drummer of modern jazz . He got praises from Martin Kunzler, saying that his highly differentiated, “lively” game is reminiscent of Roy Haynes and Philly Joe Jones, while according to Jazz Magazine, he is “the drummer of his generation”.
This trio is like a strong magnet, dragging everyone around the venue to come watching. They showcasd a wide, colorful jazz spectrum in tight connectivity to one another. Clayton is a remarkable musician that can adapt to any musical environment without any problem. He can play romantic jazz standards with Diana Krall, but he can groove alongside Roy Hargrove. Tonight we got the chance to see his true-self in music. He played tasty, toe-tapping modern, funky post bop while at other times he can touch our hearts with his smooth ballads. Both Gregory and Joe surf on the same length of wave with him.
Tight unit, sharp and shiny. They built the whole session like telling stories, effectively but adventurous and imaginative. Serious, yet playful. Complex, yet enjoyable. Full of action, lots of fun. The trio’s solid 5-star performance made the audience rewarded them long standing ovation in the end. We are lucky to be able to watch this tour-de-force of this awe-inspiring trio.
The guitar wiz, I Wayan Balawan returned to this event with his stunning cross Jazz-ethnic Balinese ensemble Balawan & Batuan Ethnic Fusion. This is the ensemble he established long time ago in 1997 right after he came back from his study at the Australian Institute of Music. With this ensemble he released an album GloBALIsm. Balawan then continued on making many projects and appearances throughout the years, but this mind-bending ensemble is still kept very much alive. Occassionally when the time is right, he emerged on the surface with it.
Accompanying him in the ensemble were I Nyoman Suarsana, Ketut Tarmadi, Krishna Kanhaiya, I Wayan Yogi Eko Martika, Anggis Devaki, Raditya Yudistra and I Made Subandi.
No one would argue that Balawan is like a guitar wiz possessed with jazz spirit. This man’s skill is beyond believe. He could play guitar with such speed that we can’t see his fingers anymore. He could easily sing the notes he played on his two-fret guitar. In his ensemble we found some very young players, like the 16 year-old boy on drum and also on keyboard. All of these players are above average in technique.
Balawan and his ensemble created madness right from the beginning. He gave a tribute to Al Jarreau by singing and playing Jarreau’s version of “Spain”, but amazingly served by involving traditional Balinese instrument. Then, he surprised the audience by showing their ability to go speeding, playing around 17-20 notes per second. All of these were found in his show. In the end, it’s like watching a bunch of magicians using each of their ‘wands’ to put a spell on the audience. This show of Balawan was highly entertaining.
We don’t get to see the Balawan & Batuan Ethnic Fusion often, so we are glad that we could watch and cover the show this time. This group which was established in Balawan’s village Batuan (Sukawati, Gianyar, Bali) doesn’t only fuse the music but also the authentic mystical Balinese soundscape and feel with modern jazz. Balawan & Batuan Ethnic Fusion’s opens up a whole different dimension where two really different musics appear as a single entity. Simply outstanding, full of magic, they gave a perfect climax to Padi stage.
On the other stage, a young man David Manuhutu launched his jazz ship. We have been with him since he started appearing in public when he was still around 15 years of age. After series of participation in groups and projects, he went to Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA. In there he quickly made quite an achievement by receiving Dean’s list award every semester for having GPA above 3.4. He learnt and played with many giants while studying in there. At the end of last year he released his first album titled “Journey” featuring Adam Rogers and Peter Bernstein.
As he is now seriously building his career in Indonesia mostly between Jakarta and his hometown Bandung, he took one step further to reach Bali. David came with interesting lineup, featuring singing guitarist originally from Manggarai regency in East Nusa Tenggara province on the island of Flores, Debora Jemadu, former kid drummer Rafi Muhammad and bassist Odi Purba. Rafi Muhammad made a big surprise back in 2006 by releasing an album full of stars including Bob James, Nathan East, Paul Jackson, Tom Scott, Michael Paulo titled “Can’t Stop the Beat”. Later in his teenage years he formed Rafi & the Beat, joining Indra Lesmana’s LLW then not long ago, the Art of Tree and a trio Her Coat of Arms. A couple of months ago he promoted his single ‘carrier’ “Break the Rules” from his upcoming solo album.
To begin with, David took his composition “A Journey” and invited us to sail with him. Then he played his cool re-arrangement of West Java’s folk song, “Bubuy Bulan”, which for us felt like watching a glittery reflection of moon on the ocean. In the end, they were safely landed with “Mengejar Mimpi”.
This quartet is like a miniature of Indonesian jazzchipelago since it features young players from west to east, from Sumatra, Java, Flores and Ambon islands. All of them are still very young but really gifted and share strong chemistry to one another. A warm performance by David Manuhutu and friends that also shows the force of young generation in Indonesian jazz at present time. This became the last show for Subak stage.
One final show left on the main stage. It was the Glen Buschmann Jazz Academy (Glen Buschmann Jazzakademie) from Germany. This big band is named after the legendary late clarinetist/saxophonist Glen Buschmann, consisting of more than 20 players inside. If last night Dian Pratiwi, Uwe Plath (standing as the conductor) and Sithara Chimaniak were found inside this band, for this second show they invited more featured stars from guitarist/co-founder of the fest Yuri Mahatma to trumpeter Benny Brown.
Grand, grand opening made some audience danced right away. In the old days, a big band was also called a dance band due to its nature. The Glen Buschmann Jazz Academy Big Band successfully made it happen again in today’s time with their own way. One of the songs they played was a soul evergreen of Marvin Gaye, “What’s Going On”. What’s interesting is how they presented the soulful Motown style from the 70’s era in a big band format. Both Dian Pratiwi and the young jazz lady originally from Srilanka but now resides in Germany, Sithara Schimaniak who tonight looks beautiful wearing saree dress stood in front of their mikes.
Like on day 1, the last song was Tania Maria’s “Come With Me”, but this time it was an extended, much longer version. This song forced so many people dancing from the front row to back, creating a spectacular view which we will remember for a long time to come.
The Ubud Village Festival has done it again. The committee featured balanced portion of local Balinese musicians, from Jakarta, Bandung and other cities and international artists ranging from Australia, Austria, Germany, USA, Netherlands to France and so on. We found Indian and Srilanka too among the lineups this year. The composition of young players, seniors and legends are good, the rundowns are well managed, and from the variety, this festival once again showcased the united multi colors of jazz. Just by watching this event for two days, anyone would find out how rich jazz really is in sound, technique and style. Not only swing and bebop, this year we got post bop and fusion of jazz with ethnic. All served in the cool, tranquil and peaceful side of Bali.
This festival has successfully built a strong concept that is different than anywhere else. Eventhough the event has three stages with so many attractions, the situation inside the venue is far from hectic. Everyone can enjoy their time without having to rush here and there. Some even chose to watch the show by lying down on the pillows provided by the committee. How more cozy can you be in enjoying jazz performance? The food stalls are located nearby, and yes, the green surroundings and simple yet artistic decorations do help in making everyone feel at ease.
Put it simple, this is a jazz festival where the word ‘enjoy’can be felt for real, at max. This has been one of our most favorite destinations every year. Thank you Ubud Village Jazz Festival, kudos to founders, commitees, performers, partners, supporters, audiences and everyone involved, and thank you for your hospitality and great service towards us. Look forward to see you again next year. Long live Ubud Village Jazz Festival!
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