It feels like yesterday when we started our program in Bumi Sangkuriang, but now we have done with the 9th edition. Bumi Sangkuriang Jazz Night, that’s the way we named this event, continued what we have built since day one, bringing regular jazz event back alive again at its home, continuing the jazz path inside this vintage building which has begun around 60 years ago.
For Bumi Sangkuriang Jazz Night #9, we presented the prolific teacher that holds international reputation as an active musician in a cool collaboration with musicians much younger than him, a very interesting group who plays manouche on French-lyric and old Indonesian songs, and an amazing boy – still 10 years old – who swing and bop with his own band. We believe this combination will give an excellent portrait of how nutricious Indonesian jazz today really is. We are happy and satisfied with the result. Wide range on the artists’ age (from 10 to 53), rich in variety and plenty of action were captured on the stage during the over 3 hours show.
Performing first was a phenomenal jazz boy who just turned 10 a couple of months ago, Adrian Jeremy Hutomo. We knew him since 3 years ago when he came to jam in one of our events. At that time he was still 7, yet he played “Billie’s Bounce” without any problem. Not long after that he switched to chess and went as far as representing bandung in a tournament. But then he probably realized that music is his thing. Eventhough it wasn’t easy for him to find enough time since he also had to go through his formal education, he still managed to take lessons from some of remarkable teachers, from Yahya Salam to Ray Martosono. After learning seriously for 2 years, we think it’s about time for him to go public. And yes, he proved us right. Many people were surprise watching him play. What’s even more amazing is that he doesn’t just play solo but he has his own band simply named after him: Jeremy Hutomo Trio. Joining him are his father Hasto Utomo (bass) and Evan Natanael (drum).
Jeremy and his trio got into business right away, playing his favorite song from Charlie Parker’s collection: “Billie’s Bounce”. He could already do some manouvers, take risk in improvising and executed his finger dancing with good control. “He is really something. Amazing!” said one of the board of the venue to us along with rising his thumb. The awesomeness of this 10 year-old boy continued on with “Autumn Leaves” in much slower tempo. After playing “Blue Moon” the trio bopped with John Coltrane’s “Moment’s Notice” and then gave a sharp climax by covering Chick Corea’s monumental tune, “Spain”. Certainly not an easy song especially with its tutti parts, but Jeremy, papa Hasto and Evan did it really well.
He might look like a shy little boy offstage, but when he is playing, he turns brave, confident and deadly. Swingin’ mood and bebop punch with some classical were delivered in good tempo control. He played naturally well and the great chemistry between players is something that we should mention too. This kid really knows how to swing and bop, he know how to deal with dynamics to make any song he play an ace. Indonesia is blessed with so many amazing kids who have shown their awesomeness since early age. If he keeps running, one day he can lead the scene. Speaking of our mission to contribute in the regeneration of jazz musicians, amazing kids like this make us able to look at the future with a smile. Making original song is the next challenge, let’s see how long will he need to do it. Awesome boy and sharp trio, proud of him and the band!
The second show offered us a ride through time, like a time capsule taking everyone to feel the fragrant, flowery Paris scent in the 30’s. It’s Madame & Toean, a 7-piece ensemble built upon unique and rare concept combining Jazz Manouche/Gypsy Jazz and French chanson plus Indonesian oldies.
Swinging fingerstyle guitarist Opik Bape continues his passion in this genre with the band after what he has begun with Satura, but this time with many more players. Rahma Savitri who sings and plays melodica apparently shares the same passion. Soon after they got more players who are actually interested in digging this music. They are Charlie ‘Achay’ Septiana (guitar), Ilham Septia (contrabass), Mega Ariani (cello), Rabita Syahbunan (violin) and Dwi Prayoga (percussion). This combination serves the unique musical experience as if listening to chanteuse Edith Piaf singing with Django Reinhardt and his Gypsy team.
Clearly this ensemble is not just about music, but they do love fashion as well. Even before they started playing our eyes were treated with lovely costumes from the exact era when this music led the scene. They began with an instrumental song which directly described what their music concept is all about: Astor Piazolla’s “Libertango”. When Rahma came in, their appearance shone even more especially by dressing like a noble dame with ‘flirtatious’ charm. She sang the French version of Brian Hyland’s “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini” titled “Itsy Bitsy Petit Bikini”. For you who were born at least in the 80’s, you should be familiar with this song because it became a hit again by Bombalurina and Timmy Mallett. It was cool to hear the acoustic, Gypsy version of it from this ensemble.
The vintage French scene and scent got stronger when the mesdames and messiurs sang “Petite Fleur”, “Paris Paris” and “Chez Moi”. What’s funny is, they had a concept of telling the story of the song beforehand. The personnels took their turn to do this, but when they did it, they got to wear a hello kitty glasses. Really contradictive with their theme, but in terms of entertaining, this odd move somehow works. The charismatic madame Rahma sang really well in French.
“Keroncong Kota Bandung” took our imagination back to Bandung Tempo Doeloe (Bandung in the far past). It’s kind of cool to notice that keroncong and Gypsy could fit together as if it came from the same roots. Charles Trenet’s theatrical song from 1939, “Menilmontant” became the last presentation. A perfect song for Madame & Toean, and certainly a perfect ending.
Since Bandung got the nickname Parijs van Java since the Dutch colonial era, it’s actually cool to have and hear an ensemble like this in the city, especially inside this vintage Concordia ballroom. The spirit of the land, the building and the music fit perfectly, creating a whole new musical experience. None of us lived during the era when this scene took place in France, so thanks to Madame & Toean, we got the chance to taste it. Great ensemble, unique concept in music, fashion and stage act, c’est magnifique! Merci beaucoup Madame & Toean!
The third and final show presenting a guitarist extraordinaire who has been active for 30 years plus. He holds international reputation since his ‘devilish rollercoaster’ band Ligro Trio goes globally through USA-based label MoonJune Records, also a stunning collaboration with another extraordinary singer Rafly in Rafly Wa Saja. Step aside from his stage and studio activity, he is a highly respected prolific teacher who has produced many successful musicians across genre. A humble man with endless creativity, he is Agam Hamzah.
He is deadly while playing progressive fusion and avant garde, he is magical when serving world music, but he is ellegant in playing swing, Latin and even classical. Agam is indeed an all-rounder who knows how to bring the best of each musical corner. For this event, he happily collaborated with much younger musicians: Alman Naufal (drums), Jason Limanjaya (piano) and Ezra Manuhutu, known as the boys of New Equinox.
The solo guitar playing of Agam Hamzah on Luis Bonfa’s “Black Orpheus (Manha de Carnaval)” was breathtaking. Soon after the boys of New Equinox joined in. Jason gave a really beautiful solo run, creating a smooth conversation with guitar. From Brazil we all were brought to the swingin’ atmosphere with “Autumn Leaves”. They took a visit to John Coltrane after that, playing a song that not so many band play anymore in here, “Equinox”. Jason, Alman and Ezra did great in keeping up with a virtuoso like Agam.
Then Agam called Nayra Dharma to the stage. Nayra is the daughter of bass legend Pra Budidharma who just emerges as a fine guitarist like her idol, Joe Pass. Not only playing guitar, she also sings. Her lushy, softly breezed voice suits bossa nova songs, but she can also have strong character on her vocal when she sings standards. For tonight she didn’t play guitar because she hurted her fingers during practice. Instead, she acted as a vocalist. The first song was”Águas de Março”, the original version of more popular title, “Waters of March”. Really not easy song to sing due to the very long lyrics, but she successfully sang it in Portuguese! Then she contributed in two more songs, “On Green Dolphin Street” and “How High the Moon”. Without her guitar, she actually is cool just as a singer. Her duet with the finese guitar performance of Agam Hamzah in front, plus the perfect serve by New Equinox added up a memorable moment from this event.
The collaboration between a guitar master with international reputation and young guns actually work very well. Think of how lucky these guys were getting knowledge and experience from a music artiste like Agam Hamzah. We have seen Agam in many bands, from his duo and other project, Rafly wa Saja to Ligro and most recently Dwiki Dharmawan Project. For us it’s a big honour to have him in our event. Thank you Agam Hamzah for coming and giving up such magnificent guitar playing. We salute you!
Rich in variation, wide range of age and the unique concept and playing from the players makes this edition very interesting. We got not only traditional swing and modern boppin’ jazz, we also got the chance to go back in time, visiting French more than 60 years ago through musical time tunnel. Thank you to all musicians, everyone who are with us behind this event and certainly everyone who came. No event will stay alive without having the audience, no matter how good the players are. So, we hope you will keep giving your support by attending our events. We are planning something different next month, see you then!
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Reporter & Photorapher: Riandy Kurniawan.