There are so many hybrids in jazz, but can you imagine what jazz would be without the good ol’ big band? Ever since it was originated in USA around mid 1920’s, big band has continued to evolve and win more and more fans around the world. It was once called dance bandand associated with Swing, but this big-sized ensemble which involve 12 to 25 musicians has been known widely for its flexibility to welcome many other genres than just swing. We have seen many examples when big bands played fusion, bebop or any other modern jazz, even reaching pop and ethnics. Another great thing about it is that it can always adapt to popular genre or trend of each era. That’s one of the reason why big band can stand the test of time. The trend and style may change, the technology may create new sounds, yet the traditional, conventional big band still march on, either by absorbing the most recent trend or simply rooted to the original style.
So, what about Indonesia? This is not the country where jazz was born. Therefore it’s logical if one thought big band didn’t exist in it. If you think like that, well, you are wrong, because Indonesia does have many big bands, some of them are spectacularly growing with increasing number of fans, surprisingly including youngsters as well. They might not know the history of big band or not even familiar with swing. Maybe they are attracted to the collision of sound produced by the combination between brass, woodwind and rhythm sections. Maybe they have listened to it from their mama and papa’s or granny and gramp’s collections. Maybe they just want to give a try or even by surprise. But for whatever reason, we can find many big bands not only in Jakarta but throughout the archipelago.
Now, if we talk about regional areas, you might even be more surprised. Would you believe if a well established big band in Bandung, the capital of West Java, is able to get more than 500 audience in a show and manage to increase their regular concert per year from 2 shows to 3? We’re talking about the big band which stays true to the traditional formation (not a band that’s big in size) but doesn’t stuck only in swing. It’s the Salamander Big Band. They are going to launch the second concert in 2013 following their tradition from the previous year, the Mid-Year Concert. This concert will be held on Friday, June 28, 2013 starting 7:30 pm at the Amphiteater of Selasar Sunaryo Art Space at Dago Pakar, Bandung. The concert that goes with the theme of “Love Above All” as usual will be free of charge.
Let’s dig this well-organized big band deeper. It was founded by Devy Ferdianto who now stands as the conductor, leader and composer of the band. Since 2006, Salamander Big Band has tried its best to present two concerts per year, the Mid-year and its Anniversary concert. But starting this year, they have added the Early Year concert which was conducted by Thorsten Wollmann (see the report here: http://jazzuality.com/jazz-event-report/salamander-big-band-concert-with-thorsten-wollmann-the-report/). Here comes the second round for this year, interestingly by using the theme of “Love Above All.” It doesn’t come in February, the month most of us celebrate Valentine. But surely Salamander Big Band has their own reason to use this theme for this year’s edition. Sure, we can ask Devy about it, but we think it’s best to just wait until the concert, so we can keep the element (excitement) of surprise.