Chinese New Year had passed, so had Valentine’s Day. it is already last week in February, get yourself ready to welcome the new month. Before that, close this lovely month with something special in accordance to the biggest jazz meeting in the world that’s amazingly made in Indonesia, the Java Jazz Festival. For jazz aficionados, the month of March must be the most exciting month of the year.
This year the Java Jazz Festival is going to celebrate its 11th aniversary, as usual with hundreds of shows and thousands of players. Jazzuality in collaboration with Braga CityWalk, KPH Music, and Java Festival Production gave the best serving for you people who adore music, especially jazz. Bandung, a friendly city with its cool atmosphere, has not so many jazz events compare to Jakarta, but this year, Java Jazz has its eyes on Bandung, most especially at our own regular community event, the Braga Jazz Walk. looking at the increasing rate of excitement Bandung people have for jazz gigs. Surely it is an honor Jazzuality and all the partners to be chosen as a partner in hosting the Java Jazz pre-event. Speaking for the venue, Braga, one of well-known areas in Bandung with its vintage yet sophisticated ambiance absolutely is an exact place to hold this event. Thankfully Braga City Walk and KPH Music continuously place themselves as our partners in crime serve the best for you who long to see jazz gigs in public places.
At the very last Thursday on February 2015, Braga Jazz Walk had its special edition as one of Java Jazz pre-event. Not only you could feel Java Jazz vibes early, but also you had the chance to see some musicians who will participate at Java Jazz Festival 2015. It was also a good opportunity for the artists because they could warm themselves up before the main event next week. What a good luck for people in Bandung.
It was 5 pm. not too many people yet, but it increased as the night came and this event was totally free charge, no wonder many people did not want to miss this opportunity. The show was started with a drum clinic with Israel Varela. If you haven’t heard his name just yet, you should now, since this man has a very unique way of drum playing, rich in variations and of course , dare to take any risks. Such quality brought this former student of Dave Weckl to play alongside big cats like Pat Metheny and Mike Stern.
For fifteen years he has played Flamenco Jazz as drummer and uncountable best players already he played with. It is not easy to start doing something new and so Flamenco Jazz did to him. The hard long journey started when he moved to Andalucia and stayed at some gypsy camp, a small remote area but it was similar to his hometown. Varela said the key to his success now is to respect the music and just start playing it. There is no shortcut in music and no one say it is easy, but you absolutely can nail it when you put full effort and pratice everyday. He already proved it, and it was the time for him sharing it to Indonesian audience at Braga.
Speaking about Flamenco Jazz, Yeppy Romero and Israel Varela gave us some important pieces about it. Flamenco was originally formed in Andalucia, Spain and it is absolutely not Latin. Flamenco Jazz parts into two categories: traditional and modern. The former is a little hard to understand, but we will see a lot of percussion and traditional dance if we refer it to Indonesian culture. The latter consists of guitar, dance, and song with upbeat style like Rhumba (dance). As Romero said, he cannot claim his group as the first Flamenco jazz, but they continually try to socialize it so more people know about this rare genre. Varela added that beat or rhythm is the most important part in Flamenco and second one is hand clap so it can harmoniously go along with the dance. Playing music like doing conversation is also important, Varela shared his experiences while working with some great musicians that your musical skill go after your listening comprehension because you have to be a good listener to produce some good musics.
No pause, the concert began. Kafin, young body with many wonderful gifts started sailing. He is only 10, he has long way to explore the other side of him; guess there are many hidden talents he hasn’t showed us. For tonight, this participant of Mickey Mouse Club Indonesia, Gita Gutawa/Erwin Gutawa’s Above Average project and Laskar Pelangi team showed us the beautiful voice and awesome piano playing through sets of difficult songs including “Lullaby of Birdland”, “Take the ‘A’ Train”, “Moody’s Mood For Love” and epically closed with Ismail Marzuki’s legendary song, “Layang-layang”.
Kafin, a living proof that age doesn’t matter, he is so young compare to another musicians, but you couldn’t take your eyes off ever since he was on stage. Right before he played, Kafin gave his thought about jazz. He got his heart on jazz because he loves how jazz gives so much freedom. He breaks the stereotype people think of jazz, for Kafin jazz is not hard, instead it is a playground where he can fully play the imagination and sharp the skill. Maybe you are wondering how difficult it is to play a piano and sing at once. For Kafin, it is not difficult, it is more a challenge and he takes it in fun way where he can challenge himself. A boy wonder he is.
Then the stage went warmer in different tone courtesy of Hariring, Originally, this band consists of everal skilled craftmen show their talent with various genres of music and the blends between modern and Sundanese tunes completely chilax our senses. But since around half of them couldn’t make it, the number decreased to three, with Ringga Hardika (bass, angklung), Asep Everbeat (cajon, karinding) and a substantial help from Alfariz (guitar).
With Fariz, the rule of the game changed. If they usually served Sundanese ambient music, this time the course moved to sharp rock funk. But hey, as mentioned above, they used angklung and karinding too. The result is somewhat unique. The aroma of Borneo traditional music was locked around their music, thanks to Fariz’s homeland. Experimental, jam mode with combination of instruments you probably never thought of. Well, the three pax Hariring is actually still groundbreaking. Not many people realize, but actually the work of Hariring is important for Indonesia, our music and our industry. We’re just happy to be connected with them.
Then, we got Java Jazz gets “Exploring Indonesia” as its theme for 2015, and as expected, both international and national musicians have all their supports to expand Indonesian culture through music then make it known worldwide. Interesting experience it was, where we can see the blending between Indonesian culture and other countries in tunes. These two bands are multi-national but showcased the magic when East and West (and Middle East) collide.
First, the completely different genre, Batavicada, an acoustic band who cleverly mixed jazz with several traditional instruments like Marawis/Kepak from Batavia (Betawi) and Darbuka from the Middle East/Turkey. According to Nita Aartsen, Batavicada originally has guitar player, but this time Nita took charge in producing the melody. With Wisnu (acoustic bass) plus Erick, Roby, Graha (marawis and darbuka) , Batavicada proved that music including or especially beat is borderless but somehow connected from one side to another parts of the world.
The Middle-Eastern beat from Graha, Robby, and Eric made the crowd cheered enthusiastically. The crowds popped several times, and the number of audience suddenly jumped high. They popped several times, some were caught dancing and tapping according to the beat. It was when the ethnic tunes met jazz. The first time ever they tried to collaborate and the result was amazing. The blending between street music and jazz was naturally delivered to our ears and broke the image of exclusive and segmented jazz music. Soon after Yeppy Romero joined the others at front and spoiled us with his guitar play.
Continued with Marcello Allulli and his saxophone and smoothly went into the melody along with piano and marawis. Though it was rarely played together but the harmony was surely there, you could feel it and it was so much exciting. They played “Caravan” and the mixture between flamenco, jazz, and gypsy music were clearly heard.
A blazing showcase that flew miles higher than the ordinary, a breakthrough and magical beat and rhythm showdown. Batavicada opens up a new dimension that shows the unlimited possibilities as well as the unity between rhythm and music from different corners of the world. Very rich and solid. Magnifico!
The number of (loud and vibrant) audience jumped over the roof – as the main eventer VAC grouped on stage. This band consists of trio Israel Varela as drummer (Mexico), Nita Aartsen as pianist (Indonesia) and Daniele Cappucci as bassist (Italy). Three countries in one stage, you can see the riches through their unique Flamenco Jazz music. Nita served as the state pianist for 15 years and known as a pianist who bridge classical, jazz and Latin. While Daniele Cappucci is a wide explorer, reaching from classical to jazz and beyond.
In order to add more colors to their performance, Yeppy Romero, a guitarist, showed up on stage. This MURI record holder (for playing guitar 10 hours straight, featuring 150 songs in 4 languages and 10 music genres, also collaborating with 100 top class musicians aside of his monumental Batakustik) is in fact the frontliner in Indonesia when it’s about Flamenco Jazz. He’s been socializing this for some years, and now we finally got his performance in Bandung.
As Nita Aartsen said in beginning, they will play together with Marcello Allulli and Yeppy Romero at March 7th, 2015. Luckily, here people in Bandung, had the opportunity to taste their performance live on stage and got a little preview about how they will perform later at Java Jazz Festival. For free. Totally a dream come true isn’t it?
“Madrid”, a song from Marcello’s first album became the opening and immediately jumped to second song from Nita Aartsen’s first album, “Blue Rondo” . Next song was the well-known hits by Beethoven “Fur Elise” played in interesting arrangement but still the classical touch was there. Then, Yeppy Romero and Marcello Allulli once again joined on stage and entertained the increasing crowd with exotic romance in “La Fiesta” and Mozart’s “Symphony 40″. Nita’s charm which lies in between classical, jazz, Latins and Flamenco naturally flew throughout their repertoires. The colorful Flamenco beat, the jazz-classical-Flamenco piano playing, and of course, the wild, wild fired up contrabass runs were hand in hand in creating a new musical dimension. Plus, Yeppy and Marecello’s fine works made everything even merrier. It was tight and delicious. Sharp like a dagger but also enchantingly exotic. Surely, the jazz fans who came to see them last night would already have something to remember for a long, long time.
The musicians must have been tired already, but they still happily agreed to have some of the audience to jam with them. Marcello, Daniele, Nita Aartsen stayed on stage, the Batavicada percussion trio came back to the stage, and from the audience: Widiyanto Sutanto, Alman Naufal and Frank Navayo joined the party. Nita distributed the chance for each player to get their shot while making sure that the jam session worked as how it should be.
The scene happened on this special edition of Braga CityWalk was simply unbelievable with that size of crowds. They were enthusiastic, responsive and lively. What a joy for us to see it. Thank you very much to you who came. And for the musicians, we send you huge respect. Many, many thanks for supporting a small community in Bandung like this. We feel honored and proud, we’re sure this brings wonderful benefits to jazz development in Bandung.
Finally, a serious reminder. The day comes nearer; have you already bought your tickets for Java Jazz Festival 20155, fellas? As you can see from this event’s report, Java Jazz surely has many more things in order to satisfy your musical needs. Braga Jazz Walk had already tasted it, and once in a lifetime, you should feel the ambience of the biggest annually jazz event in Indonesia. So, mark your dates! It is on March 6th until 8th, 2015. See you there jazz lovers!
Watch the highlight of Pre Event Java Jazz Festival at Braga CityWalk on our Youtube channel:
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