Thursday, December 25, 2014
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review

1005

Artist : The Brag Pack
Album : Just Braggin’
Released : February, 2012
Label : Stankoffa Music

If you’re fanatic to jazz, what would you like to have most from it? Is it the manic explorations, glittery improvisations, the challenging, unthinkable and unpredictable moves, or the music with free spirit? Is it the bursting, vibrant colors of jazz, the rhythmical path or the blue notes? Or maybe it’s simply just the swing and bebop? Whatever your interest is, here’s a very strong album that will meet your satisfaction. Came all the way from Netherlands, The Brag Pack is ready to take you into a wondrous jazz journey.

 

The Brag Pack comprises of multi-national talents who started their bond as friends when living in Amsterdam. That includes a shining young star from our own land Sri “Aga” Hanuraga who has 10 magic fingers that can do the wizardous dance over the keys. Besides Aga, the group has Hungarian Dániel Mester (saxes), German Paul Rutschka (electric bass) and Roald Becher from Holland (drums). We are proud to have Aga in this band, but it was Paul Rutschka who actually formed the band. “He is a guy with exceptional musical vision who knew for sure what kind of players would fit the band” said Aga. Paul established the band in early 2011 but the history actually started way back then in 2005 when they got together for the very first time while studying at the Faculty of Jazz at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. Later they teamed up with Dániel who arrived in Amsterdam in 2009 for taking a Master level. Not long after the group got assembled, they released a 5 track demo EP in May 2011, but only two demo songs were included in the album (Paul’s arrangement “Drive By” and Aga’s “Blues for McCoy”).

It isn’t difficult for them to build their visionary concept since they have been friends for years. But here comes the interesting part of it. When you listen to the album, you’ll notice many flavors fused in together, wrapped by the freedom and intention as one to find a new musical land. “We are the kind of cats who get bored easily.” said Aga. That should be able to explain how they can use the composition as the vehicle for musical exploration to produce different sounds. Another thing that we should know is that the group has various different backgrounds. Paul and Roald had a funk, soul and hip hop background, Paul was even a rapper some years ago, Dániel got a rock and classical music background and Aga used to play progressive rock music. It could be an obstacle for others to find their finest blend as a team but not for The Brag Pack. Besides as closed friends, they also have similar approaches to music.

 

It took only a year for them to launch their debut album. The making itself was pure fun. There was no time limit in completing the album since the studio where they recorded belongs to Paul. “Nobody around, just the band and the music… and of course good food..” recalled Aga. What’s interesting is that often their rehearsals happened at hang out places like bar, apartment or even on the bus. They just talked about it, but then when they actually played it, everything just fell into place. Still with this kind of calm ambience they only needed 4 recording days and 2 months of production, mixing and mastering. Just as how the graphic design on the cover goes, the band now has placed their finger prints on the music industry, not only in Amsterdam but also throughout Europe and every other corner of the globe, all the way to Indonesia.

358


Artist : Kemala Ayu
Album :Headlong
Released :  2011
Label : Demajors Independent Music Industry

Kemala Ayu is one of Indonesian senior jazz singer who has been famous as a stage singer. She began her career in the age of 15 in Semarang when she had opportunity to perform with notoriously local jazz musicians, singing jazz songs from George Benson, Michael Frank, Roberta Flack, Shirley Bassey, Al Jarreau, and many more. In 1980, she sang a song Harapan Merdeka which became one of the winning songs from Semarang finalist, on Lomba Cipta Lagu Remaja (Youth Song Creation Competition) which was held nationally by Prambors Radio Station.

She moved to Jakarta at  the age of seventeen and Captain’s Bar hired her to perform with Denny TR from Karimata Band, Idham Nursaid, Ronald Panjaitan and singer Enrico Tobing. From that moment Kemala Ayu continually spread her wings in jazz area with her long list of career history. After that she formed a jazz group Canizaro and released 1 album with Black Fantasy which had “Buat Kamu” as an evergreen. Kemala did not stop there, she had another group called Spirit Band and produced two nice albums. Then she became the vocalist of Hydro Band for 5 years (with Helmie Indra Kusuma, Budjana, Rudy Subekty, Ronald Panjaitan, etc), and vocalist of Trigonia Band (with Idang Rasjidi, Yance Manusama, and Cendy Luntungan) also for 5 years. She was also counted as vocalist of Krakatau Band (before Trie Utami joined the band), and vocalist of Jakarta All Stars. What an impressive curriculum vitae she has.

After her last album “Emotions” with Ireng Maulana in 2007, voila! Kemala released her new album, titled “Headlong”, which surprisingly directs to folk genre instead of jazz. With the help of  Christoper Springer in writing up the lyrics  and music arranger, Yan Machmud (who played all the instruments in this album by himself). “Headlong” has become an album which is enriched by folk ambience.

“Headlong” gives you an impressive prelude through its first song which is “Still Not Sure”. A rich mixture sound of guitar from musician Yan Machmud and a very cheerful country music absolutely fulfill this track. Still Not Sure tells us about playing hard to get. Have you ever expected so bad that someone would give you a call? If you have, this song is yours.

The second track is “The Price You Pay”. Kemala Ayu said, “This song is about break up experience that has happened to the songwriter. So, I guess it means personal for him.” She describes epically within this song that love can last forever even when you are already apart and you have got hurt by the one you love. On the other hand, deep inside your heart, you realize you still love that. Simply composed as accoustic ballad, this song is sounded more like a good advice about the risk of loving someone.

“Headlong” is the next stop and becomes the title of this album. It tells me that falling in love am never been too late; avoid feeling doubt to fall in love. Great to hear a melody full of variety guitar from Yan Machmud and slightly rock ballad, this song represents a girl power in the folk way.

455


Artist : Tesla Manaf feat Mahagotra Ganesha
Album :It’s All Yours
Released : September 15, 2011
Label : 423 Production

Speaking about a nation, it can’t be separated with ethnicity, one of the most important aspects of cultural identity. Socially constructed by very individuals to embody the unity, a nation is distinguished from the rest by common descent, language, and history. Indonesia as the largest archipelagic country in the world covers marvelous taste of fine arts and humanities. Fascinatingly, they can be a single coherent entity. Simple words, cultural wealth that spread across 17.508 islands of this state has become a valuable legacy. Nevertheless, now we can’t resist the aggression of modernization. Young generations who live in an era of global multi-media, assuredly get the consequences. Foreign influences might have turned them into foreign products. So, how they should respond it? Tesla Manaf Effendi seemed to know the answer. His interest in jazz made him even more in love with traditional music. He discovered that fusion of Western and Eastern pattern can be a preferential one. That’s interesting.

Virtually, the indigenous arts will survive, as long as the society preserves them constantly. This spirit has brought Tesla along, as a guitarist to an inspiring journey. In September 15, 2011 he launched an album entitled “It’s All Yours”, a very tight collaboration with Mahagotra Ganesha from Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB). Yes, just like what the title says, it’s definitely ours! “This album dedicated to all of us, notably for those common people who rarely listen to instrumental music.” He said. He did the artistic endeavor with a Balinese cultural unit from ITB named Mahagotra Ganesha, also known as MGG. It’s an organization of student activities founded in 1971 on the same date as the album launch, September 15th. It constantly plays an active role in expanding and conserving the music and dance, mainly for internal campus. Actually, its members are native Balinese people who learn at ITB, so they really take the blood and zest of Bali at every show.

Before moving further, let’s take a little time to see Tesla’s life journey. Looking at this man’s history is like watching a formidable figure. He is willing to sacrifice all he got for his musical desire. He’s struggling and gripping the fighting spirit, even in difficult conditions. He began playing classical guitar since he was still in 5th grade of elementary school. He said, “I don’t have a great talent in music, so I must work and try harder.” His enthusiasm in jazz started in 2007, and at the same year he joined a community of jazz lovers in Bandung, KlabJazz. He further explored better skill there by playing in many events. Since 2008 he has collaborated with several jazz artists.

First, he joined Karinding Collaborative Project, presented an ethnic-world music. After leaving this group, he formed a duo with a pianist Bayu Kristanto, named Bayu & Tesla. But the group was disbanded because Bayu had to move to Jakarta. Then, by cooperating with Edward Manurung on drum and Gallang Perdhana Dalimunthe on bass, they formed G/E/T and persisted for several time. After the group was no longer active, this guy held a female singer, Grace, to produce a debut album. They carried world music and soul-jazz in one package called Grace & Tesla. Didn’t wanna wait too long, he came back with another duet with Ivan Jonathan on keyboards and made some fresh fusion-modern jazz on their “Dig This” album. A quite shocking resolution has occurred when Tesla collaborated with Mahagotra Ganesha. This exceptional team has melted explorative contemporary jazz with Balinese original instruments. We could feel the dramatic tensions and unique thrills on their CD. It’s obvious he’s a qualified composer.

3167

Artist : Tulus
Album :Selftitled
Released  : September 2011
Label : Musik Tulus/Demajors Independent Music Industry

The opportunity to grow up in music industry is widely open for everyone. Musical developments around the world obviously move like a high-speed train now. We always hear new kinds of jazz as something that’s often surprised us like bombs especially performances from many young singers and musicians who have given fresh air to all music lovers. Many of them have successfully got new listeners, but the rest have failed. They should make an accurate strategy to stand up at the top since the competition is getting tougher. With the genres that they have chosen to bring, knowing which segment they want to reach is essential. And Muhammad Tulus is aware of this. He’s a talented singer from Bandung with a distinctive sense of jazz. Amazingly, his debut album with his nickname “Tulus” is well received by public, particularly the youth. On September 28th 2011, he launched it in the Centre Cultural Français (CCF) Bandung through a very special solo concert and got standing ovation from the crowds. It seemed that he already has his own fans. (Check out the review from that event here).

He deserves praise for his bravery to explore the current market, without leaving the jazz side. Although he is a crooner, he doesn’t get caught up just in swing and big band areas. This guy can give such beautiful vibes when appearing in an acoustic format or with full band, taking his musical space wider to reach soulful R&B to even bebop scenes. He has proved his success recipe with his single “Sewindu” which is currently very popular among the radio listeners throughout Indonesia, especially in the big cities. It has reached top charts in some radio stations and has stayed there for weeks. This became a joyous surprise for Tulus! We may dub it ‘an everybody song’, because it has memorable melodies, mixed with lyrics of love that fit into people daily life, which is qualified as an easy listening one. Domination of 80’s pop-jazz and R&B sounds is in vogue right now, and “Sewindu” totally contains those elements. No doubt, this tune has big potential to be a national hit!

By writing and creating the whole songs, Tulus was determined to make an album that truly shows his uniqueness of croon voice. “It came naturally. I learned every song in my own way.” He explained. Officially he took part as a co-producer and got supports from several names that gave important contributions since the beginning of production. Particularly, he mentioned two names, Ari ‘Aru’ Renaldi (drummer of 4 Peniti band), as a producer, man behind the whole process, and Riri Muktamar the executive producer. After working hard together with the team for a year, he felt so relieved to release the album that consists of 10 impressive tracks with colorful nuances. He said, “I hope this album belongs to all of us, people who have helped me during the production.”

When you start playing the CD, you’ll be treated by a chic-simple song called “Merdu Untukmu”, a one minute jazzy acoustic which shows the sweet taste of Anto Arief‘s guitar playing. It was made pretty clear to greet the listeners before they move to the next nine tracks, as well as describing what he intended to do from the start. Tulus carried a nice opening here! Let’s take a look at “Teman Pesta”, presented by upbeat Motown pattern. A cheerful vintage ambience is going to lead our minds to a dancing party, move our body freely right to the rhythm. We could hear the harmonization of three backing vocals (Grace Sahertian, Marshella Safira, and Lukman Hakim) brought the Motown soul more visible.

We are reminded of 1960’s bebop era while listening to “Kisah Sebentar”. Expressive trumpet shots came from Brury Effendi plus seasoning from Imam Praseno’s solo piano  in the middle of the track, conjured it up into a big band, samba, and rock & roll sensation. This is a complete music package. Then, here it comes! A familiar tune among today’s youth, the shining “Sewindu” is on. Sewindu means eight years. It told us about a disappointed man after being abandoned by his girl who chose to be with another guy. We know that, such themes always thrill everyone’s heart, so people easily drift into it. In fact, this one was made in two formats, full band and rhodes version. You can enjoy the full band version on this track. Touches of Ari Renaldi’s arrangement will take you to a cozy land and find why it is so lovable. This song is really potential in every corner, no wonder it’s doing really well right now in the Indonesia’s music scene.

The interplay between piano and bass dominate the content of “Diorama”, we can feel the unique mysterious ‘detective movie’ scene here and mixed with bluesy flavor. Facetious piano sounds, played by Ivan Jonathan, have a significant affect in this song. He brought The Pink Phanter-ish style to the opening. Tulus said, “This is one of my favorite tracks.” Certainly we understand why he said so. The sixth track is “Tuan Nona Kesepian”, a relaxed atmosphere with a catchy blend of guitar by Anto Arief and bass by Sindhu Banyusekti, dynamically raised a chill out tune. Tulus sang it really narrative, so we’ll sink deeply into the story. Truly, he put himself as the narrator who tells of a man and a woman constantly imposing their love on someone who doesn’t love them. Again, he gives a classic storyline packed with a delightful arrangement on this one.

“Jatuh Cinta” has a soft beginning, so we might think it will be a ballad one, but it won’t. It delivered a groovy jazz flow in medium beat, with Brury Effendi played the trumpet and flugelhorn to add some tones and liven up the music. We’re going to get more attractive nuance since the modulation to the end. Trust it! This song could make us feel surrounded by love. A sweet romantic sensation on the next song “Teman Hidup” is going to lead our souls to fly away. Mature vocal of Tulus has made it pretty classy. It showed his sensitivity and softness in a beautiful way. You’ll never skip this one on your playlist especially for those of you who are in love.

Track number nine is the rhodes version of “Sewindu”. A sentimental mood created by Ivan Jonathan on keyboard is very touchy. Like Tulus said, “I made this version because I want it sounds more emotional.” Yes, he achieved the mission very well. Sorrow, pain, and broken heart fused into one theme. Seriously, it will hypnotize us or at least make us feel the same way too, so watch out! “Merdu Untukmu” also became the closing (outro) of the entire track. With only one instrument, guitar by Anto Arief, can make this song much alive. By the lyrics, Tulus wanted to say about his desire in singing, hoped that his first album can be enjoyed by everyone, and public will keep appreciating it.

Beautiful poetical lyrics in Bahasa Indonesia is quite thick in almost of whole track, and this has become his smooth-powerful weapon to make good songs. They contain meaningful words about love, trust, and hope of our daily. Each song has a strong soul without sounding trite. Tulus has been through all of the creative process and get lot of precious experience. He said, “I did it all by using the same energy, none of them were dormant.” Although the album contains jazz elements, but it is a highly recommended one even for those who are not jazz addict.

His recent success with the self-titled debut album might make more people know about him today, but actually Tulus is not a newcomer at all. It was started when he was a child. He loved to sing while accompanying his mother in her record store. By listening to many songs from different musicians, made him realize his passion is in music. He told that, “Every time I sing I felt like in my own dreamland.” He remembered the first time he created a song in 2006 when he was a student at Parahyangan University, only with a guitarist and saxophonist. Then, he continued with Sikuai Band, a group based on friendship among the personnel. With Sikuai, he regularly got chances to sing at various events, including Sunday Jazz, an event that organized by a jazz community in Bandung, called KlabJazz. No doubt, KlabJazz has a big role on his musical maturity. And after he decided to be a solo singer in 2010, he also formed his own band to support his album and stage performances with several friends in Klab Jazz. And now we can enjoy the outcome of their ‘one year’ hard work.

Tulus was born to sing. We can find him sitting while singing on stage or chatting with the audience as if they were friends or family. He seems to consider the stage is a home, a comfortable place that provides a warm aura. He makes the crowd feel closed to him and eliminate the limit between them. Jazz has a different face due to his tender croon voice which can alter the appearance of a song. Decades ago Indonesia had adorable Broery Marantika, Koes Hendratmo, and world had Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr and many other legendary crooner in the golden years. Surprisingly, the unique voice of Tulus doesn’t make him to be an old man. He’s favored by young generation and going to be the special one because today we rarely meet local young singers with that vocal style. Today we already know the west has Michael Buble, and then we have Tulus here. Although they grew up from the same root (jazz) but definitely they got their own personality. Pop jazz, R&B, Motown, soul, and big band have enriched Tulus music. It’s going to be a long journey for his musical career, but he has great talent in it, and there are always people who supported him, so no worries at all!

Everybody can be a star in jazz music industry because Indonesian public today, particularly in big cities, has enthusiasm in jazz and has a great curiosity to it. So many musicians appeared massively to carry the innovative breakthrough. One of them is Tulus. He expected he would explore his musicality more and more to show his better quality in every aspect in the future. And we will always keep waiting to his further surprises.

“Ku ingin bernyanyi, melekat di telingamu. Bingkai seisi semesta, semua yang bisa bercerita. Ku ingin bernyanyi, melekat di dalam hatimu. Bingkai beragam nada agar semua merdu untukmu.” (“I’d like to sing and let it stick to your ears. Framing the whole universe, to all who can speak. I’d like to sing and let it close your heart. Framing various notes so they will sound good to you.”) Tulus – Merdu Untukmu

Buy Tulus album at Jazzuality store: http://store.jazzuality.com/products/cd/tulus-tulus/

Get in touch with Tulus through his official website: Musiktulus.com, Facebook and Twitter

Supporting musicians:

MERDU UNTUKMU (Intro/Outro)
Song by Tulus (lyrics/vocal) /Anto Arief (music, guitar)

TEMAN PESTA
Song & Lyrics by Tulus, Music by Ari Renaldi
Tulus: vocal/backing vocal
Ari Renaldi: drums/keys
Rudy Zulkarnaen : upright bass
Anto Arief : guitar
Grace Sahertian, Marshella Safira, Lukman Hakim : backing vocal

KISAH SEBENTAR
Song & Lyrics by Tulus, Music by Ari Renaldi
Tulus: vocal/backing vocal
Ari Renaldi: drums/keys
Rudy Zulkarnaen : upright bass
Topan Abimanyu : guitar
Brury Effendi : trumpet
Imam Praseno : piano
Grace Sahertian, Marshella Safira, Lukman Hakim : backing vocal

SEWINDU
Song by: Tulus, Razis Henri , Music by Ari Renaldi
Tulus: vocal/backing cocal
Ari Renaldi: drums/keys
Gega Nesywara : electric bass
Topan Abimanyu: guitar

DIORAMA (Studio Live)
Song by Tulus, Ivan Jonathan

Tulus: vocal
Sindhu Banyusekti: bass
Ari Renaldi : drums
Ivan Jonathan: piano

TUAN NONA KESEPIAN
song & lyrics by Tulus, music by Sindhu Banyusekti, Anto Arief

Tulus: vocal, backing vocal
Sindhu Banyusekti: bass
Anto Arief : guitar
Marshella Safira, Lukman Hakim : backing vocal

JATUH CINTA
song & lyrics by Tulus, music by Ari Renaldi

Ari Renaldi : drums/keyboards
Rudy Zulkarnaen : upright bass
Topan Abimanyu : Guitar
Brury Effendi : trumpet/flugelhorn
Grace Sahertian: backing vocal

TEMAN HIDUP
song & lyrics by Tulus, music by Ari Renaldi

Tulus: vocal
Ari Renaldi : drums/keyboards
Rudy Zulkarnaen: bass
Topan Abimanyu: guitar

SEWINDU (RHODES VERSION)
Tulus: vocal/backing vocal
Ivan Jonathan : rhodes

Reviewed by: Bintang Steffy Tania
Proofread by: Alhenri Wijaya
Photos were taken by Jazzuality team, except the one with the Dog belong to Tulus

244

Artist : Indra Aryadi
Album : Duniaku
Released  : 2011
LabelSwara Musik/Bravo Musik

Imagine how the music world would be without a guitar, one of the most used instruments in the world. Many people express their feeling by playing guitar inside their room alone and the others play guitar to kill their time in their resting hours, to impress their loved ones and even to make a living with it. If you trace the history of this very interesting instrument which is quite easy to learn, you might be surprised to find out that the iconographic representation of such instrument resembles the essential physical features of a guitar ever found more than 3000 years old. It was widely used in the ancient Asia including India and the Arabian world. In the beginning of 12th century guitar was known of being developed and used across Europe before hitting Americas. From every generation we got some musicians who played it so well even invented their own taste, sound and style. Indonesia has never run out of good guitarists. Many of these guitar players explore their passion over crossing genres and smartly bring the ethnical nuances into the modern pattern. Now here comes a man who deserves to be placed among today’s Indonesian great guitarists. He is Indra Aryadi, who’s recently released his debut album entitled “Duniaku” (My World).

Indra Aryadi started getting interested in guitar since he was in high school. In his opinion, guitar is the most practical and efficient instrument, and in the term of sound it brings the most natural and dynamic sound. He was self-taught, and by his early experience he realized that a guitar is getting more synergic to the player, establishing such a tight interaction as the time goes by. He proofed it right with his musical journey. With the band Kayangan in 2001 he won the Jazz Goes to Campus (JGTC) and followed by as the runner up the following year. He won Best Guitarist in Java-Bali Jazz Festival  in 2002. He’s performed his play with such stars like Harvey Malaiholo and Shelomita before becoming one of the band members for Andien from 2004 to 2005. Then he met Indro Hardjodikoro, the senior bassist who taught him the music theory and arrangement, something which stays on until now.

He made a big leap by establishing his own band, Indra Aryadi & Friends. With this band he got the spot to perform at JakJazz Festival 2008, Jazz Goes to Campus 2009 and landed on Java Jazz Festival twice, in 2010 and 2011. Speaking of recordings, he’s been active in soundtrack makings such as filling up the guitar in “Pesan Dari Surga” OST with Indro Hardjodikoro and acoustic guitar in “Lagu Untuk Amanda” OST with Music for Sale group (2009). Other than that, he’s also active as an arranger and producer for Diafragma Band for swaraMUSIK (2008), a UNICEF music project Miranti (2009) and vocal director for Overload Romance’s second album (2009) etc. He’s currently involved in some upcoming projects as the producer of Brinets Indonesian Idol, Ridle! EP and “Benyamin in Jazz“. We can see his big commitment and passion in music just by looking through his shining resume.

Now let’s talk about this debut album, “Duniaku“. This album was meant to be his musical journey’s documentary. That is why he used the title “Duniaku” (My World) as an invitation for us to visit the colorful musical world of Indra Aryadi. We have met him in numerous occasions where he played his compositions filled with diverse elements and scale.”My song is a form of pluralism in the etymology of the music”, he explained. The song often appears as a combination of Indonesia’s ethnical pattern with modern touch of jazz, pop or any kind of genres he would like to be adventurous with. He brings wide array variety in the album, from instrumental solo guitar, the pop that would be widely acceptable on radio play to compositions that he refers as multi-ethnical instrument, in which he adopted some ethnical scale and fused it within. He’s clearly passionate into the ethnical approach without necessarily having to abandon the modern, current music trend. Listening to his music brings us to such a vision clearly stating that he loves to draw togetherness eventhough we are all from different background and culture. Simply said, Indra Aryadi creates positive results through his musical presents. That’s the world of Indra Aryadi, the world that he now opens for us.

301

Artist: Tanya Balakyrska
Album :
Lviv Sessions
Released Date :
September, 2011
Label :
Fonia Records

Music can be used as a media for expressing our minds, thoughts, feelings or emotions perfectly like another kinds of arts. The artists can pour themselves out through the melodies, rhythms, lyrics or the combinations among those elements. We have met some brilliant artists who have gone much further by exploring more of the artistic side of music. They can make their music appear as beautiful as a painting, deeply attached by emotions like a poem or even both altogether while also sharing what’s in their mind at the same time. Speaking of which, here’s a beautiful artist life all the way up in Russia that has the ability to create her style full of feelings and presenting it as beautiful as a painting. She’s Tanya Balakyrska, who’s just launched her debut album entitled “Lviv Sessions”.

Tetyana Balakyrska, better known as Tanya Balakyrska is a vocalist and composer originally from Ukraine but currently resides in Dubna, approximately 125 km north of Moscow. One of the unique things about her is that she’s also a highly acclaimed and well known jazz journalist in Russia and Ukraine with quite a reputation. She acts as the deputy chief editor of Jazz.ru, the famous web portal of jazz which has been in business for more than 14 years that now has also become the one and only paper jazz magazine in Russia with the same name and also worked as a contributor for Zvuki.ru, the biggest music webzine in Russia. From our point of view, being a music journalist would already take a lot of time and hard works, but somehow Tanya could still share her time to be an active jazz singer and songwriter, not to mention being a wonderful wife as well. Tanya’s big love and passion towards jazz has placed her tall and strong in both sides. She has been a successful jazz journalist for some years, and by looking at her passion and talent, we don’t find any reason why she can’t be a successful jazz artist as well.

Step aside from her career as a journalist, she has been riding her music career in some projects, including with the Russian neo-classicist cello trio Fan(c), hard jazz fusion trio from Yekaterinburg Free-Spoken Band and also with her minimalist band with Denis Shushkov (contrabass) and Nikolay Kulikov (guitar). With these lineups Tanya has toured in Russia, Ukraine and Poland. Just in the previous two years she has performed at 6 international festivals, including open airs, a philarmonic hall and numerous clubs. One of the unforgettable moment for her was when she gave an impressive solo concert at the Urals State Music Theatre, one of the best venues in Russia. Looking at this fast-fruitful progress, naturally Tanya came to a point thinking that she has to continue her project and establish her existance in the shape of album. Normally it would be easier to bring the bands she has worked with before, but due to some circumstances, she couldn’t do that.

202

Artist: Heaven on Earth
Album :
Metamorphosis
Released Date :
August, 2011
Label :
Demajors Independent Music Industry

We have seen a tremendous movement of jazz such as increasing in recordings in Indonesia especially since 2010. We used to see the gaps between the market and artists’ idealisms but since 2010 there have been many jazz groups who bravely take the risky path by presenting their souls freely without thinking too much about the market trends, and actually made huge success with it. In 2011 we have a lot more daring jazz artists or groups to take the same road. That makes us have more to choose, more styles, colors and flavors to enjoy that in many ways enable us to widen up our horizon, musically. Now let’s welcome a group of three that finally made their way into the market. It’s Heaven on Earth who recently has released their brand new album entitled “Metamorphosis” distributed by Demajors.

Heaven on Earth consists of three ‘stunt’ musicians inside it; Tedjo Bhayu Adjie (piano/keys/synth), Ossa Sungkar (drums/percussions) and Franky Sadikin (bass/all sequencers programmer). All these three stuntmen love to do maneuvers, wild exploration and unpredictable twists and turns in creating their musical presentation.

Historically speaking, Heaven on Earth is not a new band. This band was actually established in 2003 with the formation of 6. One album was made during this period called “Musical Journey” in 2006. Bhayu and Ossa later got the idea to bring the concept into a new height. They wished to create more daring and more experimental group full of fresh, bright and artistic ideas. To make this obsession came true, the changing of formation became a must. 4 members quited the band and left the founder by themselves. “We need one more ‘crazy’ guy to execute this concept.” said Bhayu. From there, their frequent jamming at the Komunitas Jazz Chic’s (KJC) brought them to meet Franky Sadikin, the bassist of Tiga Mawarnih. Realizing that they shared the same vision and ideas, they held intense meetings to establish a strong musical and personal chemistry. The famous idiom said ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, the same thing goes to this new formation. It took 2 years until they are ready to form a solid unit. The Jazz Goes to Campus (JGTC) 30th Anniversary witnessed their first appearance in this new trio format. From there they worked hard in building the group under the new concept based on their personal soul’s satisfaction and happiness in playing music. A year after they landed big at the JakJazz 2008, and that was the first encounter we had with them.

716


Artist : LLW (Indra Lesmana, Barry Likumahuwa, Sandy Winarta)
Album :
Love Life Wisdom
Released Date :
2011
Label :
Inline Music/Demajors

Jazz is one of the most open-minded art of music that never stops evolving. It’s never static; instead it’s dynamic and progressive. With this typical behavior, jazz should be expanded to meet more challenging musical territories. You can still make something new even from the blending that might already exist by bringing it into another dimension or horizon. The wiser the musicians the more aware of being in an open state of mind they are. There’s no point in being too fanatic over something because you will never find anything new and soon you will be under the flat line. Over the eras we have seen how the top musicians in the planet made such kinds of breakthrough which might surprise us. Look at Herbie Hancock when he did a ‘crazy’ turn by teaming up with GrandMixer D.ST in “Rockit”.  Or look at Miles Davis who kept on doing something new that created many new kinds of jazz.

The same thing happens in Indonesia. We have one legendary musician who also stands as the iconic jazz figure for more than 3 decades. He’s still fresh, active and full of spirit, not only in musicality but also in the leadership. Yes, we’re talking about Indra Lesmana. Over 35 years he’s been riding up his career in the music industry. He’s placing his signatures in every decade since the mid 70s. From him we heard so many kinds of inventions as well as tasting his specific touch over the well known genres/sub-genres. Being passionate mostly in Modern Jazz, he’s the master of everything about jazz from Bop to Fusion. Often he opened up a new atmosphere by adding up something different that we have listened before. For example how he brought the sound of ethnic without using any traditional instruments like in Kayon. He could appear joyfully fresh like in Reborn, or brought his standout Fusion pattern together with other jazz gods in the super group JAVAJAZZ. The list will go miles longer if we go on tracing his history back to the early career. Just like his father, now he’s responding to his calling as a leader too. Being one of the most respectable men in the business, he now leads Indonesia’s Jazz Movement. The community grows rapidly consisting of the seniors and legends, today’s popular stars, the young rising ones and also newcomers. Since January 2011 he’s even added another activity by launching a regular jazz event Mostly Jazz to run weekly. How many hours he has a day to be able to do everything like this, we wonder, but surprisingly that’s not all. He formed a new pack with two highly potential young musicians, Barry Likumahuwa and Sandy Winarta, called it LLW (Double L Double-U). This is a very interesting team up. Imagine the experienced legend surrounded by the ‘naughty’ players. The keys maestro merges with the popular young bassist who has a tasty funk-line and the established young modern jazz drummer. Wait, let’s add another name, EQ Puradiredja, a long-time partner in crime as the co-producer that Indra knows very well. What could be created from this? Think of it deeply, but here, the result is already done, and it’s massive. Get ready to have a very long review since there are so many things to talk about the new force of Indonesian jazz that opens up a new dimension of jazz with their album, LOVE LIFE WISDOM.

In order to see how the boys could create magic as one rock-solid team, we should see where it actually came from. “It all began in the early 2010 when I, based on my longing of having a place to do the jamming, opened up the Inline Music for that occasion.” Indra started to explain. At that time, Barry Likumahuwa was one of the few musicians who joined the party. Sandy Winarta found it out through Youtube, and not long after that he also jumped in. The relationship between Barry and Indra has been established long before that, since Barry’s father, Benny Likumahuwa was one of the closest friends of Jack Lesmana. “I grew up with him (Benny)”, said Indra Lesmana. Benny Likumahuwa also stated that Jack Lesmana loved to hold Barry in his hand, “So it’s interesting to see the fact that now they are playing together in one group”, Benny said proudly. Sandy who graduated from Australia just like Indra Lesmana soon grabbed his attention. “He’s one of the most ready Indonesia’s Modern Jazz drummers.” said Indra, and no one can argue with that.

It didn’t take long for Indra to feel that he could do something big with these two young guns. Considering both of these guys can be spontaneously teasing during the play, we can’t help but ask Indra how he copes with it. Did he ask them to slow down? “Not at all. I just let them do whatever they like. In fact, I always try to avoid any discussion, just let it be natural, just communicate on stage instead”, Indra smiled. We approached Barry and asked him about this, and he also said the same. “At first I tried to stick on my role in rhythm, but then I decided just to be who I am.” he said. He explained further that Indra Lesmana always created a positive vibe for him. “There’s something weird that has no explanation, but every time I played with him I felt like being dragged into a new height that I’ve never had before. I won’t be able to play like that if it’s not with him.” Barry continued. “Strange, but his spirit in fact is that strong. And it’s definitely a dream come true.” As for Sandy, his role in the group means challenge, as simple as that.

Now let’s step aside from the trio and meet EQ Puradiredja who stands as the co-producer of the album. He’s been a long-time partner in crime with Indra Lesmana as they worked together in Reborn, Humania, Ermy Kullit, Andien, Sheila Madjid and Maliq & D’Essentials. “I was flabbergasted”, said EQ, “but it all is natural choice as an old family friend and musical partner for quite a long time.” he added. EQ’s involvement in Urban Jazz Crossover has brought him to meet some shining artists who can add more essences in the crossover field, as well as knowing the magic that can appear with such creation. In the latest edition  Indra Lesmana also joined the big ensemble for the 2010 edition.  “We all know the origin of jazz is from US so there’s no point actually in keeping the tradition too tight.” he said to us. “So I say, it’s time to have our own flavor. It’s time to do something new”, he said. He also stated that again it’s a natural process between them in finding the right ones to spice up the concept, just as natural as the way the basic LLW formation found their own color. The internationally renowned DJ Cream, the rapper who’s involved often in jazz events Kyriz Boogiemen and the powerhouse soul sister with the vocal quality and spirit of black female soul artists Dira Sugandi got invited in. Last but not least, the jazzman Indra Aziz who can sing, scat, play saxophone and even beat box just as good took part too. “We are called by nature to make something in Modern Jazz format. Barry and Sandy are the right partners, and they do have high musical capacity. The same thing goes to Dira, Indra Aziz, Kyriz and DJ Cream. They all give a very positive support and we all have the independent spirit to make a music portfolio from Indonesia that can bring the new refreshment into the international scene.” said Indra Lesmana. So here’s the dream team that creates a whole new sound and vibes. They open the door that we don’t even know existed. The music, the magic, the dream, the passion, the spirit, the experience, the braveness, the fun factor and spontaneity, the joy of play, the creativity and of course the Love, Life and Wisdom, all merged in to the LLW.


While everything has been natural and magical from the beginning, Indra and his beloved wife, Honhon Lesmana, did another surprising move by releasing the album in the shape of digital mp3 format and launched it in international electronic commerce companies such as Amazon, Itunes and Reverbnation on April 26, 2011. It didn’t take long for them to get the praises from all over the world. “I was surprised to see it listed as no 1 Jazz Artist in Reverbnation for Indonesia region and no 41 worldwide. In iTunes they went all the way from no 40 to reach the top 18 Jazz Best Sellers, side by side with the evergreen John Coltrane‘s “A Love Supreme”. “We feel really proud being side by side with such a monumental album.” Indra said proudly. For us it’s just natural, since this album is also monumental and groundbreaking.

From several performances at Mostly Jazz, LLW has landed on Singapore for Jazz Up! Reload joining Philippines’ renowned Boy Katindig and Scott Henderson Trio from USA not long after their memorable show at the Java Jazz Festival 2011. Right now LLW is in the process of doing their Asia and Middle East tour all the way to reach Australia. It’s been a long dream for Indra and Honhon Lesmana to see our jazz artists shine brightly throughout the globe. Indra did it in 1986 with his album “For Earth and Heaven”. Now he does it again. Even with better achievement since the album was made fully in Indonesia and now it speaks louder in the international scene. “The Indonesian Modern Jazz portfolio to the international state” That’s the official statement from the press release, and yes it’s remarkably true. From their own mainland, there are massive requests for them to release the physical shape in CDs. Some have problems to download still they really want to hear it. Other reason stated that they prefer CD shape instead of only in digital files. At first Indra Lesmana planned to release the physical version into Vinyl, but due to the requests he finally agreed to launch the CD version called “The Twitter Edition”. He came out with this name due to the fact that they included more than 70 tweets in the album that mentioned LLW. This sympathetic move would surely make the fans feel of being a part of the album and LLW. Honhon made a really beautiful design for the CD, and Demajors worked really fast to make it ready in such a short time. Thanks to them, now we can enjoy every magic moment created by the geniuses separated in 6 songs plus one extended version found in the album.

Now let’s take a look at each song. The first track is “Back Into Sumthin”. This is the first ever song that Indra made for LLW. “Right at the moment when I felt that I had to write something original for this group instead of keeping on playing the standards”, said Indra Lesmana. This one is a beauty for you who are into the lively boppin’ track. Through the streaming melodies out from the keys we could feel how excited he was of this new group. It’s like there are so many things he wants to share to us. Barry got quite a long line in this one too with his electric bass, while Sandy did excellent in guarding them rhythmically. From this superb first bite we are invited into the urban side. The second song “Stretch N Pause” brings the feeling of a Modern Jazz trio landed on the ghetto. Kyriz Boogiemen got the chance to write some lines for his rapping part. DJ Cream is marvelous behind his turntables, and Indra Aziz’ scatting adds richer tonal color into the song. “I was so excited until I felt nervous to do that. I was like..oh my God, what to write..what to write..” Kyriz chuckled. During the writing he got the chance to learn the historical movement of jazz in Indonesia. “I really respect those legends’ existences and contributions.” Kyriz said. He mentioned some of the legendary names in our jazz history near the end. This song is spectacular because here we can clearly see how well Indra Lesmana could adapt with the modern urban sound without sacrificing his own passion in modern jazz. It’s also wonderful to see how these three jazz heroes can still have lots of fun with pure jazz while getting thrown into the ghetto at the same time. Kudos to all the playing artists for creating such a magical nuance like this, it’s simply a perfect blend.

“Morning Spirit” appears in the tradition of jazz contemporary but with different approaches and explorations. This landscapic song brings the freshness of one lovely morning. It’s explorative but still a gentle feel at the same time. It’s the kind of song that you’d love to hear when you’re trying to gather all your spirit to be ready for the day right when you wake up early in the morning. Sandy’s drums work in synergy with the bass and piano nicely. From there we come to the funkin’ “Smooth over the Rough”. Just like the name says, this song has the playful funk line for some moment and a soft smooth melody at the other hand. They played this one nicely in changing our mood from time to time but still let Sandy keep the rhythmic line throughout the changing. Then the intensity rises on “Friday Call”, a song Indra wrote while remembering their regular jam session every Friday in his mind. The boppin’ pattern sounds nice and lively. Again this song brings out the best in it. There are many twists and turns inside the heavy pouring notes that will make you gasp or even trance.

For the last song, feel the magic of Dira’s soulful voice joining the trio in the title track “Love Life Wisdom”. Honhon is the one who was in charge for the lyrics. Indra Lesmana shows his excellence of execution on the Talk Box. Just how Dira did with her moment with Incognito and also in her solo debut “Something about the Girl”, she did it again in this very special track that will make you feel soulful and jazzy at the same time under the urban sky. Special for the CD, an extended version of “Love Life Wisdom” is added.

Listen to this album; you will know that it’s obvious LLW can gain such a blazing response internationally with this Love Life Wisdom album. They just release themselves freely, trusting their chemistry and spirit to one another and go out having fun in every moment. As the result we now have a new door open. It’s a new musical experience that will make you hunger for more. Will it be wrong to ask for more? Hopefully Not! We just hope there will be many more chances for us to enjoy this new experience in the future. For us, this album marks the new and fresh journey of Indra Lesmana, the sound that represents him in the 21st century. While for Barry and Sandy, this group will mark the new dawn towards the bright future. You get bop, streaming melodies; the ghetto beat with cool rap patrol, scatting and also a visit into the soulful world. Everyone has done each of their parts excellently. LLW’s Love Life Wisdom will definitely savor the thirst of jazz enthusiasts while also opening up the mind of non jazz lovers to see their chance to taste the new urban soul. As the album that marked his 35 years of service in the business, the 65th production and his 46th solo/group album, this might only come as the answer to his natural call on making something, but for us it’s a wonderful gift that won’t be forgotten. Congratulations to LLW and everyone else behind it for creating such an album. If something called Love Life and Wisdom can be this pretty, let there be more. Grab one now and feel the kind of magic that comes naturally.

Historical timeline of LLW’s live gig (click to see each article):
Mostly Jazz at Moscatly, April 21, 2010
Mostly Jazz III, December 12, 2010
Mostly Jazz IV, January 9, 2011
Java Jazz Festival 2011
Jazz Up! Reload, Singapore, March 19, 2011
Mostly Jazz XXIX, Offical Launching of the CD + special performance

Tracklist:
Back Into Sumthin
Stretch N Pause (ft Kyriz, DJ Cream and Indra Aziz)
Morning Spirit
Smooth Over the Rough
Friday Call
Love Life Wisdom (ft Dira Sugandi)
Love Life Wisdom (ft Dira Sugandi) *extended version

Buy the album at our online store: http://store.jazzuality.com/products/cd/llw-love-life-wisdom/

Follow their twitter: @LLW_official and add their facebook: http://facebook.com/LLW.official

Written by: Riandy Kurniawan
Proofreader: Alhenri Wijaya

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Artist : Jemima
Album :
Selftitled
Released Date :
2011
Label :
Orgasmic Studio/Demajors

Soul music is one of the important kinds of black music that’s never failed to find the taste of music lovers throughout generations. Many people believed it came from the combination of traditional R&B and gospel when it was firstly originated in the USA. Although this traditional R&B and gospel played a big part in shaping up the Soul, we can’t deny that the Mississippi blues played a great role in it. It emerged in the 50s and became big throughout the 60s, by having Chicago, Memphis, Detroit and later Philadelphia as the important Soul centers. It’s the Stax label in Memphis, Motown in Detroit then the emergence of Sound of Philly (Philadelphia) in the early 70s. These labels made us more familiar with a hybrid called Soul Jazz, one of the kinds of soul which actually started around the late 50s. Like other kinds of music, Soul keeps evolving. From Psychedelic Soul which paved the way of Funk in the 60s and peaked in the 70s, in the more modern style soul can often be felt in the pop R&B, jazz contemporary or even in the modernized funk, groove/acid jazz or even hip hop. In Indonesia today, soul usually appears through the funky/groove bands. There’s a new kind called neo soul or nu soul in which we can feel the purity of soul in modern outfit, but not many Indonesian artists are actually involved into it. The high quality vocal of a singer plays an important part to bring this music alive therefore it’s not easy at all to settle in this one. But now we have a lady with Soul attached totally in her. She inherits the vocal style of classic Soul sisters from that early era but know how to bring it current to fit the trend. Say hello to Jemima Iskandar, better known as Jemima who just released her debut album couple of weeks ago.

Jemima is one of a few artists that dare to stand with her own idealism without having to fall into the trap of industrial market which produce nothing but the same music over and over again. Turn on your TV, and you will know what we are talking about. There’s nothing wrong to follow the trend and make bags of money out of it. We can’t blame those who fall into the typical pattern created by the industry too. But as music is something dynamic and evolving, we do need some agents of change who dare to go against the mainstream if we want to see our music grows towards the better picture. We do need someone who dares to do something differently no matter what or how, someone who doesn’t just think over the fame, popularity and money, and someone whose heart is attached to the love of music without being contaminated by many business aspects. Thank God more and more artists now dare to make the breakthrough and refuse to compromise. They go on presenting themselves fully by choosing the independent road as the vehicle to pour out their creativity and idealism, and Jemima surely stands in this very corner. She shows how she could make good music with a strong concept by faithfully holding to the roots. She offers a Soulful Jazz and Blues as the bridge for us to reach her world, the wonderful world of Jemima. Thanks to her, now we can have the Soulful side of Jazz and Blues the way we loved it back then, the kind of Soul that appears in strong flavor, not just as a ‘light toppings’ in some of today’s local mainstream music such as groove bands, hip hop or the modern R&B. Jemima chose to bring back the beauty aspects of the urban Soul especially when it meets its traditionally related family, the Jazz and classic Blues. And yes, her unique vocal enables her to build the soulful atmosphere into perfection.

357

Artist : JavaJazz (Indra Lesmana, Gilang Ramadhan, A.S Mates, Donny Suhendra, Dewa Budjana)
Album :
Joy Joy Joy
Released Date :
2009
Label : InLine Music/Demajors Independent Music Industry

A supergroup has made its return after 11-year absence. It was a big surprise for the fans when the news firstly appeared about a year ago. It is wonderful to see the band back again especially for the fact that they are never forgotten even after a long spanning years of hiatus. The fans keep on showing their supports and hope the group will find its way to be back again showing their awesomeness just like before. Tons of emails from both friends and fans were sent to Indra Lesmana, the legendary jazz icon who formed the group, giving their supports. And it is paid off. Finally we’ve got the chance again to hear the music printed directly from the heart and soul of five legendary jazz giants: Indra Lesmana, Gilang Ramadhan, A.S Mates, Donny Suhendra and Dewa Budjana. JAVAJAZZ, that’s the name of the home where the magnificent five join as one, a supergroup which should be listed as one of the most important milestone in Indonesian jazz history. They have found their way to come up again from the deep and long sleep, offering many surprises for us to talk about. It returns its big way not only with some unforgettable performances at The Rolling Stone Live Venue, the solo concert at Taman Ismail Marzuki, UGM Jazz and of course at the Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival 2010, but also with a very special double CD album entitled “Joy Joy Joy”.

JAVAJAZZThe return of the supergroup, JavaJazz

First of all, let’s see the history of this supergroup. JavaJazz was formed almost 2 decades ago as a group by Indra Lesmana to perform in Hawaii and Los Angeles, in August 1991. Some of the music concept was taken from the previous band of Indra Lesmana with Donny Suhendra, Gilang Ramadhan and Jeffrey Tahalele, a band that became the embryo of JavaJazz. At that time Indra Lesmana was active in helping out Gilang Ramadhan with his rock band, Adegan. The relationship between Indra and Gilang has actually been established before the Adegan period in some groups such as Krakatau, GIF (with Fariz RM), Nebula and Andromeda to name a few, and later continues on with a stunning ethnic-progressive jazz named Kayon (formerly named P.I.G). As Indra was in Adegan when the invitation came to perform in USA, Indra decided to make a jazz group by recruiting most of the personnel of Adegan. To give much thicker jazz taste, the late Embong Rahardjo was brought in the group. The JavaJazz was born.

The group found their chemistry and still continued to play after returning from USA. Due to the busy activity of some personnels, Indra reshuffled the band by having Jeffrey Tahalele, Cendy Luntungan and Ron Reeves in. The first album was released in 1994 entitled “Bulan Di Asia” . Who could forget the title track with a combination of Sundanese pentatonic scales, Mandarin and also Balinese touch in the lovely form of fusion? The album was a masterpiece that placed this group directly as one of the most important milestones in Indonesian jazz history. With this formation JavaJazz got the chance to perform at the North Sea Jazz Festival. The second album was released in 1998, “Sabda Prana” with a slight change on the formation. But once again, JavaJazz showed their superb work.

JavaJazz-1JavaJazz , from left to right: Donny Suhendra, Indra Lesmana, Gilang Ramadhan, A.S Mates and Dewa Budjana(photo courtesy of Hanny T Lesmana)

When Embong Rahardjo passed away, sadly the group was put on rest. Indra Lesmana explained that the performance and talent of Embong Rahardjo was irreplaceable. “He was such a very important element that became the strength of JavaJazz. We suffered a great loss when he passed away. On one occasion we played in quartet in tribute to him and after that night’s performance, we realized something was missing in our music, and that was the time to put JavaJazz to sleep.” said Indra in our interview with him. (check out the whole interview here).  JavaJazz concert at Taman Ismail MarzukiBut it was the massive supports from friends and fans that finally brought them back again. To deal with the loss of Embong Rahardjo, Indra Lesmana took a very important decision. He didn’t choose to bring another saxophone, piccolo and flute player, instead brilliantly brought two guitarists that bridged the formations, Dewa Budjana and Donny Suhendra altogether. Since it wasn’t easy to replace Embong, they took some time to join the workshop together in search of ideas, jamming with two guitars. By having Dewa Budjana play in more variation like mandolin, banjo and any other of his guitars, JavaJazz found the exact formula as it needs rich variation of sound element to replace the sounds left by Embong. The result is fantastic, as we can now listen in “Joy Joy Joy”.

JavaJazz at UGM Jazz 2009The music concept of JavaJazz might be referred easily to fusion, but actually it’s far more than just that. This is the home of the jazz gods to combine their passions, skills, abilities, experiences and the joy of playing in perfect chemistry. Imagine having five senior and legendary jazz icons that have known each other for ages pouring themselves out totally. Indra Lesmana, Gilang Ramadhan, A.S. Mates, Donny Suhendra and Dewa Budjana, these are the names behind the most recent formation of JavaJazz. We can expect nothing but amazing and brilliant play, and that’s exactly what they give. They all play within their own characters which will go to fusion naturally.