Friday, May 29, 2015
Tags Posts tagged with "Tohpati"




CHASEIRO is certainly not a new name in Indonesian music scene. Formed in 1978, The vocal group consisted of Candra Darusman (vocal, keyboard), Helmie Indrakesuma (vocal), Aswin Sastrowardoyo (vocal, guitar), Edwin Hudioro (flute), Irwan B. Indrakesuma (vocal), Rizali Indrakesuma (vocal, bass), Omen Norman Sonisontani (vocal) made an important breakthrough after they won a competition held by Radio Amigos on May 6, 1978. Soon after they appeared at the first ever Jazz Goes to Campus, a special appearance in the 70’s popular TV show Nada dan Improvisasi and the rest is history.

Chaisero’s well known for their catchy melodies  and lyrics which often made simple but close to our everyday’s life, in many times inspiring or  even come with social and politic issue. For instance, “Pemuda”, is one of their best songs, memorable, inspirational, even the lyric is still relevant for our young generation now.


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More than 30 years have passed and now Chaseiro still full of spirit and energy to continue their music career. The surprise is here : Recently they released a new album named Retro 2 (buy here:, following the first Retro released a couple of years ago which marked the return of Chaseiro in the recordings. The press conference was held on October 11, 2014 at BlackCat, Plaza Senayan, Jakarta, moderated by Bens Leo. The popular group RAN was there too as the representative of guest stars in the album. The band is 36 years old, yet they are still showing high energy and passion to craft new things in the music industry.

We had chance to know the whole process about it. They shared their stories about recording, solidarity between them after Helmie’s passed away, being in the same square circle with so many young and new musicians and the next big thing they would like to do about Chaisero’s future music. If you have some questions about what’s inside the album or why you should get a copy, this interview will reveal it all too. We met some of them at Vio Hotel Bandung. At first there were only Chandra Darusman and Omen Norman Sonisontani but later Aswin Sastrowardoyo joined the conversation.
* * *


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The past three years must be hard for Chaseiro due to the passing of three friends. First Uce Hariono, then Ade Hamzah, and last year we were all shock by the passing of Helmie Indrakesuma.  How’s Chaseiro and how do you deal with it?
Of course it brings a huge impact on us. He’s a big loss for us, because Helmie brings an important role in Chaseiro’s vocal harmonization and music, and to our unity as one big family too. But life has to keep going forward. Now that he’s gone, we’re still keeping our friendship tight to his family.

He has a strong character over his voice that’s easy to distinguish in Chaseiro’s song..
Yes. In terms of vocal, Helmi is irreplaceable. We’re very sad and miss him so much. But Chaseiro is commited to keep moving forward, keep on crafting in Indonesian music industry.

It must be hard for you to realize that Helmi’s not there anymore every time you stand on stage, especially since he was already there with you from the beginning?
Yes, it’s sad to realize that he’s not there anymore. Well, why we can not sing “Shy” until now, because he sang it a lot (he actually wrote this song too in 1983-ed). But there’s no burdened feeling between the member of Chaseiro. We know we just have to keep going.



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Having existed for 36 years and obviously still driven by passion. With that kind of passion, surely you have some plans in mind. What’s next?
We still want to make new songs, where there’s a lot of changes over the years. We’ve been together since we were young and single, until now that we have family and kids. As we get older, we have a lot of responsibility. Musically speaking, our mission is not only about ourselves anymore, but also about the young generation.

You’ve been doing it for more than three decades. You know, the inspiring, positive message through the lyrics..
Well, those themes are still the same.. you know, about solidarity, honesty, friendship…  but we also realize that we need to keep on evolving.

One of the most important example is “Pemuda”. After all this year, the message carried by the song is still relevant. I think it can be mentioned as the most memorable one. A lot of people still enjoy listening to that song, it even appeared in the commercial nowadays.
We still don’t get it ourselves. (Chandra Darusman laughed). Maybe there’s still so many people need and looking for something so that it still feelsrelevant to a lot of people.




Now let’s talk about the most recent album of Chaseiro called Retro 2. First of all, I’m interested with the word “Retro”. Nowadays we tend to go retro almost in everyting. In the movie, photo, fashion, music and so on. Recycling something from the past to be a today’s trend… so the fact that Chaseiro uses Retro, twice in the comeback is really interesting.
Exactly. We actually mention it in the press release. We brought some of our old hits but made a fresh rearrangement. But there are new songs too. So it’s like the compilation of those hits with a new breath.

Again, this time you collaborate with a lot of guest stars, including the top ones in today’s music scene.
Yes, we work with a lot of young musicians to make Chaseiro’s music become fresher than before. This time we feature RAN, Marcell, Tompi and some other artists that have started before them like Riza Arshad, Tohpati and Uci Nurul.

So, modern element is important in Retro 2, just like the first Retro?
Yes. We’re trying to accentuate the modern elements so our content can be delivered to the youngsters.


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Such as?
Well, you will hear new arrangement over the songs that you’ve probably know. Speaking of modern, there will be rap, reggae and the new composition in a group like the way RAN has been doing.

Do you guys keep your eyes on the Indonesian music references today, especially on the young and new musicians?
Of course. We listen to RAN, Tulus, Raisa, Barry Likumahuwa, also the genius one, Joey Alexander. We think he’s way better than Indra Lesmana in his age. He’s gonna be the next big thing.

Knowing that the members are scattered in different sides of the sphere, you (Chandra Darusman) in Singapore, Rizali in India and the rest in Jakarta, is it hard to keep running especially in the recording process of Retro 2?
We have to admit that it was hard. In Retro 2, all the recording process held when we were in different places. Thanks to the technology, we could take vocals, send the data, and all the recording stepped without boundaries. There are lot of tech features that can be used such as emails, dropbox feature, etc. Those facilitated us during the recording process. Since Tohpati and Tompi were busy, we actually did it too with them. We were collaborating with Tohpati and Tompi indirectly using the internet to send their vocal and guitar tracks. We even sent the payment to them by using e-banking. (laughs).


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What is Chaseiro’s plan for the near future? Will there be a breakthrough or you will still go retro and serve those beauties in new style?
For the next plan, we do wish to make an album of all new songs. Chaseiro doesn’t have a plan to continue to Retro 3 after Retro 1 and Retro 2. In Retro 2 you can already listen to three of our new songs such as “Tell Me” (written by the late Helmie Indrakesuma), “Siapa Bilang” and “Pagi Hari”. Actually, we also have an interest on releasing song one by one with video clip, we compile it one by one and when it’s enough for an album, we make one.

So make one song after another, release it as a video clip? That’s interesting. But why exactly you want to make it that way?
It’s because making one full album is a lot of work and doesn’t always sell well, right? That’s why we have to think about new strategy, and that one seems good.

The messages contained in Chaseiro’s songs have a wide and universal meaning. And as far as the music goes, it seems that Chaseiro never stuck on one genre. Instead you go with whatever style, from jazz, Latin, pop to even country, often you also combine those elements. If one ask you about the genre of your music, what would you tell them?
Actually if we have to mention Chaseiro’s music in one genre, I think it’s going to be pop latin. That’s the closest element of Chaseiro. But, we also have a little jazz here and there, although it’s only mild or light. We also love to add some samba elements and other varieties of music.

Aside of Chaseiro, what do you think of Indonesian music nowadays?
We see that the Indonesian music industry has been growing much better. We see Indonesian music is always irreplaceable in its home. Although there’s certain trend such as K-Pop or Western music domination, but somehow, the Indonesian music can still keep its path towards a better direction. Our music is actually doing better  compared to the nearest neighboring countries.


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Last question, but probably the most important thing regarding to the new Retro 2 album. What’s interesting in this album so the music fans have to own it?
First, we renew the old concept so it’s very refreshing.
Second, there are seven guest stars, many of them are from the young generation to reach wider, younger segment.
Third, you can still listen to the works of our late friends (Helmie Indrakesuma, Uce Hariono and Ade Hamzah). Before they passed away, we still got the chance to record some materials with them. So now you can listen as if they were still alive and played with us.

and then, Chaseiro also cooperate with Indonesian Cancer Foundation (Yki-Yayasan Kanker Indonesia) with our song titled “Dara”. As a part of our CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), our consistency in humanity and future generation, we decided to donate all the royalties of “Dara” to the research and treatment of the ladies who suffer cervical cancer. Why we chose to donate it to the cervical cancer patient? There are some reasons. One, because I don’t know why, but we found out that Chaseiro’s listeners are mostly women. And cervical cancer is one of the most medical problems that women had to deal with. So we want to help them by contributing with our music.

(Aswin who also work as an Obstetrics and gynaecology (OB/GYN) doctor explained to us that in Indonesia this type of cancer is still the biggest threat to female. It actually can be cured if detected earlier, but many people don’t realize the importance just yet).

Lastly, the unique thing about this album is ‘the behind the scene’ part itself. As we said earlier, the album process was assisted by the internet techonology, such as vocal takes in separate places, send the data and stuffs. We know that we need to keep being updated with the technology development. that can always help us to evolve better from time to time.

BUY THE NEW ALBUM OF CHASEIRO : RETRO 2  at our online store:

See more pictures:


Interviewed by: Riandy Kurniawan and Maudy Puteri Agusdina
Photos during the interview were taken by: Armano Putranto and Mia Damayanti
Photos from the Press Conference belong to Dudut Suhendra Putra, provided by Niny Sunny




“Too many notes inside my head waiting to be expressed. I couldn’t wait anymore longer to record this album.”

An excellent answer from one of the most prominent Indonesian jazz guitarists, Tohpati, when we asked him about the short-gap between his last album, Song For You (September 2013), and the newest one, Tribal Dance (April 2014).



Tohpati chose Red White Jazz Lounge to be the place to officially launch his latest work, Tribal Dance. By making it in this so called Jakarta’s hottest jazz club, Tohpati made a grand launching by not just making a press conference but also a concert in conjuction to this new album. At the press conference held just a while before the performance, Frans Sartono, a senior music jurnalist from Kompas was there too accompanying Tohpati. About Tohpati’s high productivity, he also said that it’s interesting to see the fact that Tohpati actually only needed a couple of hours to complete the recording session for one album. “If usually it takes a long time to make an album, he did it just in the matter of hours.” He also mentioned Tohpati as an all-round guitarist, full of creative energy.



Jazz is about momentum. There is no repeatable moment in jazz. Tohpati said, “If this album were to be postponed, it would not sound the same as it is now. This is the sound I want to hear for the album.” No surprises if we see jazz musicians with their countless albums, because it is all about unrepeatable, undelayable momentum that they do not want to miss.

Tribal Dance is Tohpati’s latest work, which was recorded with Jimmy Haslip (bass) and Chad Wackerman (drums). You jazz aficionados would know that Haslip is no stranger in international jazz scene. He is an ex-Yellowjackets’ bassist and had played with Allan Holdsworth, Pat Metheny, Michael Franks, and many other well-known musicians, while Wackerman is known as Frank Zappa’s drummer and Allan Holdsworth’s. Both are highly in-demand jazz and fusion sessionists, and both are Tohpati’s personal favourite musicians since he was very young.



Tohpati got Eric Marienthal to play for his first album in 2002. In his Ethnomission (2010) album, he got Bob Mintzer to record a song. And last year, he got the whole Yellowjackets to record one song in his album Song For You. Has not this proven enough that Tohpati can be equated with those highly-internationally-renowned musicians?




As Indonesia has cultural diversity, the music scene demonstrates the same too. If you look at today’s trend, you might find mostly pop influenced by foreign music dominating the scene, from the Western to K-pop, then on the other hand dangdut and pop melayu are still having many loyal fans. But there are many, many musicians that chose to answer their callings by going against the mainstream. They go on transforming whatever they have in mind and producing it for us to experience. They can be still influenced by some already-known genres, but their creativity enable them to craft a new musical hybrid, opening new terrains, exploring new horizons in open minded perspective. So there’s a commercial side of music, but there’s also stuffs that go more into the artistic corner. What’s amazing is to know that some geniuses can live and breath inside this sphere, stand the test of time and still being productive despite of what the recend music trend is. The cross ethno-progressive ensemble simakDialog should always be one of the most valuable respresentatives for that. The ensemble which is led by key-wiz Riza Arshad has been active for 21 years and still counting. They still have many ideas, wishes and dreams to achieve and up to this time they never loose their passion. A concert held a couple of days ago (April 3, 2014) at the monumental building of Gedung Kesenian Jakarta contains many stories to tell, either from the band’s history related to past, present and future and as a gift from the Indonesia’s creative side to the world’s musics and arts.

Not many bands dare to take the progressive jazz inside the road that leads to the mystical, magical Javanese/Sundanese ethnic musics, and the number decreases even lesser when we talk about never ending and continuous research and observation which has been going on for 2 decades. But simakDialog (in English means “to listen to dialogues carefully”) does it. If you listen to their album from the first to the latest sixth album entitled “The 6th Story”, you will certainly find all the band’s progress of sound development being recorded inside. For us, simakDialog means an ongoing process of studying further measures and possibilities towards perfection. And if you wonder why this becomes so important for them, one of the reasons is because they decide to replace the role of drums with traditional Sundanese set of kendangs. Without any intention to choose either the modern Western or traditional South-Eastern types of music to be in front, they are setting up their course into the new sonicscape. What they have been doing has successfully gained critical acclaims and respect internationally. That’s made possible by being available in the international market through US-based label, MoonJune Records since the fourth album, “Patahan”.



Perhaps it’s important to explain how they build their concept by utilizing kendang set. While ago Riza Arshad told us that in simakDialog kendang isn’t used only as an addition but really as the ‘backbone’ rhythm, which, in this case, has more vital role to be the ‘time keeper’. “Just like Ravi Shankar and Zakir Hussein did by introducing Indian instrumentation in Western music. It’s not an easy task to place kendang into the progressive jazz pattern especally if one wants to have the best result, mainly because both corners have their own distinctively specific pattern. That’s why they need to do some observations, researches and studies, which has been going on for many years until they could finally find the most comfortable way to play it.

Now let’s go back to the simakDialog’s concert at Gedung Kesenian Jakarta as a part of its April program. If somehow you thought they were going to promote their most recent 6th album which was released last year, you’d be wrong, because in this concert simakDialog actually decided to go backall the way to their first album “Lukisan” (1995). This is a very important, if not crucial, step for them to make. Why? Because if you haven’t followed them from the start, Lukisan was made by still utilizing drum in normal quartet formation. Thus, since they are no longer use drum, it’s important to ‘complete’ their story by revisiting the earliest works and bring them into the the current concept.




The historical Gedung Kesenian Jakarta (Jakarta Art Building/Jakarta Playhouse) which was built during the Dutch colonial period (known as Schouwburg Weltervreden at that time) consistently presents variety of showcases which are related to art, culture and music every month. Either as stand-alone program or regular annual events, you can always find something interesting in their program. The rich variety of Indonesian cultures, Indonesian bright artists, or even if you want to see what’s going on in the cultural world from the other part of the globe, you can find it there from time to time.

Entering the month of April, Gedung Kesenian Jakarta (GKJ) has announced three interesting concerts. If you are into classical piano recital, the young pianist/future maestro who won the 2002 Abilene Collegiate Orchestra Concerto Competition in Texas USA, Mario Santoso should be interesting to catch. He will bring some of the well known masterpieces from legendary composers on Sunday, April 6, 2014. Then if you’re into the sound of guitar, your need will be filled fully by Jakarta Enam Senar (Jakarta Six Strings) concert, coming to you on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. The theme is: “Maaf Kami Lupa” (“Sorry, We Forget”). All the information needed for these concert can simply be found by looking at the poster above. The only one we haven’t mention is related to jazz, especially if we talk about the most important bands/figures in our own jazz historical timeline. It’s an group of geniuses that likes to mention itself as Cross Ethno-Jazz Progressive Ensemble. It’s a unit that has redefined the jazz-ethnic hybrid by fusing the Western progressive jazz with our own traditional music (most especially Sundanese) approach. It’s the ‘A’ team that’s decided to replace the role of drums with never-ending exploration of kendangs. It’s a band that has shown its strength by withstand the test of time (21 years and counting). It’s none other than simakDialog.


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For many, music might be just a source of entertainment. But to others, music can give much more meanings or values of life. Music provides unlimited space for exploring ideas, freedom of expression and everything comes out of our mind. The geniuses inside simakDialog (in English means “to listen to dialogues carefully”) seems to realize it and know that they can do so much more than anyone would ever think of by embedding themselves totally inside the world of music. The intensive exlporation, trying and research that has been made for almost 2 decades should be able to give you clue of how different they are, conceptually speaking. MoonJune Records, US called them “a legendary psychedelic/gamela-jazz/world music phenoms who has the spirit of pioneering excellence, presenting progressive jazz masterpiece as an astounding work of uncomprimising excellence.” Too much? We don’t think so. Imagine how difficult it is to use kendang as the ‘backbone’ rhythm and vital role as ‘time keeper’, replacing the role of drums in normal bands. But they have intensely studied, examined and analyzed the long play system for years to find the best click. Imagine when there are musicians who are so much into jazz but still wish to utilize their own traditional instruments in order to compliment the treasury of world’s music. The super team of Riza Arshad (piano), Tohpati (guitar), Adhitya Pratama (bass), Endang Ramdan (kendang), Cucu Kurnia (kendang/metal toys) and Erlan Suwardana (kendang) have been marching on wildly  into the unknown-world, opening more and more ‘sonus’ terrain, and they always invite us all to go along.

SimakDialog is set to hold their concert in Gedung Kesenian Jakarta on Thursday, April 3, 2014, 8:00 pm sharp. You can already start securing your seat from now on by simply contacting the GKJ (find the phone number/email below), but before that, we think it’s important to let you know about what they are going to bring this time. And if you still don’t know so much about them, we think it’s necessary to share their story too, especially since this concert is tightly related to their history. Buckle up, here we go.


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 simakDialog’s formation in the first album, Lukisan


The simakDialog history started way back 2 decades plus one year ago in 1993 as the brainchild of Riza Arshad and his musical soulmate Arie Ayunir. In our exclusive interview with Riza Arshad (, he explained that they were inspired by the monumental English progressive rock group YES among other influences, such as Weather Report and Pat Metheny for example. With the first formation: Riza Arshad (acoustic piano, snyth, bass synth), Arie Ayunir (drums/percussions), Tohpati (acoustic/electric guitar) and Indro Hardjodikoro (electric bass), the launched the very first album in 1995 titled “Lukisan” (Painting), containing no less than 9 songs. You can see that simakDialog actually started with drums.




2009 is the year when Serambi Jazz began its service. This is the program of Goethe Institut was made to invigorate jazz events in Jakarta and some other cities, also to strengthen the mutual friendship between two great nation, Germany and Indonesia. It’s been held every two months (except some special editions/occasions) presenting the highly talented artists/musicians who have contributed big deal towards the regional or even worldwide jazz development. Most of the performers were taken from our own soil, but in each year, at least two German jazz musicians or groups be included not only for playing in live concert but also to share their knowledge to young talents. This program quickly gained attention from the jazz aficionados in Jakarta and beyond. Not long after it was launched, this regular event became one of the most awaited concerts in Jakarta. The jazz lovers can expect a good quality show, presenting variety of jazz played by great musicians in every edition. Surprisingly, all free or charge. The success story doesn’t happen only in Indonesia, this program also becomes one of the most successful overseas program of Goethe Institut. Riza Arshad has been in charge as the curator from the beginning and proved to be a perfect choice. He knows how to keep the program running in excellence, rich in colors, variations and artists’ selections.

In 2013 Serambi Jazz made a new breakthrough by creating two projects which involved artists from two nations. The first one is the curator himself with his team (Endang Ramdan, Erlan Suwardana and Cucu Kurnia on kendangs and metal toys) in collaboration with German guitarist Kai Brückner and bassist Paul Philipp Kleber, then the last one is the project of Aksan Sjuman and the Committee of the Fest with contrabassist Henning Sieverts and saxophonist Christian Weidner As we already entered 2014, some of our readers asked about the continuation of Serambi Jazz. We’ve been asked whether the program be continued or not, will they visit Bandung again like before, will there be collaborations to come, involving who and so on. We still don’t know how exactly their plan for this year yet, but one thing’s sure: Serambi Jazz is still running. It’s confirmed that they will launch the first edition of 2014 on February 6, 2014, presenting the iconic Indra Lesmana with his Group tributing one of the most important men in jazz history, Chick Corea.

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indra lesmana group, jazzualityThe Indra Lesmana Group Tribute to Chick Corea is actually started last year on May, 2013 as one of the program of Indra and Honhon Lesmana’s Red White Jazz Lounge. It went very successful not only beause it gave tribute to the living jazz giant but also since Indra Lesmana created a very strong team consisting guitar virtuoso Tohpati and amazing young guns such as Shadu Rasjidi (bass), Ricad Hutapea (saxophone) and Demas Narawangsa (drums). It looks very promising, but Demas decided to continue his study to USA. Somebody has to take over his position behind drums. But who? Indra Lesmana asked Shadu to look around, then they found three candidates. Indra carefully examined each one through their performing videos on Youtube and finally made his decision. He found a new drummer to replace Demas, his name is Dion Subiakto. He’s a rising star we’ve been keeping our eyes on, at least since he stands as one of Balawan Bifan Trio and later joined Indro Hardjodikoro and the Fingers. So now, the Indra Lesmana Group is complete, filled with the combination of senior/iconic musicians and amazing younger talents.

Speaking of Chick Corea, most of his compositions (or maybe even all) have high degree of difficulties. Not everyone can play them in the way they were made. If we take a look at Chick Corea’s monumental group, the Chick Corea’s Elektric Band, this band also consisted of players who are capable to create magic in every line despite of their ages. We see the same spirit brought by Indra Lesmana in building up this group. Corea is not only a jazz musician but he is also into classical, enjoying the musics of Bartok and other contemporary classical music. Chick Corea once took up drums, something that later influence his piano playing style especially when he improvises. No wonder his compositions always rich in harmony, often appear in complex notations, and the best way to play it is by full discipline and accurate precision tempo.

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The idea of this tribute came when Indra felt the need to go back to the influential things in his career. Chick Corea gave strong influence to Indra’s journey in 1981 to 1988. The idea of making this tribute was supported by Tohpati, a guitar maestro and music producer who also grew in that era. Indra Lesmana has listened to Chick Corea’s songs since he was still a 12 year-old boy. When he moved to Australia he got the chance to watch Corea’s live show in Sydney, and even better, he met Corea in person on backstage. He’s impressed by Corea’s humbleness. Then they met again in 1983 when Indra went to Los Angeles. He recorded one album in Chick Corea’s studio, The Mad Hatter and released it under the title of “For Earth and Heaven”. Indra had also joined Chick Corea Elektric Band during the 80’s, for example when they visited Indonesia during the Asian Tour in 1986.

indra lesmana group, jazzualityAs someone who know Corea in person, Indra should have known how to bring his masterpieces alive in perfect way. Plus, he has four amazing compatriotes with special abilities. So all’s set, all’s perfect. According to Indra, this project is not simply to play Chick Corea’s songbook, but more importantly to convey the information to the young musicians.

From what we’ve seen, the group could really make this concept alive. You will see everything you wish from jazz in this show. The showdown of skills, the magic of improvisations, the tight chemistry, the fine work as one unit, the joy of playing, cool adaptation and so on. If you miss their previous appearances, it’s time for you to catch them. If you have already watched them but wish to get another turn, this is your golden ticket. Thanks to Serambi Jazz and Goethe Institut, this show is provided FREE from any charge.

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If Indra Lesmana appeared in Serambi Jazz with LLW two years ago, this time he’s back with a fine new team to honor Chick Corea and his amazing compositions. So what are you waiting for? Make sure to clear your agenda on February 6, 2014. Ask your friends and family to come along and get ready to experience the madness. Since it’s quite difficult to bring Mr Corea and his team to Indonesia, this show will answer that wish, because they can really play it just as good. Look forward to a special evening concert. Even if you are not yet familiar with the name Chick Corea, it’s your chance to get deep with his mindblowing compositions presented by ‘the ‘A’ Team’ who understands the best way to bring it all alive.

-Indra Lesmana (keys)
– Tohpati (guitar)
– Shadu Rasjidi (bass)
– Ricad Hutapea (saxophone)
– Dion Subiakto (drums)

SERAMBI JAZZ 2014 February Edition: Indra Lesmana Group – Tribute to Chick Corea

Date: Thursday, February 6, 2014
Time: 7:30 pm – onward
Location: GoetheHaus, Jl. Sam Ratulangi 9-15, Menteng, Jakarta





After four previous showcases (First week: Nita Aartsen and Nial DJuliarso then second week: Glen Dauna and Indro Hardjodikoro & the Fingers, the annual program of  Komunitas Salihara, the Salihara Jazz Buzz reached the third and final week with two shows. One was about two pianists Sri Hanuraga and Adra Karim taking on Thelonious Monk’s Blue Note and the other was Indra Lesmana Group told stories about Chick Corea through adventurous jazzploration.

Let’s see what’s happening on the 4:00 pm show first. Having two jazz pianists in one show is not something we see often, especially when it gives tribute to a jazz legend like Thelonious Monk. But two young but very talented pianists, Sri Hanuraga and Adra Karim gave us that kind of ride in a very different way.


If you’re into jazz, then the name of Thelonious Sphere Monk should be familiar. As one of the founders of Bebop, Monk is widely known as a pianist with dramatic improvisation. His vision was uniquely ahead of its time but still deeply rooted in jazz tradition. At the time when most of the pianists played sparse chords in the left hand while fast streamy notes were given by the right hand, Monk showed that both left and right hand can go equally active in reaching the whole keys along the piano. He got different phrasings, didn’t like to make ‘unnecessary’ notes, he could even give space and silence a new meaning. For those who have watched him play, he’d be remembered as a tall, bearish man (often) with hat and glasses that loved to be eccentric both in real life and on stage. He swayed back and forth, from one side to another, with feet that flapped on the floor. For us, he’s like an eccentric Jazz Architect that knew how to build an interestingly unpredictable structure in economy. Every note he played, every pauses and stops he made had reason. He has given enormous contribution towards Jazz and the modern music as well as inspiring uncountable musicians around the world, including Sri Hanuraga and Adra Karim who paid their respect to the master in this show.

Both of them have encountered piano from their young ages. Aga; that’s how Sri Hanuraga’s friends call him; was graduated from Conservatorium van Amsterdam majoring Jazz Piano, Adra carried on in ArtEZ School of Music and Prince Claus Conservatorium Groningen, Netherland. Both of them have gained experience internationally. Aga even builds his career in there and has a multi national band named The Brag Pack but occasionally back to his own land and always loves to grace up various events whenever he’s around. Adra spent a couple of years in that part of Europe but still managed to keep his band Tomorrow People Ensemble (TPE) alive. TPE is a band that loves to funked up our ears with their intoxicating avant funk that can make the fans or whoever listen to them get high and stoned without having to take any drugs.




It’s important to be ‘fluent’ in ‘speaking’ jazz, but we shouldn’t forget that we can also create a new way to enjoy it by involving our local-traditional cultures. The nature of jazz which has freedom and openness provides unlimited possibility, and that’s a very interesting playground for creative musicians.

SimakDialog has been walking in this particular field since 1993. It was founded by key-wiz/composer Riza Arshad and his music partner Arie Ayunir in 1993. From using drums, Riza took a daring move by replacing it to sets of Sundanese (West Javanese) kendangs and metal toys, opening a whole new soundscape that only a few dare to visit. As a band of six members featuring virtuous keyboardist/composer Riza Arshad, all-round guitarist Tohpati, bassist Adhitya Pratama and three musicians who master the traditional instruments, Endang Ramdan, Erlan Suwardana and Cucu Kurnia on kendangs and metal toys, this ensemble play music that’s not only for entertaining purpose, but also produces something that we can study and be proud of. This is reflected in the group name, which in English means “To listen carefully to the dialogue.”

simakdialog, the 6th story, jazzuality


The last album of simakDialog was released 4 years ago titled “Demi Masa”. Since this album goes internationally through the US label MoonJune Records, this cross ethno-jazz progressive ensemble gained a lot of critical acclaims worldwide. Since then, Riza Arshad and the team has been working for another step, from making new compositions, establishing new concept to continuing the research of fusing the traditional Sundanese rhythm into the modern jazz.

As the magical simakDialog celebrates its 20th anniversary, they are happy to inform you that the 6th album with the title of “The 6th Story” is ready to launch. Following the first promo concert at Gedung Kesenian Jakarta in December 2012, now simakDialog is set to make the second concert. SimakDialog ‘The 6th Story’ concert will be held on May 17, 2013 at GoetheHaus Jakarta, starting from 8:00 pm til finish. If you attend the concert, you will receive the simakDialog’s new album and listen to the songs through live performance, all for only IDR 50.000.

Through endless reseach over the years simakDialog has successfully replaced drums with Sundanese kendangs and metal toys. It’s not an easy task, but as time goes by, the ensemble can deliver it comfortably. They have fun in playing the music, we have fun in enjoying well-executed magical masterpieces. They bravely use kendang as the backbone rhythm, much further also utilize it as the time keeper. Last month we attended Riza Arshad and Kai Brückner collaboration as a part of Serambi Jazz program in Bandung where Riza brought his traditional rhythm section into it. At that time we approached Brückner and asked what he thinks about kendang. Can it be used in jazz, replacing the role of drums? “Yes, absolutely. It can fit the jazz concept perfectly.” he said. (read the article here:

simakdialog, jazzuality


For The 6th Story, Riza Arshad and the band is focusing on the harmony/structural wise than some tracks in previous albums. “For instance – I used more ‘common’  harmony approach almost in each composition in order to make listener pay more attention on the band’ rhythm section, and hope that they would experience with this ‘new approach’ concept and begin to get familiar to our music that based on traditional Sundanese terms.” says Riza.

So, it’s time for you to see where the invention stands today. The new crafts of simakDialog which all listed in the new album can soon be yours, as well as enjoying them through a live performance, simply by attending this concert. Only a few days left, make a reservation now so you won’t miss it.

SimakDialog ‘The 6th Story’ Music Concert

Date: May 17, 2013
Time: 08:00 pm – onward
Location: GoetheHaus, Goethe Institut Jakarta
Jl. Sam Ratulangi 9-15, Jakarta

IDR 50.000 as a payment of the new CD

For reservation, contact : Andi +62 816197777
or email:




If you ever been to Bali, Ubud should be one of your most favorite destination. This town is surrounded by rice paddies, creek with steep, located in the central foothills of Gianyar. For more than a century Ubud has been popular as a large tourism site since there are many fine arts, dance, music and other forms of cultural can be found throughout the place, not to mention so many sacred nature reserves like Ubud Monkey Forest, temples, cave or even art/painting museum. Now think of this. What if this land with beautiful nature surroundings adds its charm by serving jazz, not a single show but festival, for two days? That sounds great, right? Well, that’s what going to happen. Here comes the first ever International Jazz Festival ever held in the heart of Ubud-Bali, the capital of Art of Indonesia by the name of UBUD VILLAGE JAZZ FESTIVAL 2013.

The idea of this event was triggered a musician/composer/teacher and the founder of Underground Jazz Movement Yuri Mahatma and the director/owner of ANTIDA Music Productions, Anom Darsana. This is a new higher step for them after partnering for some regular jazz concerts that has different themes in every edition. The idea of making up a community concert came in the early 2012, but then it rolled bigger by having the involvement and support from majority of community artists. Hence, the concept of hosting a community concert in this unique village was born.

The Ubud Village Jazz Festival 2013 is created in medium size with around 20 performances, involving about 100 musicians (local and international) for two days which will be divided into 2+1 stages (two main performers and one stage for amateurs, new talents and music students). As how the jazz festival normally goes, you can find plenty of jazz forms to choose. Just in case if you’re hungry and thirsty during the event, the event also provides variety of best food in the culinary section. Other than live performances, Ubud Village Jazz Festival also facilitates workshop of local and national music educators to investigate ways of getting more people to be interested in playing jazz. The festival will be held on August 9 and 10, 2013 at the 5-star Arma Museum and Resort, Ubud, Bali.


ubud village jazz festival, lineup, jazzuality


Now let’s talk about the artists. As we have mentioned earlier, the lineup consists of local, national and international stars, either with their own groups or through special collaborative acts. Representing Netherlands is Peter Beets, a world-acclaimed pianist with classy, infectious swing. Then look at the combination of Mexico, Japan, England and Malaysia under the name of Diego Maroto and No Black Tie Artists. From Japan comes an interesting ensemble Yokohama Association of Artist Orchestra also known as YAA. After visiting many Asian regions like Korea, now they are going to expand their coverage area by playing in Bali.



21 December was believed by many people as the doomsday. That was based on the Mayan calendar. But as later it was denied and said to be just the end of 13 bak’tuns or the cycle of Mayan calendar system, we now know that the prediction is totally wrong. The earth still exists and we are still breathing in it. We never believed it, nor simakDialog and Gedung Kesenian Jakarta. They had prepared this concert to launch exactly on that day without a doubt even for a second. Who’s simakDialog and what’s so special about it? For Gedung Kesenian Jakarta (GKJ), this ensemble seems important as they have presented the ensemble several times before. If  the people of GKJ is proud of this band, we should be proud of it too, since this long-time-running team is very distinctive in concept and based on the creative brains that never stop evolving. Many things can be told, we are going to spread them out along with this report article.

19 years of action and still running. Not many bands can endure that long, but for the leader Riza Arshad and the whole simakDialog team, it means more possibility and chance in bringing their musical creativity as well as digging deeper in creating their crafts. There are many reasons for us to say that simakDialog should be listed in the Indonesia’s jazz history, not only by looking at their masterclass playing and loads of achievements, but also to the way they invent something different through continuous research. They have been intensely studied, examined and analyzed the long play system, involving traditional instruments like kendang and metal toys for years. Talk about the role of kendang, Riza Arshad decided to leave drums, replacing it to kendang players. As a result, the sound of simakDialog is built into something more exoticly mystical, that said without leaving the form of ‘fine art’, the way Riza Arshad described about jazz to us two years ago.


SimakDialog used kendang for the first time in their 2002 released album, Trance/Mission, played by Jalu G Praditina. From there they chose to build the concept with kendang inside. Since kendang player Endang Ramdan joined in for the preparation to peform in Nepal in 2003; drums has been out from simakDialog about a year by then; the intensity rose higher. The arrival of Erlan Suwardana as the ‘contra’ kendang for Endang and Cucu Kurnia on metal toys has given more tighter rhythm pattern, more complete and added the unique color of simakDialog’s sound. Their album “Patahan” caught the attention of USA based label MoonJune Records who decided to sign them in. After many critical acclaims from international medias on this album, they continued the success with “Demi Masa”. It was in 2009. Three years’ passed, they are facing another challenge in creating the concept for the 6th album. This time Riza Arshad decided to make less complicated music, harmony/structural-wise speaking than some numbers on Patahan or Demi Masa. “For instance, I used more ‘common’  harmony approach almost in each composition in order to make listener pay more attention on the band’ rhythm section, and hope that they would experience with this ‘new approach’ concept and begin to get familiar to our music that based on traditional Sundanese terms.” he said. What he means is that for us to focus on the role of kendang as the ‘time keeper’ like the common role of drums, just like what Ravi Shankar and Zakir Hussein have done in introducing the Indian instrumentation in Western music.


While waiting for the album, simakDialog held a concert near the end of 2012, taking place at the historical Gedung Kesenian Jakarta.  As usual, they came with complete team, featuring virtuous keyboardist/composer Riza Arshad, all-round guitarist Tohpati, bassist Adhitya Pratama and three musicians who master the traditional instruments, Endang Ramdan, Erlan Suwardana and Cucu Kurnia on kendangs and metal toys. Not too many crowds, most probably caused by the Jakarta street jam at that time which said to be one of the worst. Nonetheless those who came showed their high interest in simakDialog’s unique and distinct musicality. They were ready to watch and hear the unexpected.

As we predicted earlier, here simakDialog gave first bites of their new songs which will be included in their upcoming album, “6th Story“. That was shown right from the start. Right after they stepped in, the ensemble played “Stepping In”, followed by “Lain Parantina” Both songs were written in 2010 by Riza Arshad and soon will be available in the new album. The result of their continuous efforts in tuning the role of traditional kendang players into jazz were all paid off. Not easy and took long, long years to establish, but they brilliantly did it.


The song from the album ‘Baur’ which then retouched for ‘Patahan’ entitled “One Has To Be” became the next presentation from them. If in Baur they still used drums for this song, in Patahan the kendang beat has replaced it in providing rhythm. This time with more blended result, the shimmering, beautiful melodies of this song should now stand as one their masterpiece.

Up to that song, the audience should already be able to notice that kendang can actually replace the drum function in perfection while also creating the different nuance at the same time. But simakDialog was far from over. They carried on with playing the song written in 2011 entitled “For Once and Never” and “What Would I Say”, both will be listed in the new album. The kendang beat opened up the next song that the fans have probably known very well, taken from ‘Patahan’, “Worth Seeing.” Here the audience could experience simakDialog’s ability to tell a musical story by changing its pace and path several times to create an interesting story line. Tohpati got his space to run his fingers freely above the fretboard. The combination of bass and two kendangs plus the metal toys sound blended as one solid unit which added more magic into it.

For the next track, simakDialog took Riza Arshad’s composition from the album ‘Trance/Mission’, written in 2001 entitled “All in a Day”. Just to inform you, the album ‘Trance/Mission’ mostly spoke about how they felt of being in the moment of transition, which was reflected into original meaning of the title, ‘Transition Mission’. The last song that sealed the concert was again a new song, “Five Six” where they poured the rest of their energies creating a perfect ending.


The unique ‘Sundanese drums system’ created by the kendang players really hitted the point. It opened up our eyes that there are many possibilities can be created in jazz, or in music in general by the creative brains backed by the wide knowledge about music, the mastering of instruments and passion. The rhyhtm pattern which could be unusual for the common contemporary music listeners now can be easily accessed, thanks to this rare cross ethno-jazz progressive ensemble. More and more masterpieces are thrown, hence we have more alternative in listening to variety of music. Jazz can always be the perfect media to pour out creativity, no matter how impossible you might think.

SimakDialog has shown that there are still many doors to open, as well as proving that kendang indeed can replace the role of drums inside a jazz ensemble to deliver another dimension of sound. What’s great to know that they are not done yet. Believe us, they still have many things to share, making up more inventions to surprise us all as time goes. What a perfect jazz concert to close the year of 2012 for Gedung Kesenian Jakarta in style, thanks for that. 2 decades for them soon over, they will enter the third decade of career in solid style. We wish simakDialog the best for preparing the new album and for having more years of excellence. Maybe more international gigs after Berlin and Nepal would be perfect, so more people around the world could listen to the distinct sound they bring. We do need the kind of bands like simakDialog to keep introducing our rich traditional cultures to the world, and since they are doing it, we should be proud that it’s presented in worldclass act. Hope to see you again soon, keep wowing us with more surprises!

See more pictures:

[flickrset id=”72157632362934758″ thumbnail=”square” photos=”” overlay=”false” size=”medium”]

Written by: Riandy Kurniawan
Photos: Mia Damayanti (courtesy of simakDialog) and GKJ Documentation



For human, 19 years old is considered the best age for many, where life becomes even more interesting. It can be the same for a band when it still stays strong for that long. 19 year is not a short while. There can be many thing happen during those years, it could be very fruitful with lots of achievements that often surpass the members’ expectation. Let’s see the case of simakDialog, which celebrates its 19 years anniversary in service. Born into this world as the brainchild of Riza Arshad and his musical soulmate Arie Ayunir in 1993, simakDialog has been progressing far to where it stands today.

SimakDialog now exists as 6 piece band, featuring virtuous keyboardist/composer Riza Arshad, all-round guitarist Tohpati, bassist Adhitya Pratama and three musicians who master the traditional instruments, Endang Ramdan, Erlan Suwardana and Cucu Kurnia on kendangs and metal toys. Look closer to the music instruments they are using, you might wonder why drum is not listed. That’s the way simakDialog build their concept. Instead of using drum, they decided to utilize kendang as the ‘backbone’ rhythm, which, in this case, has more vital role to be the ‘time keeper’. “Just like Ravi Shankar and Zakir Hussein has done by introducing Indian instrumentation in Western music”, explained Riza Arshad. What’s good about it is that simakDialog never stops observing. For years they have been intensely studied, examined and analyzed the long play system, also to explore the possibility of composing something different. Riza Arshad told us, “We often make some changes in preparing or deciding the compositions until reaching the best result according to the concept.” That should be able to let you see how serious they always are in creating each of their craft.

Eventhough the band has been running for almost 2 decades, by having a solid ensemble Riza Arshad feels that he still has many things to try and share. “I like working on this band – it’s sort of gives me pressures to do more and keep trying new thing,” he said. The new album has been in making for two years. Riza Arshad said that the innovation won’t be as deep as the previous one (Demi Masa, 2009), but while the musical concept’s growth will still be felt, they are focusing in letting us feel the wider role of kendang inside a musical ensemble. (Read two articles of simakDialog’s upcoming album here: and  In Riza’s own words, he described it this way: “This time, I make the music less complicated in armony/structural wise than some numbers on Patahan or Demi Masa – for instance – I used more ‘common’  harmony approach almost in each composition in order to make listener pay more attention on the band’ rhythm section, and hope that they would experience with this ‘new approach’ concept and begin to get familiar to our music that based on traditional Sundanese terms.”

Being distributed internationally by MoonJune Records and so far gained many praises and critical acclaims from all over the world, the band has also extend its journey to reach the far away lands like Berlin and Kathmandu, Nepal.