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.
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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. [flickr id=”5931183173″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”false” size=”small” group=”” align=”left”]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.
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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.
[flickr id=”5931739538″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”false” size=”medium” group=”” align=”right”] 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. [flickr id=”5931184099″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”false” size=”medium” group=”” align=”left”] “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.
[flickr id=”5938694519″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”false” size=”medium” group=”” align=”right”] 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. [flickr id=”5931739750″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”false” size=”medium” group=”” align=”left”] “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.
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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. [flickr id=”5931182849″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”false” size=”medium” group=”” align=”right”]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.
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“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.
[flickr id=”5938849645″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”false” size=”medium” group=”” align=”left”] 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
Back Into Sumthin
Stretch N Pause (ft Kyriz, DJ Cream and Indra Aziz)
Smooth Over the Rough
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/