He’s still at tender young adult, but he’s certainly not a newcomer, nor he is inexperienced. He has bagged many prestigious awards and achievements when he was still 8 years-old, a fine drummer with career spanning for 15 years who could make his drum speaks more than just providing beat. Speaking of album, he has made a couple, either as a part of a band and solo. The last time was three years ago collaborating with living legend Idang Rasjidi, “iPlay” (http://jazzuality.com/album-reviews/mahesa-meet-idang-rasjidi-iplay/). He is none other than Mahesa Santoso. In a couple of days from now, he will release his new solo album simply titled “Jazz | Mahesa | Way”, featuring many stars in our current jazz scene.
Before we dig deeper into this album, let’s take a brief look at Mahesa’s profile. We came in touch with him for the first time when he released an album with his band, Rekoneko in 2010 (http://jazzuality.com/album-reviews/rekoneko-band-moonlight-dance/). This band consisted of very young musicians with shiny achievements. As mentioned above, he has bagged many awards since 2003, including The Best New Talent for Jazz Goes to Campus 2005, winning the first prize of Yamaha Student Competition: Solo Junior Local, First Winner of Drum competition Yamaha Student Contest 2007 in Surabaya, The Best Drum Senior II Gilang Ramadhan Studio Drummer 2008 (Cental Java and Yogyakarta) and The Best Drummer of Jazz Fusion Music Competition 2010 (Semarang) to mention a few. He has landed on many big-scaled events including the Java Jazz Festival, JakJazz, Ngayogjazz and some jazz events held in the ancient temples such as Borobudur and Prambanan, also a couple of appearances on TV. He has played with many national and international stars, and achieved complete certificate at Yamaha Music Indonesia as he currently pursues formal education at Faculty of Business and Economics of Gadjah Mada University (UGM). He’s been involved in many event organizing, organizational and social activities for a some years. A shiny resume for a 21-year young man who already has a decade and a half long career of recording and performing.
Mahesa’s new album, “Jazz | Mahesa | Way” began with a simple wish from him and his father Bayu Santoso Utomo to make a minus one drum as a material for practicing. They tried to ask for help from some fellow musicians to make it happen. But then, after a quite long, less productive process, he met guitarist Troy Kurniawan. Through some considerations and plans, they finally decided to make four songs rooted in different (sub) genre ranging from Funk, Groove, Bebop to Latin.
Next step is to put those concept into live music. To do that, they soon searched the perfect musicians to transform the midi file into full jazz tracks.
Mahesa told us that up to this point, he didn’t think of having different bassist for each track, “because in my opinion, a drummer need to adjust more to bassist, having strong bond that could be felt from one song to another throughout the album.” he says. But his father who acted as the executive producer had that idea, which in the end makes the album unique.
With the help from Troy’s wife, the lineup was completed. The album features great names found in the current jazz scene, all very experienced too. On bass are Barry Likumahuwa, A.S Mates, Indrawan Tjhin, Shadu Rasjidi, Troy Kurniawan on guitar, Dony Koeswinarno on saxophone, Imam Kustidjono (piano), Dandy Lasahido (organ and synthesizer) plus Devy Wondal on vocal (scat-singing). Having such team at first gave him a little pressure, but he didn’t let it happen too long. “I realize that this is a very, very priceless experience for me personally and my music career.” he says. The recording took place at Klab Studio Jakarta 4 years ago.
The album doesn’t consist only of four tracks, but also has two more songs recorded live in 2014 at Padepokan Bagong Yogyakarta featuring Danny Eriawan (bass), Dias Agusta (guitar), Catur Kurniawan (contrabass), Jay Afrisando (saxophone) and Wiwit Yulian (piano). So, 4 plus 2, there are 6 songs rich in musical colors listed in this album.
The first song is “Funkmosphere” which is also the first song he recorded. Just like the name stated, this song will definitely fill up your atmosphere with the joy of funk. Mahesa provides complex drumming which creates rich texture on the beat. According to Mahesa, due to the high level of difficulty, he got some problems in adapting with it, but with the help of the other players he finally got in. Barry Likumahuwa gave substantial sharp and strong laid back groove in constructing the song, while Imam Kustidjono and Dandy Lasahido build strong structure as well as infusing playful taste along with the beat. The character of the song got strengthened by fine jazz-rock approach from Troy Kurniawan’s guitar and Devy Wondal’s scat. This song drained the energy out of them, but it’s worth it. If you love funk-flavored fusion the way it was born in the 70’s, this song will satisfy you totally.
Groove was served high over jazz on the second track, “Groove Spell”. In this one Troy, Dandy and Imam are in, but the bass position is given to Shadu Rasjidi. The partnership between Mahesa and Shadu is tight. Shadu has played with Mahesa a couple of times before, including in the previous album “iPlay” where Mahesa meets Shadu’s father Idang Rasjidi. As how groovy song should be, the feeling of joy is clearly felt through their play. Like the first track, everyone got their solo part respectively. The synthesizer sound, the busy guitar, groovy bassline and happy finger-dancing above the keys blend very well with the singing beat from Mahesa.
A quite presentation comes in from the third track, “Bubi’s Bop”. This time Mahesa shows his ability to swing and bop. Other than Troy and Imam, the senior bassist A.S Mates and saxophonist Donny Koeswinarno paint a perfect modern jazz on the canvas. Mahesa told us that this song originally titled “Mangosteen Bop”, but then changed because they wanted to dedicate this song to the late jazz legend Bubi Chen. “He (Bubi Chen) is one of the key figures in my life who inspire me the most, especially when he mentored my very first jazz band, Ours Band with my two elder brothers.” says Mahesa. Moreover, Troy was also Bubi’s student and considered like a son to him. Donny gives tasty sax lines whenever he can, while at other times happily let Troy to lead in front. Mahesa told us through this song he learned a lot of how to play swing and listen to other instruments while playing as a unit in a band.
The last track that was recorded in Jakarta is next, “Latino Del Momento”. For this one, Troy changed his gear to classical guitar to create the exact pure Latin nuance. Interestingly, this song is equipped by the acoustic sound of contrabass courtesy of Indrawan Tjhin. Imam set his piano playing course on Latin Montuno without necessarily forced the song to be a Cubana music. Mahesa decided to change his stick to brush because he wanted to emphasize more tender mood yet still energetic. In one solo session, he spontaneously used his bare hands too which reminded him of his earlier percussion lessons especially Conga and Bongo. He got a long solo run which enabled him to let his Latin feels out. That makes him consider this song special. “I’m very happy with this song”, he giggles.
In addition to these four songs, Mahesa added two more tracks recorded later in different studio in his hometown two years after: “Senandung Dwipa” and “Shadow Behind the Sunset”. “Senandung Dwipa” lies in power and spirited mood which becomes the character of this song. Played in trio format and recorded live with Danny Eriawan on bass and Dias Agusta on guitar, this song reminded Mahesa to his early career when he was still in junior high school, the time when he still fancied playing with full power on hard fusion tunes. For us, this song is like a reminder of Mahesa we knew back then and his music style with his band Rekoneko.
As for “Shadow Behind Sunset”, Mahesa is like inviting us to go mind-wondering with him when the sky is getting darker. For this song he played alongside Catur Kurniawan on contrabass, Jay Afrisando on saxophone, Wiwit Yulian on piano and Dias Agusta on guitar. This lovely song captured the beauty of swingin’ jazz composition in richer texture and shape. The clear jazz statement in this song is fascinating, flowing smooth and tender to make you feel at ease.
The mixing and mastering process are done by Donney Wagna and Utanto Wibowo together with Mahesa himself.
Collaborating with many musicians, each with their own distinctive character was indeed a big challenge to Mahesa. But instead of having it as a burden, he takes it as a valuable experience t make him a better musician. “As a person we can express ourselves with anything. For me, what matter most is to express myself with drum.” says Mahesa. In the end, he hopes this album can be accepted and enjoyed by all music listeners as well as inspiring fellow young musicians to express their passion with their own music.
For us, “Jazz | Mahesa | Way” speaks loud of how a talented young musician uses his creativity in fulfilling his passion and answering his calling. The CD which is packed exclusive is now ready, consisting of 6 tracks rooted in jazz but served in various flavors which should be able to pleasure jazz fans in particular, or music lovers in general. Stunning, challenging and fascinating music are found in this album, played by amazingly skillful musicians who are all passionate in jazz. So for you, all jazz afficionados out there, you can have this CD to fulfill your jazz needs, and you can certainly support the musician and the development of jazz by purchasing it. There are many variety of jazz, this time you have your chance to enjoy Jazz in Mahesa’s Way. You want to know how his way is? Grab one and enjoy.
Mahesa Santoso (Drum), Barry Likumahuwa (Bass), Imam Kustidjono (Piano),Dandy Lasahido (Organ & Synth), Devy Wondal (Scat), Troy Kurniawan (Gitar)
Mahesa Santoso (Drum), Shadu Rasjidi(Bass),Imam Kustidjono (Piano), Dandy Lasahido(Keys), Troy Kurniawan (Guitar)
Mahesa Santoso (Drum), AS Mates (Bass), Imam Kustidjono (Piano), Donny Koeswinarno (Sax), Troy Kurniawan (Guitar)
4.Latino Del Momento
Mahesa Santoso (Drum), Indrawan Tjhin (Bass), Imam Kustidjono (Piano), Troy Kurniawan (Gitar),
Mahesa Santoso (Drum), Danny Eriawan Wibowo (Bass), Dias Agusta (Guitar)
6.Shadow Behind The Sunset
Mahesa Santoso (Drum), Catur Kurniawan (Bass), Dias Agusta (Guitar), Wiwit Yulian (Piano), Jay Afrisando (Sax)
Reviewed by Riandy Kurniawan
Photograph by: Lilies Sutji Santoso and David Sentanu
Cover Design by Aditz
Executive Producer: Bayu Santoso Utomo
Music Director/Arranger: Troy Kurniawan
Get in touch with Mahesa through:
Facebook: Mahesa Santoso
Get the album at our online store: http://store.jazzuality.com/product/mahesa-jazz-mahesa-way/
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