Braga Jazz Night #41 : The Report

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We have presented around 150 showcases in Braga Jazz Night (formerly known as Braga Jazz Walk) since it was started more than 3 years ago. For us, this shows that Bandung, or in bigger scene, Indonesia, has endless numbers of talents, something which we always believe even before we started this event. By collaborating with the happening mall and favorite hangout place located in the historical Braga street, the Braga City Walk, we’re keep doing our commitment in contributing to the jazz development in Indonesia, especially in the regeneration process. In this event we mainly want to provide time and chance for young musicians to gain experience and be known. We want them to know, that when no other place believe in them, we are always here for them. We started simple by supporting the local talents from our hometown, but as the event progressed, we started welcoming musicians and bands from other cities, even nations. Making this event a home for everybody is what we wanted from the start, and now we are very happy to see it happens.

For the Braga Jazz Night #41 we featured 3 groups with different formation and style, ranging from full band, trio and duo. We got one native Flores young man, born in Borneo but now is studying in Bandung. Then, we got a duo to bring the jazzy side of Disney songs, and for the first time welcome a jazz guitarist from a quite far city located in the mid part of Sumatra, near Singapore, the city of Batam. For this event he built a Batam-Bandung Connection by performing with two compatriotes from Bandung. So, from Flores to Batam to Bandung, to Disney, that’s pretty much the plot for this 41st edition.

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Performing first was a dynamic, acoustic duo that we invited to bring a specific theme. The duo is called AEL/HARDI, and the theme is “Sings Disney”. Ael/Hardi consists of a young female singer whose voice has a vibe of jazz/blues ladies from the past, Putri Rahel and a well established jazz guitarist and respected guitar teacher, Hardi Suryana.

We have invited them a couple of months ago. In that edition they wowed us by serving simple but heartfelt performance, taking on jazz standards ranging from the 20’s to 70’s. Ael (Rahel) actually has built a good career upon classical singing. As a part of a choir from her campus, she has reached Italy and won the competition in there. But then, she got interested in jazz and found a good mentor in Hardi. Knowing that one of the reasons for Ael (Rahel) to falling in love into jazz from listening to Disney songs, we thought it’s going to be perfect to let her bring Disney songs in one special session. We also want to remind everyone that there are so many Disney songs built within jazz since the first Disney cartoon appeared in the late 20’s. The soundtrack of it’s first fully animated feature film in 1937 “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, “Someday My Prince Will Come” has even taken as a jazz standard. The newer songs would also be nice to compose with jazz.

Ael must have loved the plan because she wore Mickey Mouse shirt to fit the ‘Sings Disney’ theme. Another thing that we always love from this duo is the fact that they love to think out of the box by picking interesting, unpredictable song lists not many remember anymore. The evidence came directly from the first song, originally sang by Peggy Lee from Disney’s 1955 animated classic Lady & The Tramp: “He’s a Tramp”. Think of it, how often do we hear this classic, jazz-based Disney song nowadays? Slim chance. That’s why we are happy to have this song back alive on stage again, especially when it was brought by a acoustic jazz duo as good as this. If that song is now rare for us to hear, the second song probably is even rarer. They took the theme song of Disney’s The Aristocats (1970): “Everybody Wants To Be A Cat”. Again, it was beautifully delivered.

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Ael showed how much she loved Disney. She didn’t just sing the songs but also told us a little story of each film. Next she took a song from a legendary Disney film from 1959, “The Sleeping Beauty” titled “Once Upon A Dream”. “If you remember, the Princess sang this song in the wood.” said Ael. Yes, we do remember that memorable scene, and love the song ever since. Ael/Hardi waltzed throughout the song with a perfect blend of swing.

The next one was more familiar to younger audience, since it was from Pocahontas. Yes, that’s “Colors of the Wind”. It’s just cool to see them keeping the beautiful, earthy feel of it while infusing some jazz not too much but naturally. For the last song they covered a classic song from the 40’s but used in “Finding Nemo” (2003) by the voice of Robbie Williams, “Somewhere Beyond The Sea”. This song gave a perfect ending to their show.

As expected, the full rounded music from Hardi and lovely vintage jazzy voice of Ael over beautiful Disney songs created a fine show. Other than we enjoyed the famous, classic Disney songs in jazz, it became more relevant since we are getting closer to Walt Disney’s birthday which will come on December 5. The world of Disney is the world children grew up with for generations. Besides its famous cartoon characters, the songs have become classics too. In this event we got the chance to listen to them. They cleverly took us into a journey over the Disney World from 1955 t0 2003, from The Lady & the Tramp, The Aristocats, Sleeping Beauty, Pocahontas and Finding Nemo.

All classic songs, we love to hear them again, and how wonderful it is to have it from a duo as good as Ael/Hardi. There are still so many great Disney songs to go with. What about Mary Poppins? Pinocchio? Cinderella? Little Mermaid? Beauty and the Beast? Or the newer ones like Tangled, Frozen and Moana? If they agree, we would love to have the second part of this Disney theme coming from them.

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In the second session we featured the young man with lots of talents in music. Like we said before, he is native Flores who was born in Borneo but now resides in Bandung. His name is Marlon Fridolin, and he chose to go only with MARLON to make it easier to remember. In such young age he has been doing a lot of things in music business. He works as a jingle maker, music score for television soap operas, being a judge in singing competitions, music director and mixing/mastering, and on top of it all, he is a singer and musician. Other than teaching, he writes songs for himself. As an evidence of his vocal quality, he has won many competitions and reached the Top 36 at Indonesia Mencari Bakat Season 1.

He has started his solo career some years ago, releasing a successful single titled “Tlah Usai” and gained more than 12k viewers from 2015. He came to us offering his new single “Sewaktu Hujan”. Eventhough he is still trying to find the best arrangement for the song, we think the song has a very good chance to be loved by music lovers so we brought him in. While this is his solo debut for Braga Jazz Night, it’s not his first time because he was here last time supporting his good friend, Antoni Sidjabat.

He brought some of his friends supporting him for this event. They are Boyke Nainggolan (bass), Yabes Ambarita (guitar) and Daniel (drum). Yulius Ferdian (saxophone) was supposed to be here, but he didn’t show up at all until the last minutes. Losing one player could suffer the band, but Marlon led the rest of the team to give their best.

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Coincidence or not, the Disney theme continued on with 98°and Stevie Wonder’s “True To Your Heart” which appeared in Disney’s 1998 film, Mulan. Marlon voice suits to sing this kind of soulful, groovy song and his stage appearance is really nice to see too. Marlon knows what kind of song would go well with his high pitched voice as he covered a classic from Daniel Sahuleka, “You Make My World So Colorful”. Daniel, Boyke and Yabes did well in accompanying him. For the last song they took Ruth Sahanaya’s hit “Keliru”. Once again, Marlon showed us that what song would fit his vocal range and pitch. Just like the previous two choices, he nailed this one pretty well.

This man has a forte in ballad and high pitched, wide vocal range, has good stage presence and bunch of talented friends who are happy to support him. He writes good songs, ear cachy melodies and simple lyrics that should connect to everybody’s daily life and experience. He is a fine musician that knows what to do in every process of production. As you can see, this man is a complete package. What he needs is time and more chance to proof himself. We always feel happy to meet a talent like Marlon. Too bad he didn’t sing his own originals because according to him he’s still working to find the best compositions. We hope next time we invite him, he will bring on one or two.

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For the third and final session we proudly welcome a swingin’ guitarist from Batam on our stage. His name is Tchepy Wijaya Soekardi. Like Marlon, Tchepy likes to use just his first name in his music career.

We knew him for the first time when we covered the Asean Jazz Festival 2012, an annual jazz fest held in Batam. We still remember how good he was, fusing jazz with Javanese and Balinese ethnic music at that time, even using kendang players instead of drums. He was a fine jazz fusion guitarist, but he told us that right after that performance, he decided to go deeper into the pure world of jazz by focusing on traditional swing, something his teacher, Oele Pattiselano is best at. Other than Oele, he was also learnt from senior guitarist Kadek Rihardika.

Tchepy is active in the Batam Jazz Community and has been spending his nights for many year as an established jazz musicians in his city. To us, this man is a portrait of how jazz is in Batam. He gives a strong statement of the existance and growth of jazz in there.

For this event he appeared as TCHEPY TRIO. We paired him up with two jazz musicians from Bandung: Alman Naufal (drum) and Aries Ardiansyah (bass). These musicians have been playing together many times, including in many gigs of the New Equinox. They haven’t met before, yet they felt connected through chats and phone talks. This pairing creates a harmonious Batam-Bandung connection which we believe will give benefit to both side. At least now Tchepy has a team whenever he has gigs in Bandung or nearby, vise versa.

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The beauty of pure jazz appeared right from the start with Cole Porter’s “I Love You”. Not wasting any time, Tchepy gave rooms for his compatriotes to shine by including some cool tradings. They carried on with Richard Rodgers’ composition from 1935, “My Romance”. Tchepy demonstrated how well he could swing. Like an architect, he calmly built each song to perfection. The improvisations were delicious, appeared naturally without any intention once so ever to show off.

The famous jazz standard everyone know “Autumn Leaves” became the next canvas for them to paint. Again, the sweet jazz harmony and chord progression were tasty and charming. The intensity rose when Tchepy pinned the bebop mainstay from Dizzy Gillespie, “Groovin’ High”. If usually we heard this song played by saxophone/trumpet players and the likes, this time Tchepy showed us that this song can be played with guitar just as good. The manic solo drum by Alman was wild on this one.

What’s interesting about Tchepy Trio is that they gained more and more audience throughout the performance. To show that they didn’t want to lose the momentum, they dropped one last bomb, a Charlie Parker’s masterpiece titled “Billie’s Bounce”.

Tchepy is indeed a fine jazz purist. He swings ellegantly in humble way. His way of improvising is as wide and clear as the sky, yet as we said before, he brings it honestly without any intention to show off. He takes his time to build any song, embracing the momentum and build each one to perfection. We feel happy to be able to invite him from Batam, not only to show how well jazz in Batam today really is but also to remind us of why we love jazz in first place.

Band-wise speaking, such lovely harmony from musicians who have never even met before is really inspiring. The Tchepy Trio played like they have been together for years, sharing, supporting, exploring, trading to one another. They kept the foundation of each song the way they discussed then joyfully went improvising whenever they could. As a result, we got sheer swing extacy where passion, fun and love to this music filled the air. A successful cross-city collaboration it was, we hope the trio will be kept to strengthen the jazz connection between the great city of Batam and Bandung.

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Since we still got a little time left, we opened the jam session. Guitarist/bassist Kanggep Kusuma who came to support his son Alman agreed to join in. The soul diva Agis Kania who soon will release her second single happily stood on stage as well. Alman and Aries secured the rhythm. Voila, a solid team was built. They sang Antonio Carlos Jobim’s evergreen from 1967, “Wave” . It was spontaneous, but they played real solid as if they were a band. “I haven’t shared the stage with Kanggep for so long, so I’m happy that it happened right here.” said Agis to us. Kanggep also shared his happiness to be able to jam at the Braga Jazz Night.

With this 41st edition, the Braga Jazz Night has expanded its wings to support wider areas in Indonesia. This fact strengthen our wish to make this event as the home of everybody. We are never interested in being segmented, nor that we want to be a closed group or circle. We want to open our stage as wide as possible, reaching and welcoming jazz-related musicians from wherever they come from, whoever they are. No discrimination, no different treatment. We want to extend our reach as wide as possible, supporting more musicians even further than we ever imagine.

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As we are approaching December, we are preparing a special Christmas Edition and hope to be able to spread the peace and joy to everyone through good quality of jazz music. Thank you everyone, see you again in December!

Watch the highlights of Braga Jazz Night #41

See more pictures:

Reporter: Riandy Kurniawan
Video editor: Vierna Mariska Kurniawan .

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