Braga Jazz Night #42 : Christmas Smoothies : The Report

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Ever since we started running the community-based jazz event, we have presented 6 Special Christmas Edition. Specifically in this event, the BRAGA JAZZ NIGHT (previously known as Braga Jazz Walk), this special show comes every year since 2014. This year once again we dedicated our December edition (it’s the 42nd edition by the way!) to celebrate Christmas, jazz style. We give the theme of “CHRISTMAS SMOOTHIES”, referring to our intention of presenting wide variety of jazz styles performed by the combination of young talents to pros.

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Appearing first was a group of high schoolers with unique name: The Paradox. This new group was formed by a student of ME Music Centre, Kevin Chrisandy due to our offer for him to be in the lineup several months ago. Kevin has been here once with other students and teachers of his music school, but now we wanted him to stand on his own. We know he can, we know he’s talented, and we want to give him a push so he could be ready to face the real world as a musician faster than he thought.

BragaJazzNight-42-ChristmasSmoothies-TheParadox (3)As The Paradox, he brought in some of his high school friends including Keane Christopher (bass), Johnson Japp (drum), Nathanael Jofan Oetomo (saxophone). I brought these fellows in so they could learn together with me and got the same chance given to me.” said Kevin to us. Yes, that’s a really good spirit and the reason of why we created this event in first place. This is their first ever event.

These high schoolers began with a selection far from easy, Chick Corea’s “Spain”. They did the tutti part well and had fun running the song until the end. From there, they went swaying with “Quando Quando Quando”. Kevin sang in this one while playing the piano. Two Christmas songs came from these boys to fit the theme, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)”.

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It’s quite interesting that Kevin chose The Paradox as the name. with every struggle he’s in, it’s remarkable that he could become who he is today. In some ways, it’s a paradox. With all his progress especially in the field of self confidence and how he utilizes what he has learnt, we are proud of him. We are also proud of his teachers, Michelle Efferin, Othep and all teachers in ME Music School for equipping this boy more than just music skill. We hope these boys keep practicing and exploring together. One day they will be ready to step up onto the higher ground, and we certainly will invite them to see each and every progress they make.

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The second act was a duo of young singer who has started her career at least 7 years ago, Luis Anastasia Sinaga and a long time guitar teacher, Jhonny Edwin Sitompul. The name of this duo is simply taken from their first name, Luis & Jhonny. Both of them are no stranger to us. Luis has graced our stage several times either with her successful vocal group established in 2010, Puella or with her church friends by the name of MY Kids. While Jhonny who has been teaching for 17 years in Purwacaraka Music Studio has brought his own project and supporting his friends too. We never saw them together, so for us it’s interesting to see how they would do as a duo.

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BragaJazzNight-42-ChristmasSmoothies-LuisJhonny (4)A nice acoustic vocal-guitar work directly filled the venue as they sang two famous Christmas carols: “O Holy Night” and “The Christmas Song”. On the first one Luis sang calm and peaceful with deep emotion, while on the second one she demonstrated how good she could bring a chillax mood along with a fine work by Jhonny on guitar.

Smooth, sweet, simple yet on target, that’s the impression we got from their gig. An acoustic duo is always nice to bring something intimate, and the combination of smooth, sweet vocal of Luis with a good fingerworks of an experienced guitar teacher make it works real fine. Acoustic jazzy Christmas feels delightful. We hope the duo will be kept, so we can invite them again some other time.

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Now, how about a solo piano jazz recital for Christmas? We thought it’s going to be cool if it’s played by a really good one. Well, for this idea we featured a specially gifted 11 year-old girl who could already play like a pro, Nadine Adrianna.

This little girl is not even a teenage just yet. But remarkably she has gained lots of experiences from playing with and learning from some of the best jazz musicians in this planet, national and international. She has landed on the Java Jazz Festival and some other prestigious ones. She just came back from Bali to learn more from the iconic jazz figure, Indra Lesmana.

Nadine has two active bands: the BFG Trio and her own band, Nadine Adrianna Trio. She has more than enough original compositions to fit into an album, all were made based on what she has, see and feel around him but if you listen to her compositions, you wouldn’t believe that they were made by a little girl her age. And what makes us feel blessed is that her very first performance was here in this event more than 2 years ago, when she was still 8!

If we invited her trio two months ago, this time we let her do her thing alone. She carried 4 songs consisting of 2 Christmas songs, one Disney that’s also taken as a Jazz Standards and one song composed by her current teacher.

BragaJazzNight-42-ChristmasSmoothies-NadineAdrianna (4)What’s interesting is that Nadine played all these famous songs in her own way, making them as if her own. Look at how cool she played “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” in pure jazz with all its complexity. Her fluent jazz speaking continued on in “Someday My Prince Will Come” from Snow White. Both of these songs redressed in a whole new fashion by Nadine. The Christmas spirit was well kept with another fine interpretation of “Jingle Bells”.

BragaJazzNight-42-ChristmasSmoothies-Tidbits (5)For the fourth and last song, she surprised us by taking a masterpiece of a group called JavaJazz (not to be mistaken with the huge jazz fest), written by Indra Lesmana titled “Moon Over Asia” aka “Bulan Diatas Asia”. If you remember, this song captured all the greatest moment in jazz performed by jazz gods that would make any listeners tranced in a fantasy of watching the moonlight falls on the glittery Asian sea, jazz way. We have never heard the song played solo, as it’s very risky due to the high level of difficulties both in playing and capturing the imaginary scene. But Nadine actually able to bring it. A straight tour-de-force by this wonder girl that’s not only will make her teacher Indra Lesmana proud but also us all.

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You know, Nadine played just as good as if you have a long time experience pro in charge. She has done solo Christmas Jazz piano recital two years ago in this event, but now she’s enhanced in skill, control, technique and variety. She owns the stage now and takes her time patiently in building the perfect momentum on each song. “Uncle Indra told me that I have to enjoy my play in order to make my audience enjoy it as well.” she said smiling. And yes, now she clearly is doing exactly that. We can’t be more proud of her, and certainly, we wish to keep supporting her. As amazing as she is now, we know we ain’t see nothing yet. We will keep on bringing her for sure to be updated with her progress and movement. What a beautiful and triumphant solo performance it was.

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For the final session, it’s a privelege to present another phenomenal kid – this time is a boy – who debuted in our event but now has been enjoying his success in the higher ground, Philip Manfred Pincencia. He is still in mid-teen, but his soul resonances jazz louder than boys his age, even older ones. The evidence is found not only with one instrument but two, because we can capture his jazz soul perfectly with saxophone and piano just as good. But lately it seems like he is focusing more on saxophone, which in fact delivers him to the certain stage where he’s at right now.

BragaJazzNight-42-ChristmasSmoothies-PhilTrio (11)We say he is phenomenal not just because of his very special God-given talent but also because how fast he’s climbing in the jazz scene, or even music scene in general. Just a couple of months ago he made a surprising move by being sharing the same spotlight with two of the mega stars today: Tulus and ISyana Sarasvati. He keeps on climbing from there, from being the opening of Tulus’ concert to another blast alongside saxophonist Ricad Hutapea at iCan Studio, Jakarta. Step aside of these fast rising with top stars, he is found in a band of young wizs, The New Blood.

For this event, we let him chose who he wanted to play with. And it turned out to be surprising, because he came up with real-life jazz couple, the senior bassist Rudy Zulkarnaen and the standout female drummer Adisty Zulkarnaen. While Rudy has many bands in different colors, shapes and sizes like simakDialog, Rudy & Band Listrik and 4Peniti just to mention a few, Adisty places her feet solidly on Jazzy Juice and the famous pop band SHE other than being busy as sessionist. Oh yeah, the name of the trio is PHIL TRIO.

BragaJazzNight-42-ChristmasSmoothies-PhilTrio (4)A surprise came in as Phil Trio was reinforced with another player on piano, Philip’s piano teacher Mr Yahya Salam. From trio to quartet, in front of so many audience this marvelous team spread the joy with “Feliz Navidad”. Philip’s sax bites was a big attraction, so did the swaying senior bassist Rudy Zulkarnaen and wife Adisty who dressed up glowingly colorful. Mr Yahya Salam sat calm behind the keyboard, but his fingers danced merrily with the trio.

For the second song, still in the format of four Philip led his stellar cast to play “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”, not in the usual way but delivering it with funky blues approach. “I decided to play it this way so we won’t get bored”, said Philip. So, again, we got interesting rendition of a Christmas song we all know so well.

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A composition by Clifford Brown which taken by many as his signature song was next, “Joy Spring”. For this one, Philip left his saxophone and took Mr Yahya’s position on keys. Rudy teased him in some parts with his provocative bass, making Philip ran wilder and bolder. For the last song, interestingly they covered one of The Beatles’ famous gem, “Blackbird”. What they played was based on Brad Mehldau’s version. Still on keyboard, Philip and the jazz couple Rudy and Adisty gave a standout performance just as good as the Mehldau’s trio that recorded this song back in 1997. Sharp, clean and tight, they delivered it chilled right until the end. Philip thanked everyone and then left the stage with his team.

Rudy and Adisty has began their professional career much earlier than Philip, but we know that with someone like this boy wonder, the trio would work in the best way possible. It’s proved to be right. They created a rock solid trio where sky is the limit. Plus Mr Yahya Salam on keys, the group became a dream team with 5-star performance. What a joy to be able to have them enhancing our Christmas edition of Braga Jazz Night.

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Since we still got time, we opened the jam session. The boys of The Paradox: Kevin, Johnson and Keane gladly jumped in, also Nadine. They called Philip back to play some more with them. Hence, we got all-young musicians ready to jam. They took Charlie Parker’s “Billie’s Bounce” as they playground where they joyfully shared the fun like being in an amusement park. It’s really a great moment to see two of the very young musicians who began on our stage but now achieved huge success playing together, along with the younger ones who probably just tasted their first ever jam session experience.

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Many of Luis’ friends from the church, GKI Maulana Yusuf, came tonight. Two of them took part in this late party, including an alumnus of NEZ Academy, Cindy Tambunan who sang “L-O-V-E”. The Paradox happily served the melody for her. Then Rachmat Hulu sang Burt Bacharach/Hal David’s hit popularized by The Carpenters, “(They Long to Be) Close To You.” A group photo session became the last drop of this edition.

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That’s how the 4th Christmas event we made at Braga CityWalk goes. From a band of high schoolers, a duo consisting of college student and long time guitar teacher, a wonder girl’s solo piano and a trio consisting of rising star and a super jazz couple made this year’s Christmas edition of the Braga Jazz Night shone bright. We feel happy to close our service for year 2017 with this edition.

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We will be back again in 2018. New year, new chapter, new opportunities. Can’t wait to enter it! Thank you to all participating musicians and all of you who came. We really appreciate you support. We wish all of you who celebrate Merry Christmas and to everyone, Happy New Year. Many people say that 2018 will be even more difficult to walk through, but let’s walk with faith so we can go pass it as a winner. Another message is, the world has already enough troubles. Let’s relieve the tense by spreading peace and love so this world can be a better place to live. Happy holiday to you guys, see you again in 2018!

Watch the highlight of Braga Jazz Night #42 : Christmas Smoothies

See more pictures:

Reporter/Photographer: Riandy Kurniawan
Video Editor : Vierna Mariska K .

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