As usual, since the Braga Jazz Night#56 was held in February, we once again dedicated it to celebrate the Day of Love, Valentine’s Day. Naturally that would mean plenty of love songs found in this event, and that’s true. But more than just presenting love songs, we wished to celebrate it by doing a good cause. We celebrated it by sharing love to the musicians through supporting their career and movements. We believe expressing love through doing something real for them would be much better than just shaking hands and sharing love songs.
In this year’s Special Valentine Edition we helped promoting the album of a fantastic jazz-spirited soul singer, introducing a young male singer and guitarist and helping out a native American now living in Bandung to choose one song to be his first single. As mentioned earlier, you can see there are three acts reflecting three important stage in a musician’s career: the debut, single and album.
The show started with the debutant. His name is YOHAN DAVITA. He is still in productive age below 30, currently working at the office at this moment of speaking, but he actually realized his passion in music since he was still a kid, as early as the 5th grader. He started with guitar which made him served as the guitarist of a high school band. Yohan actually could also sing, but he was too shy to show it. Later on when people found that out, and that he could write song, he became the singer.
Speaking of song writing, he made a jingle for Indomie instant noodle that represented West Java for the Jingle Dare 2 competition. He won the third prize. Clearly he is talented in music, unfortunately he quitted for some personal reasons. He stayed outside the music world for no less than 8 years, not knowing where or how to get in again from. Lucky that we heard about him and his story, we offered him a second chance, letting him continue where he left or even starting up a new day in music.
We thought he was going to perform solo, but he actually brought in some friends from STIMB. They are Dean Muliawan and Wisnu Octa Triani (guitars), Langga Jati (bass), Fransiscus Firman (flute) and Arif Andrian (cajon). Along with this heavy artilery, Yohan armed himself with acoustic guitar.
He started with Ello’s hits from several years ago titled “Gadisku”. Keeping the fun factor of the song, he drove the song safely to the finish line then carried on with a song of Jeremy Passion from 2011 that used variety of metaphorical terms to describe his feeling towards someone, “Lemonade”. This song appeared in cool, smooth groovy jazz vibes which fit Yohan’s voice tone nicely.
Yohan then introduced his original song he wrote long time ago titled “Habis”. This bittersweet ballad has all the ingredients to be a big hit if the song made into the recording and if Yohan has the channel to slide it in to the radio stations. For the last song they took Reza’s hit “Berharap Tak Berpisah”, redressing it in groovy pop jazz.
He told us how excited he was when we offered him a slot. “When you invited me on 23 January 2019, I felt really excited. I hope this is my way to start my passion in music again, a world that I may belong to.” he said. Looking at his debut, we dare to say that he was born to music. Not only he’s talented, he is passionate too. Good control, good vocal, good guitaring, good performance. The band that backed him up is tight and solid, we will invite them soon. May this shot become a start of something good for Yohan and the band. Nothing we want more than looking at someone find success in doing what they love the most, and certainly we hope to have these lads again in the near future.
From a debut to single campaign. It’s a project built by Chris Alexander, a New Yorker who is clearly have music in his soul but has been channeling his career strangely elsewhere. The project’s called INDO FUSION JAMBOREE. The project debuted here in this event 3 months ago, in episode #53 http://jazzuality.com/jazz-event-report/braga-jazz-night-53-the-report/. Since Chris realizes that he can expect something from this team he built, he moved on to do something he has never done before, making up a single.
First, let’s take a quick look at Chris. It’s funny that he’s been living ‘off-grid’, career-wise speaking. Look, he’s been a reporter, journalist, businessman, negotiator, and what for us really impressive, he’s also a Jiu-Jitsu trainer who has trained the US Military back in his land.
But his soul has always been into music. He started with drums when he was still very young, and then decided to learn singing to make sure that he would still be able to do something when/if he had no mates to go with. It’s a wonder that he has been writing songs for more than 30 years and counting, yet he never did something real with those, not performing as a musician or singer, nor making a real recording.
Then he settled down here in Bandung, building his family. He met us by chance, and this meeting triggered his passion in music, something he’s never had the chance to do before. He then built his own team consisting some of the praise and worship musicians from a Youth Ministry of a church in Bandung. They are Jerry Gates (guitar), Hanzel Tarigan (bass), Nicodemus Horrison (keys), Stella Angela (vocal) and certified fitness coach Catra ‘Catrasimo’ Simorangkir (drum).
You probably ask what we mean as single campaign? Well, at this moment Chris is unsure which song among his 300 plus collection to choose as the single carrier. Therefore he wanted to bring along some of the strongest candidates, presenting them live and then asked for feedbacks from us, the audience and other performing bands. Go directly to the market to listen to their feedbacks? That doesn’t happen often. Of course we support the project and their intention happily.
For the second one, he took another one of his favorite, “Snag a Job”. This funny song is really well written, showing his funny side and ability to tell a story through music and lyrics. It was built upon the classic American pop rock, some kind of Bruce Springsteen-ish. If you are still haven’t found the job, stop thinking too much. Better just snag any job. That’s more or less what Chris wanted to say, but in a funny way.
One of his songs that has strong jazzy vibes came next, “I’m All In”. The song resonates true love, that despite of the uncertainty in the future, if we really love someone we have to be ready to go all in. The term “I’m all in” is commonly used in poker. Chris connected the loveship with playing poker and served it in light, melodious groovy tunes.
The last song was “We All Need Love”. This song has a rapid punchy beat and brit-pop vibes, While Bastian did nice walking bass in it, Jerry still somehow managed to let his guitar roars above tight beat. If before Stella only served as the backing vocal, on this song she was pushed more in front, as Chris’ duet partner.
Chris Alexander has a certain way in writing song. He loves to keep it simple, he cares about melody (it has to be ear-catchy and easy to chew), nice rhythm, he thinks building momentum dynamically in a song is important, and also good in playing words. He gives real-life experience, slice of life or stories in an easy way in the lyrics. That makes any of his song nice to listen to. We think he has chosen the strongest ones among his own collection to go into the studio. We hope the feedbacks would help him or them to decide, and we hope the single to be ready soon.
After a debut and a single campaign, it’s time to feature a well-established soul singer who finally releases her first solo album following a couple of successful singles. She is the fabulous AGIS KANIA.
We have been highlighting her not long after she moved to Bandung from her hometown, Sukabumi. It was the time when she got fascinated with jazz, soul and everything in between. But her career actually started long before that, because she already got into music with some shiny achievements since she was still a child. She has done traditional singing including keroncong before she got hooked with the American music. In Bandung, she joined a gypsy jazz band, then an acoustic duo before she embarked her solo career two years ago.
In 2017 she released her first single titled “Baby You”, produced by Ajier (T-Five) and Inal Chaniago (Two Triple O). The second single “Erase My Number (EMN)” followed the success, featuring the great blues guitarist from the younger generation, Ginda Bestari. This second single of her got the chance to be broadcasted over radio airplays in various countries including Japan, Canada, Sweden, USA, UK, Northern Africa, china, Malaysia , Singapore just to mention a few. In early December 2018, the song awarded the #1 chart of the week by DCDC Shout Out Indonesia. The success story continues on with her performance in one of the best Jazz Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the No Black Tie, also performed in the Gaslight (KL) and Iskandar Puteri Jazz Festival 2018 at Puteri Harbour, Johor Bahru, Malaysia.
Finally she released her first solo album. The title is IGNITION. Agis said that Ignition is about song and story. She brings and shares her personal experiences — being discriminated, bullied, ignored — into tunes that she hopes would motivate others who have struggled or experienced the same feeling. To her, Ignition has a purpose to motivate people, to ignite their spirit, to bring the light to shine the darkness of their despair.
IGNITION consists of 5 songs: “Baby You”, “Erase My Number”, “Tergoda”, “Ignition” and “Hey… Brown Sugar”, plus one Bonus Track: “Baby You” (Studio Experience). You can get the album at: https://itunes.apple.com/id/artist/agis-kania/1244739918 , https://open.spotify.com/track/7pErGxdYqxPSSSLzUvWXsx?si=4VwKFP0oQ8GHvNY89Lkpcw or other major digital outlets.
For this act Agis was accompanied by keyboardist Ezra Abraham who has helped her many, many times including with us. She started with her first single “Baby You”. This song which is rooted in Neo Soul and Urban Contemporary Music gave a solid stand for her solo career by receiving lots of positive responses both national and internationally. It entered the charts in top digital outlets, delivered into the Jazz Anak Negeri Compilation (Spotify version), also RnB in Indonesian and Jazz in Indonesian (iTunes version). In case you haven’t heard the song, you can watch the official music video on her Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CM3RyTUbMU4. Sexy, seductive, this song would certainly steal the hearts of neo soul lovers around the world. With the help of technology, using a laptop controlled by Ezra, Agis managed to deliver the song perfectly like with a whole band.
For the second song Agis sang the title track, “Ignition”. This lyrics was written by Agis herself, while the music composed by co-producer Ajier. Ezra contributed with the rap lyrics on this one. Agis said that she dedicated this modern, electro nu soul to everyone out there who have experienced being discriminated, bullied, looked down, ignored and so on. Don’t let yourself down, instead ignite yourself and sparks, that’s what she wanted to say more or less. For the last song she took another new song from the album titled “Tergoda”, written by Inal. This song allowed Agis to explore her ability in doing traditional singing, which isn’t just from her own Sundanese roots but also from the other parts of the world like India. Agis let her soul flew freely as expressed by her hands and body gesture. Really interesting song, which seems isn’t easy to sing but suits Agis perfectly.
Just three songs, but could already give a clear portrait of Agis Kania’s debut album, “Ignition”. It’s certainly fascinating to see how far she has come at this very moment, how many wonderful things she has achieved, especially since we have been watching her grow, with all the struggles she has been through. Knowing her as a fantastic old-soul jazz singer, she actually found her perfect spot in neo soul. She deserves this. We hope this debut album opens up the chance for her to get more than anything she has ever dreamed. Get in touch with her through her Instagram and other social medias, but most importantly, support her by buying her album. It won’t cost you much, yet it will definitely push her to keep going. We also hope this album ignite her career to a stage she has never been before. With that kind of voice, ability in writing and kindness, we know it’s just a matter of time before she become one of the world’s best soul divas.
We still got a little time to do the jam session. Some musicians from the featured bands happily participated in it. There were Jerry Gates and Dean Muliawan (guitars), Nicodemus Horisson (keys), Langga Jati (bass), Fransiscus Firman (flute) and Arif Andrian (cajon), together they had fun with Chick Corea’s “Spain”. Then Erick Gabe joined them to sing “Englishman in New York” where bass was moved to Bastian, and the last batch got Wisnu Octa replacing Dean and Chris Alexander on drums, along with Catra and Yohan on vocals. This last team covered Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are”.
A debut, a single campaign and an album promo, that’s the menu for this edition that went out well, thanks to the musicians who gave their best. We will be back again next month with different lineup and story. Thank you for being with us, see you again soon.
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Reporter/photographer: Riandy Kurniawan .