We’re just done with the 60th edition of Braga Jazz Night. 60th edition. Think of it. That’s equal with almost 5 years running. There have been hundreds of players/bands we have featured. Some moved on to be top players in the country, some have played overseas, with international musicians, went into recordings, hence, have success in their career after starting here. We can’t be happier to see it. That’s what we hope to see coming out from this event.
It was an edition where the word ‘unique’ sounded louder than before. How come, you might ask. Well, how about having a band using three guitarists, a band consisting of three bassists, and a wild jazz-rock guitarist showing his soft, smooth and romantic side in a duo with a fine female singer? We believe you agree with us that this edition is unique.
We started with the band with multi guitarists 4PEGGIO. This band was established by a senior and well-respected guitarist/teacher, Venche Manuhutu consisting of his students at the VMS. This band is now more than a year old, they are basically still together but quite struggling to exist because not everyone of them live in the same city and they are busy with each of their agenda/schedule. But they are still running despite of the obstacles.
The personnels are Vetto Christie Frangklin (guitar), Bayu Imam Fauzan (guitar), Felix Sentosa (guitar), Adi Nur Furqon (guitar), Romay (guitar/vocalist) and Ezra Manuhutu (bass). However, for this 60th edition Felix, Bayu and Romay were not able to join as they already have schedule elsewhere. Yet this band has quite unusual formation. It’s not easy to carry this concept, but they have proven their ability to do it through series of previous appearances including in this event a year ago.
For this time, 4Peggio decided to add a drummer, Restu Shidiq to support them. Without further due, the band sailed directly. The catchy, groovy and joyful Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” attracted many people to watch them. Vetto and Adi got their moment respectively, fully supported by the rhythm section. Ezra demonstrted his cool, steady walking bass with “Beyond The Sea”, a song which melody taken from “La Mer” from the mid 40’s. The rapid changing chords was tricky, yet they managed to wrap the song.
Restu Shidiq got his shining moment on the third presentation, covering Tania Maria’s signature from the 80’s, “Come With Me”. Unlike the original which started with the catchy groove, they began with some bluesy intro before delivering the song with infectious funky chops. We loved it and wished to have some more, but unfortunately that was the last one. With this uplifting song, 4Peggio sealed their session.
Having three guitarists at once is tricky. Imagine if one of them got a wrong tempo or note, even for a slight second. It could make the song uncontrollably crumbling. But no, these young dudes know what they are doing. Driven by passion and equipped with skill make them able to bring something difficult seems easy, or complexity seems simple. A good jazz band would never be affected with missing player(s), so to see this band found its way to cover the loss shows that it is indeed a good one. 4Peggio gave us a fun session, we hope they will come in complete lineup next time when we invite them.
Still in the world of strings, we moved to a band with triple bassists simply called BASS FRIENDS. How often you see a band with this format? It’s a group came to life after three friends, all bassists, often hangout at a coffee shop in Bandung. Joe Bastian, Willy Hardian and Ricki Sumampouw realized that they share the same music taste.
Driven by the passion and creativity, they thought of making something different, establishing a band like no other. When we heard this wicked idea from Joe a couple of months ago, we got interested in it right away. Why not? First of all, Joe has been playing many, many times for us and he never fails to impress us. So we know, whoever or whatever he brings will be good. Also we always believe that there are always open possibilities in jazz, and something like a group of 3 bassists would certainly prove that point. Plus, we always love to see new things happening on our stage.
For this event, sadly Bass Friends appeared incomplete because one of the bassists, Willy Hardian cancelled his participation at the last moment. So, the band appeared with Joe Bastian and Ricki Sumampouw (basses), Ian Kalangie (drum) and Nicodemus Horisson (keyboard), plus a female singer, Adel.
Losing one key player didn’t make the band shaky. In fact, they gave a very strong start with Herbie Hancock’s classic hard bop track, “Cantaloupe Island”. We could see that they were not just cover this gem, they used the song as the canvas to explore and expand the role of bass in a band, digging what two (or more) basses able to do while playing a song. Both joe and Ricki exchanged role seamlessly and optimized their manouvers whenever they got the chance. Nicodemus and Ian worked progressively controlling the dynamic, making this first attempt appeared sharp, lively and even explosive.
The second choice was one of Joe’s favorite, Barry Likumahuwa’s “Walking With The Bass”. We have heard him play this song with his Joe Project, but he rearranged it differently to fit two basses. It’s a perfect choice because this song was written by a funky bassist and made to emphasize on this instrument’s supremacy. Ricki and Joe clearly had lots of fun in executing it, the killing punches from Ian was awesome, and Nico breathed life into it. Another ace from the Bass Friends.
Adel was called to join the party. When she appeared, suddenly the band made a surprising turn by embracing the ethnicity. Yes! Adel is not just an ordinary singer, she can do the traditional Sundanese singing style. “Mojang Priangan” was redressed in modern fusion with thick Sundanese nuance. It works really, really well. Props to Willy who came up with the idea, and certainly, props to the whole players who brought this concept alive.
For the last song, Adel and The Bass Friends took a joyride with “Fly Me To The Moon”. They kept it simple so they could have fun freely with it.
Props to Bass Friends for expanding the function of bass in a band. Not only to deal with rhythm or groove, bass can create lots of surprises. We hope the band keep running, because we are curious what else they can do with the bass. There are still many things they can do with it, we are waiting to see it the next time we invite them. Keep walking with the bass fellas!
For the last act we featured a new duo, ANJUAN JULIO & HANNA PANDA. This is not just a duo because there are more about them than what you see on the surface; which directly give you the impression that they are good.
First of all, let’s talk about Anjuan. This young man has been shining from many years ago, when he was still a teenager. We knew him first as a swingin’ guitarist, which he was really, really good at, but then later he kind of ‘switch’ into the jazz-rock world. Surprisingly, he shines here in this world much, much better. From his role in AFA Trio to series of projects and now achieving huge success with the group of young wizs The New Blood, he just can never stop shining. Not just bby being unpredictable in pouring the notes, he is also electrifying on stage. That’s why we were surprised when he told us about his new duo, something that we rarely see.
With him in this duo is Hanna Panda. Some of you might have not heard much about her, and that’s okay because she’s considered to be a newcomer into the indie music scene in Bandung, especially jazz. This young lady has breathe music since the beginning of her life and showed her passion in music at least since the kindergarten. She is a self-taught piano player starting from the junior high school. Later she learnt more in Purwacaraka Music School up to grade 3, then enhanced herself with saxophone and other woodwinds such as flute and clarinet as she is currently studying in Universitas Pasundan. Clearly is serious in establishing her career in music, aside from her other wish to become a teacher.
Right after we introduced them, Anjuan and Hanna went bossa with “Diz Que Fui Por Ai”, a classic from 1964 by Nara Leão that’s sung by many singers including Joan Chamorro. Hanna said this song is one of her favorite songs, we could clearly see that by the smile and excitement on her face while singing it. The chemistry between them felt strong, while their skill made them did it effortlessly. The smooth sailing continued on with Hanna’s other favorite, “Moody’s Mood For Love”.
With Anjuan, Hanna built it patiently by emphasizing on the beauty of melody and lyrics.
This duo has unpredictable song choice. For the next song, they surprised us by taking on an old jazzy song which was featured at that time in a compilation cassette Indonesia Jazzy Girls released in 1984, “Bayang Bayang Jingga” by Kiki Maria. For us, this is an interesting choice because then we could see the variety of genres that suits Hanna’s voice very well, also how good the finger works of Anjuan in doing different styles. The theme from Disney’s Mulan, “Reflection” by Christina Aguilera came right after, served sweet in jazz.
Then they took Bee Gees’ evergreen “How Deep Is Your Love”. Juan said that some of the younger listeners might refer it to PJ Morton, and the previous generations maybe remember the song from other singers, but that’s not a problem because this song is indeed beautiful and never out of date. On this one, they sang in duet in the end, which according to them becomes their ritual in any gig they are in. That was the last drop from them.
A lovely moment captured from Anjuan Julio & Hanna Panda’s gig. They kept everything simple and flew freely from the start to the end. They hold on to how beautiful the songs were made yet still naturally making the songs their own. Anjuan and Hanna knows exactly what songs to choose that suit them and the audience, which created one fine session that should satisfy everyone that watch them. Solid chemistry, tight and right on point, sweet, relaxing and romantic, we can’t wait to see what’s more they are going to do next. True, Indonesia has never ran out of duos throughout the years. But there’s always room for the new ones to shine, especially when they are as good as this dynamic duo. Afterall, we can never get tired of great jazz duo, can we?
Since we still got a little time left, we quickly opened the jam session. Two of fine young musicians from Bandung, Oce Kamlasi and Eleazar Yoshua came on stage and positioned themselves on drum and guitar. Joe was the bassist, Nico on keys and Anjuan stayed with his guitar. Together they dropped “Billie’s Bounce” in playful mood which brought lots of applause.
Erick Gabe took the mike on the next song, Chick Corea’s “Spain”. It’s interesting to see them got their solo run one after another. They were also able to bring it neat, as if they already rehearsed many times. Anjuan gave a lovely flamenco touch in the middle, a move that decorated this act differently. Erick’s scat singing in the end was spectacular. A group photo session sealed this edition.
Three unique acts created something special in this 60th edition of Braga Jazz Night. There are simply many, many more to come, we are grateful to see that Bandung has so many talented musicians who have interest in jazz, and we are thankful that they take our stage as one of the important places to write their journey. Big thanks and hugs to all performers, participating musicians, supporters and everyone who came and enjoy this event. We hope to see you again next month. Stay cool, be blessed!
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Reporter and photographer: Riandy Kurniawan .