Braga Jazz Night #64 : The Report

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The Braga Jazz Night is our monthly jazz community event in cooperation with Braga CityWalk. Our basic plan was simple. We wanted to contribute to the regeneration of jazz players in our hometown, which hopefully would give impact to the Indonesian jazz. On the other hand we wished to introduce the rich variety of jazz to public, letting them know that there are so many hybrids of jazz more than anything they could ever think of which in the end would counter the stigma that jazz is old fashioned, difficult to listen to and too expensive to be affordable.

Since it’s started running, we have listened to many success stories by those who began their career from this event. As the story goes, we are thankful that not only newcomers came to gain benefit from playing here, the successful (super)stars, seniors and legends have been coming to share their experiences too, amazingly not just from our nation but also from the overseas including Malaysia, Singapore, Italy, Hong Kong, Australia, USA, Mexico and France. This facts always energizes us to keep going, and before we realize it, we are now in our 5th year in service.

The Braga Jazz Night #64 took place on the beautiful night of October 24, 2019. This edition was featuring all young lions showcasing their creativities and skills, resulting set of jazz that’s catchy both for the eyes and ears.

This 64th edition started with a one man band living in Majalaya city, Rian Ahmad Fauzy, better known as his stage name taken from his initial, RAF.

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To us, RAF is different. Not only he has his own style of fusion which could have some ethnic touches here and there, he is also the kind of musician who’s still going eventhough he has to play alone. Think of it, an electric jazz fusion guitarist playing all by himself. Many other players would skip the gig when they have no one to play with, but not this young man. That’s a remarkable musicianship attitude, which for us is becoming one of his major plus point. Other than this, of course he is highly skilled, passionate and creative in making songs.

We met him in a jazz competition last year where he played as one of the SavaSika. It wasn’t difficult to notice him as a talented musician. Shortly after that he made his debut in this event. Yes, he’s no stranger to our stage, but it was already a year ago. So it’s time to bring him back in again. When we invited him, he told us that he’s actually staying away from gigs to focus on his album. Fortunately he’s making an exception for us.

RAF kicked off strong with “Jessica”, a very catchy song with strong taste of Latin. Other than the catchy nature of the song, the way he demonstrated his skill climbing up and down the fret became a big magnet dragging everyone to watch him play. This song perfectly introduced him, his style, his skill and his wide coverage of playing field. He grabbed huge applause with this cool opening.

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RAF then carried on with “Berkebun” (in English: Gardening), his first single where again allowed his magic fingers to explore the fret. In this song he talks about the fun of gardening which won’t happen anymore if people let the global warming continues on. Interestingly, while he’s still powered by rock and jazz, the song has infectious disco beat. So if you ever wonder if jazz-rock fusion would work when placed in disco beat, RAF proves it’s perfectly possible. He’s supposed to bring more songs, unfortunately his laptop got problem just before he started. Because of this incident, he could only play two songs that he managed to save in his smart phone. So we got to wait for another time to have his complete set piece.

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No matter how good you prepare and how much you want your gig to be perfect, when bad things happen, so be it. We respect RAF for still able to bring the action the best he could. He must have been upset, but somehow he overcame it and enjoyed his moment in his own zone. Another solid package delivered cool by RAF. Good music, good performance by a skilled musician who can utilizes the technology to his advantage and willing to play no matter what, RAF can certainly has his dream come true.

The second act featured a new sensation consisting of young lions who roar loud. The band is formed not long ago but they have been running fast climbing higher and higher. The band’s named HARRA.   

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We heard about this band from the manager, a young blues virtuoso Ginda Bestari.
Harra plays a cool groovy urban pop jazz, the side of jazz that never fails to grab young or new listeners due to its modern and light approach. Having said that, those who are really into jazz don’t have to worry because Isaac G. Mondi (vocal), Asilah Andreina (vocal), Rainer Bangsawan (guitar), Haryo Tejo (guitar) and a boy no stranger to us for he’s been performing many times in this event, Henokh Vico (keyboard) – the official members of the band – does have everything you love from jazz, from the chord progressions to improvisations.

This band is still considerably new since they were formed just earlier this year. But they are surely moving faster than normal. At this current time Harra has just done recording three songs titled “Tersesat Dalam Tanya”, “Jelajahi Rasa” and “Bertamasya Di Angkasa”, produced by LALEILMALINO (Lale and Ilman Maliq & D’essentials, Nino RAN). They are looking for events where they can introduce themselves as well as their music and songs, and we are just proud to be one of those.

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A creamy groove party were thrown directly, starting with “Balada Insan Muda”, a song interestingly depicts the Indonesian pop scene in the 80’s which is produced and written also by Laleilmalino. Right from this one we could take the hint that this band is all about treating the audience big time with nonstop urban jazz fun-tertainment.

The second song is about someone facing uncertainty, thus lost in pile of questions, something we experience many times in our lives. This original song was made in mid-tempo groove ballad. All in all, the song has all the ingredients to be a big hit. You can find the song on Youtube for now, before it goes all over the radio stations and of course the album once it’s released. A big hit needs no introduction came next. It’s Reza’s “Berharap Tak Berpisah”, appearing in jolly disco beat.

Their other single followed, “Tamasya Di Angkasa”. Again, this song can become a big hit as they invite their listeners to have a picnic in the sky together. Surprisingly, they made this one a medley with the legendary Australian rock band’s classic “Back In Black”. This song was made unique. It still has all the rockin’ aspect in its core, but they smash the song with jazz groove. It includes the dancing segments that shows how much they are ready to swim along with the big fishes in the big pond.

If so far the fun factor was already high, they blasted it higher above the roof with a medley of famous songs, including Chrisye’s “Juwita” and “Gita Cinta Dari SMA”, Maliq n D’Essentials “Dia”, ME’s “Inikah Cinta” and The Groove’s “Khayalan” as the finale. The dancing, the happy faces, the music, the strong vocal lines, all gave the audience big good time. They dragged so many people to watch their gig from the beginning, but the number increased more and more until the end. Many of them recorded Harra with their gadgets, suggesting how much they loved Harra’s performance.

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A pleasuring, modern, cosmopolitan sound of urban jazz were brought alive onto our stage by Harra. Just by looking at the songs they made and the way they execute them provide more than enough reasons why this band can climb up so fast in our current jazz scene. They are funky, they are fun. They are skillful, they are passionate. And probably most importantly, they are hunger to establish a solid grip in the music business with success stories written all over it. A really good band Harra really is. We hope them to be at the same stand as Maliq n D’Essentials and RAN, or even better. And if they are not too busy, some visits back here again would be highly appreciated.

The last show was unique. How many bassist could you see in a band? Mostly one, or if you lucky, you can have two as some bands already did. Now, how about not one, not two, but three? That would be something, right? Yes, this time we had a unique band led by three bassists. Its name is BASS FRIENDS.

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Bass friends was born not in the usual place. Not in a studio, not in an event, but in a coffee shop. Three friends who apparently play bass agreed to expand their musical horizon by establishing a band, using it as their playground to have fun and go extra miles from what they have done before.

Unfortunately two of the three bassists couldn’t continue their commitment due to their busy agenda. But since Bandung actually has many good bassists, the left posts were quickly taken. Today the bassists are Joe Bastian, Jere Fernando and Langga Jati. For this event they were supported by last minute replacements, Yopi D Nafis (keyboard) and Oce Kamlasi (drum).

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Quite unfortunate that Langga got another schedule elsewhere, so he got to leave before the band got its chance to perform. Nonetheless, Joe and Jere still managed to show how two basses could handle the front line very, very well. They started with Mezzoforte’s “Nightfall”. For many jazz lovers, this song should be really familiar. But in the hands of Bass Friends, this song transforms into a fresh, new outfit with bass standing tall in front. A really good job by them.

The double bass pleasure continued on with a cool rearrangement of “Just the Two of Us” . Never before we heard this kind of remake that was made to be led by multiple bassists at once. Not only they both filled each other, they also got their own turns that made them has to be able to exchange role simultaneously and spontaneously. A simple set on the surface, but it should be quite complex to play.

A surprise came right after. Among so many songs they could have picked, they took a classic patriotic song written by maestro Ismail Marzuki many, many decades ago. Again, this song appeared unique in their hands. A very interesting move it really was. For the arrangements and the way they executed it, round applauses were given as a token of respect by the audience.

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Right at the last second before this band started their last song, suddenly the third bassist Langga was spotted in front of the stage. Actually he rushed back to see if he still could join the party. The audience gave him a big applause, respecting his effort as they prepared to see the finally complete team. With Langga appeared, the last song became a perfect climax . The players were like injected with spirit, they went on fire executing it. It was clearly seen, the three bassists cycled their parts smoothly. When one led, the two others moved back assisting their friend. When they got the chance to run together, they were like a pack of lions roaring together, without any clash even a bit on the melody. Not to mention the great assistance from Yopi’s keyboard playing and the power punching beat from Oce. Loud cheers and applauses were given to them as they sealed their gig and this edition nicely.

Cooking up this concept should be tricky, not only because the bass players should lead the main melody, but also because they have to be able to understand their role, part and turn. What would two of them do when one lead the part, and how to make smooth transition from one to another. Then, how to make a harmonious sound when all three bassists run wild, how the interaction with other players would be, and how they rearrange the composition to fit this idea. Joe, Jere and Langga are aware of those and know how to work things up. They don’t crash or clash with one another, instead they can make a seamless and harmonious runs that create such attractive music.

If usually bass is needed to provide the melodic rhythm in a band, this band show that there are so many more things the bass can do. It can even go altogether creating a stunning, surprising multitude of jazz. Creative concept with good result, we are excited to see that Bandung has a new sensation and certainly we will invite them again soon.

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From a breakingthrough solo to unique three bassists band to a groovy, bright light big city sound of jazz from a band on their way to fame painted a vivid color to this edition. We hope everyone who came loved it as much as we did. We thank the playing musicians, the supporters and audience, for without you none of these would ever existed. We’ll be back again in November with another fresh batch, look forward to seing you there!
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See more pictures:

Braga Jazz Night 64

Reporter/photographer: Riandy Kurniawan   .
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