Loenpia Jazz 2015 : The Report

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Semarang is a beautiful city that’s famous for many things. Other than many historical sites and cultural gems, this city is also famous for its culinary world. Loenpia, pastries of Chinese origin which is similiar to spring rolls was brought by Chinese imigrants and settled nicely in Semarang more than hundred years ago. Today, Loenpia stands as one of the top ambassadors of Semarang. How cool it is to find out that Loenpia as an icon of Semarang now has a new, important role, moving from culinary to music, especially jazz. Jazz? Yes. The jazz community in Semarang, Jazz Ngisoringin took this pastry to make Semarang as a great jazz city. Ever since 2012 Semarang has its own jazz festival. It grows every year. It’s called Loenpia Jazz. And this year this festival reached a certain height that should make every jazz lovers of the city proud. Five stages stood tall from noon to night time holding hundreds of musicians who served one wonderful party in the name of jazz. Speaking of variety, Loenpia Jazz 2015 gave extra miles. They served all kind of jazz, plus, and including, some ethnic twists from local cultures. This is what we love when we cover an event in a different cities: we can enjoy and learn from local wisdom especially the art and cultural aspects. Loenpia Jazz gave exactly that.

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Held at Puri Maerakaca which pictures the miniature of Central Java province (it’s like the Central Java version of Taman Mini Indonesia), the tagline for this year is “Aku Ngejazz Mergo Kowe” which is taken from the ancient wayang story of Maerakaca garden. Translated as “I’m Jazzing Because of You”, the tagline describes that Loenpia Jazz is brought sincerely by Jazz Ngisoringin community to the people of Semarang and beyond.

Due to the condition that we are based quite far from this event, we could only send two photographers. It was difficult for two shooters to cover the whole shows according to the rundown, but we tried our best in covering the event, capturing as much as we can. We were picked late, sadly we had to miss many bands who performed early. Later on when the crowds grew bigger, it was impossible to swing from one stage to another, making us unable to record the moment at some shows.

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Loenpia Jazz 2015 started at noon with the official opening ceremony featuring Sayong dance from from house of art and cultural heritage Sobokartti. Not long after that, the other stage began its service. Baitbaru from Tanjungpinang on Stage Ganjel Rel and Semarang Blues Community which was reincarnated in 2010 showed love to the city’s jazz event at the other corner. Other than having regular event, it also has many active members. As blues is the roots of all modern music, it’s nice to see this event actually served blues in the first hours. What’s unique is to find three more communities served their dishes chilled, Komunitas Ska, Komunitas Drummer Semarang (KDS) and Gubug Poci Tegal. Speaking of Ska, it’s a fact that ska actually breathes healthily in Semarang. Earlier in 2015 the city even held its Semarang Ska Festival following the first one 3 years ago by Semarang Ska Foundation. Ska and jazz can go along nicely, the evidence was as clear as a sunny day. Then we found out that Tulungagung, a regency in East Java do jazz too.

Fellow musicians from well established jazz community in Malang city, Rompok Bolong was the third act on Stage Ganjel Rel. Since 2012 they have made jazz accessible in Malang. This community does have good players too, as shown in their session. While the Classic Guitar community of Semarang took place at Nivea stage, considerably new jazz movement, Etawa Jazz made everyone comfortable with their presentation. In case if you wonder what an etawa goat has to do with a jazz community, actually the movement was born through regular jam session every Wednesday night at Kedai Susu Kambing (goat milk store) located at the North Ring Road street, Yogyakarta. If blues and ska had contributed in the first hours, now it’s time for rock to send some love, courtesy of SCOR: Semarang Community of Rock.

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A strong and solid jazz community from Yogyakarta, Jazz Mben Senen entertained the audience on Mie Kopyok stage at Banyumas pavilion. Jazz Mben Senen is made as an open space for everyone; from jazz lovers, musicians to supporters/fans; to interact. Jam session is on every Monday night at Bentara Budaya Yogyakarta and filled not only by local players but also national stars even internationals. Another important achievement to mention is that they have released many compilation albums.

Some local bands really did well in this festival. Jazz fusion sounded nice from Delight, a band formerly built as an acoustic project but then settled with Fauz (bass), Putra (sax), Alex (guitar), Yoga (drum) and Dimas (keyboard). The players are still young, but they have been inside the business for quite a while now. They also helped in shaping up Loenpia Jazz from the beginning, as told by the festival’s official twitter a couple of days before the event.

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The good ol’ jazz community KJK (Komunitas Jazz Kemayoran) took over the stage from SCOR. Led by the founder himself, the one and only Beben Jazz, this community offers jazz edutainment wherever they land. And they have done it for hundreds of times since they were established 11 years ago. As usual, Beben wasn’t only performing with his guitar, he also shared some interesting facts and knowledge about jazz. With them jazz appeared fun and friendly as if it was easy to play. Another good round from the community after the last time we watched them at Kampoeng Jazz in Bandung (http://jazzuality.com/jazz-event-report/the-7th-international-kampoeng-jazz-dont-stop-till-you-jazz-enough-report/). The talent manager of Loenpia Jazz 2015, Baruch Jethroobe gave a special treat with his seductive sax attax. Man, what a talent.

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Acoustic modern pop jazz brought nicely by Coffee Freeze. This band is definitely not new since they was born 5 years ago and has 3 members including Zenna Sabrinna (vocal), Sebastianus Yoga (guitar/backing vocal) and Yusuf Rizal (bass/backing vocal). On the other side of the venue, Endah N Rhesa put happy smile on the face of their audience by presenting intimate, connected performance. The way they told the story, the way they execute each song, the sweet loving chemistry between this real life couple, all felt perfect especially under the sun heat in the afternoon.

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On the other side ran another great jazz community from Solo city, the Solo Jazz Society (SoJazz Society). This community was established in February 2007 with a wish to develop the potency of jazz, both musicians and the music itself in Solo city. Various activities have been made for that such as learning and sharing both in theory and practice, jam sessions and creating events such as the monthly Parkiran Jazz (Carpark Jazz) and the annual Jazzin Lebaran that celebrates Eid Al-Fitr with jazz. We have covered the SoJazz Society bands several times and always love the happy vibes from their show.

More interesting local heroes in action. Baroqah continued their good appearance last year with another catchy set of pop jazz delight. Meanwhile, Absurdnation gave something different by serving smooth, sweet jazz but groovy and danceable. Nanda Goeltom (vocal), Yusuf Saputra (piano/synth), Fauz Hibatul Haqqi (bass) and Fanny Wardoyo (drums/percussion) gave a tight performance and creative concept, two of the things that have brought them performing all over the nation and even able to make their name heard in Italy.

It’s not usual to find a math term like Algebra in jazz, but actually Semarang has a group with that name. This group is unique since they have their own ingredients in fusing jazz with hiphop. MG (vocal and guitar), Fajar (MC/rapper), Mirza (bass) and Koko (keys, loop, synth) knows exactly what they are doing. Why not? They have been doing it for at least 5 years and they all have gained experienced from their previous bands. It’s just cool to find out a jazz hiphop band in Semarang.

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So many communities found in Java island, and they are all healthy. Even Jombang, a regency found in East Java located on the southwest of Surabaya has a jazz community. It’s simply called Jombang Jazz Community. From what we saw, they can really do this. “Stolen Moment” was one of their selections. Komunitas Alat Tiup Semarang demonstrated their skills in playing wind instruments. Representing Sumatra was Threesong, a spectacular family band with the ability of playing like a pro. Abraham Song (guitar), Samuel Song (bass), Josafat Song (drum) ,Dodo mikha (piano). Not only in local circuit, they have gained recognition too abroad. Two months ago they impressed Leonardo Pavkovic, the man behind MoonJune Records on his visit to Indonesia. With Threesong’s existance, it’s positive that jazz is alive and kicking in Lampung, the province located on the southern tip of Sumatra island.

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We still remember a jazz lady made a big wave twelve years ago with a nice, easy listening, smooth jazz standard album which soon followed by more until the next three years. This young lady is great both in singing and playing piano. Speaking of piano, she was once a student of the late maestro Bubi Chen. She was everywhere for some years, but then we lost track of her. She is Peppi Kamadhatu.

Where has she been? We don’t know, we failed to meet her after her show. But for certain, we are happy to see her again. Collaborating with a band from Jazz Ngisoringin community named Rencang, Peppi is as good as ever. She still has that strong character in her voice that perfectly suits the famous standards like “God Bless the Child” and “A Girl From Ipanema”. We hope to see her active again, gracing one festival to another, because ageless songs coming out from a beautiful voice, who could resist it?

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Coming from Jakarta, Blotymama took the audience into an intoxicating funky vibes right from the start. Teddy Aditya (vocal), Ade Avery (guitar), Rendi Raditya (bass) and Rio Agung (drums) are the people behind this band that combines jazz, funk with rock and RnB touch. It was a party. On the other spot we found a swingin’ fusion group from Jazz Ngisoringin named 5th Floor ft Madra taking the road of fusion, as what’s written on their t-shirt, “In Fusion We Trust.” John Coltrane’s “Giant Step” was done nicely by them.

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Things got hotter after the praying break. The Gambang Semarang Art Company (GSAC) gave a strong traditional color in this fest. It’s a good move, because the traditional gambang Semarang can be promoted internationally through a big event like this. Next, a legendary band from the 80s originally from Semarang, DAC Band. DAC stands for Dynamic Action of Chord. This is like a statement, showing how they want to bring their music as. Formed long time ago in 1987, they managed to bag some noticable achievements and released an album in 1989 by having some other players in the formation. They also participated in Band Explosion 1987 and 1988. After being hiatus for long time, suddenly they back again in 2010 on Fusion Nite 80’s at Jajan Jazz Teras Kota BSD City. The formation consists of the golden players from several formations such as Momo (guitar), Dudut (bass), Aditya (drums), Iga and Atok (keyboards) and an additional vocalist Shanty. Just like we expected, we got 80’s fusion style from their stage while showing some fresh, more modern style too along the way.

Move to another stage, we got probably the furthest participant from Borneo, YK Samarinda. This quartet has played in many big festivals including Jazz Goes to Campus, Jazz Gunung, Ngayogjazz, and outside reaching Sarawak for Borneo Jazz Festival. This band clearly plays jazz, but they proudly include traditional musics too especially from the place they come from. Swara Nusantara combined gamelan, kendang and bonang with modern, western instruments, resulting rich, cross cultural sound. Theater Kaplink ran on Nivea Stage.

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The collaboration between Indonesian Idol 2014 finalist Ubay Idol and a sweet pop, acoustic light jazz band from Semarang named Coffee Break ran on different stage. An exist band from Semarang, 26 Akustik played not long after that. Then an important ceremony took place at the Tahu Gimbal Stage. The Jazz Ngisoringin officially launched its compilation album for this 2015 edition. 26 Akustik played not long after that and Wayang Tenda Nandang Wuyung gave a folkish acoustic presentation at the Nivea stage.

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Many people doubt that a minimalist group would work in a festival. For those who have this in mind, they have to change the perception because there are duos who could bang louder than a full set band. Bubugiri can be one of the best representative in this matter. Coming from Bandung, this dynamic duo offers a musical alternative to music fans in Jakarta and beyond. Bubu, a soulful lady with bluesy, jazzy vocal vibe together with Giri, a fantastic all-round guitarist with strong groove has been stealing the heart of their audience wherever they land. For Semarang audience they sang both original songs and covers. Some original songs including “Copycat”, the feel good tune “Get the Music Started”, “What About Us” and a Sundanese influenced “Kagagas”. They also sang some of Michael Jackson songs in medley. They are perfect in a small space, they surprisingly suit the large stage. They are spontaneous, both musically and in performance. The joke, the interaction, all feels natural. Great show.

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Tohpati Bertiga dropped their mega rockin’ bomb. This is a trio consists of long-time partners/buddies Tohpati (guitar) and Indro Hardjodikoro (bass) and Gugun Blues Shelter’s drummer, Aditya Wibowo better known as Bowie (drums). Playing songs like “Rocket”, “My Dream” and a very loud version of “Smooth Criminal” as a part of Michael Jackson medley, the freedom of playing from this three guys is captivating. Cool heavy rockin’ time surely boosted the energy of everyone in this event. Brutal play by Bowie, he even jumped over the drums. Absolutely crazy. The Indonesia Bass Family showed what can be done by having bass straight in front.

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Then on Stage Wingko came a captivating band. Bonita & the Hus Band. Intense, fun, joy, that’s how the band describes their concept. For this event the band appeared full team including Bonita’s husband Adoy (guitar), Barata (percussion) and Jimmy (saxophone).  Starting with “Bangun”, they carried on with “Do What You Gotta Do” and “Ain’t Gonna Fall”. The combination of soul power house and all out performance of Bonita and the tight rhythm from Adoy actually worked perfectly. They created a stunning formula with acoustic approach. As the daughter of legendary Koes Hendratmo and sister of Anda Perdana, Bonita possesses all aspects needed to be a star. She is charismatic and multi talent. Intense, fun, joy, yes! Bonita rocks.

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Barry Likumahuwa participated not with his BLP but this time with his new project called Barry Likumahuwa Experiments. In this project Barry brought 4 friends. Jordy Waelauruw on trumpet gave an infectious funky lines along with Barry. Funky, cheerful and skillful, Barry Likumahuwa and his gang gave cool entertainment to everyone.

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Yura and Syaharani and the QueenFireWorks sealed this year’s edition. Syaharani and the QueenFireworks (ESQI:EF) also made a warm closing show. Eventhough Syaharani has the kind of smoky voice that’s just like wine, getting better with age, she is more than just a singer. She is also a true entertainer and has more than enough experience in doing so. Together with her partner in crime, senior guitarist Donny Suhendra and multi instrumentalist/creative brain Didit Saat she formed ESQI:EF, presenting wide variety of music. For tonight the team consisted of Syaharani (vocal), Donny Suhendra (guitar), Eddy Syakroni (drums), Bekti (bass) and Andy Gomez (keyboard). Syaharani made everyone feel relax by sitting on the edge of the stage while singing her first song. The song choice ranging from standards (Syaharani’s version of “Misty” deserved 5 stars by the way, the cover of “Route 66” was fun), their own songs including “Anytime”, “Arisan Hujan” and “Morning Coffee” and a Javanese song titled “Jangkrik Genggong”.

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Yura. Who doesn’t know her today? She rises fast like a comet and now stands as one of the most wanted names for music festivals. We saw her show involving a clown on stage at the Java Jazz Festival, we saw her overcrowded show at Kampoeng Jazz 2015. She got even more people on her stage in Loenpia Jazz. Performing with a pack of talented young musicians from Bandung including Khrisna Alda (bass) and Iwan Popo (keys),  Billy Ramdani (saxophone), Rully Parulian (drums) and Rizky Eka Putra (guitar),Yura sang many of her popular own songs like “Balada Sirkus”, “Kataji”, “Jester Suit”, “Berawal dari Tatap”, “Super Lunar”, “Cinta dan Rahasia” and covering famous songs like “Hip Hip Hura” and “Bang Bang”. Yura and the band made the Loenpia Jazz became much sweeter, and that should made the audience went back home with smile. So, ESQI:EF on one corner, Yura on another, Loenpia Jazz 2015 reached the end with great climax.

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Held earthy just like a people party under a lovely, cozy surroundings and friendly sunshine, Loenpia Jazz successfully created a miniature of wonderful world where ats from different corners of the world could live side by side in lovely harmony. The headline is jazz, it’s true, but Jazz Ngisoringin and everyone behind this event made a brilliant effort by presenting fine composition of talents that involved national artists, jazz communities from several regions and good local talents in good balance. And in terms of music variety, we got many sides of jazz, also the mixture with other Western genre and traditional elements. This is what we always love when covering an event in another region, we can learn about so many things and see how beautiful and rich our culture really is. An event like this is beneficial in many aspects. It can promote the region, it can promote the local arts, and it will definitely show the openness of jazz towards different musical patterns and styles. Kudos to you guys, and congratulation Semarang for having a very good annual jazz festival. We look forward to see  you again next year. Keep jazzin’ folks!

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Reporter & Photographer: Mia Damayanti Sjahir , Septian

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