Right in the first day of November 2017, early in the morning we got a terrible news. A man who we are really close with, an established communications strategist, independent creative development collaborator, a storyteller and host at Demajors Radio’s 2Jams Widyasena Sumadio passed away at the age of 51 caused by heart attack.
To us, he is like a father/brother/friend/mentor/motivator and bank of ideas. It was him who helped us to establish ourselves. He opened up the door, introduced us to some important figures as well as letting them know about us and what we’re doing. At that time he was still acted as the Promotion officer of the Java Jazz Festival. During this period, the medias often met him in any press conferences held by the Java Jazz. While waiting for the artist, he communicatively made everyone felt at ease by throwing jokes as well as subliminally set the standard of interview session. A great moderator and MC he was, he always knew how to bridge the artist and medias that in the end created a quality session.
As a jazz enthusiast, this man who was actually gifted with singing voice had a deep concern of jazz in Indonesia. He has done many things any which way he could to keep pushing jazz forward. He helped promoting many bands, giving them ideas, even did talkshows to help young musicians to promote their bands. One of this talkshow was in our event in 2012 with the title: “Communication Tools for Your B(r)and” (http://jazzuality.com/jazz-event-report/jazzuality-christmas-jazz-at-bandung-indah-plaza-the-report/).
You see, his passion, calling and works are unique. Perhaps some might find it difficult to get what he was doing. We asked him once about his profession, asking him to simplify it so we could understand, and he said this: “Well, basically what I’m doing is connecting the dots.” Yes, connecting the dots. Connecting people so they could grow and achieve bigger things. Connecting ideas to make something new. Connecting spirits to overcome obstacles and stand as the winner.
During the past several years until the end of his life he worked as the host of 2Jams, a jazz program of Demajors Radio. He interviewed musicians and bands, promoting their album, playing their songs and anything else to let the listeners know every interesting stuff about the particular band he was talking about. In fact, he was still doing it passed midnight in the last day of his life.
His last program was promoting the new album of LIGRO : “Transisi” including an in-depth interview with two of the founders, Agam Hamzah and Gusti Hendy ‘Gigi’. He felt pain in his chest when he woke up in the morning, brought to the hospital. The medics did everything they could, but failed to save him. Just like us, many people was shocked with the news. The grief immidiately took the social medias by storm. So many musicians and jazz figures are still mourning until now including us.
As we thought of making something special, we got an offer from The Papandayan Hotel. This hotel has been doing tremendously in presenting high quality of jazz to all jazz afficionados in Bandung with its TP Jazz which is still running after around 4 years. From the curator Venche Manuhutu, we heard the wish of them to support the jazz development further by inviting jazz communities to be a part of them. “We realize how important the role of jazz communities really is, we have seen the fruits, so we want us to work together for the future of jazz in Indonesia.” said Venche to us. They let us utilize their supercool TP Stage which is built exclusively for jazz with high quality acoustic treatment to make anyone able to feel the perfect ambience just like being in a top class jazz clubs out there. Having a jazz community in this kind of environment will definitely boost the regeneration much faster and better. We can bring the young talents to taste how it is playing in a room with top-notch acoustic and sound. And of course, this spot is perfect for a special tribute to honor an important figure like Widyasena Sumadio.
So, we dedicate our first edition of JAZZUALITY @ TP to honor him. The theme is “IN MEMORY OF WIDYASENA SUMADIO”. After deciding the theme and plan, we directly arranged the lineup, trying to invite musicians who are connected to him and those who he was really proud of. Apparently many musicians love, respect and miss him like we do. Quickly we got names to fill up the slot, consisting of musicians from Bandung and Jakarta who got his support during their career. They are ready to give honour to Widyasena through what they do best: playing music.
First, there will be Agam Hamzah. This man plays guitar like a maestro. He plays jazz, bossanova, classical, rock and everything in between like magic. With his daredevil avant-garde jazz-rock experimental Ligro, he has gone international under USA-based label MoonJune Records with so many praises given to him and the band from all over the world.
Ligro is the last band Widyasena interviewed for 2Jams, a program of Demajors Radio just a couple of hours before his passing. All the way to midnight, they talked about the new release of Ligro titled “Transisi”. Agam and Widyasena still chatted after that until around 1:30 am, not knowing that it was going to be their last talk. We invited Agam to participate in this event since he was one of the last person who interacted with Widyasena. He is important, luckily he was available and agreed to visit Bandung for this event.
You will have the chance to listen to the music that ‘speaks’ from him. He can swing sweet and smooth, he can play breezy and dreamy with bossa, he can combine any of those with classical seamlessly, but when the time’s right, he can be so venomous and edgy the way he’s been showing with Ligro. As we said, this man doesn’t just play music, he speaks, whispers even shouts through music. Don’t believe us? Come see and hear yourself.
We also invited some of the successful music artistes from Bandung who Widyasena’s always been proud of. First, the one of a kind guitarist with such skill and brain far ahead his age. Like Agam Hamzah, he has marked his existance internationally but at much younger age, again thanks to MoonJune Records. He builds his fortress in between Progressive and Experimental Jazz, he has quite remarkable experience in Ethnic and World Music as well. He is none other than Tesla Manaf.
We still remember the day when he started his career as a duo alongside Bayu Kristanto almost 10 years ago and followed his journey ever since. He carried on with two other duos: with Grace Sahertian and Ivan ‘AJ the Real’, both resulted one album. He made huge wave with G.E.T, but then he surprised everyone by establishing a progressive jazz with Balinese taste: the Tesla Manaf ft Mahagotra Ganesha (using a gamelan ensemble and a Barong dancer). This groundbreaking concept placed him higher than before, which also attracted MoonJune to recruited him. With MoonJune he went international with an album full of praises from critics around the world. Suddenly world is within reach for him. He went touring overseas and the world recognizes him as a brilliant, if not genius, musician and places him among the best in the world.
Last August we noticed that he made another movement that invites his audience into a bizzare, surrealistic world through his music. Haunting, hypnotizing, full of emotion, he unlocks the door never opened before and let us feel what we never thought existed. Just a few weeks ago Tesla collaborated with photographer Mia Damayanti Sjahir to create one stunning collaboration that stimulate the ears, eyes and feels ; all to remember the late Riza Arshad. The combination of his music and slides of Riza Arshad’s photos taken by Mia proves that the combination of art forms could create a new experience that would last a life time.
Grieving could have a different perspective through his music, we have no doubt of that. And this man always have his own way to send the messages about anything he feels. The late Widyasena had always been proud of him as he stated to us many, many times, so Tesla Manaf’s presence is a must.
Next, the Manuhutu Brothers: David Manuhutu and Ezra Manuhutu are confirmed. David Manuhutu is now enjoying his career on top. We first known him as a phenomenal jazz kid when he showed tremendous talent in jazz at his early teen years with his band Bop Vivant among others. It didn’t take long for him to gain recognition as well as achievements such as earning jury’s appreciation at Montreaux Piano Jazz Festival in 2008, the Winner and Grand Champion of Singapore Performing Arts Junior Competition 2010 with the Indonesian Youth Regeneration. He has performed in many prestigious stages like the Java Jazz Fetival, Wine and Jazz Festival 2010 in Singapore and the Shanghai World Expo 2010.
Just a year later, he went to Berklee College of Music under scholarship. According to his father, senior jazz guitarist/teacher Venche Manuhutu, it was Widyasena who suggested him to contact Dwiki Dharmawan to ask about the possibility of getting a scholarship from the government. His suggestion proved to be right. David got it and went to Berklee. In there, he earned place on Dean’s List, given to students who achieve high grades by the average of 3.4 or above.
After returning home, he’s been making big wave. Look at his album, “A Journey” which featured two top American jazz guitarists: Adam Rogers and Peter Bernstein plus drummer from Peru, Ken Ychicawa. The last time we met him was at the Ubud Village Jazz Festival 2017 with Rafi Muhammad and Robert MR among others, and just a couple of days ago, we saw him as a proud member of the new Indro Hardjodikoro Quartet. He’s just back from Album Tour in Japan too earlier this month, visiting Tokyo and Nagoya.
We believe he is going to make more waves as he’s just begun with this new chapter. We haven’t been able to feature him after his return, we are excited to see what he has in store today.
David’s younger brother, Ezra Manuhutu is a rising bassist who is going to follow his footsteps soon. Ezra was once a saxophonist, but later switched to bass. He was the bassist of New Equinox, a jazz trio who played regularly in our past event, the Bumi Sangkuriang Jazz Night. Now he is active in a group full of young jazz stunts: The New Blood. He is having better and better groove now along with enhanced skill. This time he will play with his big bro, it’s going to be cool to see jazz flowing out from the Manuhutu Brothers.
Also from Bandung is a girl who’s not only gifted in singing with her strong soulful vocal character but also has strong artistic taste. True, she is also a fiber artist, but in pursuing her singing career she makes her journey far more meaningful than just to entertain. She has a solid character, she knows what she wants and she stays true to it. She is Grace Sahertian.
Like Tesla, we have been following her steps from the start, when she served as the vocalist of a soulful jazz band Palm from Moodytunes. As we mentioned, she made a collaboration with Tesla exploring the world music terrain. Amazingly, she also joined the neo soul group Circle O’Fifth in the same year. We found her in Margo Rising Stars among other projects she was involved in.
Since 2011 she came to realize that in order to fulfill her dream, she got to listen to her heart. However, it still took a couple of years of soul searching to finally found what she really wanted and how she should make her debut album. When it was released last year, we knew that it was worth to wait. The album contains more than just songs. In this album titled “Hela”, she tells a lot of stories about her life, including tracing back her roots all the way back to Porto land in Saparua, Maluku. She takes it important as she sang the title track by using the nearly extinct language, Yamdena. Other than taking us to tracing back her roots, she lets the listeners feel what she feels. Sadness, anger, desperation, contemplation and motivation to stand tall and keep on moving.
For this event Grace is bringing her players including Omega Touselak (keys & synth), Rayhan Sudrajat (guitar), Faishal M Fasya (keys & synth bass) and Gantira Sena (drums).
She is among young artists from Bandung who Widaysena was really proud of. So we think it’s important to have her in this musical ceremony.
The last name joining this special ceremony’s lineup is a phenomenal young man who shone from a very early age. He is a drummer, but he surprised everyone not only because he played amazingly good, but he released his debut album titled “Can’t Stop the Beat” by having Harvey Mason as the producer, and featured no less than 18 world’s jazz giants including Mason’s mates in Fourplay Bob James and Nathan East, Ernest Tibbs, Tom Scott and many more. He also holds 3 MURI (The Indonesia World Records Museum) Records, all related to his awesome achievements in such tender age, and for us, this young man’s never stop redefining jazz with his distinctive, youthful flavors, by simply being himself. He simply knows how to hippin’ and hoppin’ with jazz. Any bands he’s in will bring such vibrant colors which feels modern yet ‘jazzy tasty’. He is none other than Rafi Muhammad.
We believe that short introduction above would already show you that Rafi is like no other. Even Harvey Mason told us that he is indeed rare. But actually he’s never stop moving with ideas and creativity. He made impact with his bands, from Rafi and the Beat to The Art of Tree, he was in LLW second formation, then Her Coat of Arms.
Last year he announced his upcoming solo album followed by the release of his single “Break the Rules” on March 2017. All these activities leads to the release of his album “Transition” just a couple of days ago (12 November) which was launched not in Indonesia but in Motion Blue Yokohama, Japan! It became possible since this album is under an open minded Japanese record label, AMSA Records. This label holds great artists in variety of genres from rock to jazz. We found some of amazing musicians inside this label other than Rafi that we know very well like Boris Savoldelli (Italy) and two impressionistic jazzmen from USA, guitarist Hristo Vitchev and pianist Weber Iago.
Rafi’s new album “Transition” is a big movement for him as he steps into his young adult age. This album more or less depicts his musical journey and experience throughout the years. You will find the genre he has encountered from jazz, rock (fusion), psychedelic music, progressive and of course hip hop. Dewa Budjana and Indra Lesmana were featured in this album among other fellow musicians.
Widyasena has been supporting Rafi for many years. We met them together 3 years ago in Bandung when they promoted the Art of Tree, and he spoke many great things about the band and Rafi. When we make a tribute like this to him, we know that we have to invite Rafi. Luckily he’s available and happy to be in this event. For this gig he will play alongside Doni Joesran (keyboard) and Taufan Wirzon (bass).
Once again, the Jazzuality @ TP will come on Sunday, 26 November 2017 at the TP STAGE , THE PAPANDAYAN HOTEL starting from 7:00 pm onwards. This event is totally FREE of any charge. We hope you to come and join us in this jazzy ceremony. We all miss him, may God rest his soul and spirit peacefully, we will always pray for him and hope this event could become our way to send our respect to him.
JAZZUALITY @ TP : IN MEMORY OF WIDYASENA
Date: Sunday, 26 November 2017
Time: 07:00 – onwards
Location: TP Stage, The Papandayan Hotel
Jl. Jendral Gatot Subroto no 83, Bandung
– Agam Hamzah (Jakarta)
– Rafi Muhammad (Jakarta)
– The Manuhutu Brothers: David Manuhutu and Ezra Manuhutu
– Tesla Manaf
– Grace Sahertian
Supported by: Demajors (thanks to David Karto) and Venche Music School