A Tale of Two Gigs
Jakartass has and hasn't been out and about in the past week. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the reformed Java Jazz play on Thursday, but as I get a mention in Er Audy Zandri's review in the Post, this is my edit of it.
(Long-term readers may recall that Audy got an honourable mention in my review
last year.of simakDialog's launch of their most recent album Demi Masa
Er Audy Zandri/The Jakarta Post
It was Thursday 8:30 p.m. and the many seats in front of the giant stage at Graha Bhakti Budaya, Taman Ismail Marzuki, including those in the balcony, were filled with celebrities and die hard jazz fans.
Although most willing to attend, noted local blogger Jakartass wrote to me that according to WartaJazz
, the tickets were sold out.
“It was sold out. The thing is, WartaJazz only sold tickets for the best seats, and since it’s a highly anticipated concert, the demand was tremendous,” said Agus Setiawan Basuni from WartaJazz.
Priced at Rp.150,000 and Rp.100,000 for balcony seats - quite expensive for a jazz concert - all those sold at the ticket booth quickly ran out. At about 8:45 p.m., the audience was ready with their D-SLR cameras hungry for shots.
Starting with a two-minute flashback video of Java Jazz, Gilang Ramadhan
put a single hit on his drum to signal the beginning of the concert, quickly snatched by Dewa Budjana
’s heavily distorted riffs on the guitar.Indra Lesmana
, sitting to the left surrounded by piles of keyboards, got busy filling the lead while Donny Suhendra
on the far left thickened Budjana’s riffs, creating more-rock-than-jazz influenced duotones. Drama was in the air, and Mates
was keeping the herd in line with his deep fretless bass sound.
The five jazz masters were on their own, both in attire and musical color, with vast squares of white sheets spread at their feet.
“We never try to limit each member’s musical aspiration,” said Indra when asked about Budjana’s rock induced playing.
The audience gazed at the remnants of JavaJazz, the legendary jazz fusion band that broke musical boundaries back in the nineties. Of the eleven tunes played, six were newly refined versions of tracks found on their previous two releases, Bulan Di Asia
(often mistakenly called Bulan Di Atas Asia
) from 1994 and Sabda Prana (1998), while the remaining five songs are to be found on their most recent album, Joy Joy Joy, released this year.
The untimely death of Embong Raharjo
in 2001 lead Java Jazz to disband and the remaining members to pursue solo careers.
“Today, we’re playing to remember Embong. Not with sadness, but a celebration of his life,” said Indra backstage.
Donny added,.“Embong’s position is irreplaceable. Budjana is here to fill the gap, but even he was a member.”
And Budjana really adds the spice to the new JavaJazz. Deploying both banjo and acoustic guitar alongside his signature Parker, Embong signature tunes Lembah
and Bulan Di Atas Asia
are now filled with Minang influences, while Border Line
from the new album revealed Budjana’s familiar riffs as found in Kromatik Lagi
Yet JavaJazz cannot be separated from the ingenuity of the busy drummer Gilang Ramadhan
, Mates on the low bass notes and the soft yet slicing tones of Donny.
We paid attention to the way Bulan Di Atas Asia
was played without Embong, allowing Indra’s keyboard and Budjana’s banjo to differently color the happy atmosphere of the song’s verse. And when both Gilang and Mates lowered the tempo to let the dreamy part of the song flow, Donny stepped up, closing his eyes to take the audience up to moonlit skies. Gentle picking on his strings released a touch of clouds, and with indescribable tones he elevated the song into a heartfelt journey, from an almost sad one into a glorified new beginning.
The concert ended at about 10:30 p.m. When asked how they felt about their performance that night, all agreed that it was “not bad”. For them it was, but for us it was a relief after 11 years of waiting in despair and uncertainty for their renewal.
........................................ The Jazzuality review is here