Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Java Jazz Concert

It was a brief article in a local newspaper that I subscribe that gave information about the Java Jazz Solo Concert. It has no relation at all with the Java Jazz Festival which is normally held every early March. Java Jazz group was established in 1991 by noted Jazz musician Indra Lesmana (keyboards), with Donny Suhendra (guitar), AS Mates (bass), Gilang Ramadhan (drums), and the late Embong Rahardjo (saxophone).

In 1993 the group changed its formation with Dewa Budjana (guitar), Jeffrey Tahalele (bass), Cendy Luntungan (drums), Ron Reeves (percussion), the late Embong Rahardjo remains at saxophone, and Indra Lesmana on keyboards. The group released an album titled "Bulan di Atas Asia" before leaving the country to participate at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Den Haag, in 1994.

In 1998, after being vacuum about four years, Indra Lesmana regrouped the first formation and released an album in 1999 titled Sabda Prana, and became dormant again right after the death of Embong Rahardjo. The current formation was established after the group was dormant for about 11 years.


The performance was held at Graha Bhakti Budaya, Taman Ismail Marzuki, Jakarta on the night of December 10, 2009. The room was darkened at about 8.30 pm, and photos of all players appeared one by one at the backdrop of the stage, followed by Java Jazz logo in red with Java Island map behind it.

When the lights were turned on, Indra Lesmana (keyboards), Donny Suhendra (electric guitar), Dewa Budjana (electric and accoustic guitar, and banjo), AS Mates (electric bass) and Gilang Ramadhan (drums), were already at their positions and hit the big auditorium with the first composition, titled Drama, created by Indra Lesmana. It was taken from their previous album that first played in 1991.


The concert marked the launch of their latest album, titled Joy Joy Joy, produced by Inline Music that contains two CDs and priced at Rp.100,000. The title was taken from the music composition created by Indra Lesmana in 1985 and recorded for the first time in this album.


Indra Lesmana, shown at the above photo, is son of a widely respected Jazz musician the late Jack Lesmana, but he created and built his own big and respected name in the jazz community with his mastery and creativity on his keyboards.
Drama got applause from attentive audience, and without a word the group immediately followed with the second song titled Exit Permit, a new composition created by Indra Lesmana and Gilang Ramadhan.


Lembah was the third composition, also taken from previous album, which also got an applause from the audience. The group took a brief break while Indra greeted the audience and gave a short speech about the group and their album. Indra jokingly explained that it was initially difficult to get exit permit from the members' wives to practice, especially the permit from Shahnaz to Gilang, but then they finally got it after seeing their seriousness. That's where the title of the second composition came from.


Donny Suhendra, above photo, was born in Bandung on November 9, 1960. He started his music career in 1977 as guitarist of WE band, then in 1979 joined G’Brill Rock band in Bandung. In 1985 he joined KRAKATAU band with Dwiki Dharmawan, Budhy Haryono and Pra Budi Dharma, and awarded as the Best in Indonesia from Yamaha Light Music Contest in 1985.

He formed ADEGAN Band in 1991 with Indra Lesmana, Gilang Ramadhan, Hari Moekti, and Mates, and released 3 albums. He joined as guitarist of Java Jazz in the same year and toured to several cities in US. In 2006 he contributed in the making of Syaharani & the Queenfireworks album and still actively tours with the group. During the Java Jazz performance, Donny showed his class as seasoned jazz guitarist.


AS Mates payed almost flawlessly and in a couple of compositions gave distinct vibrant colors to the music with his fretless bass.


Dewa Budjana, the renowned guitarist, played calmly with his electric and acoustic guitar and also with banjo. In Border Line, a new and brave composition he created together with Indra Lesmana, he revealed thick riffs of jazz rock that made it different from the rest of the JavaJazz compositions.


The audience was satisfied to see the performance of Gilang Ramadhan who hit a solo drum note as signal for the group to kick the concert off. He joined Indra Lesmana to form Nebula, a fusion band, back in 1985. He then joined Karimata band in 1986, Krakatau (1986-1988), Andromeda (1987), Indra Lesmana's Group (1987), Adegan (1991), Java Jazz (1991-1993), PIG (1996-), Nera (2002), and became drummer of the legendary rock band God Bless in 2004. Gilang Ramadhan is the only drummer who got sponsored from Zildjian, a US based symbal company since 1992.


When Indra introduced members of the group, he at first deliberately omitted Gilang's name, to the joy of the audience, before grinning, apologizing and jokingly said the he kept on forgetting his name even though he got the exit permit already from his wife.


Among the compositions that I like best is Crystal Sky, created by Indra Lesmana as a remembrance to his beloved father, the late Jack Lesmana. The group also played The Seeker (Indra Lesmana), I wish (Indra Lesmana), Bulan di Atas Asia (Indra Lesmana) that became a favorite composition for many people, Violation (Indra Lesmana) and Joy Joy Joy (Indra Lesmana) that became the tittle of their album.




Even though the audience was very appreciative and gave applause to each of the group's composition, but Indonesian audience tends not to be that expressive in enjoying the music, that in some way will also affect the mood of the musicians.


It was definitely a good jazz performance, with sold out tickets at Rp.150,000 each for VIP seats and Rp.100,000 for box seats. The event organizer, POS Entertainment, and the group had made a good decision for choosing GBB-TIM for the performance, as it's one of the best in the city for location, traffic, parking, exposures, with relatively affordable rental fee. While waiting to see for their next performance, let's enjoy the music compositions in the two "Joy Joy Joy" CDs.