We all need space, room to live, to share, to be alone, to think, to dream ….

Those of us living in an urban environment face problems in finding ourselves,in understanding that we are infinitesimal specks in the grand scheme. Some fear that knowledge, and others wish to embrace it.

During the annual Earth Hour millions of people switch off their lights and realise that there is a night sky. Mariners know it, and have done ever seen humans first starting migrating and steering by the stars. Away from concrete in rural areas, on cloudless nights sit atop a high hill or on a deserted beach one can gaze upwards in awe and wonder.

That’s what the Prophets did.

In more recent times, as our species has turned away from Mother Nature towards technology, talk has turned to ‘conquering’ space, outer space, out there. Satellites now clutter Earth’s outer atmosphere, while astronomers count the stars in unimaginable light years through ever larger telescopes and search for alien life forms.

Is there life on Mars?

Jazz musicians are not immune from thinking about the unknowable in our lifetimes, so here’s a selection of tracks which I hope you Earthlings will enjoy.

Tracks
01. Arve Henriksen – Viewing Infinite Space
02. Natalia Mateo – Tonight I’ll Sleep in Space
03. Bill Frisell – Telstar
04. Django Bates – Life on Mars
05. Alan Lee – Flying Saucer
06. Modern Jazz Quartet – Visitor From Mars
07. Magnus Öström – The Moon (And the Air It Moves)
08. Jeff Beck – Space Boogie
09. Mick Goodrick & Joe Diorio – Space Walk
10. Simcock-Garland-Sirkis – Space Junk
11. Tohpati Bertiga – Lost In Space
12. Neil Cowley Trio – Weightless

No, that’s not a typo in the title, but I did start a search for covers of the Thelonious Monk classic tune   which is the most recorded jazz standard composed by a jazz musician.


Midnight is a magic hour, both a start and a finish and is generally quiet, except for drunken revellers at weekends and December 31st. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said it less prosaically …

Midnight! The outpost of advancing day!
The frontier town and citadel of night!
The watershed of Time, from which the streams
Of Yesterday and To-morrow take their way,
One to the land of promise and of light,
One to the land of darkness and of dreams!

And jazz musicians have found ways to express it in different time signatures.

Tracks
01. Port Said – Countdown to Midnight
02. Mary Lou Williams – Midnight Stomp
03. Eddie Lang & Lonnie Johnson – Midnight Call Blues
04. Tuba Skinny – Midnight Blues
05. Rod Harris Jr. – Midnight Blue
06. Trisum – Guitar in the Midnight
07. Al di Meola – Bianca’s Midnight Lullaby
08. Ralph Towner – Midnight Blue….Red Shift
09. Cosmic Groove Orchestra – Midnight Tango
10. Bruford-Levin Upper Extremities – Cracking the Midnight Glass
11. Terri Lyne Carrington w. Nguyên Lê – Burning of the Midnight Lamp
12. Julian & Roman Wasserfuhr – Midnight Walk (Track incorrectly labelled)

If you really want to hear sixteen different versions of the Monk classic, click here

There is something very wrong in a society which needs to segregate women from men, because of the actions of a few misogynists.

In Jakarta, commuter trains have a women only carriage at each end. TransJakarta buses have women only compartments at the front guarded by a conductor. There are even a couple of women only buses, as IndoJazzia recently found to his cost. It was barely a quarter full, but no admittance was allowed.

Positive discrimination is just that: discrimination

So why is IndoJazzia offering this downloadable compilation of women jazzers?
a. Because we can?
b. Because they inspire?
c. Because they are virtually unknown in this country?
d. Because … watch, listen to the compilation,  and you decide.

Tracks
01. Sidsel Endresen – Western Wind
02. Monica Vasconcelos – Out Of The Doldrums
03. Meshell Ndegeocello – Good Day Bad
04. Charenee Wade – Ain’t No Such Thing As Superman
05. Andrea Wolper – The Girls In Their Dresses
06. Lea DeLaria – The Ballad of Sweeney Todd
07. Carla Bley w. Julie Tippetts – Indonesian Dock Sucking Supreme
08. Luciana Souza – Free at Last
09. Maria Pia De Vito – God Must Be A Boogie Man
10. Rigmor Gustafsson – The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines
11. Sidsel Endresen – Travelling Still

Bonus Download

Hatfield and the North – Central ITV Studios, Nottingham 29 03.90 is a very rare treat.

The band is a legendary part of the ‘Canterbury Scene‘ … Robert Wyatt, Soft Machine, Caravan, Bill Bruford et al.  A bootleg of a rehearsal for a TV show in 1990 has recently surfaced and with French jazz pianist Sophia Domancich  on keyboards for just this one gig, the band display their jazz improvisational skills not heard before or since.

 

The voice is the most primeval of instruments, from grunts to gasps, sighs to shouts, and ululations to utterings, emotions and the rhythms of life can be conveyed without the absolute need to bang or blow, scrape or strum.

For some, it’s a cultural thing, from the throat singers of Tuvan (Mongolia) to convicts on a chain gang singing a work song such as the recording by John and Alan Lomax  of a man identified as Lightning and a group of his fellow black inmates at Darrington State Prison Farm in Texas in 1934.

Then there are the scat and vocalese singers, and a-capella groups who take the place of and/or add their voices to ‘traditional’ instruments to ‘imitate’ missing instruments.

Choirs, such as the ensemble of Japanese bank clerks, teachers and children assembled by Geinoh Yamashirogumi, are more communal (and more expensive) than solo singers who play with themselves via multi-tracking.

If you enjoy this compilation, do feel free to voice your appreciation in the comment box below.

Tracks
01. Bobby McFerrin – Wailers
02. Boris Savoldelli – Crosstown Traffic
03. Jacob Collier – Flintstones
04. Petra Haden – Psycho Main Title
05. Ella Fitzgerald – Little Jazz
06. Flying Stork w. Norma Winsone – Mother Lou
07. Maria João – Fábula
08. Lightning – Long John
09. The Persuasions – There’s A Train
10. Geinoh Yamashirogumi – Ulepa
11. Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Khwishi Khwishi
12. Sonam Chungjung & Sonam Lamo – Natar yulgay namkar
13. Trilok Gurtu – Trilok’s Solo
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KvitrettenBlack Coffee

A compilation of (mostly) jazz interpretations of songs of this month.

Tracks
01. Sarah Vaughan – September Song
02. Nina Simone – One September Day
03. Dorothy Ashby – September In The Rain
04. Grady Martin and the Slew Foot Five – September Song
05. Hendrik Meurkens Quartet – September Choro (fr. album A Night In Jakarta)
06. Mats Eilertsen – September
07. Nat King Cole & George Shearing – September Song
08. Julie London – September In The Rain
09. Mark Murphy – September 15th (the Metheny/Mays melody)
10. Robert Wyatt – September the Ninth
11. Robert Wyatt w. Pascal Comelade – September Song

Musicians
Nesia Ardi: vocals
Andy Gomez: piano
Jesse Mates: drums
Odi Purba: acoustic bass
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Nial Djuliarso: piano
Indra Dauna: trumpet

IndoJazzia first ‘discovered’ Nesia Medyanti Ardi during the jam session which followed Erik Sondhy’s album launch at Paviliun 28 in South Jakarta back in June. What impressed us then was her energy and her mastery of scat singing, as ‘pioneered’ by the still revered Ella Fitzgerald.

Her infectious enthusiasm enervated the other musicians and captivated the audience, yet Nesia didn’t come across as a diva wannabe, someone who’ll pop up on infotainment TV channels any time soon.

Her self-released album Look For The Silver Lining, with Robert MR on guitar. has seven tracks, six ‘standards’ and one, Hello Lady, Goodbye, she wrote herself, which this reviewer prefers.

I told her this in an email exchange, and she wrote the following: Actually I do have more original compositions and I will record them someday. For me singing jazz is a passion, I don’t expect many people to buy my CD or to pay a lot to see me singing; the only thing I really want is just to sing, not to impress but to touch and move people’s hearts because that’s what jazz does to me.

Passion and positivity: two qualities to be admired and supported.

They were what Nesia offered the invited audience at her showcase on Monday 15th August at iCanStudioLive in Kebayoran Baru, close to Jakarta’s business district.  Nesia’s gig was a part of this year’s iCan Freedoms Festival, a series of 17 shows which ends on 17th August, the date in 1945 when Sukarno issued the country’s Declaration of Independence, and celebrated every year with flag raising, community games and music festivals.

It seemed natural, then that Nesia started her set with Rayuan Pulau Kelapa, a ‘patriotic’ song about the beauty of Indonesia written by Ismail Marzuki in the 1940s. I was reminded of Nick Mahamit, the first post-war Indonesian jazz pianist of note. After the show  Nesia told me that the original arrangements of Marzuki’s songs at the time were “highly influenced by jazz and Melayu music.”

The second song was A-Tisket, A-Tasket, originally a 19th century American children’s nursery song, but made popular by Ella Fitzgerald in 1938. Nesia told us that Ella is her “favourite singer – ever”, and while she demonstrated her love of scat singing Andy Gomez rocked at the piano, often using his right hand to play the lower keys, with his left crossing over to play the melody lines.

The next three songs were Nesia compositions. Trumpet player Indra Dauna was introduced for the first. You and I, Undefined. He had a mellow fluidity and a tonal feel, an ECM quality which reminded this reviewer very much of the late Kenny Wheeler.

This was followed by Nesia demonstrating through iCan, that she certainly can scat sing. Nesia later told me that she imitates many music instruments such as trombone, trumpet, guitar, percussion, and that she never thinks about what to do next. She just listens to the chord changes and improvises through it.

In other words, she ‘goes with the flow’ and her heart.

Noted jazz pianist Nial Djuliarso replaced Andy for the next song, So Long, Goodbye, which was carefully controlled with less improvisation, yet thoroughly engaging, and recalled the work of England’s finest singer Norma Winstone,

Of particular note was the contribution of all the group to the evening and, indeed, we  the audience. Nesia held us all with her presence, yet gave space to each of the group who were happy to shine. and even ‘quip’ with each other, musically speaking. This was exemplified in the classic blues song Don’t Put Sugar In My Coffee which featured a scat conversation between Nesia and pianist Indra recalling Bobby McFerrin, and a lengthy drum solo from Jesse Mates which garnered much applause.

Next up was the Duke Ellington song It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got The Swing. It swung, with inventive piano from Andy Gomez, and a striding acoustic bass from the consistent Odi Purba. Nesia whistled a solo, and we all applauded.

My Cat followed, with more Bill Evans piano styling, and so we came to the last number, a Nesia solo, no band, just the audience. Nesia began singing Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry  … and we gladly sang back “Be Happy”.

And we were; Nesia had sung and “touched our hearts”, while staying true to the origins of jazz as an entertainment. The range of jazz styles we heard, ably and joyfully supported by her accompanying friends augurs well for the future. There are few current Indonesian jazzers who provide links to the music’s past, yet embrace the present.  This was not an evening of nostalgia ….

So we demanded an encore and got one. Nial Djuliarso returned to piano. “Do you know Honeysuckle Rose?” she asked him. He nodded yes, and we were treated to a swinging version of the Fats Waller classic, with a relaxed Nial.

An excellent evening all round, and IndoJazzia looks forward to reliving it when the videos get uploaded to YouTube … and here.

Photo: Mark Heyward

Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidor, Baron Thielemans, commonly known as Toots Thielemans, died in his sleep yesterday (22nd). He was 94, and retired from performing two years ago.

He is best known for popularising the harmonica as a jazz instrument, although his one ‘hit’ was Bluesette on which he played guitar and whistled.

He performed and recorded with Benny Goodman, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, Stephane Grappelli, J.J. Johnson, Bill Evans, Shirley Horn, Joe Pass, Paul Simon,  Billy Joel ….

While exploring the link between sugar in soft drinks such as Fanta and obesity, I got to wondering how the 300-pound Thomas Waller got so obese that ‘Fats‘ became the name he was, and still is, known by.

I never found the answer to that question, but have found several tracks in my jazz archives with ‘sugar in the title, and here they are.

01. Alberta Hunter (w. Fats Waller) – Sugar
02. Fats Waller and his Rhythm – Sugar Rose
03. Cleo Laine – Sugar
04. Nina Simone – I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl
05. Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra – She’s Sweeter than Sugar
06. Jazztrack – Sugar Bass
07. Andy Sheppard – Sugar Beach Hotel
08. Ulf Wakenius – Sugar Man
09. Fats Waller and his Rhythm – Sugar Blues
10. Bill Frisell – Old Sugar Bear
11. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – Sugar Storm (Reprise)

Note: There’s a downloadable compilation of non-jazz Sugar Tracks here.