Song by Adi Darmawan, from Dictionary 3
Guitar : Agam Hamzah
Bass : Adi Darmawan
Drums: Gusti Hendi
Video directed by Tohpati

 

There’s another video from the same session here.

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.

Review by Arlo Hennings

JL Sunset, which winds through the heart of neon-lit Seminyak, Bali was in full swing on 9th August, 2016. Your humble jazz fan was on the back of a motorbike en route to Erik Sondhy’s album launch show at the up market warung, La Sacilia.

I had a ringside seat at the candle lit media table. Before Erik stepped onto the stage to deliver his solo piano set, his local manager Jappy Sanger took the microphone to welcome everyone, and then asked me to do the same as the International Manager for Erik’s label, Indojazzia Musik.

Formalities done with, Erik sat at the piano and stared at the keys for a minute or so before speaking – almost as if he was making himself a transparent receptacle for the music spirits to come forth and join him.

“I never know what I am going to play because I live in the moment,” he announced. “This song is called For My Mother.”

From the packed room. Erik went into another world, some may call it the ‘zone’, some the ‘muse’ and Zenists a ‘non-place’. Wherever Erik went when his fingers began their dancing ritual on the black and white keys, the audience was spellbound. When he’d finished, the room erupted into a roar of applause, Erik stood, and bowed. “I am going to play every song on my new CD, Abbey Road Sessions Vol.1.”

From there, he fooled the audience with a romping version of the right hand, left hand, sonic leap frog, London Blues, which demonstrated Sondhy’s wide ranging grasp of styles from ragtime to modern pop. For the next 50 minutes, no one talked as they ate their dinner, and that was something thing I found unique about this show. We, the audience, actually paid close attention to his music, and honored Erik with our unbroken silence.

Having listened to the album many times, I came away having witnessed Sondhy take his playing to an even higher level of energy and execution. By the end of his solo show this jazz fan had come to the conclusion that Bali and the world had another jazz pianist besides Joey Alexander they can call their own.

And his name is Erik Sondhy.

The album is available here, and there are six more tracks as outstanding as this one …

……………………………………………………………

As we don’t (yet?) have photos and/or video from the show, this is Erik speaking before playing at the Jakarta launch on 30th June.

Few of the tracks in this compilation “express enthusiasm”, one definition of ‘lyrical’. However, as a descriptive adjective for jazz standards which started out as instrumentals but later had lyrics (words) added it seems ok to me.

Bobby Timmons, a pianist in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers for two periods in the late 50’s and early 60’s Moanin’, and Jon Hendricks (now aged 94) wrote the lyrics. Hendricks is credited with creating ‘vocalese‘ with the group Lambert, Hendicks and Ross. Georgie Fame continues to cover their music.

Blue In Green is a track on Miles Davis’ album Kind Of Blue released in 1959. Whether it was written by Miles or the pianist Bill Evans is a matter of conjecture, but as Evans was the pianist on the original recording, maybe it’s best to call it a Davis/Evans composition. Cassandra Wilson wrote the lyrics for her version.

Written in 1944, and possibly earlier, by Thelonius Monk, Round About Midnight is one of the most covered songs in music history. Monk himself recorded it many times. Robert Wyatt’s version is possibly the most compelling of the dozen or so versions I have in my archives.

Benny Golson, tenor saxophonist in Art Blakey’s Hazz Messengers, wrote Whisper Not in 1956. “I wrote it in Boston at George Wein’s Storyville club when I was with Dizzy Gillespie’s big band. I wrote that tune in 20 minutes.” Leonard Feather, who was born in London, wrote the lyrics for Ella Fitzgerald in 1966.

Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays have written many memorable tunes. September 15th is from their 1981 album As Falls Wichita, so Falls Wichita Falls. The date is a reference to the day Bill Evans died a year earlier. Mark Murphy‘s lyrics are in tune with the sentiment, and Larry Coryell on guitar doesn’t stray either.

Music stays no matter who goes away.”

Tracks
01. Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – Moanin’
02. Georgie Fame – Moanin’
03. Miles Davis – Blue In Green
04. Cassandra Wilson – Blue In Green
05. Thelonious Monk – ‘Round About Midnight
06. Robert Wyatt – Round Midnight
07. Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – Whisper Not
08. Mel Tormé – Whisper Not
09. Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays – September 15th
10. Mark Murphy – September 15th

Juke Box Comics

Between 1948 and 1949, six Juke Box Comics books were published by Eastern Color Printing Company. Each presented famous jazz and popular musicians in different stories and adventures. We can see parading through its pages to Woody Herman, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Buddy Rich, Al Johnson, Xavier Cugat, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway and Lionel Hampton among others.

They can be downloaded from here and here but you’ll need to register first.

(Those from the second site need converting from .cbz to .pdf.)

Moondoggers

In the late 60s and early 70s, CBS was a major record label which issued a series of sampler albums at a cheap price. First of all their rock machine turned us on  and later filled our heads with rock. The majority of the tracks were American, music which those of us in the UK might otherwise have not been turned on to. many of their names live on with constant re-releases: The Byrds, Chicago, Santana, Spirit, Janis Joplin, Taj Mahal, Leonard Cohen …. There were several British artists as well, although the most notable CBS act for me, Soft Machine, was not included.

One of the tracks on the latter album was different, very different. It started with approaching footsteps and the distant sound of traffic, and then a rich voice intoned this short poem.

Machines were mice,
And men were lions,
Once upon a time.
But now that it’s the opposite,
It’s twice upon a time.

Footsteps took him away, and a large symphony orchestra played a simple tune with a marching drum beat which leads to a triumphant conclusion. The man was Moondog, and both the poem and the tune have remained engrained in my brain ever since. This is it…

Louis Thomas Hardin was born on May 26th 1916 and played drums for the high school band in Hurley, Missouri, and learned about Native American music before losing his sight in a farm accident at the age of 16.

After learning the principles of music in several schools for blind young men across middle America, he taught himself the skills of ear training and composition. In 1942 he got a scholarship to study in Memphis, Tennessee, where he learned some music theory from books in braille.

Hardin moved to New York in 1943, where he met noted classical music luminaries such as Leonard Bernstein and Arturo Toscanini, as well as legendary jazz performer-composers such as Charlie Parker and Benny Goodman, whose upbeat tempos and often humorous compositions would influence Hardin’s later work.

He also incorporated Native American music, along with classical such as symphonies and madrigals, often was mixed with the ambient sounds from his environment, city traffic, ocean waves, babies crying, etc. Much of it is contrapuntal, which he described as “snaketime  … a slithery rhythm, in times that are not ordinary … I’m not gonna die in 4/4 time“.

He also made many of his instruments: this is his trimba, a percussion instrument.

Hardin adopted the pen name ‘Moondog’ in 1947 in honour of a dog “who used to howl at the moon more than any dog I knew of.”

He could often be found on New York’s 6th Avenue between 52nd and 55th Street sometimes busking or selling music, but often just standing silent and still.  Already bearded and long-haired, because he had rejected Christianity in his late teens and developed a lifelong interest in Nordic mythology, he added a Viking-style horned helmet to avoid the occasional comparisons of his appearance with that of Christ or a monk. Under his cloak he tapped out his compositions in braille notation.

What I didn’t know in 1970 when I bought his self-titled album, pictured above, was that his music was first recorded in 1949.  Nor was I aware that British jazzman Kenneth Graham had recorded a Moondog Suite in 1957. Thanks to the internet you can download it from here.

Many have cited Moondog as an influence. Steve Reich is among the minimalist composers who acknowledges this in his music. Judge for yourselves.

The late Ivor Cutler wrote whimsical verses while accompanying himself on the harmonium or thumb piano. Listen to this track from his first album Who Tore Your Trousers? (1961) and ponder if he too had heard Moondog’s music.

Cabaret Contemporain are five French musicians from Paris who play électro music with acoustic prepared instruments (electric guitar, piano, drums, 2 double-basses). Last year they recruited two Swedish singers and recorded an album called MoonDog. Listen here and/or download my compilation of twelve tracks, six original versions by Moondog, each one followed by CC’s 2015 version.

Moondog died on September 8th 1999. This year is the centenary of his birth.

©Terry Collins

This is the shortest VoW ever. Let it play and you’ll get absolutely no idea about Joey’s next album  ‘Countdown’ which will be released on 16th September:  you are ordered to ORDER NOW!!! (but not by IndoJazzia).

Whether you do or don’t is up to you, but once his 16 seconds of extra fame ends, you’ll have a wide choice you’ll have several lengthier examples of Joey’s outstanding gift for improvisation.

Update 26.7.16
You can watch a full performance of City Lights here.