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Indonesia’s music scene is now amazingly diverse, and not just a reflection of the varied environment, both geological and botanical. From the flood plains of northern Java, to the forested, mountainous tropical hinterlands of the larger islands, the arid east, and the islands of the Mollucas, home of the spices which brought foreign traders, travelling with the trade winds, the Europeans, Chinese, Arabs and Indians, brought their different religions, cuisines, farming and fishing practices to pour into the melting pot that is the largest archipelago in the world.

And their instruments came with them and were adapted with bamboo, woods and metals. Examples include the kroncong, similar to a ukelele, rebab, a one-stringed bowed instrument, gambang, a wooden xylophone, kecapi, Sundanese zither, and suling, a bamboo flute.

Until the Japanese invasion in 1942, western music was largely enjoyed by the Dutch, and from from 1920 a healthy jazz scene (pdf) had developed which stretched from north Sumatra to Sumbawa.

The Japanese occupation and subsequent war against the Dutch who imposed a blockade largely isolated the nascent country from foreign influences. There is an unconfirmed suggestion that there was a jazz group in Yogyakarta c.1948 when it was Soekarno’s temporary seat of government. In the austere post-Independence years, Soekarno viewed popular Western music as decadent and as tainting the revolutionary spirit: nationalism was key.

The years spent incommunicado from the rest of the world meant that the bebop revolution had passed by unheard by local jazz musicians. Seeking an outlet for their muse, they often added Hawaiian and Latin flavours when accompanying singers.

As might be expected, the mostly urban generation who had taken little or no part in the march to independence and had grown up with dogma and austerity sought an outlet for their innate rebelliousness. Elvis Presley and the Beatles offered the needed illicit excitement. And much like parents the world over who criticise their offspring by reminding them of the struggles they had undergone “for the likes of you”, Sukarno issued edicts banning the “decadent” music forms in the name of nationalism, and his soldiers were allowed to cut the hair of youths with Beatles fringes. However, singers such as Lilies Soerjani and Bing ‘Crosby’ Slamet were known for being close to the President, and they performed pop music with Western instruments and modern taste.

Sidenote 1: Punks in Aceh suffered similar treatment just six years ago.*
Sidenote 2: The Beatles (and Cliff Richard!) were also banned in Israel because of the fear that “from the west would come a bad wind of sex, alcohol and rock’n’roll.
Sidenote 3: In 1965, children of Kostrad soldiers, Indonesia’s elite fighting force then headed by Suharto, made an album which included ‘Girl’, a song on the Beatles album Rubber Soul. Download the album from here.

When Suharto took the presidency in 1966, Indonesia courted western capital flows, such as from Freeport, to pay off the debts accumulated by Soekarno. This also opened the floodgates for western popular music.

In 1967, the ballad singer Bob Tutupoly, released an album of very cheesy songs in English which strangely featured a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Stone Free.

Perhaps that was the track which heightened interest in western, and mainly British, ‘progressive’ music. Many current ‘senior’ musicians cite the record collections of their fathers as inspiration for their own paths, The late, and sadly missed, Riza Arshad told me that in 1975 when he joined his brother Luke’s band art/rock band Rara Ragadi, groups such as Yes, Genesis, ELP, Gentle Giant, the Who, and, of course, the Beatles were his major influences.

In a 2014 interview for Vintage Guitar magazine, Dewa Budjana said that jazz-rock fusion and progressive rock were his basic and main influences, “I am very into John McLaughlin, Allan Holdsworth, and Gentle Giant, and I like Steve Howe from Yes a lot.

The seventies in Indonesia saw little jazz of note; what was needed was entertainment and rock and prog-rock provided that. Bands with long-haired musicians playing loud music was more appealing than cerebral grooves which can’t be sung along with.

Indonesia’s prog-rock scene of the 70s was the cultural coming of age for the post war generation here as it was in the UK, the USA, Europe and other less-isolated countries. It is good that international attention is now being paid to it, in part thanks to the 2011 compilation Those Shocking Shaking Days – Indonesian Hard, Psychedelic, Progressive Rock and Funk: 1970-1978.

And my compilation completes the decade.


1970. Shark Move – My Life
Benny Soebardja wrote and sang this. A suling opens this almost pastoral track before it rocks on.
1971. Harry Roesli Gang – Don’t Talk About Freedom
Musician and social activism were at the core of Roesli’s short life.
1972. God Spell – Pusara
From a never released promo for radio.
1973. Ariesta Birawa Group – Pergi Pacaran
fr. Pop Matters
The news media can sometimes make Indonesia look like a sea of anonymous fundamentalists planning to strap bombs to their chests and commit suicide around tourists, but when you’re with Ariesta Birawa Group it’s all peace, paisley, and devoted lovers holding hands and celebrating “the song we make every day.”
1974. Ivo’s Group – Sampai Hatimu
Ivo Nilakreshna’s Group
1975. God Bless – Friday On My Mind
Still going today, founded by Ahmad Albar, more rock than prog
1976. Jack Lesmana All Stars – Silence for the Buffalo
This track is a live recording converted from a YouTube, w. Jack Lesmana (gtr), Bubi Chen (keys), Benny Mustafa (dr), members of Indonesian All Stars who, with Tony Scott, recorded the seminal jazz album Djanger Bali in ’67.
1977. Giant Step – Mekar
w. Benny Soebardja, voc. gtr,, “Godfather of Indonesian prog-rock”, founder of Shark Move (#1 above), and Triawan Munaf, keys, now head of the so-called Creative Economy Agency
1978. Abbhama – Indonesia
The talented keyboardist Iwan Madjid was clearly influenced by Yes, Genesis, ELP and all the Symphonic icons.”
1979. Harry Sabar Friends – Kemarin Dan Hari Ini
The line up included the Nasution brothers who were in the band Gypsy on the seminal album Guruh Gypsy, downloadable from here (courtesy of Keenan Nasution). Debby Nasution is on the new Benny Soebardja’s Giant Step album, Life’s Not The Same.

Review and Bandcamp(in all formats)

Bonus‘: fr. 1979. Black Brothers – Saman Doye

Black Brothers was a well-known group from Jayapura, West Papua. Their music, sung in Indonesian and Tok Pisin, included influences from reggae and political elements inspired by the Black Power movement. The group went into voluntary exile in Vanuatu in 1979, protesting Indonesian policies in West Papua. They later moved to Papua New Guinea and were .the most popular musical group during the 1980s.

Erwin Gutawa Orchestra in 2011
) Menjilat Matahari by God Bless 0:00
b) Geger Gelgel by Guruh Gypsy 1:35
c) Chopin Larung by Guruh Gypsy 3:00
d) Janger 1897 Saka by Guruh Gypsy 5:02
e) Indonesia Mahardhikka by Guruh Gypsy 5:51

If you can find any 70s Indonesian prog-rock albums in mint condition, be prepared to pay a lot.

Otherwise check out these sites for downloads:
Pearl in Brazil
Cun Cun Na Ma
Henk in Bandung
Rich AfterSabbath has 2 compilations here, with interesting information about the groups.

A limited edition release of Indonesian prog-rock. (Text in bhs. Indonesia)

©Terry Collins

Seven Deadly Sins
Can you name them?

Seven Days A Week
Why seven and not, say, eight?

The Seven Dwarves
Can you name them?

Seven Ages of Man
Who first listed them?

The Magnificent Seven
Can you name all seven actors?

What are the colours of a rainbow?

And how do the above fit in with IndoJazzia’s selection for the 7th day of the 7th month?

Why not download from here or here and decide for yourselves?

You might just end up in Seventh Heaven.

So that’s another homecoming nearly over, and it’s time to return to the routines of commuting to the clock in, clock out workplace in the daily rush hour – what an inappropriate name – of macet (traffic jams) in order to save enough for next year’s mudik.

Here in Jakarta, it’s the traffic which also prevents many from getting to jazz gigs: IndoJazzia prefers to let the trains take the strain.

So this compilation is for the estimated 4 million post-mudik travellers who agree with us.


It’s very quiet around Jakarta at the moment, and that’s unusual for a Tuesday. However, next Sunday is Idul Fitri, the day which celebrates the end of Ramadhan, the Muslim fasting month. That means that the mass exodus from Jakarta and other urban areas known as mudik (going home), which happens every year, has already started.

There is an official week’s holiday allowing folk to return to their home towns and villages, a holiday some save up all year for so they can reconnect with the families and friends perhaps unseen since the previous year. Presents are handed out, children are given crisp bank notes, and a lot of mum’s home cooking, is eaten.

Non-Muslims may well take the opportunity to take holidays too, and every year it is advisable to book trains and boats and planes up to three months in advance. Some may be able to use the free transport laid on by companies and local authorities, although it seems that the family motorcycle is the most popular conveyance. But whatever the means of transport, the roads are hell.

IndoJazzia’s compilation is about the anticipation, the journey and the final homecoming.


Chris Barber – aged 83!

Blue Skies, a jazz standard became a hit by sheer chance.

The song was introduced by actress/vocalist Belle Baker in the 1926 musical Betsy with music written by the song writing team of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. She was unhappy with the piece the two had written for her solo (This Funny World), and contacted old friend Irving Berlin in hopes he might have something that would suit her needs. He had, in fact, just put the finishing touches on a number dedicated as a Christmas gift to his newborn daughter, Mary Ellin. Baker liked the song, and it was inserted into the musical, much to the chagrin of Rodgers and Hart, who were not consulted and wouldn’t have allowed the change. The tune was the hit of the show, and Baker received 24 encores on opening night, December 28, 1926. Despite this, the show itself was a disaster and closed a month later.

However, a year later, in 1927, the first feature-length motion picture with sound, The Jazz Singer starring vocalist Al Jolson, had nine songs including Blue Skies. and it was a hit.

There have been hundreds of recorded versions, yet you’ll have to make do with the (just) eight found in IndoJazzia’s archives.


1935-39. Chick Webb
1938. Benny Goodman
1942. Nat King Cole Trio
1946. Peggy Lee
1949. Art Tatum
1954. Dinah Washington
1981. Ray Brown & Laurindo Almeida
1988. Cassandra Wilson
+ bonus track

+ Rod Stewart in 2005 …

This compilation is of pairs of guitarists harmonizing live rather than playing with themselves via multi-tracking, such as Les Paul did. It’s not about rock groups either, although Keith Richards and Ron Wood in the Rolling Stones and Jeff Beck with Jimmy Page come readily to mind. If you’re in the mood for that, then check out this page for more examples to listen to.

This site is essentially about jazz, a genre of imagination rather than scripted charts, of empathy and a willingness to push boundaries together. Guitar-guitar is the title of a Herb Ellis & Charlie Byrd album released in 1963, and the initial inspiration for this compilation. However, we’ve gone back some thirty years to the pioneers of jazz guitar, and perhaps the greatest guitar partner, Eddie Lang.

As for current guitar duettists, seek out Bill Frisell with, at various times, Vinicius Cantuária, John Scofield and Pat Metheny, and Metheny with the late Jim Hall. This compilation is vocal free and, with one exception, all acoustic. I’ve included the Andy Summers and Robert Fripp track because … well listen to the difference.

Perhaps of more importance is that Andy Summers has a new album out, Triboluminescence, which, he says here, is partly inspired by Balinese gamelan. He plays it live here

Meanwhile …..


01. Lonnie Johnson & Eddie Lang – Handful Of Riffs
02. Eddie Lang & Carl Kress – Feeling My Way
03. Carl Kress & Tony Mottola – Boogie Woogie For Guitar
04. Carl Kress & Dick McDonough – Chicken A La Swing
05. John Cali & Tony Guttuso – Hittin’ On All Six
06. Sarane Ferret et Le Swing Quintette de Paris – Deux Guitares
07. Herb Ellis & Charlie Byrd – Things Ain’t What They Used To Be
08. Pat Martino & Bobby Rose – Sunny
09. Jim Hall & Pat Metheny – Improvisation 3
10. Andy Summers & Robert Fripp – In The Cloud Forest
11. Duo Sonare – Tubular Bells Part 1

IndoJazzia’s first ‘Jazz Guitar Pioneers’ compilation is here.
It says here that the painting above, Two Guitars, was created by SACHA with toothpicks.

… and half of dozen of the other.

A polydactyl human hand

You probably won’t want to know that the Pythagoreans acknowledged number 6 to be the first perfect number. But I’ll tell you anyway: in mathematics a perfect number is when all the number’s divisors (excluding the number itself) are added, the sum equals the number itself:
1+2+3 = 6.
In addition when including the number itself and dividing by two the result is the number itself.
(1+2+3+6)/2 = 6.

Do they teach that in kindergardens? Is that why here in Indonesia state schooling is obligatory from age six, and that there are six grades in primary (SD) school?

With those irrelevancies in mind, maybe it’s best to say that today is the sixth day of the sixth month of the year 2017, which just happens to be a prime number (only divisible by itself and 1). Therefore please download and listen to a nice round dozen (2×6 = 12) tracks from the IndoJazzia archives.

01. Michael Mantler – Number Six, Part One
02. Harry South Big Band – Six To One Bar
03. Eddie Palmieri – Sixes In Motion
04. Ben Webster – Jive At Six
05. Charlie Christian – Six Appeal
06. John Cali & Tony Guttuso – Hittin’ On All Six
07. Django Reinhardt – Chez Moi À Six Heures
08. Langston Hughes – Six-Bits Blues
09. Meade Lux Lewis – Six Wheel Chaser
10. Miroslav Vitous – Number Six
11. Jan Hammer – Sixth Day.The People
12. First Avenue – Band Six

… that Sgt. Pepper came out to play.

But not, it seems jazz, although Jimi Hendrix was an early recruit (seen here June 3rd 1967)

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is credited with changing music more than any other Beatles album because it freed musicians from needing to stick to a formula. (Would Pink Floyd have recorded Dark Side of the Moon?)

These are a few of the artists who’ve included a Beatles song or two on their albums: Shirley Horn, Ella Fitzgerald, Cassandra Wilson, Ray Charles, Gerry Mulligan, Bobby McFerrin, Avishai Cohen (the bassist), Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Erik Sondhy …

Of the four jazz albums of Beatles music we’ve uncovered, Count Basie had two: Basie Beatles Bag (1966) and Basie on the Beatles (1970), neither of which had a track for today’s non-compilation. There’s nought on Sarah Vaughan’s Songs of The Beatles (1981) nor on Bill Frisell’s All We Are Saying (2011).

We have 23 different jazz cover versions of Eleanor Rigby in the IndoJazzia Archives, but only two are Sgt. Pepper covers, both by guitarists.

So, this is Larry Coryell’s lovely version of She’s Leaving Home.

And this is Jeff Beck proving that he’s always been an incredible talent …

Jazz Bugs

I’m bugged: you all look like insects In your brand new sunspecs.

So sings XTC, and here are some more photos to illustrate our anthropomorphism.

Mohammed Ali floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee, while others are as slow as a snail or snug as a bug in a rug. Insects inevitably crop up in music titles. An early example is Poor Butterfly, now a pop and jazz standard, which was inspired by Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly, and was published in 1916 for a Broadway show.

Then there was the 30s Jitterbug dance craze …


01. Valaida Snow – I Can’t Dance (I Got Ants In My Pants)*
02. George Shearing – Samba Da Borboleta (Butterfly Samba)
03. Benny Goodman Sextet w. Charlie Christian – Poor Butterfly
04. Oscar Moore w. Inez Jones – Poor Butterfly
05. Jim Hall – Poor Butterfly
06. Radka Toneff – The Butterfly
07. Nguyên Lê – Butterfly Dream
08. Ray Brown & Jimmy Rowles – A Sleepin’ Bee
09. Cassandra Wilson – Sleepin’ Bee
10. Lionel Hampton & Gerry Mulligan – Blight Of The Fumble Bee
11. Alain Caron – Flight of the Bebop Bee
12. Palle Mikkelborg – Beauty M. & Free Bee
13. Leszek Mozdzer – Chasing Moth~Evening
14. Nina Simone – Funkier Than A Mosquito‘s Tweeter

*The African American Valaida Snow (1904 -1956) was a multi-instrumentalist, although primarily a trumpeter, singer and all round entertainer. She would be better known if she hadn’t travelled extensively through Europe, Russia and Asia. From 1926 to 1929 she toured with Jack Carter’s Serenaders in Shanghai, Singapore, Calcutta and arrived in Batavia in 1928.