Album

2nd November 1963 –  13th January 2017

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing today of Riza Arshad, keyboardist extraordinaire, at the early age of 53.

I first heard his name in 1995 when a student of mine learning English told me that she was learning jazz piano from Riza. We later met on 22nd October at the first Pat Metheny gig in Jakarta, and she told me that Riza was there too, and she gave me a copy of simakDialog’s ‘Sampler Tape’.

It wasn’t until 2008 that I got to meet Riza at the launch of their album Demimasa and was suitably blown away at the blend of free jazz and Sundanese percussion. Following that, I interviewed Riza* through an email exchange, some of which I incorporated in the second edition of Culture Shock! Jakarta.

What came through was his wide musical interests, not just in jazz pianists, and that his “efforts [were] devoted for the growth of jazz in Indonesia.” He was the curator of Serambi Jazz at Goethe Haus in Jakarta, a bi-monthly gig “featuring loads of talented musicians that have always dedicated their lives to music.”

Away from simakDialog, Riza recorded a number of albums which demonstrated his willingness to spread his musical wings.

Riza played accordion on Ubiet’s Kroncong Tenggara (’07), around the same time that he was playing ‘subtle fusion’ with Trioscapes, with Arie Ayunir, the first drummer in simakDialog, later replaced by Aksan Sjuman, and Yance Manusama on bass.

Riza was a link with the early jazz generation – he felt honoured to play with Bubi Chen – and was a mentor to the next.

There was W/H/A/T with Sandy Winarta, Sri Hanuraga, Riza Arshad and Indrawan Tjhin. “I think it’s natural and normal that we like to work with the young stars. They have high energy, high idealism and are amazing with their instruments.

Later, with Tuslah (yet to release an album), with Sri Hanuraga, Elfa Zulham and Adra Karim, he was playing music of outstanding quality. Riza told me after one of their gigs that he was very happy playing with younger musicians because he felt energised by them.

IndoJazzia offers condolences to Riza’s immediate family and his many friends who are immensely saddened by his premature passing.

In his memory, we offer simakDialog’s ‘Sample Tape’ from 1995.

Tracks
1 Time Has Changed
2. On The Way Home
#1, 2 by Riza Arshad
3. Conscience
4. Remember
#3, 4 by Tohpati
Download from here.

*Note: Read Jazzuality’s interview from 2010 here

Terry Collins on behalf of IndoJazzia.

Having posted Jazz Africa, I realised that perhaps the most important jazz album which explicitly addressed “the stench of slavery and bondage” was Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite released in 1960. The lyrics were written by Oscar Brown Jr., who also sang about the issue of black freedom on his own albums, particularly Sin & Soul…And Then Some!! which was recorded the same year.

I haven’t to date posted an album on this blog because I hope my compilations encourage listeners to purchase the albums I’ve taken the tracks from: musicians deserve royalty payments.

However, I’m making an exception for the Freedom Now Suite because anyone who takes an interest in jazz, not only listeners but perhaps especially musicians, should be aware of the source of their muse.

Tracks (inc. sleeve notes)
01. Driva’ Man
02. Freedom Day
03. Triptych- Prayer-Protest-Peace
04. All Africa
05. Tears for Johannesburg

Sleeve notes only

Before he found fame with Miles Davis, and later with his Mahavishnu Orchestra, in the late sixties when many others had graduated from the UK’s blues groups scene and taken the psychedelic or prog-rock route, John McLaughlin entered the jazz world.

And now fifty years later he is coming to Indonesia … whoopee … but playing on a Sunday in Bali means that many of us in Jakarta won’t be at the gig.


Here are a couple of sessions from his early jazz days.
1966 – Mike Carr Trio (venue unknown)
1967 – Danny Thompson Trio (BBC Jazz Club)
The Mike Carr folder has information about both sessions.
(Note: this is not an album, but a compilation.)

Here are program notes about the Danny Thompson Trio from a gig TC was at on 13th March 1968.
I consider them to be the most important emergent small group in jazz since the Gerry Mulligan Quartet.
– John Dankworth, who had ‘Ken’ Wheeler in his Ensemble that night.

It’s only natural that Indonesian jazz musicians look to our traditional music for inspiration. We are born and raised with it, it’s right in front of our eyes.
Gilang Ramadan

All jazz is an intensely personal creative process. What comes out in performance, whether in the studio or on a stage, comes from within and is performed in the moment. Yet its roots are in the past.

As an example and in terms of Indonesian jazz, on October 18th at a gig in rock and jazz guitarist Dewa Budjana’s native Bali, he will be joined by John McLaughlin, one of his major influences. John McL’s first professional gig was with Alexis Korner, often referred to as “a founding father of British blues” … think Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.

John McL. recorded a few jazz albums in the UK before being invited to join Miles Davis in the USA. Miles was a connection with the bebop era of Charlie Parker et al. It was the experience of playing with Miles that lead John McL. to the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Dewa’s early and still current influence.

(Note: IndoJazzia will not be going to Bali and, along with many others, hope that a Jakarta gig can be arranged.)

IndoJazzia has been working for the past few months gradually tracing the roots for ‘A History of Jazz in Indonesia’. A major gap in our knowledge is the pre-WWII era, when presumably the Dutch colonialists brought in their 78’s. In the 1950’s, we see the influence of mambo and cha-cha in the music of such pianists as Nick Mahamit. Later, in the 60’s there was ‘cool jazz’, from the west coast of the USA.

It was not until 1967, with the recording of Djanger Bali by the Indonesian All-Stars, Bubi Chen, Jack Lemmers-Lesmana, Benny Mustafa et al who were a ‘house band’ for the Royal Dutch Shell Oil company, that Indonesian ‘etno-jazz’ became influential. How much of this music genre was a result of Soekarno’s 1965 declaration of ‘war against the Beatles’ in favour of more nationalistic music has yet to be determined.*

The accession of Suharto to the presidency in 1966 opened up economic and diplomatic ties to the west. Thus the late arrival in the cusp of the sixties-seventies of ‘psychedelic’ groups which copied the music style, if not the sentiments. (Listen to Brim’s Anti Gandja from 1972 here.)

The seventies saw the influence of British prog-rock on local jazz musicians, including, perhaps surprisingly, the Indonesian All Stars who in 1976 proved that they had mastered the genre. (Listen here.) Better known for its infusion of Balinese gamelan by Guruh Soekarnoputra, Megawati’s brother, is Guruh Gypsy, our Album of the Month in June.

In the eighties vocalists may have sung in Indonesian, but that was the generally the only ‘ethnic’ flavour.

The early nineties saw a resurgence in the fusion of traditional music genres: Two groups, Krakatau and Karimata, soon followed by Java Jazz, lead the way. However, that was also the decade when Pat Metheny proved to be a major influence, as he still is.

The ‘abdication’ of Suharto in May 98, and his successor B.J. Habibie’s abolition of the Ministry of Communication (= Censorship) has, in the words of Jeremy Wallack, “has provided young Indonesians with creative possibilities for exploring their identity in a culturally diverse nation undergoing dramatic changes in an increasingly interconnected world.

Hence IndoJazzia’s ‘Album of the Month’ for August, a compilation which demonstrates those “creative possibilities“.

Tracks
1992. Karimata – Seng Ken Ken
1993. Krakatau – Dance To Your Roots
1998. Java Jazz – Bulan Di Atas Asia
2002. simakDialog – Sampan (Sailboat)
2007. Ubiet (w. Riza Arshad) – Gambang Semarang
2007. Trisum – Cublak-Cublak Suweng
2012. Brag Pack (w. Sri Hanuraga) – Cublak Suweng

And in 2013 …

Ring of Fire Project (Djaduk Ferianto, Jen Syu, Idang Rasjidi)

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*Note : In 1959, in his Independence Day speech, Soekarno praised Indonesian youth for their opposition to economic and political imperialism, but asked why they did not oppose cultural imperialism. Why did they support rock and roll and cha-cha-cha, he asked; why did they like ‘crazy’ music? The government, he said, would protect national culture, but the youth must protect and develop it as well.”