In temperate zones of the world, September marks the changing of the seasons, the leaves turn into non-green colours and fall to earth to become nutrients for the seeds and fruits which nourish us and hibernating mammals. and migrating birds.
For we humans, it marks summer holidays past, a welcome return for parents of their children to centres of learning, but perhaps a less than welcome return to drudgery, of surviving harsh weather and disciplinarian teachers.
Living in tropical climes means that the passing of the seasons does not have quite the same resonance. Waiting for the rains to come, or go, is it, the metronomic tic-toc of a clock rather than the finality of tic-tac-toe.
Yes, September points to the passing of the years, from childhood to dotage and a final farewell. Naturally, there are songs about the month, and one in particular is now a ‘standard’:.
‘September Song’ is based on a metaphor in Shakespeare’sSonnet 73which compares a year to a person’s life span from birth to death.
The song was composed byKurt Weill, with lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, and introduced by Walter Huston in the 1938 Broadway musical production Knickerbocker Holiday. After being used in the 1950 film September Affair, the song has since been recorded by numerous singers and instrumentalists.
First though, listen to Walter Huston’s original version
WFMU has umpteen versions to listen to, far more than trawled from IndoJazzia’s archives.
But IndoJazzia is not about craziness; it’s about jazz heritage, past, present and into the unknown. So, unwilling to be eclipsed or out-trumped by natural and unnatural events, we think today gives us a good enough excuse to offer a couple of compilations of Moon Jazz.
The first, Beautiful Moons Ago, is about the past; there are some familiar tunes and, we hope, some less so.
You don’t have to know that eight (8) is a perfect cube (23) or that it is the only nonzero perfect power that is one less than another perfect power, by Mihăilescu’s Theorem.
Nor do you have to know where the word comes from, although the following does tell us that English is a very dynamic language, continually absorbing influences from both invaders and immigrants.
From Middle English eight, aught, eahte, ahte; from Old English eahta; from Proto-Germanic ahtōu; and from Proto-Indo-European oḱtṓw. It is cognate with Scots aucht, West Frisian acht, Dutch acht, Low German acht, German acht, Norwegian åtte, Swedish åtta, Icelandic átta, Latin octo, Ancient Greek ὀκτώ (oktṓ), and Irish ocht.
No, all you have to know is that today is the eighth day of the eighth month which means that IndoJazzia is bringing you our monthly compilation with a numerical connotation, with the added factor of being listed in a pyramidal formation.
01. Lyle Mays – Hard Eights 02. First Avenue – Band Eight 03. Ray Russell – Eighth House 04. Michael Mantler – Movie Eight 05. Rufus Harley – Eight Miles High 06. David Darling – Eight String Religion 07. Sokratis Sinopoulos Quartet – Eight Winds 08. Ambrose & His Orchestra – Dinner At Eight 09. Mr Scruff – Black Milk-Eighth From The Egg 10. Fred Hersch & Norma Winstone – The Eighth Deadly Sin 11. Major Glenn Miller & The American Band of the AEF – Beat Me Daddy, Eight To The Bar
All over the the post war world of the 1920s ‘dancing’ was the major impetus in popular music, especially the popularity of the Fox Trot. Dancing was the force driving hotels and other elite places to provide venues for bands to play and where patrons could dance.
It happened here in Bataviaat the Hotel des Indes, and in London, where the initial major influence was the Savoy Hotel.
Note the banjo, soon to be replaced with the guitar.
However, as in the USA, it was the development of radio broadcasting that may have done the most to establish dance bands as national institutions. From 1922 dances were broadcast weekly from the Savoy, and many dance bands were formed which had took the hotel name as part of their own. (In Batavia, there was the Tjikini Swimming Bath Orchestra …)
As well as the hotel house bands, record companies had their own in-house bands”. The best-remembered house-band leader was Ray Noble who led the New Mayfair Dance Orchestra at HMV. Not only did he write brilliant arrangements for his band and accompanied top HMV artistes like Jack Buchanan and Gracie Fields, but he wrote many great songs including Goodnight Sweetheart, Love Is The Sweetest Thing, The Very Thought Of You and The Touch Of Your Lips.
By the 1930s, most of the “name” bands had a singer. For example, Ambrose had Sam Browne, Elsie Carlisle and Vera Lynn (still alive at 100) Henry Hall (no relation to Albert Hall), had Les Allen; and Roy Fox had Denny Dennis.
Then there was there was Al Bowlly (1898-1941), killed in a German air raid). He sang with Roy Fox, Lew Stone, but recorded predominantly with Ray Noble, as well as having a very successful ‘solo’ career. Of note to IndoJazzia readers is that he gained his musical experience singing for a dance band led by Edgar Adeler on a tour of South Africa, Rhodesia, India and Indonesia during the mid-1920s. However, he fell out with Adeler and was fired from the band in Surabaya.
This compilation is culled from a triple vinyl collection issued by World Record Club back in 1976.
That is also the name of a very active FaceBook page. Another valuable resource of info is the website run by M.G.Thomas called simply The British Dance Band Encyclopedia. That no recordings apparently exist from pre-war Indonesia is a shame, but at least locals can get some idea of what a music genre briefly heard here sounded like.
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.
1970.Shark Move – My Life Benny Soebardjawrote 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 fromhere (courtesy of Keenan Nasution). Debby Nasution is on the new Benny Soebardja’s Giant Step album, Life’s Not The Same.
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 GutawaOrchestra in 2011
a) 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.
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.
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.
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
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.