… 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 …

My original title was Women Jazz Singers of the 1920s and 30s, but that’s too long. And it’s taken me a long time to assemble the 20 tracks of 20 different singers I invite you to download.

It’s been an interesting ‘journey’, not least because I didn’t know that Cab Calloway modelled his act on that of his older sister Blanche. I’d also forgotten that before Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire recorded with his sister Adele. However, I ‘dropped’ her and him because he’s still famous. Few will have heard of, let alone heard, most of the others, so I’ve given links for your further interest: they deserve to be remembered.

Billie Holiday is widely labelled as ‘The First Lady of Jazz’: in fact, numerically speaking, she wasn’t. It’s easy to say that Bessie Smith was one of her inspirations, but then she too had someone, the ‘Mother of the Blues’ Ma Rainey to show her “the way of the world“.

It is known that Valaida Snow came to Batavia with the Jack Carter Orchestra in 1928. Given that most jazz bands in the Dutch East Indies and the immediate post war era of Indonesia relied on sheet music and ‘imported’ 78rpm platen, one may reasonably wonder if some of the music you’re about to listen to has been heard here before.

Mediafire / Zippyshare

1920. Mamie SmithCrazy Blues (the first jazz record with female vocalist)
1921. Lucille HegaminArkansas Blues
1922. Brox SistersBring on the Pepper
1923. Ida CoxI’ve Got the Blues for Rampart Street
1924. Alberta HunterNobody Knows The Way I Feel Dis Mornin’
1925. Eva TaylorCake Walking Babies from Home
1926. Bertha ‘Chippie’ HillPratt City Blues
1927. Bessie SmithAlexander’s Ragtime Band
1928. Sophie TuckerHe’s Tall, Dark And Handsome
1929. Helen KaneI Want To Be Bad (She claimed to be the inspiration for Betty Boop but …)
1930. Lee MorseCooking Breakfast For The One I Love
1931. Blanche CallowayCrazy Song
1932. Connee BoswellSay It Isn’t So
1933. Valaida SnowMaybe I’m To Blame
1934. Ethel WatersI Ain’t Gonna Sin No More
1935. Elsie Carlisle I’ve Got An Invitation To A Dance
1936. Billie HolidayA Fine Romance
1937. Maxine SullivanLoch Lomond
1938. Una Mae CarlisleHangover Blues
1939. Mildred BaileyMoon Love

Well Worth A Listen Dept.
Five streamed programssurveying the often overlooked Jazz Blues and Swing Women of Jazz.”

We’d already made our selection when we discovered this page. So, if you want to learn more about the jazz guitarists of the late 20s through to the early 40s, please read it.

In short, you’ll have heard of Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt, but possibly not of the earlier and contemporary, pre-WWII, guitarists, most of whom, like Charlie Christian, made their reputations in the bands of others.

Unfortunately, no live footage of Charlie Christian has surfaced, but this video has photos of him plus Lester Young (tenor saxophone) Count Basie (piano), Harry Edison (trumpet) Benny Goodman (clarinet), Arthur Bernstein (bass) and Nick Fatool (drums) at Carnegie Hall, NYC, on December 24, 1939. We bet you can’t keep still!


Al Casey – Buck Still Jumps
Allan Reuss – I Never Knew
Bernard Addison – Toledo Shuffle
Carl Kress – Peg Leg Shuffle
George Barnes – Blue Lou
George Van Eps – I Wrote it For Jo
Ikey Robinson (aka Banjo Joe) – My Four Reasons
Jimmy Shirley – Jimmy’s Blues
John Cali & Tony Guttuso – Satan Takes A Holiday
John Trueheart – Lonesome Moments
Les Paul – Moten Swing
Nick Lucas – Teasing The Frets
Remo Palmieri – Blues a la Red
Sarane Ferret et Le Quintette de Paris – Surprise Party
Ted Tinsley – Gravel Pit Stomp
Teddy Bunn – Blues Without Words
Wilton Crawley – She’s Forty With Me

And the last shall be first: note that these are listed in alphabetical rather than chronological order

fr. Wikipedia: The waltz (from German: walzer) is a ballroom and folk dance, normally in triple time, performed primarily in closed position. A jazz waltz is a waltz in jazz style, thus played in a syncopated 3/4.

Shocking many when it was first introduced, the waltz became fashionable in Vienna around the 1780s, spreading to many other countries in the years to follow. According to contemporary singer Michael Kelly, it reached England in 1791.

Given that early jazz was intended for dancing, it was inevitable that many of the first jazz recordings were based on foxtrots (video) and waltzes brought the previous century from Europe. Many dance crazes during the jazz age (the ‘Roaring Twenties’), such as the Charleston, were derived from dances brought from Africa by slaves shipped to America. Other dances arrived from Latin America: these included the tango, rumba, and samba.

The Jazz Age Waltz had a less directional and kinetic style with partners swaying back-and-forth or moving in a linear manner rather than pivoting around a circle. But partners still embraced.

It was inevitable that variations in dance steps would be developed, and given names as the waltz craze adapted to the cultures of the countries it passed through, However, it requires research beyond IndoJazzia’s competence to discover why there should be a French waltz called La Java.

In brief, the Java was a distinctly French Waltz variation danced to a bouncy 3/4 beat. The distinction between a Java and a Waltz was not a clear bright line. Bouncy moderate tempo Waltzes, which sound a bit like a Victorian Waltz-Mazurka, were definitely ‘Java’, but the film evidence suggests that individual styling and step choices were all over the map, with a lot of dancers doing their own particular favorite style to most any tempo, whether it be a Java type step or something else. (video)

With the excitement engendered through the twirling while dancing in an embrace, there is a romantic ambiance to the music. This is made even clearer when one looks at the titles; the composers often have someone in mind to compose for.

Perhaps the most famous jazz waltz of all is Bill Evans’ Waltz for Debby which was written for his niece. It was a track on his debut album New Jazz Conceptions released in 1957, and he continued to play it throughout his career. It continues to be an inspiration for jazz musicians and, indeed, is the reason for our compilation.

Mediafire / Zippyshare

Richard Thompson – Waltzing’s For Dreamers
02. Oscar Peterson – Waltz For Debby
03. Dudley Moore – Waltz For Suzy
04. Kenny Barron & Dave Holland – Waltz For K.W.
05. Tete Montoliu – Waltz For Nicolien
06. Iiro Rantala – One More Waltz For Michel Petrucciani
07. Eddie Palmier – Waltz For My Grandchildren
08. Gary Burton & Julian Lage – Waltz For A Lovely Wife
09. Ian Bellamy – My Waltz For Newk
10. Maurizio Brunod & Miroslav Vitous – Waltz For Joe
11. Mahavishnu John McLaughlin – Waltz For Bill Evans
12. Tony Bennett & Bill Evans – Waltz For Debby
13. Viktoria Tolstoy – Waltz For The Lonely Ones
14. Art Lande & Jan Garbarek – Waltz For A

Bill Evans, piano, with Chuck Israels, bass, Larry Bunker, drums

Jazz is viewed by many as the music of freedom, of creativity and emotion, yet it arose out of the stench of slavery and bondage.

Americans are proud of their heritage, and many are happy to proclaim that it is the home of jazz.  On February 26, 1917 in Chicago, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, an all-white band from New Orleans, recorded Dixie Jass Band One-Step, for the Victor Talking Machine Company having previously auditioned for, and been rejected by, Colombia.  One-Step was a dance; on the other side of the shellac 78rpm disc is Livery Stable Blues, a foxtrot.

The previous dance ‘craze’ was ragtime, itself a hotchpotch of influences.

The ‘light rag’ was based on a dance called the Cake Walk which was performed at minstrel shows. This dance was based on a dance called the Pride Walk performed by black plantation workers, descendants of African slaves. This dance in turn was a parody of dances performed by their masters.”

The entertainers in minstrel shows were blacked up white people. This ‘tradition’ lasted until the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.

The genesis of jazz was among African slaves who retained something of their music culture as they were transported across the Atlantic. Once started, jazz soon circled the globe and reached Batavia just two years later, in 1919. Local senior high school students started their own bands using sheet music and a few 78rpm discs to forge their sounds.

In 1928, they were treated to a real American “negerband“, that of the orchestra of drummer Jack Carter*, whose sound was much better than their scratchy recordings. But that’s another story.

Jazz and African music have both since transcended regional and political borders. Just four of the musicians who head up my compilation are (or were) African-Americans, and Jimmy Dludlu is the only musician whose music has left Africa rather than vice versa. He is South African, as is Steve Eliovsson but whose only album was recorded for the ECM label in Germany while he was living in the States. (Jazz recorded in Africa deserves a separate compilation.)

The late Johnny Dankworth was a major figure in the post WWII British jazz scene, and a mentor to many of the UK’s finest, including John McLaughlin and the recently deceased Kenny Wheeler and John Taylor, who played in his various bands. Dankworth also travelled widely and played with the likes of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman,and Oscar Peterson. His 1961 recording of Galt MacDermot’s African Waltz peaked at No.9 in the UK Singles Chart, and remained in the chart for 21 weeks.

Of the rest, few need an introduction to the Americans Jack DeJohnette and Bill Frisell. Bass player and cellist Lars Danielsson is Swedish – check your ECM and ACT album sleeve notes. Accordionist Régis Gizavo was born in Madagascar and guitarist Nguyên Lê in Vietnam, while bass player extraordinaire Krzysztof Scieranski is Polish.

01. Jack DeJohnette w. Bill Frisell – Ode to South Africa
02. Johnny Dankworth Orchestra – African Waltz
03. Jimmy Dludlu – Afrocentric
04. Chico Freeman – Kings of Mali
05. Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus & Max Roach – Fleurette Africaine
06. Lars Danielsson – Africa
07. Régis Gizavo & Nguyên Lê – South Africa
08. Steve Eliovsson – Africa
09. Krzysztof Scieranski – African Cargo

* Jack Carter is seen and heard here singing Happy Feet in London two years later.)

I have already written about the arrival of jazz in Batavia in 1919. What was heard until the invasion of the Japanese in 1942 varied little from the sounds of imported 78rpm platen and transcriptions from sheet music. However what is little known in Indonesia is how Javanese ‘traditional’ music came to be an influence on jazz itself.

And this lady was to be the catalyst.

Eva Gauthier (1885-1958) was a Canadian mezzo-soprano who in a diva hissy fit gave up on singing high opera after she was replaced at the last minute by another singer in a 1910 Covent Garden (London) production of Lakmé. She promptly left for Java to join her fiancé Frans Knoote,, a Dutchman who was then managing a tea plantation outside Bandung.

Within weeks of arriving she was performing concerts of arias by Tchaikovsky and Rossini in Batavia’s Schouwburg Weltevreden (Gedung Kesenian Jakarta) accompanied by a local pianist and the house band.

1In the months that followed, Gauthier toured Java, playing all the major concert halls and sociëteiten (Dutch social clubs). The Robinson Piano Company (a firm specializing in pianos built for the tropics) underwrote a tour to Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tianjin, and Peking in 1911; tours to Japan, Siam, and India followed over the next two years.

Knoote then got a job with a Semarang commercial firm and it was while living there that Gauthier discovered Javanese music.

From there I went to the other cities of the island. Often on the roads I would see groups of natives playing queer instruments, and hear them singing songs of many peculiar harmonies. I immediately became curious. Here was a music of which I had never heard!  I, who had made music my life study! I inquired about these strange melodies. All my friends shook their heads, and said it would be impossible for me to understand the native music, no white people did, and as for singing it …!

The man who provided entrance into the world of Indonesian music for the vocalist was the Dutch composer and pianist Paul J. Seelig (1876-1945) who had sat in as Gautier’s pianist when her local pianist failed to turn up. Brought up in Bandung, he had studied composition, conducting, and piano in Germany. In 1900, Paku Buwana X, the susuhunan (Sultan from 1893 to 1939) of the royal court of Surakarta (Solo), appointed Seelig as the conductor of the royal band, a position he held until 1908.

During this time, Seelig documented the royal gamelan ensemble repertoire in Western notation. He also collected Malay songs from the kroncong and stambul (pdf) repertoires, adapting them for voice and piano in a music style influenced by Debussy. Seelig provided Gauthier with a number of these song arrangements and she liked them enough to commission some more.

This is her 1914 recording of Nina Boboh, a Javanese lullaby.

2 With the outbreak of the Great War (1914-18) in Europe, Gauthier decided to travel back to North America, arriving in New York City in September 1915.

Arriving in New York, Gauthier struggled to find a niche in the already crowded New York music scene, so she wisely chose to concentrate on ‘exotic’ Javanese songs and modernist Western vocal repertoire. With the Boston-born exotic dancer Regina Jones Woody (1894-1983), who danced under the name Nila Devi, she created a novel 15-minute act titled ‘Songmotion’ in which Woody illustrated Gauthier’s Indonesian songs in dance. At the end of October 1915 they left New York for a year-long tour of the main American vaudeville  houses.

However, the gruelling schedule of matinees and evening performances and the lack of understanding (‘artistic appreciation’) from audiences, who were otherwise entertained with trick cyclists, comedians, singers and jugglers, lead to Gauthier withdrawing from the tour after five months.

Back in New York, she found that it was already home to many North American and European musical performers, so Gauthier focused on her Java music repertoire, which she combined with knowledge and skill in ‘modernist’ western singing. She began a series of annual recitals at Aeolian Hall. Known as a “sensitive purveyor of interesting, untried songs“, her performances there caught the eye of many leading composers. On November 1st 1917 she gave renditions of three songs by Maurice Ravel, plus the American premières of Stravinsky’s Three Japanese Lyrics and Griffes’ Five Poems of Ancient China and Japan.

The key concert (flyer) in this narrative was in 1923. The first half consisted of classical works by Vincenzo Bellini and Henry Purcell, and modernist works by Arnold Schoenberg, Darius Milhaud, Béla Bartók, and Paul Hindemith.  The second half of her performance would upset the musical establishment, however. She opened with Alexander’s Ragtime Band by Irving Berlin, then performed works by Jerome Kern and Walter Donaldson, and finally finished with three works by George Gershwin, the first time his works (I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise, Innocent Ingénue Baby, and Swanee) would be performed by a classical singer in a concert.

Important figures in the audience included Paul Whiteman, who then commissioned Gershwin to write a composition for his orchestra. Rhapsody in Blue was the result and it was premièred in 1924, also at the Aeolian Hall, by Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra with Gershwin at the piano, as he had been the previous year for Eva Gauthier, the first performer of jazz on a concert stage.

Eva Gautier with Maurice Ravel at the piano and George Gershwin on the right

Jazz began to break into society last season. One pioneer was Eva Gauthier.”
– Independent, 3rd January 1925
Text first published in the Indonesia Expat magazine, issue 167.

Notes on sources
1 Matthew Isaac Cohen’s lengthy Eva Gauthier, Java to Jazz (2006) is a detailed yet fascinating read. Originally available here but you have to register.  If you have a more than a passing interest in Indonesian, I recommend that you do so you can download academic papers of interest. However, for now I’ve posted it here.
2 Wikipedia
3. Some 30 Gauthier recordings are streamed here.

Check out the funky male voice accompaniment to this Québecois folk song recorded on 15th January 1917.

Finally, here’s George Gershwin at the opening of the Manhattan Theatre in NYC in 1931.

Please read my article about Eva Gauthier first because this compilation is a complement to it.

A (very brief) recap: she was a Canadian mezzo-soprano who started out as an opera singer but came to Java in 1910 and learnt loads of local music, including gamelan and kroncong. She included some of this material in the concerts she gave in the USA, as well as giving the first performances by several classical composers, including Ravel, Satie and Stravinsky.*

Because she was also the first to include jazz in her repertoire on a concert stage, it seems appropriate to offer you another selection of jazz musicians interpreting classical music in their very different ways, and (mostly) with a connection to Ibu Eva.

[I say “another” because I posted Bach Up To Me here last year.]

The first track picks itself. In 1923, Paul Whiteman was at the concert given by Eva Gauthier who was accompanied for three songs by George Gershwin, who was then commissioned to write for Whiteman’s orchestra. Rhapsody in Blue was the result in 1924. Tchaikovskiana, (presumably) orchestrated by Whiteman, was released in 1928.

That was the year that guitarist Eddie Lang joined the Whiteman Orchestra. A year previously he had recorded his version of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C Sharp Minor, Op.3, No.2, thus demonstrating beautifully that classical music need not be played with reverence, but exists to be played with.

I’ve included two tracks with operatic singers, and wonder if Eva Gauthier included the Gershwin Prelude (#4) in her repertoire. The Heitor Villa Lobos composition (#8) was written between the years 1938 and 1945, by which time she had retired from the stage and opened a music school in New York. She may well have known it however, and approved of the composition.

A year or so ago, Dwiki Darmawan, of Krakatau and World Peace Orchestra fame, told IndoJazzia that he originally studied classical piano, Chopin and the like. When we asked him why he switched, he said that he wanted to play from his heart; classical music is more about technique.

Here’s music from the heart.

01. Paul Whiteman & His Orchestra – Tchaikovskiana
02. Alan Lee – Dance of the Adolescents (Stravinsky)
03. Tonbruket – Le Var (Ravel backwards)
04. Herbie Hancock (voc. Kathleen Battle) – Prelude in C# minor (Gershwin)
05. Cæcilie Norby – No Air (Satie)
06. Eddie Lang – Prelude in C Sharp Minor, Op.3, No.2 (Rachmaninoff) (1927)
07. Miroslav Vitous – Beethoven (Garbarek/Vitous)
08. Alan Lee (voc, Jeannie Lewis) – Bachianas Brasileiras No.5 (Villa Lobos)

*Traces of jazz elements can be found in Igor Stravinsky’s music throughout the 1920s and 1930s. In 1945 he wrote Ebony Concerto for the Woody Herman Band.

The memory of things gone is important to a jazz musician.”
– Louis Armstrong

Joey Alexander’s nomination for two Grammy Awards has created a heightened international interest in Indonesia’s jazz scene, yet he is not the first child prodigy to emerge here playing jazz piano.

Jazz arrived in what was then the Dutch East Indies nearly a century ago, in 1919, and its entry represented a socio-cultural shift among the Dutch and Indo-European teenagers, much as the advent of rock ‘n’ roll did in the mid-fifties in the USA. Because nothing happens in isolation, it is important to consider why this was.

According to the second complete census survey of 1930, the population of Batavia population was 435,000, having grown from 306,000 in 1920, while the population of the Dutch East Indies was 60,727,233. Of these millions, just 240,417 were people with European legal status in the colony, and about 75% of those were ‘Eurasians’, the children of Dutch men who had taken ‘native’ wives for the duration of their contracts here.

There were also a number of foreign traders, including British, who were ‘in need’ of entertainment and amusement such as that experienced in Europe and the United States. This was provided by upmarket hotels which had their own house bands, theatres and a network of official Societeit Concordia which offered theatrical and musical performances with dancing at weekends.

Societeit Concordia at Weltevreden, Batavia 1910-1920

Jazz grew out of ragtime music (“ragged” rhythm) which originated in the red-light districts of African-American communities in St. Louis and was popularised by the publication of sheet music for piano performances by Ernest Hogan. Another African-American, Scott Joplin, registered Maple Leaf Rag in 1899; the earliest surviving recording of the tune is from 1906 by the United States Military Band. One can only guess at their marching routine when they played it.

Ragtime was popular in Batavia. For example, in May 1913 the Elite Cinema and Deca Park Theatre, which had live vaudeville acts, featured the American ragtime comedian and dancer Tom Richards, “who sang ‘How Do You Do, My Baby?’ and other American songs.”

On February 26th 1917 the all-white Original Dixieland ‘Jass’ Band (ODJB) recorded two sides of a shellac 78rpm disk, Dixie Jass Band One Step / Livery Stable Blues, which are considered to be the first jazz recordings. Ragtime went out of style.

Just two years later jazz, no longer ‘jass’, arrived in Batavia with the San Francisco-based Columbia Park Boys Club’s act – a group of 42 missionary boys. Their eclectic program included singing, dancing, “tumbling” (gymnastics), with marches and jazz played on cornet, trombone, trumpet, saxophone, with percussion. A reporter from the daily newspaper of the East Indies, Het Nieuws van den Dag, dismissed the Boys Club show as a “sort of cocktail entertainment”. Although he found it amusing, the “loud and noisy music” gave him “stomach cramps”.

fr.The Columbia Park Boys’ Club of San Francisco by Victor L. O’Brien, 1901

But the new music proved popular, particularly with older teenagers. As phonographs were already part of household furnishings the heavy shellac discs were brought into the country from, it is suggested, Shanghai via Singapore. Live music surfaced too in upmarket hotels whose in-house staff bands, known as ‘string’ bands because banjos and violins predominated, soon began to include jazz in their repertoires for matinee and weekend dances.

It wasn’t long before high school and vocational college students decided to form their own dance bands playing the new music. However, it wasn’t in Batavia but in Makassar, Celebes, now Sulawesi, that the first band was started. In 1920, W.M. van Eldik formed the Black & White Band with his violin playing 17 year old brother-in-law Wage Rudolf Supratman, now better known as the composer of the country’s national anthem Indonesia Raya. They played at weddings and birthday parties. (There’s a photo of the band in the Youth Pledge Museum on Jl. Kramat Raya, Central Jakarta,)

The Batavia Jazz Band formed in 1922 with a line up of six (!) banjoists, two C-melody saxophonists, a pianist, an acoustic bassist and drummer, all of whom had Dutch names. However, Pater who played the trombone and Geduld the cornet were possibly from Suriname, the Dutch colony in the Caribbean. All were amateur, but their influences stretched to Ted Lewis and Paul Whiteman as interpreted from sheet music.

The following year the band folded and two of the banjo players, brothers Wim and Piet Bruyn van Rozenburg joined with four other students at King Willem III School to form The Royal Jazz Band, but on violin and alto sax respectively. They took their name from Koningsplein (King’s Square, now Monas).

King Willem III School – the land in Jl. Salemba is now occupied by the National Library.

Another band on the scene at the time was prosaically called The Original Jazz Band. It is now notable for its drummer: Moh. Aroef was the first recorded Indonesian jazz musician.

In 1926, a number of Filipino jazz musicians enlivened the scene, and 1928 saw the visit of a real American jazz band, that of drummer Jack Carter touring south-east Asia after finishing a contract at the Plaza Hotel in Shanghai. Their live sound being so much better than recorded ‘platen’, they inspired the young local musicians.

A new band was formed at the end of that year with saxes, trumpet and trombone, with Moh. Aroef on drums. They secured regular gigs in the restaurant of the Deca Park Theatre (north side of Koningsplein) on Saturday evenings after the film show, and at the Railway Hotel whose manager was Paatje Vos. At the end of 1926 he became manager of the newly opened Tjikini Swimming Pool at the Zoo (now Taman Ismail Mazurki), and the band, now called the Swimming Bath Orchestra, played the Sunday matinees, which started at 11am.

The visitors first had a swim for half an hour and spent the rest of the matinee dancing to the lively music. At two o’clock they went home for their afternoon nap.”

Yes, it was a time of leisure for the very few.

Bands came and went as the personnel left school, were posted outside Batavia or returned to the Netherlands, so we jump to 1930 and the entry of Charlie Overbeek Bloem to the scene. Born in 1912, he was just six years old when he took his first step to fame by playing Paderewski’s Minuet in G at Schouwburg Weltevreden, now Gedung Kesenian.

Photo ©Tropenmuseum, part of the National Museum of World Cultures

Bloem was to prove a musical driving force not only in Batavia but also nationwide. At 18 he was leading a trio, the Jazz-O-Maniacs, which played in the King Willem III School hall. He was also a key player in The Silver Kings, named after a cigarette brand. They had gigs at élite hotels such as the Hotel des Indes, the Batavian Yacht Club and other society venues such as Societeit Concordia in Bandung., regularly broadcast live and radio broadcasts.

In 1936 the semi-professional band recorded two sides of a 78rpm disc for HMV, Dinah and Ma, He’s Making Eyes At Me, which, sadly, doesn’t seem to have survived.

In early 1938, Bloem resigned from the band and focussed as a solo pianist broadcasting live on Saturday nights on the government approved radio network heard throughout the archipelago. On December 7th, 1941, when Pearl Harbour was attacked, jazz in the Dutch East Indies came to an abrupt end as all able-bodied men were mobilised and despatched to their defensive positions to prepare for the Japanese invasion.

The next chapter in A History of Jazz in Indonesia began in late August 1945 when Charlie Overbeek Bloem was released from the Japanese internment camp in Bandung.
First published in the Indonesia Expat magazine.