Polemic

The modern jazzman has no security but his own integrity and genius.”
Eric Mottram

Today, the 11th annual Ngayogjazz festival is being held in a village outside Yogyakarta, but for the first time entrance is not free. It had been suggested that festival goers should make a donation to show their appreciation of jazz.

However, as co-founder Djaduk Ferianto says, “Donating books for the needy is also a form of appreciation.” I agree, but donating books is not about showing appreciation of jazz, but a recognition that levels of literacy in Indonesia are low, particularly in rural areas, largely through limited access to any books beyond those demanded for school exams.

Jazz appreciation would come from going to the festival, roaming between the five stages erected in the village and sampling the different sounds, and realising that the musicians in the groups are playing for themselves and that live jazz is of the moment which we are invited to share.

And, for IndoJazzia, what makes Ngayogjazz really special is that aside from a few ‘known’ names, such as the world class Sri Hanuraga Trio, Indonesia’s globe-trotting Gugun Blues Shelter, and veteran Jeffrey Tahalele, it offers a showcase for a number of jazz communities. These include Pekalongan, Surakarta, Magelang, Ponogoro, Trenggalek, Surabaya and Lampung.

By way of contrast ….

Ignoring the punctuation error, there is a smug presumption wafting over the enterprise. For a start, the focus is on Indonesia alone. What’s more the list of categories is skimpy: breakthrough artists, children, contemporary dangdut, pop, production, rock, soul-r&b-urban. This downloadable list of nominees also demonstrates a strong whiff of cronyism. Naturally, we are referring to the Jazz categories.

For example: Jazz Album
Dewa Budjana – Zentuary*
Indra Lesmana Keytar Trio – About Jack (Dedicated to his father, jazz pioneer Jack Lesmana)
Indro Hardjodikoro – Always There
Krakatau Reunion – Chapter One (w. Dwiki Dharmawan & Indra Lesmana)
Tohpati Bertiga – Faces (w. Indro Hardjodikoro on bass)
(Since when was Bertiga a jazz trio?)

*Tony Levin, Gary Husband, Jack DeJohnette, Danny Markovitch, Tim Garland: Guthrie Govan, Czech Symphony Orchestra
+ from Indonesia: Ubiet & Risa Saraswati (vocals – one track each), and Saat Syah (sulingtwo tracks)

How come this is nominated for an Indonesian jazz album award?

And Jazz Instrumental
Andi Bayou – Sunrise at Borobudur
Dewa Budjana – Solas PM
Dwiki Dharmawan – Frog Dance
Indra Lesmana Keytar Trio – Jack Swing
Indro Hardjodikoro – Always There
Tohpati Bertiga – Faces

IndoJazzia doesn’t know and, to be honest, doesn’t care who ‘won’. The names above are of a generation of 50 year old A-listers who receive special treatment from Bekraf, the government’s Dept. of Creative Economy. Their music harks back to what they have been playing for many years. Download the instrumentals and judge for yourselves.

Where is the contemporary music, the music which comes from the heart? Listen to this track from Erik Sondhy’s follow up to last year’s internationally successful Abbey Road Sessions Vol.1. Would you nominate it for an AMI award?

Erik Sondhy and Djanggo Manggo Duo: Relax 1

And ask yourselves why the Yogya indie band Stars and Rabbit who have toured Asia and the UK in the past couple of years are nowhere to be found in the list of nominees.

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Some six million women around the world marched last Saturday to protest the election of the misogynist man-child Trump as the 45th president of the USA. They were right to do so, not only because of his popularity among the Stepford Wives, but also for his singular insecurity which has closed his mind to diversity and and his threats to close borders.

Yesterday he signed an executive order banning international NGOs from providing abortion services or offering information about abortions if they receive US funding.

IndoJazzia stands by women who demand the right to choose, to demonstrate their individual talents rather than being demonised because of their gender, and who regret the need to proclaim that Womens’ Lives Matter.

Here endeth the sermon, and now for some music.

Having already posted a compilation of women song interpreters, this time the focus is on women who’ve mastered their instruments, and who prefer to not sing.

Carla Bley, now 80, is one of the most prominent composer/performers in modern jazz. Although she hates to sing, her daughter Karen Mantler doesn’t. Susanne Abbuehl interprets a track from the 1971 Carla Bley-Paul Haines opus Escalator Over The Hill.

Katrina Krimsky is 79, and has a very varied music background, having associated with many other composers including David Rosenboom, Jon Hassell, Terry Riley, and La Monte Young. Stella Malu (Shy Stella in English?) is from her 1994 ECM album with British saxophonist Trevor Watts.

Annette Peacock is “a preternaturally talented composer, ear-boggling singer, intuitive multi-instrumentalist, vocal manipulation innovator and pioneering synthesizer early adopter.” The Marilyn Crispell track is from Annette Peacock’s 1964–1969 catalogue of compositions: Marilyn is the pianist, Paul Motian the drummer, and Annette’s ex-husband Gary is the bassist.

The Danish percussionist Marilyn Mazur may be better known from her years with Miles Davis and the Jan Garbarek group. However, she has since toured with her own group of Scandinavian musicians, all group leaders in their own right.

Rita Marcotulli is an Italian pianist-composer who has played with, among many others, Pat Metheny, Chet Baker, Enrico Rava, Kenny Wheeler, Billy Cobham and Peter Erskine. For this track she is paired with accordionist Luciano Biondini.

Mette Henriette Rølvåg is a young (27) Norwegian saxophonist who demonstrates on her debut album that she will take jazz to hitherto unrecognised regions.

Carla Bley has (almost) the last word, and IndoJazzia hopes that she, and all musicians, receive whatever royalties she/they are due.

Mediafire

01.
Carla Bley – I Hate To Sing
02. Karen Mantler – Life is Sheep
03. Susanne Abbuehl – A.I.R. (All India Radio)
04. Katrina Krimsky – Stella Malu
05. Marilyn Crispell – Butterflies That I Feel Inside Me
06. Marilyn Mazur – Back To Dreamfog Mountain
07. Rita Marcotulli & Luciano Biondini La Strada Invisibile
08. Mette Henriette – Wind On Rocks
09. Carla Bley – Copyright Royalties

Holly Bowling improvises the works of Phish.

Minor footnote: after divorcing Carla Bley in 1967, pianist Paul Bley married Annette Peacock.

The following is an extract from a review I wrote three years ago.

Joey Alexander @ Goethe Haus 30.8.13
Friend and I arrived in plenty of time, thinking that the wunderkid would start on time because his bedtime is earlier than ours. The auditorium was packed, quite unlike previous times for Serambi Jazz gigs at Goethe Haus, and we felt lucky to grab a couple of seats at the very back of the balcony. There were camera crews and cell phones a-plenty around us. We realised from the number of family groups that this wasn’t a typical jazz audience. The curiosity factor of witnessing a prodigy perform plus, perhaps for some, an element of reflected glory had created a frisson of expectation.

On the stage below was a grand piano to the left, and a set of drums to the right. After a thankfully brief introduction, the group, lead by little Joey, entered from backstage right and took their places. Donny Sundjoyo (of Riza Arshad’s 3scape) stood in the centre behind his double bass and a music stand, while Elfa Zulham, Donny’s bandmate in The Jongens Quartet) sat behind his drums.

The first number, as in the next two, started with Joey vamping away, possibly on a Thelonius Monk tune. I couldn’t tell, nor could I care, because the sheer inventiveness of his playing swept me away, with barely a glance at the raised foot rests which enabled him to use the pedals. Then the bass and drums started and, hey, it was bebop.

The second number got me mentally comparing Joey’s improvisational skills to Keith Jarrett, a long inventive muse which came from … but where does a kid get it from? Good jazz is a matter of soul, of feeling the moment. Is it played for oneself and friends, or for an audience? The latter may be commercially better, but the best jazz audiences are swept away, not with recognition – oh, I’ve got the CD – but with the groove of unexplored paths. Good jazz is the unexpected, the interplay – the calls and responses of the fellowship of like minds in tune with each other.

……………………………

IndoJazzia could not go to 12 year old Joey’s well-publicised ‘homecoming’ gig on Sunday (22nd), his “biggest ever concert in Indonesia“. Now resident in the USA he was supported by the legendary drummer Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts and former bass prodigy Dan Chmielinski

At the time of writing, no reviews or videos can be found online, but IndoJazzia has no doubt that it was a memorable gig: all three musicians will have been ‘in tune’.

Actress Marcella Zalianty was there, and she was “impressed” by his performance. However, as reported in today’s Jakarta Post, she told kompass.com that “Joey’s achievements as an Indonesian musician representing the country in the global music industry” made her proud.

No, Marcella, he was not representing the country. Joey and indeed all musicians represent themselves each time they play. You too only represented yourself, but your talent is for making vacuous statements to support your fifteen minutes of fame.

Joey is on his own personal growth path, as are singer Dira Sugandi (Elfa Zulham’s wife) and bassist Barry Likumahuwa who joined Joey for a number (or two…?)

And that gives us another reason to post this video of how empathetic musicians such as Barry L. have guided Joey’s early steps on his path to …?

TC

If Indonesian music wants to be recognized internationally, musicians need to undergo intensive training.”

So says Hari Sungkari, deputy of infrastructure at the Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf). If he was making an official statement, then he was surely exceeding his brief.

Infrastructure is not about “training”, but about the easing of the paths of creative people. The eradication of petty bureaucratic procedures and corruption would be a good start.

Emotion, exploration, imagination, initiative, innovation, inspiration, intuition, trial and error, the willingness to take risks: these are among the characteristics of creative folk.

Can any of them be applied to government officials?

The world is fascinated at present by what Korea has done with K-Pop. Korean artists are going global, making millions of dollars, and they are surviving the internet era, while musicians in Indonesia are still confused about how to deal with piracy.”

What a confused statement!

Since when is a heavily choreographed pop group, picked for their looks by an avaricious Svengali, ‘creative’?

And of course musicians and film makers are confused about piracy: the government has done little to curb it.  And it is not unknown for bureaucrats from the ministry to leach off the efforts of creative people.

The creative economy has existed since long before SBY’s administration picked Mari Pangestu to head up the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy. She became a laughing stock abroad when she declared nasi goreng to be an iconic Indonesian food and sent a recipe (maybe her grandmother’s) to every Indonesian embassy overseas.

There are as many varieties of fried rice as there are kitchens. By the same token, the number of folk engaged in making a living from their creativity is uncountable.

So, lets hear less omong-kosong from non-elected officials.

Co-ordinate with embassies abroad so that musicians don’t have to plan for up a year ahead in order to promote an album. Furthermore, don’t just work with the “top tier”: they already have their networks and can pay for themselves to go abroad.

There is some truly world class music being made here in Indonesia, yet it doesn’t get heard outside the country without the committed work and support of members of their ‘community’. They know that they can only expect hindrance rather than help from officials such as Hari Sungkari, and they deserve better appreciation.

This is not IndoJazzia’s Video of the Week. We are posting it as an example of creativity made in the moment, and it is all the better for it.

However, Hari did “voice his doubts that military training for musicians could be as successful in Indonesia, saying Indonesians lacked discipline.”

So if Indo-Pop is a non-starter, the answer is simple: give the Indonesian armed forces something useful to do, just as the Americans have.