Riza Arshad

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… at Gedung Kesenian, the historic venue in Jakarta, will be a bitter-sweet one as the life of Riza Arshad will be celebrated by a host of musicians and friends, including IndoJazzia. Groups will be ‘reformed’ and music from his extensive discography played.

This video is of the most recent incarnation of simakDialog, his vehicle for composition from 1992.


The lineup of sD tonight will feature most, if not all, of the former members, plus Sri ‘Aga’ Hanuraga, mentored by Riza and a member of Riza’s other groups W/H/A/T and Tuslah.

Riza is remembered with affection, as a modest and unfailingly courteous man. Yet he had a drive as a musician, and was ever willing to explore and develop his music, whether following his muse …

or mentoring the next generation …

Like many of his generation of Indonesian musicians, Riza had a grounding in classical music, but under the influence of his elder brother Luke he soon gravitated to British prog-rock (Yes, ELP, Genesis etc.) In 1978, when he was just 15, Riza joined his brother in forming an art-rock group, Rara Ragadi, which recorded one album, released in 1979.

Ragadi – Lost Zen

Luke then moved to the US to pursue his studies and Riza enrolled in the art department of the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and joined the jazz community there. From 1983 to December 1989, Riza studied jazz techniques with tutors, the most notable of whom were Jack Lesmana and his son Indra. (video)

Riza released a solo album in 1992 and formed his first band, Dialogue, with “long time cohorts” drummer Arie Ayunir and guitarist Dewa Budjana. A change in personnel, brought a change in name to simakDialog (meaning ‘listen to the conversation’). Arie remained on drums, Tohpati replaced Dewa B. and Indro Hardjodikoro was on bass.

After the sD Sampler Tape circulated in 1995, the more polished album, Lukisan, was issued in 1996. Pat Metheny had played in Jakarta in 1995, and the album showed his obvious influence, as did Baur, the follow up released in 1999.

By the time of sD’s third album, Trance Mission, released in 2002, the regular drum set up had been replaced with Sunda percussion, and Riza’s path was set. As he said in 2009, “playing in an entirely western mode is no longer a challenge to me  which is why I like to have a specific sound and colour in my music.”

Subsequent sD albums have reached audiences outside Indonesia through MoonJune Records, the boutique label curated by Leonardo Pavkovic in New York. He has released albums by Tohpati, Dewa Budjana, Dwiki Darmawan, I Know You Well Miss Clara, and Tesla Manaf, with more in the pipeline, and Leonardo acknowledges the role played by Riza who realised his “dream of making Indonesian music widely heard everywhere in the globe.”

Riza had a parallel career producing albums for other musicians; however this compilation tracks his own twenty or so years of music making.

Tracks
1996. simakDialog – Perjalanan Pulang
2000. Riza Arshad & Oele Pattiselano – 1st Talk
2002. simakDialog – Finding The Path
2007. Ubiet (Nyak Ina Raseuki) – Keroncong Tenggara
2009. Trioscapes – Get Ready (live)
2012. W/H/A/T – Say WHAT
2013. simakDialog – For Once And Never
2014. Riza Arshad & Robert MR – Seminal Distinction

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