Please read Part 1 first.
There is a marked self-sufficiency among all the Indonesian MoonJune artists. Tohpati was responsible for his solo albums, Ligro for theirs and Riza Arshad for all the simakDialog albums apart from Live at Orion. They are all of the same generation, name the same groups and musicians as major influences – John McLaughlin, Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek and Pat Metheny – and, perhaps of more importance, is that they have been friends for a long time.
A major catalyst was Indra Lesmana. In 1967, his father, guitarist Jack, was a member of the first Indonesian jazz group to record a jazz album abroad, Tony Scott and the Indonesian Allstars: Djanger Bali. In the 80s, Jack and Indra started a music school and nurtured the early jazz leanings of Riza Arshad, Tohpati and Dewa.
In an interview in the Jakarta Post, Tohpati said: “I’m very inspired by Indra, I learned of lot from him and adopted his philosophy of music [which] is to be flexible in playing music, [and] to control your ego when playing with other musicians.“
Keyboardist Dwiki Dharmawan is another major mentor. He studied classical piano from the age of six, and jazz from the age of 13. In 1985, with singer Trie Utami and guitarist Donny Suhendra, he founded Krakatau which played fusion jazz. However, in 1992, having released four albums and tired of playing ‘western jazz’, Dwiki and Trie Utami incorporated Sunda instruments and tuned their western instruments to Sunda scales. Donny Suhendra having joined Java Jazz, Indra Lesmana’s group, this formation was to prove commercially successful, with many appearances at international jazz festivals. The ultimate progression has been Dwiki Dharmawan’s World Peace Orchestra (video) which has featured many traditional percussionists as well as Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets), Indro Harjodikoro, Adi Darmawan (Ligro bassist) and Dewa Budjana among many others.
Dwiki has worked as a jazz solo artist, releasing Shades in 2002 featuring the likes of former Miles Davis guitarist Mike Stern, a frequent visitor to Indonesia. At the time of writing, Dwiki has just recorded an album for MoonJune with Dewa Budjana, Jimmy Haslip and Chad Wackerman – and this article is being published on the day that the album is launched here in Jakarta.
A writer of music for theatre, movies and television, producer of many popular artists and organizer of events, including the inaugural Kota Tua Jazz Festival in December last year, perhaps Dwiki’s major influence has been through his national network of Farabi MusicSchools. His teaching staff are professional musicians who provide lessons in jazz, classical and traditional music because he wants Farabi students to become cross cultural ambassadors.
Agam Hamzah of Ligro is the senior guitar teacher in Jakarta. Adi Wijaya, who has just completed his post graduate music degree, teaches piano at the Yogyakarta Farabi. He is the keyboardist with I Know You Well Miss Clara (IKYWMC), a group which exemplifies the emergence of the next generation of creative jazz musicians. The four piece group came together at the Yogya Institute of Arts, but none studied jazz, and only Reza Ryan, the guitarist and main composer, who studied classical guitar cites Soft Machine, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Miles Davis, and Allan Holdsworth among his ‘likes’.
They first recorded a demo which was sent to Leonardo in NYC. Once he’d listened to it, they were trusted them to “make ‘something’ in the world of progressive music.” Chapter One (2013) was the astonishing result.
Reza recommended a guitarist friend living in Bandung to Leonardo, Tesla Manaf Effendi. Back in 2011, he was frustrated being labelled as ‘Indonesia’s Pat Metheny’.
”Don’t take this the wrong way; I still love Metheny but just because I was using his Ibanez Pat Metheny series guitar, which I’ve now sold, doesn’t mean I played like him. I have my own sound, and that’s what I’m trying to tell audiences. I am who I am, now. A person who plays his own music.”
His MoonJune album, Tesla Manaf (2014) is in two halves, both self-produced. It’s All Yours, released in Indonesia in 2011, features Mahagotra Ganesha, a Balinese art unit of the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB). Gamelan meets Pat Metheny is a simplistic description given the many twists and turns of the melodies supplied by a ‘regular’ group of guitar, drums, bass and soprano sax sliding across the gamelan providing rhythmic power. The soundscape came from his study of such classical composers as Debussy, Bela Bartok and Krzysztof Penderecki. He then took that process a step further with A Man’s Relationship With His Fragile Area, which loosely occupies the niche ‘experimental contemporary classical’. The bass player in the quartet who perform it is Rudy Zulkarnaen, now also the regular bassist in simakDialog.
And this almost completes the circle started with Riza Arshad who now has another group creating very original music: Tuslah. While he plays a synth, Sri ‘Aga’ Hanuraga plays piano, Adra Karim his Hammond organ and Elfa Zulham the drums. The three young musicians have all studied jazz music in Europe. Aga studied with Indra Lesmana from the age of 17, moved to Amsterdam two years later “to broaden his musical horizons” at the Faculty of Jazz at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. With two Brag Pack albums, the group all being former students at the Conservatorium, his own self-titled album, plus other recordings, Aga is set to be a major force in the jazz firmament.
Other young musicians are currently studying abroad: Demas Narawangsa, Sandy Winarta, Joey Alexander , just 11 years old, and several others.
Riza said six years ago: “This is the golden generation we have been waiting for. Finally we have it. They are truly the hope of our nation. These are the talents we are looking for to pass our legacy and take our place soon. The future of jazz is in their hands.”
For now, and thanks to Leonardo Pavkovic and his MoonJune Records, the ‘middle generation’ of mentors such as Riza are also getting exposure and recognition in the international jazz world.
One can only hope that the Indonesian government’s Department of Creative Economy recognises that they deserve it.
©Terry Collins 2015
– Leonardo asked me to write a couple of pages about Indonesian artists on his MoonJune Records label for an Italian magazine. By the time I’d finished, there was way too much, but, hey, so much reading and research went into it that I don’t want to see it wasted. Indonesian jazz has come a very long way in the 27+ years that I’ve lived here and there’s a lot more that could be, should be, written. I have a notion to expand this into a book, tentatively entitled ‘100 years of Indonesian Jazz’. At the very least it deserves a Pete Frame Family Tree, such is the complexity of the relationships in the jazz community here.
– The IndoJazzia Facebook page.