Jazz Do It!

I always have this belief: whoever loves freedom, he would love jazz. Of course I know that freedom and jazz are not as simple as my belief.

Jazz was born in the suffering era of African-Americans in New Orleans, USA. It was initially performed by Afro-American talents, and later, it was genially improved by many musicians of various mainstreams. The root of jazz could be blues, but the tunes of jazz are much more complicated since it is quite flexible to be “tailored”. The process of inventing jazz was nothing but an attempt to find ways to express ingenuity of music, feeling, skill, rhythm and vocal exploration in one piece. It is indeed true that several jazz mainstreams are complicated skill-wise. But once we catch the tunes of jazz, an enormous feeling would flow as if the tunes are perceivable music.

Jazz spans from a very smooth stream to a delicate composition. Jazz can be original like what John Coltrain, Wes Montgomery, Duke Ellington and others had developed; jazz could also be found in a modified pattern like what Lee Ritenour, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Eric Marienthal, Norman Brown and Stanley Jordan have performed. Jazz musicians, like Mike Stern and Pat Metheny, may stick to the original one (plus some blues and ballads, respectively), but other modern jazz musicians develop jazz to become an up-to-date fashion like what Fourplay, Incognito, Brand New Heavies and others have done. It doesn’t really matter how jazz has been forged with varied faces as long as the “jazz” itself is still intact.

Indonesia has plenty of jazz musicians. Jazz blooms in campus, cafe or even in clumsy studio. Pioneers of jazz in Indonesia are Jack Lesmana, Ireng Maulana, Bubi Chen, etc. The best part of them was the ability to educate young musicians to play a better jazz. Musicians like Indra Lesmana, Dewa Budjana, Tohpati, and groups like Krakatau, Java Jazz, Simak Dialog, and others represent the modern Indonesian jazz. Modern jazz musicians have been benefited from Indonesian democracy since 1998. Many jazz events are all over the place. Jazz is extensively promoted in Indonesia to reach unlimited classes. Jazz in Indonesia serves many ears and many levels. Musicians have no easy job in Indonesia. But they know that Indonesians love jazz for some reason. Jazz is currently evolving into acceptable format in Indonesia. We got to be proud of it anyway.

Lee Ritenour has always been my guru in Jazz. Though I’m not comparable with the scale of his fingertip, but I really enjoy playing his music and pieces. In his website his pieces can be enjoyed where he shows variations in playing jazz. Lee Ritenour is also known as “captain finger” where the speed and skill in playing guitar are state of the art in jazz. From the attempt of learning his jazz, and the process of “copycatting” his skill, consciousness of appreciating jazz emerges in the form of jazz sensible-manner.

Tohpati may perform “soft” in many events, but listening to his pieces in Simak Dialog album makes me realize that this guy is really awesome. Dewa Budjana is also a skillful player with a lot of ethnic syncretism and sound-effect modification: this fellow can be ranked in the first class of outstanding jazz musicians.

If you happen to listen or to learn about jazz, how are you going to put jazz in your music list?

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