The article first appeared in Indonesia Jazz Review, 2 May 2015
From swing to bebop, acid, and the further rapid evolution of jazz when the western world brought it on board of the trade ships to meet Indonesian vernacular music in the 20s, Lantun Orchestra played their repertoire based on a timeline that tells about each period of the constantly-altering musical genre. Their live performance When Betawi Meets Jazz in @america, Jakarta, 30 April, started with the 1929 song Ain’t Misbehavin by Fats Waller, before moving to another era of bebop which was popularized by the 30s era trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.
But the real deal, as the concert title suggests, is when after a number of songs used to create a sense of time journey in the introduction to jazz history, they presented a discourse about local jazz development by doing some unique experiment in their segmentation, the Betawi music. Long established as a culture of amalgamated foreign influences, from West Europe, Middle East, China, and Java which shared the same island, Lantun Orchestra rearranged jazz songs in a way that all the differing instruments each of the member plays have a significant role in creating a unique musical style. Besides piano, trumpet, and the use of electronic string instruments as a rhythm character , there is Kendang, a traditional percussion that bolster the vernacular element in the traditional music they differed in, flute, accordion, and the violin that interestingly became a lead element that often handles the improvisation technique. They played a lineup of songs that was popularized by Benyamin Sueb, such as the intro of popular serial program of the 90s Si Doel Anak Sekolahan, the definitive Betawi songs Ondel-Ondel and Hujan Gerimis Aje. The band’s stage improvisation gets its shape thanks to the vocalist Nesia Ardi, who not only sings Betawi songs with heart, but also applies the social behavior of Betawi culture, and brought laughters for the amused audience due to the expressive and outspoken verbal culture. Having begun recording in 2010, Lantun Orchestra gets its creativity from the Chaka Priambudi, the cofounder besides Nesia Ardi and also songwriter who plays bass and recently writes Kutunggu Kau di Salemba, a 50s-style cool jazz that certainly gives perspective to local audience just how it looks like to thrive in the less mainstream project like this, and how grateful to have them keep doing it.