Fri, 18 Aug 2000

Sawung Jabo's new band offers contemplative music

By Matdon

BANDUNG (JP): Yogyakarta musician Sawung Jabo was linked to the bands SWAMI and Kantata for the last decade, but now he is forging his own path.

"I got fed up with SWAMI and Kantata's musical styles. I was eager to try something new, lighter and funnier," commented Jabo after a recent show with his new band GengGong at the Sunan Ambu Building at the Bandung Institute of the Arts (STSI).

Jabo is now exploring ethnic music from around the world. With his Sydney-based band, Jabo experiments with a mixture of eastern and western ethnic sounds -- Javanese and Sundanese music, music from Bulgaria and Turkey.

The band's debut shows were in Bandung, the provincial capital of West Java. Jabo and his band performed in Rumah Nusantara on Aug. 12, at Toko You on Jl. Hasanuddin and at the campus of STSI.

"It is high time for me to compose contemplative work. This is my real music," Jabo asserted.

In the last few years, Jabo has spent much of his time in Sydney. "That was a period for soul-searching and self- contemplation," Jabo said.

Jabo's music appealed to the Bandung public, known for being highly critical.

GengGong presented a distinguished sound using common musical instruments like the saxophone, flute and percussion. To create different sounds, Jabo added a bagpipe from Bulgaria and a Turkish flute. Jabo uses all of these instruments to cleverly blend traditional and contemporary sounds to create a very original music.

Percussion plays a very dominant role in each composition. The band includes a Sundanese kendang (drum), gondang batak and metal percussion. Two percussionists from Bandung, Wahyu and Jiner, played their instruments beautifully to add a Sundanese touch to the music.

The band performed ten compositions, including Do'a, Kental Kentul Kentil, Sweet Kambing Guling, Dere Vaja Dere Paja, Ning Nong and Dolanan.

The band's lineup is Sawung Jabo, Kim Sanders playing flute and saxophone, Australian musician Ron Reeves and Reza Achman.

Jabo said he became well acquainted with all of these musicians before asking them to form a new band.

The band will continue its tour in Jakarta, Bali and Surabaya, and, according to Jabo, will release its debut CD in the next few months.