The Jakarta Post
Seven-piece swing group Leonardo and His Impeccable Six may have been around for only a few years, but its members feel like they have been together way longer than that.
'The band's chemistry is amazing; we have a really great connection with each other. We are a new band, but we really enjoy each other's company. We just clicked from the start,' bassist Susan Agiwitanto says.
'I honestly never felt this comfortable in a band. We are really blessed; I feel like I'm hanging out with my own dad,' Susan said while throwing a glance at keyboardist Dharmo Soedirman, who is years his senior.
'Hah! Good one, Susan!' Dharmo quipped with a big laugh after Susan's jab.
In the past few weeks, Leonardo and His Impeccable Six has been preparing to release exclusive CDs of their third album Built To Race, which was released digitally in October last year.
'We especially want to release the physical album; we want to make it really meaningful and collectible. We might not release the CD for a second pressing,' band leader vocalist and guitarist eonardo Ringo said.
Leonardo said they were planning to release only 1,000 copies of the album and use special cases for the CDs. Like their previous albums, Built To Race, which contains 10 new songs, was released independently.
'We want it to be a rare item. We want the album to be memorable for us and for the people who buy it,' Leonardo said.
Prior to Built To Race, the band released a cover album entitled Mirrors, which was offered for free on the Internet and has been downloaded more than 10,000 times.
The swing group is Leonardo's dream come true.
'I always wanted a brass band. I've always loved 1950s' music and vintage cartoon music, but I didn't know many brass instrument players, and those I know are classically educated musicians charging high fees,' said the musician, who is well-known on the local indie scene.
In 2010, Leonardo worked on his solo project while his band Zeke and the Popo took a hiatus. He wrote songs with a rockabilly touch.
Later that year, he recorded and released the songs in album The Sun produced by Dharmo.
In the album, Leonardo benefited from a number of brass players in a couple of songs.
The Sun drew a lot of praise and was named 2010 Best Album of the Year by Rolling Stone and Trax magazine. His band project was also nominated for Best Folk Group at the Indonesian Cutting Edge Music Awards in the same year.
In 2011, Leonardo employed brass players for a performance at a number of festivals, including Rockin the Region in Singapore and the Java Jazz Festival and Java Rockin' Land in Jakarta.
'It's damn hard to keep track of these additional players; some also charge high fees. I then decided to form a band with some of them; the idea was to 'lock' them into a band and make it easier to manage,' Leonardo said with a smile.
Leonardo and His Impeccable Six now consists of Leonardo, Dharmo, Susan, Christo Putra on drums, Daniel Sukoco on baritone saxophone, Andreas Pardede on trumpet and Wahyu Maliki on trombone.
Dharmo, a seasoned jazz musician, said the swing group was a refreshing and energizing project.
'I think I speak for members of the band when I say that swing music is quite a new genre for those us who have worked on other music projects. We are curious about this type of music, we tinkle with it together,' he said.
So far, Dharmo said, the group has been very productive in that it can write music and arrange songs very quickly.
'Leonardo could give us a skeleton of a new song today and we would be done with it by tomorrow and be ready to play it live the day after. The chemistry is really good,' he said.