VAC Trio giving a flamenco touch to jazz
Emke de Vries
The Jakarta Post
The international trio ' consisting of the Indonesian Nita Aartsen on the piano, the Mexican-Italian Israel Varela on drums and the Italian Daniele Cappucci on contrabass ' was performing with guest artist Marcello Allulli on the saxophone at the Italian Institute of Culture Jakarta on Wednesday.
'This unique combination of Italian and Indonesian culture seems to be a perfect way to celebrate 65 years of bilateral relations between our countries,' said the cultural institute's director Michela Linda Magri.
The musicians gave a workshop at the center, where they shed light on their musical journeys.
With each musician coming from a different cultural background, they produced unique sound explorations and perspectives on their music project.
The artists have been working with each other for a while now, rehearsing, touring and composing new music.
Aartsen met Varela, who is originally from Mexico but currently residing in Rome, two years ago at the Asia Jazz Festival. They clicked 'as brother and sister'. Varela then introduced her to Cappucci and that was how the story started.
'Music is like a language, a universal language. We can understand each other right away; that is why it's very easy for me to play with them,' Varela says.
The collaboration seems to be without many cultural clashes.
'We are from different places, so it's nice to get together. It is sometimes challenging because my music is classic and Latin jazz. Israel is flamenco; Daniele thick Italian. Everyone wants to put his roots there. But there is a lot of love and respect in the group and that is the key,' Aartsen says.
The four musicians are on tour across Indonesia ' they just came back from Sumatra and they are on the way to Kalimantan and Bali.
They will perform at the upcoming Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival in March. In this year's festival, which runs from March 6 to 8, the lineup includes many Indonesian and international musicians, including English singer-songwriter Jessie J and American pop star Christina Perri.
The trio of Varela, Aartsen and Cappucci will perform on March 7, featuring Allulli and Yeppy Romero, when they are set to present their unique combination as exotic flamenco jazz. Romero is a flamenco guitarist from Bali specialized in flamenco jazz.
'We say jazz because this is a really modern word to combine different styles. We like to call it flamenco jazz; it is really a mix. Everything is a possibility,' said Alluli, one of Italy's most eclectic saxophone players, about their upcoming show.
After Indonesia, Allulli, who lives in Rome, will be touring Turkey, Lebanon, Belgium and Finland.
The four musicians are true global citizens, getting their inspiration mostly from their travelling and living in different countries.
Aartsen lived in the Netherlands before and Cappucci studied and lived in both the Netherlands and the US.
'I haven't been living in Italy for the last six years. I miss it. I go back every summer, but just for playing. I am living in Brussels now, which is close to everything. I chose that because it is in the middle and it's full of jazz clubs and musicians,' Cappucci says.
'I just want to play; that is what I do now and it's great.'
The musicians are not all new to Indonesia, having previously visited the country. They are inspired by Indonesian music as well.
'I think the Indonesian culture is very inspiring for foreign musicians,' said Aartsen, who is doing an album on songs by legendary composer Ismail Marzuki.
She also invited foreign musicians to play Indonesian songs and took Varela to Bali to watch kecak dance to inspire him. 'That's what I love about the big house of jazz: we get together and we make something fresh,' Aartsen says.
The writer is an intern at The Jakarta Post
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