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Jakarta Post

Obituary: Jazz maestro Ireng Maulana dies

  • Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, March 7, 2016   /  11:16 am
Obituary: Jazz maestro Ireng Maulana dies (JP/Jerry Adiguna) (JP/Jerry Adiguna)

(JP/Jerry Adiguna)

Jazz musician Ireng Maulana died early on Sunday of a heart attack amid the fanfare of the Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival (JJF). He was 72.

Condolence messages were posted on an electronic screen at the JJF venue at the JIExpo hall in Central Jakarta, and his name was a trending topic on Twitter on Sunday.

'€œRemembering all the good and fun times I had with you. I will miss you so very much, Om. May you rest in peace,'€ wrote jazz musician Indra Lesmana on his Twitter account @indralesmana.

Ireng, who initiated the first international jazz festival in Indonesia, died while undergoing treatment at Harapan Kita Hospital in Slipi, West Jakarta. his body was laid to rest at a funeral home within the nearby Dharmais Hospital.

The funeral will take place on Monday at Kandang Haur Cemetery in Indramayu, West Java, where he will be buried next to his elder brother Kiboud Maulana, his mentor in jazz, who passed away last year.

Born in Jakarta on June 15, 1944, Eugene Lodewijk Willem Maulana changed his name to Ireng '€” Javanese for black '€” when he was 7 years old at the request of his parents, in the hope it would soften his hot-headed nature.

His father, Max Maulana, was a multi-instrument all musician from Cirebon, West Java, while his mother Georgiana Sinsoe of Sangir, North Sulawesi, was a singer.

His uncle, Tjok Sinsoe, was a renowned jazz bass player in the 1940s.

Ireng, who studied French and took typing and accountancy courses to prepare himself to become a breadwinner after his father died, started to take an interest in music when he was 16.

He joined Joes & His Band, which participated in numerous music festivals, eventually winning second place in a competition that also named Ireng as best guitarist.

He later joined group Gelora Samudera, frequently performing at the Hotel Des Indes (now the Duta Merlin shopping and business area on Jl. Gajah Mada in Central Jakarta) before establishing band Eka Sapta with Idris Sardi, Eddy Tulis and Bing Slamet.

During the New Order era, Ireng joined the entertainment team of the Army Special Forces RPKAD (now Kopassus); during one show performed by the team, he met the woman who would become his wife, dancer Maria Siregar. The couple had four children.

Ireng learned classical guitar at the City Line Guitar Centre in the US and the Konijnklijk Conservatorium in The Hague, the Netherlands.

After starting to write jazz compositions, he was invited to perform at the New York World Fair in 1964.

In the 1970s, Ireng collaborated with fellow jazz artist Mus Mualim in group Indonesia Lima, the house band of music program Pojok Jazz (Jazz Corner), broadcast by the state-owned TVRI.

Ireng subsequently established his own ensemble, Ireng Maulana All Stars, which received a spectacular standing ovation after performing at the International Jazz Festival in Singapore in 1983.

Ireng, whose signature was his banjo-playing, put on the first Jakarta International Jazz Festival (JakJazz) in 1988 at the Taman Ismail Marzuki arts center '€”pulling the strings in the government-to-government project to reduce costs under the management of his firm Ireng Maulana Associates.

Known as a humble person and an artist who was eager to learn from his younger colleagues and friends, Ireng took a close interest in the future of jazz musicians and the genre itself.

Since 1998, Ireng, who had collaborated with various world jazz artists and Indonesian newcomers, started to throw free events at shopping malls to introduce jazz to a wider public.

'€œIreng opened the door to jazz festivals, helping do away with its image as music for the elite,'€ said noted music journalist Bens Leo, who knew Ireng personally from their time together at the Karya Cipta Indonesia Foundation, which works for the intellectual rights of musicians.

'€œAs he was eager to get world artists to come and play here, he encouraged Indonesian artists to get their music out there,'€ said Bens.

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