THE MYSTICAL VIBERio Sidik Jazz QuartetBy Polly Christensen

Rio Sidik Jazz Quartet
By Polly Christensen

Rio Sidik is Indonesia’s most famous jazz-fusion musician and singer, and is well established on the international music scene. He has played as the headlining act in venues such as Ronnie Scott’s of London as well as appearing at international jazz festivals. Together with his previous band Saharadja, Rio has performed all over the world. As a composer, Rio continues to write music for other bands as well as producing and writing his own music, while travelling the globe.

Rio was born and raised in Surabaya. Rio’s first appearance on stage was at the age of 10, with his brothers and sister. Music was always a big part of his life and Rio’s grandfather; Dariono was the front man of a Big Band and the encouraging mentor who introduced young Rio into the world of music.

All time famous performers such as Miles Davis, Arturo Sandoval, Freddie Hubbard, and Dizzie Gillespie, as well as Bocelli, Pavarotti and Michael Jackson have inspired Rio. Having hailed from a musical family, and being able to play all of the brass instruments, acclaimed musician Rio, spans a wide musical range.

For a jazz musician, playing music is a matter of their identity. They have to know the harmony of the songs in order to interact with different musicians. It’s a matter of having great reflexes. I caught up with Rio in Ryoshi, Seminyak.

Rio and his accomplished Quartet have played at the biggest venues within the region, Singapore, Malaysia and, Indonesia. Whether performing in Moscow, Jakarta or Bali, Rio is well known for his spontaneous and clever improvisation.

“My true passion is jazz”, Rio said. “When I was young, I listened to a lot of jazz-musicians like Monk, Duke, Miles, and Dizzy and trumpet players such as Maurice Andre, Adolph Hofner”, he exclaimed. “They’ve all influenced my style.”

Rio has appeared as a soloist with many of Indonesia’s top musicians, such as Indra Lesmana, Buby Chen, as well as Erwin Gutawa Orchestra. His fans can soon grab Sidik’s newest album, “Sound of the Mystical Vibe”, which is released in both audio and video format and will be available on the You Tube Channel.

Rio has been active on the music scene for many years. He recently collaborated with trumpeter Maurice Brown at the Bali Live International Jazz Festival 2014. While on stage Sidik’s trumpet is loud and piercing, but always allows the tune to be heard regardless of what the other instruments are playing. A trumpet can be sedating, challenging and of course able to produce frenzied improvisations.

“My latest album is going to be created as an audio and video recording because I want to capture the live energy when we perform on stage,” states Rio. ”The CD format is good but it can’t capture any visual aspects for the fans,” he explained.

Along with the release of Sidik’s second album the jazz musician wishes to add more variety to Indonesia’s music market and the international scene in general.

“To me music is an international language and I don’t put myself in any particular genre, I cover world music, fusion, jazz and pop”, said Rio. “When I play there’s only the universe and myself and I feel deep in meditation. “I always believe that when you do something for music, it does something for you”, he added. “I want people to listen to my music and remember me; that’s all.”

Rio Sidik is one cool cat, with his well-loved trumpet and a voice, which is part Dean Martin, part Louis Armstrong. Sometimes Rio’s sister Marina joins The Rio Sidik Quartet up on stage and unleashes her powerful vocal range. As I sat outside Bali’s Ryoshi restaurant and bar, enjoying a combination of Japanese cuisine and jazz music, I was keen to discover more about this talented musician.

Who gave you your first trumpet?
My grandfather gave me my first trumpet and it’s still part of our family. Henri Selmer Paris is a French-based family-run company. They manufacture many musical instruments and are known for their high-quality brass instruments. My grandfather bought the trumpet while on leave from the Navy in 1961. I have four trumpets; two of them are custom made. I am privileged to have a very limited edition horn that used to belong to jazz musician Maurice Brown.

What influence did your family have on your desire to be a musician?
My late grandfather was my biggest mentor. He was a trumpet player with his own big band orchestra in Surabaya. My grandmother was a singer; my mother was a singer and a trumpet player; my aunt was a singer and trumpet player; my uncles were both trumpet players; and my older brother is a trumpet player.

How did you gain musical experience when you were young?
My grandfather used to have a school where he taught more than a thousand students. Since I was a young, I knew that I was going to be into music. I played with my grandfather until 11 years old, that’s when I turned professional. I used to come to Bali quite often when I was in high school, so I already had experience playing on the stage in Indonesia. I have practiced every day since, for 28 years!

What was the name of your first band?
The first band I played in was called Jiwa and the Soul Train. We split up, and soon afterwards I moved to Australia for a while. The musician’s environment is really protective. I met a clarinet player we played and he really liked me, and finally I got through with his help. Now I go back and just call them, and go play some gigs. I frequently appeared with the late legend Bubi Chen, Erwin Gutawa Orchestra and with his musical partner, keyboardist Erik Sondhy among others.

What is the most important thing your grandfather has taught you?
My grandfather gave me an incredibly strict musical education, which has left me with a strong work ethic and a life-long commitment to music. He taught me about discipline, working hard, adopting a healthy attitude to music and how to be a responsible musician. He was pretty tough on me, encouraging me to play music every night and making sure that I did well in my exams at school.

Did you always want to be a jazz musician?
Since I was a kid, all I heard was jazz, Big Band Glenn Miller. My grandfather was in the navy, so maybe that’s where he got the jazz bug. He brought back lots of records. My mother was the voice teacher. She taught Marina and myself. I started playing solos and improvisations at the age of 13. That’s when I started playing piano. I learned piano so I could improvise, and cross over many genres.

Where did your grandfather play jazz?
My grandfather was a musician all of his life and played with some very well known jazz musicians such as Chen, Embong, Rhardjo and Maryono while he was stationed in the navy. The majority of operational ships were stationed at the main naval base at Surabaya.

Which countries have you enjoyed the most in recent years?
I have played in Moscow two times. I knew a few producers and contacted them before I left. They helped me to find musicians straight away, and practice rehearsals for some shows. The people in Russia have classical music in their blood and are talented. I am going back again this year with my Russian wife.

What is the best advice another musician has ever given you?
“Jangan sombong!” which translates as “Don’t get cocky!” in English. Also I like to create something new; I don’t really enjoy something that’s been done before.

What advice would you give a youngster who is interested in trumpet?
I would say that study is the most important aspect, and of course practice, practice, practice. This is because a trumpet is different, not like a saxophone.? You have to play every day otherwise you lose the playing muscles if you don’t practice. After one day of no practice I will know, and after two days the band knows, after three days everyone knows! You lose sound and hit wrong notes.

What accomplishment are you most proud of to date?
My grandfather complemented me, which made me super proud. Years ago, he came to Bali to watch me play and said that my performance was “outstanding”. I was always happy to see him, and report my progress back to my grandfather.

Indonesia is blessed to have such a gifted and talented, musical family. Check out the gig schedule on Rio Sidik’s Facebook page and enjoy the melodious vibes at one of his performances. You can watch him play in Bali at Ryoshi Seminyak, at Kakilima By The Sea, and at Made’s Warung in Seminyak.

Contact Rio Sidik at:

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