Jazz legend Bubi Chen died on Thursday evening in Semarang, Central Java.
We are saddened to tell you that the legend and our beloved pianist virtuoso Bubi Chen has passed away yesterday, February 16, 2012 at the age of 74, just a couple of minutes before 7:00 pm due to pulmonary complications. We were shocked when we received the news from Bubi’s son, Benny Chen just a while after his passing.
One of Bubi’s relatives, Widiawan, said Bubi passed away at about 7 p.m. at Telogorejo Hospital following a cardiac arrest. “The doctors were unable to save him after he was admitted at 6 p.m.,” he said as quoted by Antara news agency. “He had passed out earlier at his home and was rushed to the hospital.”
Widiawan said the piano legend, who had been living in Semarang for the past two years, was a diabetic who regularly visited his physician.Two years ago his legs developed gangrene caused by the diabetic wound. It made him suffer of massive pain and for that the legs had to be amputated (the first one was on March 26, 2010, just 19 days after his performance at the Java Jazz Festival and the second one a year later). After that he actually showed signs of getting better. The last time we met him at theJazz Traffic Festival in Surabaya where he performed full of joy and looked a lot better.
According to Benny Chen, Bubi Chen started to get breathing problem in his home in Semarang on February 7, 2012, just two days before his 74th birthday. The doctor diagnosed him with pulmonary complications and made him rest. Yesterday afternoon the breathing problem got worse and he was brought to Telogorejo hospital. He got the treatment, but at that time his pulse was already weak. Prof Dr. dr Darmono called his sons and announced his passing just some minutes before 7:00 pm.
“We do not know yet where he will be buried. We are still waiting for his children,” he said.
Jazz legend Bubi Chen, who was born on Feb. 19, 1938, in Surabaya, East Java, is survived by three sons and a daughter who live in Surabaya, China and the Netherlands. Indonesian musicians left messages of sympathy on various social media sites upon hearing the news of Bubi’s passing.
The youngest of eight siblings, Bubi learned classical music on the piano. By the age of 17, Bubi was teaching music while taking a two-year correspondence course with the Wesco School of Music in New York, according to jakarta.go.id.
One of his instructors was Teddy Wilson, a student of jazz legend Benny Goodman. Bubi founded the Chen Trio in the 1950s with his brothers Jopie and Teddy. He also joined the Jack Lesmana Quartet which then became the Jack Lesmana Quintet.
Together with Jack, father of jazz singer Indra Lesmana, Bubi recorded Bubi Chen with Strings in 1959 which was aired on the Voice of America.
By the 1960s, Bubi was already widely known in Australia, Europe and the United States. Bubi and Jack were credited with adding an Indonesian flavor to jazz music especially at a time when then president Sukarno despised western music.
Jazz legend Bubi Chen and Jack together with the Indonesian All Stars, which included Maryono, Benny Mustafa, Kiboud Maulana and Jopie, recorded the phenomenal album Djanger Bali, which mixed jazz with Indonesian traditional music, after attending the Berlin Jazz Festival in 1967.
Jazz legend Bubi Chen, nicknamed “the Pearl of the East’”, was named as one of the top 10 jazz pianists at the 1997 Berlin Jazz Festival when he played a kecapi, a traditional Indonesian instrument, along with the piano.
Jazz legend Bubi Chen
He was also regarded as the Art Tatum of the East Tatum was renowned as the father of jazz piano. It’s not exaggerating to compare him to Tatum, since his fingers can dance unbelievably fast over the keys with excellent precision. You can also listen to his imrpovisation lines which often floated naturally and fell in the right places. whether you like jazz or not, you’ll always be mesmerized by Bubi’s type of play.
Perhaps one of his most memorable achievement that we have to mention is when he joined the Indonesian All Stars alongside Jack Lesmana, Maryono, Jopie Chen, Benny Mustafa and Kiboud Maulana to perform at the Berlin Jazz Festival in 1967 under the invitation of Joachim-Ernst Berendt. Berendt had heard the amazing skill of both Bubi Chen and Jack Lesmana from American clarinetist Tony Scott. So they went to Berlin and played jaw-dropping modern jazz with some ethnic touches. Getting amazing responses from the German audiences, the group recorded one album there titled “Djanger Bali”, with Tony Scott joined in. This hard to find album was far ahead of time and should stand as one of the most important milestones of Indonesia’s jazz history.
Jazz legend Bubi Chen
Right on his passing date, 7 years ago he made a very special performance with Indra Lesmana in a spectacular jazz concert called “2 Love Jazz – The Art of Duo”, headlining ’2 Generations, 2 Pianos and One History.’ It was just a month after his brilliant performance at Jazz For Aceh, a charity concert made to help tsunami victims in Aceh.
Selamat jalan Jazz legend Bubi Chen
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