Tribute to Bubi Chen

Dated  February 17, 2012 , I read an article that Bubi Chen has died at the age of 74 years because of  diabetes melitus  in Telogorejo hospital   in Semarang, Central Java.

He was wellknown as a jazz maestro, even regarded as one of  jazz ancestors in Indonesia. Beside  a pianist, he was also an arranger. As far as I know, he usually play mainstream like swing. During his lifetime he received several awards as a musician.

He began his career in music with learning classic piano. He rearranged some classic compositions from Beethoven, Chopin and Mozart into jazz. After that, he began to study jazz by himself beside took a course. His teacher was Teddy Wilson.

Bubi Chen founded a group named  “The Circle” with Maryono (saxophone), F.X. Boy (bongo), Zainal (bass), Tri Wijayanto (gitar) and Koes Syamsudin (drum). With  Jack Lesmana, Maryono, Kiboud Maulana, Benny Mustapha and his brother Jopie Chen, he also  joined  “Indonesian All Stars”. ” Indonesian All Stars” ever performed in  Berlin Jazz Festival in  1967. After that, they made a record , Djanger Baliwith  Tony Scott.

In 1959, with Jack Lesmana, he made a record in  Lokananta titled “Bubi Chen with Strings”. The reocrd ever broadcasted by “Voice of America” and discussed by a famous US jazz critic in 1960. He called him as “The Best Pianist of Asia”.  He ever founded  “Chen Trio” with his brother  Jopie and Teddy Chen in  1950’s. In the same year he also joined “Jack Lesmana Quartet” which changed name into “Jack Lesmana Quintet”.

In the middle of  1976, Bubi released a record titled  “Kau dan Aku”, with  Jack Lesmana, Benny Likumahuwa, Hasan, and Embong Rahardjo.  In 1984, with jazz musicians like  John Heard, Albert Heath, and Paul Langosh, he made a record  titled “Bubi di Amerika” in America and was circulated in Indonesia. He still released many more records after that.

In 2004, Bubi Chen received  “Satya Lencana” award for his dedication in art from the former president  Megawati. One year later, in   2005, in  Java Jazz Festival, Peter F. Gontha  gave him  an award as  “Jazz Living Legend” musician for the first time. Bubi Chen also  received Life Achievement Award from the governor of  East Java,  regarded of introducing  Surabaya to internasional world through  jazz during  “Wismilak The Legend of Jazz” in the early of  2010.

He was not just an Indonesian jazz artist, but he was an international jazz artist. We as jazz lovers surely miss him. This brief biography was adapted from Wikipedia.  If you want to know more details about him, here is the link


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