Sunday, February 03, 2008

RIP: Bill Saragih

It was in an 1997 --or 1996-- afternoon. I was one of the foot soldiers of the Jazz Goes To Campus organizing committee. Padang Wicaksono, then one of the generals responsible for the rundown of the event, knowing that I had nothing to do in campus lobby A, asked me to join him to see some performers to request them to play with economical pay under low student's organization budget.

So off we went. And the first jazz player on the list to meet was Bill Saragih. We're warmly received in his suburban house in South Jakarta and this guy, I must say, was such a cool and cheerful person. With his thick North Sumatra accent he entertained us with stories about jazz and the youngsters (Hey, we were very young back then). Oom Bill was glad that some students, like FEUI, still care to organize a jazz festival. It was the time when alternative-grunge-rock bands as well as boy bands were at their peak of popularity.

When we eventually shyly raised the honorarium issue, he told us not to worry. And on the D day, Bill Saragih fulfilled his promise, kicked the JGTC off, masterfully played his flute and saxophone along with his nephews, chatted, and joked with the audience despite the scorching Depok afternoon sun.

That man, the great entertainer with his distinctive throaty voice, now passed away. To pay respect, the Cafe plays What a Wonderful World, by Louis Armstrong

So long, Bill.

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