John Kiliaan & His Band

John Kiliaan & His Band at the Centrum, circa 1936
Top Row (L-R): Joseph Haniff – drums, violin; Bert Zorbag – guitar, banjo, vocal;
Jan van Ligten – bass, piano; Hanny Samethini – piano, bass, vocal
Bottom Row (L-R): Karel Imam – tenor sax, clarinet; John Kiliaan – leader, alto sax, clarinet;
M.M. Djoeki – trumpet, trombone, violin; Emile van der Hartt – violin
(Musicians identified by Indonesian jazz scholar Alfred Ticoalu)
 Advertisement for a costume party at the Centrum
 De Indische Courant, December 24, 1936

Kiliaan and his men formed a compact but versatile group. Nearly all of them were adept with two or more instruments. As a sideman Han learned to play the saxophone, string bass, drums, and accordion. The earliest group picture we have shows Han standing, unsurprisingly, at the grand piano. But he was to became a virtuoso on the piano accordion. The difficulties for a pianist in mastering the latter instrument are outlined by American accordionist Alan Sharkis

Costume ball at the Cercle Hellendoorn dance hall in Surabaya (August 30, 1936)
The John Kiliaan Band stands in the back row under the “CH” logo.

Cercle Hellendoorn dance hall (Simpang)

The Simpang Restaurant building was renovated in the 1930s into a cinema complex.

It is located at the intersection of Simpang-Palmenlaan (now Jl Gub Suryo – Jl Pemuda). Here are two cinemas of Maxim and Sky and a dancing called Gaieté and the Cercle Hellendoorn nightclub.

 Cinema Indra Surabaya (ex.the Cercle Hellendoorn nightclub) while still operating in the 1970’s
Five photographs of a John Kiliaan Band promotional appearance at a car dealership in Surabaya (circa 1938). Kiliaan poses with his clarinet. Samethini bears his piano accordion with pride. The two Studebaker models shown are the 1936 Dictator (or 1936 President) and the 1937 President.
Han Samethini Collection
photo taken at car studebaker dealer, N. V Autohandel in kedungdoro street 44
(location now become shop complex number 36 – 46)
Studebaker advert – Indische Courant – April 14, 1938
N. V Autohandel, Kedungdoro 44 Soerabaia
Modern photo of a well preserved 1937 Studebaker President 4-Door Cruising Sedan
Photo Source:

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