Note from Java Jazz Festival 2017: A Well Rounded Festival for Jazz Enthusiasts
Jakarta International BNI Java Jazz Festival was held again on 3-5 March this year, and it is one of the music festival that we could not miss out. Starting from the grand press conference, we could already imagine how huge the festival was going to be like. On Friday, Tulus became the highlight performer of the day. The singer opened his set with two tracks called “Manusia Kuat” and “Tukar Jiwa” and warmed up the crowd. He appeared with his monochrome style by wearing black casual shirt with sarong, he looked simple yet humble just like how Tulus wants to be known. Some of you might have doubt the correlation between the soloist with jazz music, but his set was arranged with much jazz arrangement and he also did a jamming session on one of the song called “Langit Abu-Abu” and it ultimately made us think that he is a well rounded performer and musician.
On Saturday, we attended Alfredo Rodriquez Trio stage and they are musicians hailing from Cuba. Led by Alfrefo Rodriguez, the musician decided to move from his home country to Los Angeles, United States in 2009. His recent album is called “Tococoro” and it is a national bird of Cuba. It has the philosophy if the bird is being caged, it will die of sadness. It matches with Rodriguez’ wish of freedom in making music and thus he assembled an international band that fuses many musical influences. Taking stage at Java Jazz 2017, he impressed us with his Cuban color of music. He started the show with upbeat tempo and you could notice it is as Alfredo’s signature. The beat was played constantly in several songs. It made the audience lost the sense of reality from watching his performance, it would be a waste if you miss out his spectacular performance.
Another notable performances from Saturday was Krystyna Durys who wore a white attire for her stage. The singer engaged with the audience with her warm and humble attitude. The way she talked with Polish accent was mesmerizing, and her music was quite excellent. From local musician, Billy Simpson, who was graduated from The Voice Indonesia, was spotted jamming to “I Feel It Coming” by The Weeknd. As we noticed, he often danced to the groove and got lost in it, it also made those who watched were not ashamed to move their bodies. Manna Trio as seasoned musicians, have traveled everywhere to perform their jazzy tunes including Indonesia. They paid an homage to the late Al Jarreau. Al Jarreau was an American jazz musician who passed away in February, 12th 2017. Manna Trio didn’t miss to play their hits like “Spain”, “Roof Garden” and “Morning”. There was also the stage of Dira Sugandhi in which she and her band arranged folklore songs like “Cublak Cublak Suweng”, “Kampuang Nan Jauh Di Mato”, “Kicir Kicir”, “Bubuy Bulan”, and “Bungong Jeumpa” in jazz arrangament. She also inserted national songs like “Rayuan Pulau Kelapa” and “Tanah Air Pusaka” to the mix.
During the last day of the festival, Glenn Fredly served a crowd pleasing performances with his hit songs that made the audience sang along. The man from Ambon descent gave his all and serenaded us with his golden voice. It is no wonder that he’s among the top male performer in Indonesia. From the junior musician, there was Monita Tahalea. The soloist who is famous after her involvement in a talent search program, Indonesian Idol said that Java Jazz is a platform for her to grow as a musician. She would never imagine to perform the songs from her debut album in such legendary stage like Java Jazz. We could tell that she was super inspired and motivated that night and she also gave a message to never be afraid to dream high. Barasuara’s members who are known to be close to the singer, Gerald Situmorang and TJ Kusuma were present on the stage and their interaction made us feel closer to them. Java Jazz also gave the chance for Eva Celia, a young musician who has just debuted with an album “And So It Begins”. She performed wholeheartedly and once again, just like Monita, stated that all you got to do is believe to make your dreams come true.
Some of the big names appeared on Sunday, and one of them was Sergio Mendez. The legendary musician from Brazil brought out his renown bossanova flavor infused with jazz and funk. The crowd was overflowed and he also tried his luck in speaking Indonesian with a thick Portuguese/Brazilian accent to greet his fans. Ne-Yo, on the other hand managed to make the spectators scream out of excitement. His songs like “So Sick”, “Miss Independent” and “Because of You” brought back nostalgia to the early 2000 when his career was on peak. His stage was a full house as well, we tried so hard to not leave our spot. Incognito also performed for the second time, and previously, besides performing their songs, the also paid tribute to the legendary soul/funk singer, Stevie Wonder. They also collaborated with Tony Monaco who played the keyboard during the performance. Legendary Indonesian guitarist, Tohpati also performed amazingly on Sunday and Ras Muhammad made his return to Indonesia after staying in Jamaica for two months.
Java Jazz Festival 2017 also provided some interesting booths from the sponsors or partners, in which they gave out merchandises or vouchers for the audience. Demajors, as an independent record label was also given the opportunity to erect a booth in which they held few meet & greet sessions. The musicians under this label could be seen mingle around in this booth and they took the opportunity to release several albums during Java Jazz Festival 2017. Albums from Tohpati Bertiga, Teddy Adhitya, Indro Hardjodikoro, 7os oC and many more were released simultaneously with the festival. You could buy the physical records as well in their booth. Overall, the festival managed to bring out the best of both worlds, the jazz and non-jazz musicians were mixed together in the line-up but jazz as the underlying theme was still put first and foremost. Veteran performers as well as debutantes shared the spotlight and it was nice to see that the regeneration is doing so well. We hope that next year’s celebration would invite more jazz legends and maybe held a special collaboration project between the performers. See you next year!
Writer & Photographer: Audy Prasetya/Editor: Novita Widia