Jazz Gunung Bromo 2017, A Truly Jazz Festival with Diverse Influences Ended Spectacularly
With over 60 annual jazz festival in Indonesia, Jazz Gunung Bromo 2017 managed to hold a high quality jazz festival for its 9th edition. Taking place from 18 to 19 August 2017 at Amfiteater Terbuka Jiwa Jawa Resort Bromo, Probolinggo, the audience were delighted by performances from various jazz musicians from Indonesia and beyond. On the first day, the show started a bit late than scheduled and opened by the performance of Surabaya All Stars. At the age of 60s and 70s, these musicians prove their capabilities are equally outstanding with the younger ones. They performed not only standard jazz songs, but also pop, rock, and dangdut music with jazz arrangement. Songs like “Alamat Palsu” by Ayu Tingting, “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi were played by the band which was founded in 2007. The sole international performer, Paul McCandles and Charged Particles stunned the audience with their jazz numbers like “Trout Stream” or “Musiverse”. The band happened to hold a tour across Indonesia with two scheduled performances in Jakarta prior to and after Jazz Gunung, and also a visit to Surabaya. Monita Tahalea with her band that consist of renowned musicians like Gerald Situmorang on guitar and Indra Perkasa on bass, brought songs from her latest album “Dandelion”. Songs like “Hai”, “Memulai Kembali”, and even national anthem “Rayuan Pulau Kelapa” in her own arrangement were performed upon enthusiastic audience. Monita as the ambassador of the program #sahabatbromo also encouraged the attendees to help her clean up the tourism site from the trash left by irresponsible tourists on the next day.
Dewa Budjana graced the stage after a break and performed songs from his critically acclaimed album “Zantuary”. His complicated yet splendid composition of jazz music led us towards the night that grew colder. People started to warm themselves with a cup of hot coffee or tea, or small snacks provided by Rehat Bromo and local hawkers that sold food and beverage in the area. Maliq & D’essentials became the last performer on the first day, and you could clearly tell that most audience were waiting for their turn especially the younger generation. “Senang”, “Untitled”, “Dia”, “Pilihanku” and “Setapak Sriwedari” made the crowd sing along and dance to the band. Maliq & D’essentials offered a new kind of stage performance in which they did a choreographed movement and other gimmicks like rapping, giving out CDs, and blending into the audience. It successfully livened up their stage and we daresay that they were true performers of the night. On the second day, the event started out even later than yesterday since some technical mishaps were unforeseen.
Despite the little setback, the second day was cheerfully opened by the MCs who gave a lot of comedic relief for the audience. Sono Seni Ensemble with John Jacob performed keroncong music with their own twist and they called it “Keronc-wrong”. They performed traditional compositions from Madura, Java and many more. The powerful vocal and experimental music put a new light on the genre which is influenced by Portuguese instruments. Sri Hanuraga Trio with Dira Sugandi performed the songs from their album “Indonesia Vol.1” which is filled with traditional folk songs from the western part of Indonesia in jazz arrangement. “Kampuang Nan Jauh Di Mato”, “Tanah Airku”, “Manuk Dadali”, “Bungong Jeumpa”, and “Rayuan Pulau Kelapa” sound as refreshing as ever in the hands of the group that were founded by the idea of Goenawan Mohamad. By arranging the folk songs and national anthem in jazz, Dira hoped that people would get more familiar with the songs. She braced the freezing night in a beautiful blue dress and sang the songs powerfully. Indra Lesmana Keytar Trio brought songs from his album “About Jack”. Using a keytar as his main instrument, Indra Lesmana performed several instrumental tracks like “Melasti”, “I Wish”, “Morning Bird” and “Joy Joy Joy”.
Jazz Gunung Bromo 2017 gave out a lifetime award for legendary jazz musician Jack Lesmana who has just passed away. On behalf of him, his son who is also a jazz musican and performer of the night, Indra Lesmana humbly received the award. Afterwards, Ring of Fire, the band formed by Djaduk Feriyanto brought their collaboration with jazz legend, Idang Rasidi, and dangdut singer, Soimah. Their set not only brought astonishment from the audience for the oddly successful combination of jazz and dangdut, but also laughter for the comical antics from Soimah. “Bunga Nirwana”, “Sri Minggat”, and “Laguku” became jazz numbers in the hands of Idang Rasidi. Soimah challenged herself to perform an English song from Barry White called “Just The Way You Are” and she tackled it well. Glenn Fredly was the last performer and his set brought back nostalgia with songs like “Kisah Romantis” and “My Everything”. In contrary with what we expected, he chose cheerful numbers from his extensive discography. Nothing about sad songs and unrequited love, it’s all about dance and romance. The night wrapped up with a smile upon everyone who came there.
What we like about Jazz Gunung Bromo 2017 is the fact that they put idealism and standard above everything. Unlike other jazz festivals who presented line up with no correlation whatsoever to jazz, the organizer has a strong commitment to show that with all jazz line-up, people would still enjoy the show. With amazing mountainous landscape as the background, high quality outdoor sound system, and open stage, we were entertained with jazz music with lots of fusion. The theme “Merdekanya Jazz, Meneguhkan Indonesia” seemed to fit perfectly with the current situation of our country which is threatened by extremist ideology. It is proven that jazz, albeit being imported, could become a music that could unify other influences like keroncong, pop, dangdut and rock. It was truly one of a kind festival that should continue to hold its high standard. Next year, Jazz Gunung Bromo will happen for three days with more artists and better stages. See you next year!