What used to be an event for a niche audience has become the annual occasion that many Jakartans feel they must attend.
No longer reliant on bulking together barely known artists with well-past-their-heyday headliners, the Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival now carries an increasing number of respected names in its lineup. And while the event’s “jazz” tag seems to have lost some relevance with the mounting inclusion of musicians who bear no signs of the genre in their sound, it is still the place to go if you want to catch a variety of eclectic music.
One of this year’s big draws is Stevie Wonder , the legendary artist whose influence on the R&B genre is immense. Wonder is popular for his barrage of hits, including the ’70s groovy mainstays “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours ,” “Superstition,” and “Higher Ground.”
His high-profile collaborations have included singles with Paul McCartney , Dionne Warwick and the Jackson 5, among many notable others. For casual Indonesian listeners, Wonder’s most memorable hit was undoubtedly the plaintive (if rather sappy), organ-driven ballad “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” which dominated the radio waves here when it came out in 1984.
Another legend set to perform is Herbie Hancock. Certainly a major player on the jazz scene, Hancock honed his skills as a member of the illustrious Miles Davis’s “second great quintet.” He is seen as being largely responsible for the rise of “post-bop” jazz during the mid-’60s, a genre that indulged in syncopated rhythms and eventually then-new instrumentations such as synthesizers.
Hancock’s popularity surged beyond the jazz scene, however, with his ability to write jazz-infused pop songs that crossed into the mainstream. An example of this dynamism can be found in the rousing hip-hop styled “Rockit” in 1983, which was a minor hit in Indonesia due to its novel usage of vinyl scratching.
Over the years, Hancock’s characteristically funk-ified brand of jazz has made him the go-to guy for artists to collaborate with, including Freddie Hubbard, Quincy Jones, Joni Mitchell and even Stevie Wonder. Over the years, Hancock has won a whopping 14 Grammies and has written or produced hits that many perhaps don’t even know he had a hand in.
Another headliner is Erykah Badu , the soulful songstress whose music contains a seemingly effortless blend of soul, jazz, R&B, reggae and hip-hop, among others. Known to her fans as “The First Lady of Neo-Soul,” Badu found success with her debut release, “Baduizm,” in 1997. The record, as well as its breakthrough single “On & On,” made her a favorite with the Indonesian jazz and R&B crowds. Her strong vocal inflections are an obvious source of influence to many female singers around the country.
The festival will take place from March 2 to 4at the Jakarta International Expo in Kemayoran.
Ticketing and full lineup info: http://web.javajazzfestival.com/2012/