Sunday, March 3, 2013

Festivalgoers See New Faces and Old Favorites at Jakarta's Java Jazz

The first day of Java Jazz found the festival showcasing its qualities. 

The number of performers and variety of music the festival offered made the event continually exciting without the usual likelihood of overload sometimes found at similar genre-focused events. 

The rich amount of local acts also made the festival a fine hunting ground to enjoy new talents whose music may have otherwise gone unnoticed by the public eye.

“It’s always fun to watch the more-seasoned performers, obviously,” said Dewi Sablah, a festivalgoer. “But at the same time, it’s always extra enjoyable when I discover a new artist by accident.”  

Dewi, a dedicated Java Jazz attendee, said she had not allowed herself to miss a single day of the festival since its second incarnation.

“Like when I’m going through a specific stage and happen to pass by somebody whose sound is so good, you just have to go in.”

The day’s windy weather made for a relaxed festival atmosphere that suited the plentiful but not overflowing visitors. 

Numerous helpful people from the organizing team were spread around the Pekan Raya Jakarta venue, easing the navigation process around the multistage event.

Rafly Wasaja, who performed in the late afternoon at the Kementerian Pariwisata and Ekonomi Kreatif Hall, offered a mix of Middle Eastern and traditional Indonesian flourishes and acid jazz. 

The resulting tracks were intriguing with their percussive and religious nature — providing addictive beats that were easy to get into while following the hyper-melodic vocal lines. 

Though not exactly “unknown,” Rafly’s particular music certainly found a host of new listeners.


Easy-listening acoustic pop band Mr. Sonjaya also showed plenty of promise. It managed to engage the crowd and executed its lighthearted tunes and some covers with instrumental precision. 

The band’s mass appeal is obvious — what with its lineup of fresh-faced young men — and a commercially viable future is clearly on the way. 

Perhaps a record label rep will pass by their set and offer a sit-down soon enough.

“I’ve never heard of these guys before, and the name made me think it was just one guy, perhaps with an Indian heritage,” said Rian Kusuma, who came to the festival with his father. 

“But they turned out to be a band that plays really ear-pleasing music.” 

Some of the lesser-known names had to settle for performing in front of a minimal crowd — such as Malaysian songstress Atilia, who did a rather awkward cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine” with a quasi-tropicalia beat. 

Fortunately the fans were there with an audible enthusiasm that set the tone for the rest of the day.

Of course, the fans mostly flocked to the big-name acts whose shows were guaranteed crowd-pleasers.

Not surprisingly, the country’s dependable hit-makers easily got the crowd moving with the beat.

Local jazz-based sextet Maliq & D’ Essentials was one of the main events later in the day. 

Performing at the large BNI Hall, the group easily got the crowd stomping their feet and singing along with the endless number of hits from their five officially-released albums.

Consisting of vocalists Angga Puradiredja and Rivani Indriya Suwendi, keyboardist Ilman, bass player Jawa, guitarist Arya Aditya Ramadhya and drummer Widi Puradiredja, they proved to be one of the major highlights of the festival on that day.

Angga and Rivani were attractive as ever, clearly enjoying the atmosphere and their fans’ enthusiastic response.

“I’ve been a fan of the band for a long time, and this venue really fits them. It’s kind of intimate but also spacious at the same time,” said Reni Waali, a college student.

Java Jazz mainstay Fourplay celebrated their musical prowess with a set at the Djarum Super Mild Hall, and it was one of the fullest venues during the late afternoon. 

The veterans have not had the virtuosity of guitarist Lee Ritenour — an Indonesian favorite — in their lineup for a while now, but current string-wielder Chuck Loeb more than makes up for it. 

Fourplay was also missing drummer Harvey Mason, who was out sick, and brought along magnetic hitter Clarence Penn to temporarily replace him.

The band was in top form and didn’t need to say much to engage the crowd, though bass player Nathan East’s charming whistles and counterplay with pianist-keyboardist Bob James enticed plenty of hollering.


Read more: Jakarta Globe

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