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Java Jazz Festival to swing into town

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, March 2, 2017  /  08:53 am
Java Jazz Festival to swing into town

Tokyo Ska Paradise performs during 2016 Java Jazz Festival in JIexpo, Jakarta, Friday, March 4, 2016 (The Jakarta Post/Seto Wardhana)

The Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival will kick off on Friday with the promise of more surprise collaborative performances between international and Indonesian artists and a string of special projects.

Now in its 13th installment since 2005, the annual festival has grabbed the attention of global musicians eager to perform at the largest music event in Asia, which is also widely regarded as the world’s largest of its kind.

“Unlike in previous years, it has been easier for us to secure confirmation from artists. We have even got some booked for next year’s festival,” said Ressanda Tamaputra, the festival’s head of promotion.

With one more day to go, the festival venue, the JIExpo exhibition hall in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, has been set up, while international artists have been arriving in the capital since Sunday.

“For now it’s safe to say we’re 90 percent ready,” Ressanda said on Tuesday.

Expectation is high for Java Jazz Festival 2017 after it was included on this year’s list of the 10 mostawaited international music festivals by It is the only festival on the list specifically devoted to jazz.

Read also: Jakarta summer music festival commences ticket sales

Last year’s lineup was criticized for featuring too much pop, criticism that has led the organizer to return to the festival’s roots of pure jazz and its derivations with less stage-time for contemporary mainstream acts.

This year’s lineup is an explosion of jazz running for three days through to Sunday with world-class acts on 14 stages, an increase from 11 last year.

Jazz heroes Chick Corea Elektric Band, Sergio Mendez, Arturo Sanduval, King, Eric Marienthal and Fareed Haque, jazz-funk band Mezzoforte, acid jazz group Incognito and contemporary American jazz-rockers Blood, Sweat & Tears are among the confirmed international artists that will enliven 10 indoor stages and four outdoor stages at the exhibition hall.

R&B and soul artists such as Elliot Yamin, Nik West, DW3 and NeYo, as well as pop singer Emma Larson and 12-piece Brit hip-hop group Renegade Brass are among the eclectic range of musicians that will pump up the volume at the festival.

But the limelight may fall on the Indonesian acts that the organizers have rolled out in full force, which include both seasoned jazz musicians and the younger generation.

Read also: Seven forgotten jazz albums beyond the jazz standards

“Every year we aim to promote local artists by giving them the challenge of creating an interesting performance concept if they want to appear at the Java Jazz Festival. And this year, we have a lot to offer to music enthusiasts,” said Ressanda.

Six musicians picked from the MLDDare2 Perform talent-scouting program will make their debut on the festival’s second day. The MLD Jazz Project Season 2 consists of vocalist Almira Joesoef, drummer Afirniar Mutsrin, guitarist Fahreza Pramudya, bassist Wesley Geraldo, pianist Edwin Putro and sax player Fauzan Febriansyah who have undergone mentoring sessions with jazz musicians Syaharani, Nikita Dompas, Aksan Sjuman, Indro Hardjodikoro, Adra Karim and Devian Zikri.

They will perform under the theme of “Indonesian Legendary Songs and Musicians,” belting out 11 jazz renditions of hit songs from the 1970s through to the 1990s by Benyamin Sueb, Titiek Puspa, God Bless, Rhoma Irama and Koes Plus and will collaborate with rock singers Ariyo Wahab, Ipang Lazuardi, Andi /rif and R&B crooner Wizzy.

On the last day of the festival, guitarist Tohpati will launch the new album from his trio Tohpati Bertiga, a collaborative jazz-rock project with bassist Indro Hardjodikoro and drummer Aditya “Bowie” Wibowo.

Jazz artists Andien, Rendy Pandugo, Elfa’s Singer, Tompi and simakDialog, folk duo Endah & Rhesa X Duadrum, pop musicians Hi-Vi! and The Overtunes as well as hip-hop artists Iwa K, NEO and Sweet Martabak are also on the long lineup.

Dira Sugandi, Lea Simanjuntak, Kamasean and Soundwave will perform a tribute to Whitney Houston, while fusion quartet Man’na, featuring Michael Paulo and Jacky Bahasuan, will stage a tribute to Al Jarreau.

The venue will be adorned with paraphernalia of the local Betawi culture, including festive ondel-ondel effigies, which will be placed on stage to promote local traditions. For further information and to check out the schedule, click on

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