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Java Jazz continues to explore beyond jazz with diverse 2019 lineup

Dylan Amirio

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, January 17, 2019  /  03:39 pm
Java Jazz continues to explore beyond jazz with diverse 2019 lineup

Steve Porcaro (left) and Joseph Williams (right) of TOTO. The band is headlining Java Jazz Festival 2019, which runs March 1-3 at the JIExpo in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta. (Courtesy of Java Festival Production/Toto/Kevin Albinder)

The Java Jazz Festival continues its exploration outside its namesake genre as it returns for its 15th edition this year, even embracing bands on the other end of the musical spectrum.

This is encourages diversity in both its lineup and audience, as seen in renowned jazz festivals like the New Orleans Jazz Festival and the Montreux Jazz Festival, which have invited pop and rock acts to headline their events.

To be held on March 1-3 at the festival's home ground, the JIExpo in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, this year's headliner is '80s rock band Toto, which has been inescapable for the past two to three years.

Thanks to the rapid growth of the internet meme culture, the group’s signature song, “Africa”, has taken on new life as memes that mostly praise the song's greatness and opine that many have overlooked and dismissed it as recently as five years ago.

Due to this newfound digital popularity, Toto has become relevant and current across generations to attract a diverse audience rarely achieved by other active rock bands of the 1980s.

Led by versatile guitarist Steve Lukather, Toto is scheduled to appear at a special show to the tune of Rp 355,000 (US$25) per ticket. Daily festival passes are Rp 750,000 and the three-day passes are going for Rp 1,760,000.

Co-headlining Java Jazz Festival 2019 are two up and coming R&B acts – Indian-American singer-songwriter Raveena Aurora and Gabriella “Gabi” Wilson, aka H.E.R. – who have established their own distinctive styles with their incredible talent and songwriting skills.

Raveena’s sounds take many cues from the legends that have shaped her musical landscape, like Sade, Ella Fitzgerald and D’Angelo, which she has molded into a smooth, airy and woozy R&B style.

H.E.R. has followed a colorful music career, from appearing in Radio Disney's Next Big Thing singing contest in 2009 to being nominated for five Grammy Awards in 2019. She has also worked with the likes of Bryson Tiller, Noah “40” Shebib and Daniel Caesar.

Tickets to Raveena’s special show are available for Rp 125,000, while H.E.R.’s show is priced Rp 175,000.

Java Jazz 2019's extensive lineup includes up-and-coming artists Masego, Moonchild, Knower and Mac Ayres, who balance the age diversity alongside the Ron King Big Band, Tony Monaco Trio and R+R=Now. The latter is a supergroup composed of Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin, Derrick Hodge, Christian Scott, Justin Tyson and Taylor McFerrin.

Steve Lukather (left) and Steve Porcaro (right) of TOTO on stage. The band is set to perform in Java Jazz Festival 2019 on March 1-3.Steve Lukather (left) and Steve Porcaro (right) of TOTO on stage. The band is set to perform in Java Jazz Festival 2019 on March 1-3. (Courtesy of Java Festival Production/Toto/Kevin Albinder)

Also appearing is a quartet led by saxophonist Donny McCaslin, which was the backing band for David Bowie’s jazz-influenced final album, Blackstar.

Up to 70 Indonesian acts are performing at the festival, including Kunto Aji, Isyana Sarasvati, Yura Yunita, Teddy Adhitya and Andien sharing the stage with mainstays Dewa Budjana, Indra Aziz, Barry Likumahuwa and Afgan.  

The lineup's diversity, according to president director Dewi Gontha of organizer Java Festival Production, was an intentional move to make the festival sustainable and accessible to multiple generations. Dewi said that the festival's target demographic fell within the 18-34 range.

The festival’s partnership with travel start-up Traveloka also correlated with her aim to attract more festivalgoers from outside Jakarta and even the country.

“We realized that we must build a sustainable new market and operate within i, to sustain Java Jazz and maintain its relevance as an Indonesian music festival,” said Dewi.

Last year's lineup offered up special headliners Goo Goo Dolls, Daniel Caesar, Vanessa Williams and LAUV, with sets featuring Jhene Aiko, BJ the Chicago Kid, JP Cooper and Avery Sunshine. (ste)

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