The Jakarta Post
Slap it: Jazz musician Barry Likumahuwa performs at the JakJazz'in Aja kickoff concert in Jakarta on Dec. 6. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)
A recent concert provided a sneak peek into the highly anticipated return of the JakJazz music festival in 2020.
Since its inception in 1988, JakJazz has always been one of the biggest international jazz festivals in Indonesia.
Created by the late Indonesian legendary jazz musician Ireng Maulana, the music festival has featured both local and international musicians during its lifetime. With its vibrant displays of jazz music at its finest, JakJazz was a highlight of the Indonesian jazz scene from the 1990s to the mid-2000s.
However, during its long and decorated history, JakJazz has experienced numerous setbacks.
The festival experienced a vacuum between 1997 and 2006, after which the festival was held annually until 2012, skipping the year 2009.
After 2012, the festival experienced yet again another vacuum, and following Ireng’s passing in 2016, the future of the festival was further put into question.
The veteran: Seasoned jazz musician Idang Rasjidi interacts with the audience during the JakJazz'in Aja kickoff concert. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)
Flash forward to 2019 and it appears that the jazz festival is back and is more than ready to bring new styles and influences to the table.
This was apparent in the kickoff concert to the JakJazz 2020 at Livespace SCBD, Jakarta, on Dec. 6. The concert served as a glimpse into the overall direction that the jazz festival will take next year.
Titled JakJazz’in Aja – A Jazz Technotronic Experience, the concert promoted a more modern approach to jazz, marked by the inclusion of electronic music instruments.
Headed by Tommy Maulana, who is the son of Ireng Maulana, the concert was a way to build public awareness of the big return of the festival next year.
“We have had a vacuum for a long time, and we’re aware of the shift within the entertainment market,” Tommy told The Jakarta Post.
“This concert is our first step in raising public awareness.”
On the decidedly more modern approach, Tommy explained that it was due to changes occurring within the jazz landscape.
“One of the unique concepts is our transformation with the development of technology and today’s electronics that are favored by younger generations,” said Tommy.
“We’re trying to adopt the changes in jazz music.”
This adoption of a newer style of jazz was reflected in the concert’s lineup. There were four distinct musical styles at the concert, all infused with jazz.
First was the collaboration between jazz and opera. Collaboration of the two styles was brought to life by veteran jazz musician Idang Rasjidi and Indonesian opera singer Sastrani.
The second entry was the collaboration of jazz, R&B and funk-soul music performers. For this, bassist Barry Likumahuwa collaborated with R&B singer Cantika Abigail of GAC and seasoned jazz singer Margie Segers.
The technotronic theme was mainly delivered by two electronic-themed performance pieces. There was jazz singer Andien performing alongside EDM duo NSBETM in an electronic jazz-pop mashup and collaboration between Demas Narawangsa, Greybox Music, Eva Celia, and Indra Lesmana, who came together to create an experimental jazz/electronic music hybrid.
In regard to contributing to the concert, electronic duo NSBETM was delighted to be part of the kickoff concert to JakJazz 2020.
The duo was formed in 2016 and consists of musicians Nadya Sella Belansky and Esa Theodore Mbouw. According to Nadya, the kickoff concert was the biggest event they’ve performed in.
“We were working on self-produced and published works when we were suddenly called up for JakJazz, which for me is a huge event,” said Nadya.
“I have fond memories of going to the event when I was little, back when the late om Ireng was still around.”
“It was truly something to be grateful for.”
For Esa, the blend of style between electronic jazz and pop presented a new set of challenges for the musical pair.
“The challenge was in the process to fuse electronic music and jazz, and then we tried to find our own sound,” explained Esa.
“From there we explored further, so I guess it was a challenge that turned out to be something we really enjoyed, where we can try different things and collaborate with different artists.”
“It was a challenge that we really embraced."
This hybrid style of jazz blended with other musical genres will be the main direction of next year’s JakJazz main event, according to Tommy. However, at the end of the day, jazz will still be the festival’s main music foundation.
“Next year’s concept will be very hybrid with multiple genres, but it will still be a jazz festival,” remarked Tommy.
“For instance, if you listen to dangdut music later on, it’ll be a jazzy style of dangdut. If you listen to rock music, it’ll be a jazzy rock music.”
“This is the hybrid musical style that we’ll adopt next year.”
The writer is an intern at The Jakarta Post.
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