Bobby McFerrin partners with Dwiki Dharmawan to play local music in Java Jazz held recently early March in Jakarta. The huge event has mesmerized the audience with flavors of rock and pop hence the jazz became more fascinating. Every year the grand celebration of jazz brings a surprise. Last year, Dwiki successfully brought Carlos Santana who had refused previously to come to the country. A year earlier, fragrance of rock and pop sprayed over the event had attracted all ages, from all walks of life. This time, Java Jazz reserved an ample room for local music.
“I felt honored since Bobby McFerrin is a great man,” Dwiki Dharmawan told about his experience to jam with the singer of “Don’t Worry be Happy” on the first evening of 2012 Java Jazz. Dwiki, who has been around the world to collaborate with world jazz musicians, was preparing himself for ten days. The 75 minutes performance also featured the Balinese kecak dance, typical Malay rebab (Arabic string instrument, a spike fiddle), Acehnese saman dance, and Sundanese angklung that put the audience in awe.
No one was disturbed with the formula since it felt sincere. It was flowing and enchanting. Local nuances are still visible, yet they stream smoothly and merge like a dance with jazz beats. Probably because jazz has an open character and it is all about improvisation, everything felt like what they are supposed to feel. Or perhaps the quality of the musicians that has created an exciting blend of flavors.
Traditional sounds on a jazz stage are not new at all. We have seen how jazz fuses with latin colors. Dewi Allice Lydia Gontha—President Director of PT Java Festival, the organizer—said they already have a format to blend local treasures into their event. The audience of Java Jazz is not just coming from the capital city. They come from other cities including overseas. There are hopes that Java Jazz will not be merely a grand annual event, but a birth for Indonesian jazz revival. The world has long known that the country has great figures of jazz, namely the late Bubby Chen, Mus Mualim, Jack Lesmana, and of course his son, Indra Lesmana.
Eight years ago, Java Jazz was held in Jakarta’s Convention Hall, now it is organized in Jakarta Fair arena. There had been some worries that the move would reduce the number of the audience, but it did not change it at all. The queue at the entrance has been long since the afternoon. While through the late hours, until the last note, the crowds stayed. “The appreciation from the musicians on this event that prioritize quality and solid production is the pride of Indonesians,” said Peter F. Gontha, the Chairman of the Festival, “all the more so, when international musicians, who have become best friends of the festival, have called Java Jazz as a home for jazz.”
The Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Mari Elka Pangestu also praised the festival which this year also featured Stevie Wonder and Al Jarreau. Mari said the theme of the festival “Where Jazz Finds a Home” was coming from comments of world musicians who performed in previous events. “It proves that Indonesia, that had never been known as a spot for jazz, has succeeded to create a cozy place for jazz lovers and musicians,” she said. (WI/Putu Wijaya, Viesta Karwila)