For the past 8 years, the first full weekend of March has always been identified as the time where the groove of Jazz resonates from the metropolitan capital of Indonesia, Jakarta to the rest of the world. Entering its 9th edition this year, the biggest Jazz festival in the world, Java Jazz Festival 2013 once again presented the colossal jazz festivities at the Jakarta International Exhibition Center (JIEC) over the weekend of 1st to 3rd March 2013, with the bold theme: "Jazz up the World".
Joined by over a thousand of Indonesian and international performers in 187 shows on 17 performance stages, the three day festival definitely transformed Jakarta into the Mecca of Jazz. Not only did it bring together some of the world's most prominent musicians, Java Jazz has always been the arena where jazz and music enthusiasts from all over the world convene. Moreover, as the festival grew, it has attracted more and more international journalists from abroad such as from the Philippines, Singapore, Australia, Japan, and others. It becomes a familiar scene to see a lineup of journalists as long as the line up of eager audiences before some of the special shows.
Aside from music, the festival has also become a huge photo hunting session for stage photography enthusiasts. From handheld gadgets such as smartphones and tabs, modest cameras, to some of the latest DSLR professional cameras with state - of -the - art lenses, the stages and halls of the JIEC were constantly filled by these stage action hunters. Therefore, it was not uncommon to see members of the audience who packed more sophisticated "artilleries" than photo journalists.
The festival kicked off with a bang on Friday 1st March. Rafli Wasaja, a musician from Aceh brought unique Indonesian ethnical tunes at the Wonderful Indonesia open stage, while the renowned trumpet player/composer/arranger Ron King, led the Ron King Big Band in presenting some of the fascinating compositions to an amazed audience at the Tekomsel Hall. At the Djarum Super Mild Hall, the Jazz supergroup Fourplay showcased their amazing musical skills on the first day of the festival.
After Indonesia's rising star Raisa indulged the audience with sweet mellow songs, the BNI Hall turned into a massive reggae party, as Reggae legend Jimmy Cliff made his first appearance ever in Indonesia. With hits such as "I can see clearly now", "wild world", "Afghanistan", and more, Jimmy got the crowd jumping and dancing to the exciting reggae beats.
British pop star Joss Stone closed the first day fiesta with a shining blast. Appearing bare footed in an attractive dress on stage, Joss Stone got the crowd of the first special show of Java Jazz 2013 into a state of constant frenzy . She opened her performance with ‘(For God Sake) Give More Power to the People' and got the crowd really hysterical with her latest hit "You had me". Just as her song says, Joss Stone really had the crowd in her hand on the first night of Java Jazz Festival 2013.
The second day of the festival presented a groovy collaboration of the Asian Jazz All Stars Power Quartet at the Acoustic Stage in Lawu Hall. The quartet that consisted of Jeremy Montero, Eugene Pao, Tots Tolentino, Hong Chanutr Techatananan presented smooth compositions for the audience. During the performance, Jeremy Montero who is a Singaporean expressed his close relationship with Indonesia since his grandmother was born in Medan, North Sumatra.
At the BNI Hall, the second day of the festival saw a back-to-back performance from two renowned guitar 'heroes' in the realm of Jazz. The first was Earl Klugh, who captivated the audience with his acoustic-classic guitar playing. The second is not an unfamiliar name in the history of Java Jazz, Lee Ritenour. This time, the renowned smooth finger guitarists brought another amazing musician to the scene: the renowned pianist/composer/arranger Dave Grusin. As if this was not enough, Lee and Dave brought a surprising twist as vocalist Phill Perry appeared on stage to perform "It might be you".
Two special shows on day number two saw enthralling performances from two exceptional and legendary ladies at Djarum Super Mild Stage. Basia, a legend of Bossanova got the audience to "salsa" with her in hits after hits such as "If Not Now Then When", "I Must", and "Baby you're Mine". Following up the frenzy of Basia, British pop legend Lisa Stansfield took the audience on a nostalgic trip through some of her hits such as "Change", ‘Been Around the World", and "All Woman".
All the attendees of the final day of the festival must have stopped at the Java Jazz stage near the entrance since Javanese duo guitarist and vocalist Fried Pride presented a truly fascinating performance. Playing an acoustic guitar version of the classic hits from Stevie Wonder (who appeared in last year's Java Jazz) "I Just Called", the duo got the crowd to sing along to the amazingly re-arranged version of the song. While Roberta Gambarini entertained the crowd at the Brava Esquire Hall, the renowned American Jazz Fusion Band Spyrogyra showcased their exceptional smooth jazz tunes at the BNI Hall.
An exceptional performance was also presented by a young emerging Indonesian artist Eva Celia. Daughter of Indonesian legendary musician Indra Lesmana, Eva managed to attract a huge number of the crowd to the Java Jazz Stage. She also performed along with her dad in a number of songs which received huge applause from the audience.
The three day festival came to its pinnacle with the performance of the sensational Craig David. The Audience who had been waiting in heavy rain before the show finally got to the "heat" of the performance when Craig appeared with that familiar question "What's your flava?". Kept in a constant frenzy, the crowd sang along to almost every song including "Hidden Agenda", "Walking Away", "Time to Party", ‘Rise and Fall", and "I don't love you no more". As a special twist, Craig David surprisingly played the Turn Table and became a DJ for a short period of the performance which truly wowed the audience.
Constantly supported by the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy and the Minister of Trade, the Java Jazz Festival has transcended the scene of music. The festival has become an icon of Indonesia; a spectacular event that brings the world to Indonesia, at the same time spreads the good news on Indonesia to the world.
In the musical sense, Java Jazz also redefined Jazz in its own way with so many musicians from various genres. Jazz is the most dynamic music; it can be easily collaborated with other genres such as pop, Rn'B, rock, orchestra, and even various ethnic and traditional music. Java Jazz shouted the best statement that Jazz is not only sophisticated and exclusive, but it can also be "cool" and funky. Nearing its decade of existence, the Java Jazz festival has truly become a Musical Fiesta for all, Jazzing up the World!
Indonesia.travel special report
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