Jazz Gunung 2010, Bromo, Indonesia
The music began with TDT Percussion, a group formed in '07 at Universitas Negeri in Surabaya where the members are studying percussion as a major. The music was an arresting mixture of western and Javan instruments, jazz scales and traditional Javanese vocals. With the double-headed kendang drum of Rofi'ul Fajar and the electric bass of Hendra Tanaya forming a strong rhythm team, pianist Bagus played straight ahead jazz lines over the expressive and ethereal vocals of Ayu on the opener "Semebyar." The violin of Jarmani played a continual lament and Cecep on banjo and Kholam on bonang (pot-like gongs) added layers of sound to the rich mix which takes the Banyuwangi flavor of East Java as its main influence.
Bagus's touch on piano was understated in a very Ellingtonian way and only on the third number, "Ojo Cilik Ati," did he stretch himself in graceful solo tinged with the blues. Ayu's yearning, imploring vocals were central to the always rhythmic music and violin played sympathetic counterpoint for the most part. On the final number, "Ulan Andling Andling," Bagus played McCoy Tyner-like accompaniment to Ayu's balladic delivery. A short but exhilarating passage played on four tambourines and kendang brought the song and the set to a dramatic percussive conclusion. At around thirty minutes the set seemed a little too short, surely a good sign that the music is making a connection. TDT Percussion demonstrated elegantly that different musical languages can merge to speak with one voice; Duke Ellington, the original world music musician, would no doubt have approved.
TDT Percussion are part of Jazz C26, Surabaya; these Jazz Communities are found all over Indonesia and are meeting places for jazz musiciansprofessional and amateur alikeas well as non-playing devotees of the music. All are bound by a love of jazz and to its credit Jazz Gunung made space for three non-professional jazz bands from various Communities in this year's program. This is a great opportunity for young musicians to play in front of an appreciative audience on a slightly larger stage than normal and this encouragement can only be good for the development of jazz at the grass roots level in Indonesia.
The MCs for Jazz Gunung were Butet Kartaredjasa and Djaduk Ferianto. Farianto is an accomplished musician but judging by the response of the crowd he may well have a second calling as a comedian. Kartaredjasa for his part had the audience in stitches, so it came as no surprise to learn that he has long been a political satirist, making a name for himself during the Suharto years, which gave him plenty of satirical ammunition. Even though the meaning was lost on this reviewer it was nevertheless refreshing to hear a jazz festival audience so amused and entertained by an MC, as they can often be dry and rather mechanical.
Next up was Balinese group Balawan & Batuan Ethnic Fusion. This group is an exciting blend of Balinese gamelan and Balawan's outstanding guitar playing. His tapping and touch playing on a Stephallen double neckan Indonesian manufactured instrumentand a mounted guitar brought Stanley Jordan to mind, and the comparison in no way flatters Balawan, a genuine virtuoso. The eight piece band, like TDT before, was a combination of western and native rhythms. With no disrespect to TDT it would be fair to say that the four Balinese gamelan musicians in the group are all master musicians.
Batuan Ethnic Fusion