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Live Reviews

Jazz Gunung 2010, Bromo, Indonesia

By Published: July 15, 2010
The tourists however, usually stay only one night to catch the sunrise before departing. Asked to rebrand the area as a tourist destination worth lingering a while longer over, Pramono came up with the idea of a jazz festival, staged in the grounds of his own Java Banana Bromo lodge in the town, aided by Djaduk Ferianto and Butet Kartaredjasa. With the organizational and programming aid of the indefatigable Agus Setiawan and Wartajazz.com—the most active jazz advocacy body in Indonesia (and beyond)—the first edition of Gunung Jazz was successfully held in '09, with about five hundred people attending. Only two bands performed first time around, but this year the program has grown to six bands. So far all the bands to perform at Jazz Gunung have been Indonesian bands, but next year will almost certainly see the festival incorporate international bands and a second stage. Clearly, Pramono has a long-term vision for Jazz Gunung.

TDT Percussion

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
McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
b.1938
piano
-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
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
, 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 musicians—professional and amateur alike—as 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 neck—an Indonesian manufactured instrument—and a mounted guitar brought Stanley Jordan
Stanley Jordan
Stanley Jordan
b.1959
guitar, electric
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


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