She ain’t quitting

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Dira Sugandi performs on the opening day of the 13th Java Jazz Festival, JIExpo Kemayoran, Jakarta, 3 March 2017

Even a prominent Indonesian female jazz singer such as Dira Sugandi could make a confession in front of the sitting crowd who filled up the concert hall at JIExpo Kemayoran, Jakarta, and also to the dutch big band whom she shared the stage with, about how difficult it is here to make a living in jazz.

“There were times when I keep telling myself I wanted to stop singing,” she confided. But she is certainly not quitting that night, on the opening of the three-day Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival 2017.

Led by conductor Dennis Mackrel as of 2015, Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw (JOC) a primary Dutch big band established in 1996, performed classy jazz tunes featuring Dira Sugandi, who showed up with modern white gown and her signature bleached short hair.

Dira should be proud as she now shares the same status as such Benny Golson and Chick Corea, some of the guest artists JOC had performed with. The latter also makes a presence in the 13th Java Jazz Festival.

They picked classic pieces from jazz standards notably popularized by Billie Holiday, whom Dira considers as one of her most influential artists. Johnny Green’s Body and Soul and Thomas “Fats” Waller’s Ain’t Misbehaving (Saving All My Love for You). There were also Billie’s original scores such as Good Morning Heartache and God Bless the Child.

The organizers allocated more jazz content in the total of 170 shows this time in response to last year’s criticism saying the event was too pop.

JJF 2017 now offers 360-degree view online stream, a feature improvement of last year, when they introduced live streaming on youtube. In addition, home viewers can watch live broadcast on one of cable networks.

Java Jazz Festival is heralded for its contribution in bringing talented yet lesser-known musicians into the limelight. And he prides himself for showing the world that Indonesia has a handful of bright jazz musicians. During press conference, founder Peter F. Gontha claimed that many newcomers had surfaced from this festival.

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