Tag Archives: Concert

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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Sing and laugh it out lout in Mezzotono’s a capella show

Indonesia Jazz Review


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The Italian a capella group of five, Mezzotono, performed in front of the public audience they claimed to be the greatest under the concert title “The Mezzotono Show” in Ice Palace hall, Jakarta, 29 September.

Indeed, the title implied an attempt to present a more than just musical concert, but combined with a rehearsed stage comical gesture. They take the laughter business seriously.

As a capella rose steadily as a musical style without the accompaniment of instruments since Renaissance, and was made apparent at church service, its development in the current days has brought a variety set of culture that predisposes to the new pop-oriented styles.

In the case of the globe-trotting, Italian modern cultural ambassador Mezzotono, their show is strongly committed to the diffussion of Italian music and culture through voices that managed to reproduce the sounds of instruments, often introducing a comic touch and encouraging audience participation.

Besides, who is not surprised by the sound effect of electronic beats and synthesizers that was coming from vocal section?

But the audience seemed to be slow in adapting with the show due to initial failure in expecting an original musical performance with a twist of humor exchanges. And perhaps, the selection of Italian songs only gained an appreciation but less enthusiasm.

The sweet, final touch

However, the “greatest audience” came to fully enjoy the show apparently at the end of the show, when Mezzotono had concluded one of Italian’s most recognized song of 1962 Quando, Quando, Quando, or the hilarious, inventive twist of the Gangnam Style.

Humor never lost its universality. As the tenor vocalist Fabio Lepore, insisted the audience to at least try and make it look hard to see show ended, they have invented a novelty in a capella show.

Four other members are Daniela Desideri as soprano, Gaia Gentile as the semisoprano, Marco Giuliani as the baritone, and Alessandro Gnolfo with his fine skill of mimicking the multilayered sound of drum set as the bass vocal.

See also events held by Instituto Italiano di Cultura Jakarta:

The Sum of Stefano Bollani’s Tenacity

The quartet who play music, with a caveat

The real Java Jazz

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Galeri Indonesia Kaya

The article first appeared on Indonesia Jazz Review, 17 March 2015.

Swing boss jazz band

Swing Boss Jazz Band dedicated itself since it was founded in 2014 to promote Indonesian vernacular songs in a unique arrangements combining jazz and bossa nova. Given that jazz emerges from an alternative cultural expression of folk songs developed by a particular group of immigrants in the US, the seven members of the band applies similar approach in the modern Indonesia, a diverse country where they can find abundant cultural reference for their works, such as folk songs from the eastern province of Maluku, Sulawesi, to Java. The latter became the theme of their performance in Galeri Indonesia Kaya, Jakarta, on Sunday, 16 March 2015.

Popular traditional Javanese folk songs such as Rek Ayo Rek and Suwe Ora Jamu showcased their creativity to make rural culture more receptive to urban trends. As the host repeteadly uttered in the opening words, “this is the real Java jazz,” alluring to the recently held International Java Jazz Festival 2015, the biggest regular jazz event in the country, but dominated by global pop culture instead of identifying local character. Talking about local identity, exceptional  30 year-old singer Sruti Respati, also in the same spirit to increase the popularity of Indonesian folk songs among the pop-influenced Indonesian public, sang Gundul Pacul and Gambang Suling in a classic style, but in harmony with the band’s play.

Continue reading The real Java Jazz

Benjamin Herman Trio and Daniel von Piekartz Live Concert

indojazzreview utuh-logo   Erasmus Huis

The article first appeared on Indonesia Jazz Review, 6 March 2015.

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Dutch saxophonist Benjamin Herman performed in Jakarta for the first time on 5 March 2015, in Erasmus Huis. Described as a loose, witty, and vigorous player, the free-jazz style Benjamin was one of the most productive jazz players in the Netherlands, having made a dozen solo albums and over a hundred records with all kinds of artists. Continue reading Benjamin Herman Trio and Daniel von Piekartz Live Concert