Somehow this year is less memorable for me compared to the previous years (considering the fact that I’ve attended Java Jazz Festival since it started in Jakarta 13 years ago). Part of the reasons is the elimination of special show tickets and lack of time management at several stages out of 14 in total.
Some shows made people wait in line for more than 40 minutes, which can actually be used to watch other performers. If last year I got to watch 7-9 stages in a day, this time I had only managed to catch 5-6 stages — with had the longest waiting time mixed with a bad memory of watching an unpleasing sight of a drunk unattractive Portuguese hackler fan dancing and screaming his way while other people were trying to enjoy Bebel Gilberto show. Mucho peor. I feel bad for the Brazilian singer as well, because her show had some glitches in preparation, sound system, etc.
In overall, Java Jazz Festival started in 2005 as an experimental jazz event that tried to educate Indonesians on jazz music and attract more international jazz performers and tourists, by mixing some jazz musicians with pop artists that have little to none connection to jazz music whatsoever, including Slank, Padi, Kla Project, Kahitna, Raisa, Afgan, Jessy J, Christina Perri, Craig David, Lionel Richie, and this year, Ne-yo (??!!)
However, thanks to the festival, as a jazz fan I have had the pleasure to see world-class performers like Jonathan Butler, Dave Koz, Jamie Cullum, Joss Stone, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, India Arie, Santana, Corrine Bailey Rae, Babyface, Sting, Chris Botti, Chaka Khan, Peter White, Kirk Whalum, Kurt Elling, Sergio Mendes, David Foster, Jason Mraz, Rene Olstead, Bebel Gilberto, etc.
Not to mention world-class bands like Incognito, Fourplay, Mezzoforte, Ron King Big Band, Earth, Wind and Fire, the Manhattan Transfer, Spyro Gyra, and more.
The biggest benefit of going to this festival every year is to find old and new jazz artists from around the world that I have never heard before, especially those who have developed their brand among a niche market in their respective countries. Will Java Jazz Festival invite a great superstar performer like Laura Pausini, for example?
I will still look forward of visiting the annual music festival so long as it is held in Jakarta. JIE Expo Kemayoran is not the best venue for this kind of event, but it is still a better option which doesn’t require a staycation compared to other venues in BSD, Ancol or Sentul, for example. I have to admit that the “snobbish” jazz lover in me still pick Jakarta Convention Center at Senayan area, because the venue is so much more smaller, accessible, convenient and located more privately indoor. I still remember blending with the volunteers, attending some pre-events, master classes or small sponsored meet and greet events on the lower floor, catching taxis from Sultan hotel, finding “secret” public toilets and eating spots that were less crowded, and so on. I couldn’t get that sense of belonging in JIE Expo because that place is huge and tricky.
What’s your most memorable Java Jazz experience so far?
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