Java Jazz Festival 2012: Home is Where the Jazz Is: The Summary


“The people in the world is like a big orchestra.” said Herbie Hancock to us a day before the party started. At that time he was explaining his vision to see the music in global perspective where he always wants to take part in. He always loves to collaborate with people from different cultures to show the kinds of things that can happen that one culture can’t do alone. So think of one mammoth sized annual jazz party which involved nothing but the best musicians from all around the world, presenting the global big orchestra that fit their tune in the harmony of jazz. You can have assorted delicatessen jazz served on hundreds of plates. It’s not happening in any other part of the world but it’s here in your own soil, the Republic of Indonesia. It’s provided in a large area where you can either just enjoy your moment with all kinds of jazz as you wish, learning, being inspired or trying to add some more unforgettable moment in your memory. Thanks to the Java Jazz Festival, something unthinkable like this could actually happen for real.

It only took 8 years for the Java Jazz Festival to become a mega annual music event in the world as big as this. Since 2005 this festival has been serving grand jazzin’ party with growing number and rising intensity. The 2012 edition is considered spectacular with lots of goodies found in each stage for 3 days straight. The lights are off, the party’s over for now, but surely there are lots of new experiences and everlasting memories added from this year’s edition.

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What an edition it was. Who could imagine to see so many jazz legends under one roof? Genius artistes who have  contributed so much for the richness of jazz and VIPs in the music business, the return of some all-time great bands/artists, the inspiring ones, innovators, today’s popular stars, Grammy winners and the potential young talents filled all slots in this year’s edition, divided into around 18 stages, about 70 shows per day for three days. Estimated 2000 artists (divided into 145 Indonesian groups and 52 internationals) and tens of thousands of people gathered in the name of jazz. Names like Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau, George Duke, Ron Carter, Pat Metheny, Dave Koz, Erykah Badu, Swing Out Sister, Bobby McFerrin, Bobby Caldwell, Phil Perry, Gerald Albright, Chante Moore, Everette Harp, Carl Allen, D’Sound, Sheila E, Maurice Brown, Trijntje Oosterhuis, Frank McComb and Laura Fygi, in-house residents including Jeff Lorber, Brian Simpson, Michael Paulo, Ron King, or from our own soil Indra Lesmana, Dwiki Dharmawan, Dewa Budjana, Riza Arshad, Tohpati, Oele Pattiselano, Bob Tutupoly, Titiek Puspa, Andi Wiriantono, Donny Suhendra, Andien, Dira, Tompi, Glenn Fredly, Sandhy Sondoro are just a few mentioned name listed in this year’s edition.  Crazy list of artists? You bet. The 2012 lineup is considered as the best lineup so far by many. Jazz is an universal language that can carry and spread the message of peace throughout the world. Through the Java Jazz Festival we can see the evidence clearly, we even should know by now that it has become one of the most effective vehicle for that.

“Congratulations, you are now the number one jazz event in the world.” said Philippines singer Moy Ortiz together with real life and stage couple Miguel and Evelyn of Aquarela who we met inside the venue and hope to see on stage some day at this festival. They are just 3 of many attendees who came from abroad. There were 300 jazz fans only from Singapore alone, we also saw many from Malaysia, Japan and many other sides of the world. “If this wasn’t a good festival people wouldn’t come. Right now Java Jazz Festival is the biggest festival in the world. Bigger than North Sea (Jazz Festival). I never thought I would have seen such a thing.” said Frank McComb to us. That shows the big appreciation from jazz/music lovers, not only from Indonesia but also from so many other parts of the sphere.

Every year we got many things to highlight. The same thing happen for the 8th edition of Java Jazz Festival too. Let’s see some of them.

The Home of Legends

“What an unbelievable festival. It’s a wonder how you guys could bring more than 20 legends in one shot.” said one lady from Germany who we caught around the venue about this year’s Java Jazz Festival. Being a long time jazz fans for many decades, she simply amazed by the legends listed in the Java Jazz Festival 2012’s rooster and that really make sense.

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This year’s edition had a long list of names who have contributed big deals for jazz and its history. Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Stevie Wonder, Al Jarreau, Pat Metheny, The Manhattan Transfer, Ron Carter, Bobby Caldwell and Bobby McFerrin would surely fit into this category, also the jazz legends from our own land such as Oele Pattiselano, Benny Mustafa Van Diest, Bob Tutupoly, Titiek Puspa, Grace Simon, Jopie Item, Chaseiro or even the all-time rock legend God Bless who extended a friendship to the jazz fans with their sensational performance. If we continue to the younger musicians who should also be listed, we can add some more names such as Indra Lesmana, Dwiki Dharmawan, Addie MS and so on. Big names who are prominent in their fields such as Carl Allen, Rodney Whitaker, Jeff Lorber, Everette Harp, Dave Koz, Phil Perry, Laura Fygi, Trijntje Oosterhuis, Gerald Albright, David Sanborn, Tohpati, Dewa Budjana, Riza Arshad, Balawan, Yance Manusama, Aksan Sjuman, Bintang Indrianto, Indro Hardjodikoro, Cendy Luntungan, Jeffrey Tahalele, Andi Wiriantono and many other names were also merry this year’s jazzavaganza. Many long-time highly popular bands also joined in like Swing Out Sister, D’Sound, KLa Project for example. With all said, we have no doubt to call this year’s event as The Home of Legend.

Beautiful Ways of Tributing Legends

Yes, it’s true that Java Jazz Festival often included some tributes in each edition to honor the names who had contributed  a lot for jazz or music history, but this year felt more special with very interesting projects. In Memoriam Bubi Chen, a tribute made to honor the Art Tatum of the East, Bubi Chen who passed away a couple of weeks ago appeared grand with friends/fellow musicians or ex students participated in, including the founder of Java Jazz Festival Peter F Gontha shared his memory and playing the piano in this show. Benyamin S on Jazz respecting the Batavian artiste Benyamin S with Indra Aryadi as the music director also consisted of many guest stars. The same thing happened in Tribute to Utha Likumahuwa with Barry Likumahuwa stood tall behind it together with many Utha’s relatives and friends.

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A tribute to Bing Slamet and Sam Saimun was brought touching by a group of living legends led by Bob Tutupoly. Although Bob only featured Titiek Puspa and Grace Simon in this show, it was special since they were the friends of the late artists they paid respect to in person when they were still alive. We caught one or two senior audiences had tears in their eyes after the show ended, showing that it was actually emotional. Then who could forget a fantastic all-star casts led by Indra Lesmana to honor Herbie Hancock for his coming to Indonesia? Being a long time fans of Hancock, even grew by listening to his songs, Indra Lesmana really looked forward to make this one really special. Dwiki Dharmawan was standing on the same stage in this one, along with international stars like Maurice Brown, Everette Harp, Carl Allen, Rodney Whitaker, Steve Thornton, Walfredo Reyes, Frank McComb, Gerald Albright, David Garfield, Michael Paulo and Patrick Lamb. Speaking of the Herbie Hancock tribute, the participating artists was fixed only a night earlier, but these amazing artits knew how to combine their soul in full respect to the awesome legend. It was spectacular, full of surprise and emotions. Everyone inside the hall would be knocked out cold by watching this special jam session.

Fans Favorites and Show Stealers

Names like Dave Koz, Laura Fygi, Manhattan Transfers, Bobby Caldwell, Swing Out Sister, Depapepe, Soil and ‘Pimp’ Sessions, Andien, Maliq & D’Essentials, Dira and Barry Likumahuwa Project are just some of the favorites who can guarantee a full house, not to mention the names in Special Shows. Raisa has now emerged as the new force in music industry. That can be seen from the fully crowded audience she got inside the big hall. But what’s interesting is that there are some names who might be not too familiar yet in Indonesia but really gave out a great show that many people kept mentioning long after the show such as Duwende and Robert Randolph and the Family Band.

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These two groups were impressive in their acts. “You know, Robert Randolph was really, really cool playing the instrument which looks like a guitar but played like a zither..what’s the name of that instrument?” said more than two excited new fans after the show to us, refering to Randolph’s pedal steel guitar. On the other hand, Duwende demonstrated the prime quality of vocal harmony (including beatbox) that attracted many people to come into their show. Each of them has strong character that brings magic when combine together. We never saw more crawded outdoor stage than Duwende’s 2nd performance. Sheila E also noted for giving up such as great performance along with the E family and of course the hypnotizing Special Show by Erykah Badu who turned the hall like The Matrix’ fictional city named Zion where people dance like being tranced following her every beat of neo soul.

Inspiring Artists/Bands

Java Jazz Festival has been providing so many artists for 8 years. The audience can choose any show that fits their music taste or trying to check out the jazz styles that they have never heard before. For musicians it’s the chance to upgrade their playing skills and also to explore more possibilities. Speaking of which, this year we saw some of the artists who have inspired many jazz bands or artists in Indonesia whether they are the crowd-gatherer or not. Look at Medeski, Martin and Wood for example. This group is in front if we talk about the infectious or venomous avant funk which based totally on freedom.They have inspired many Indonesian bands for many years and surely their appearance this year will motivate many young jazz musicians to follow their footsteps. Pat Metheny is also the same. He’s become the role models of many Indonesia’s young guitarists. We saw them queuing in front of Metheny’s show or even after the show in order to meet Metheny in person. What about Joey DeFrancesco? Said to be the finest organist on the planet, he has atracted some musicians to do it his way. Fanny Kuncoro which played as Fanny Kuncoro Organ Quartet (FKOQ) under Serambi Jazz’ flag on 6th floor clearly stated DeFrancesco’s name as his inspiration in forming the group.

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Jemima said Erykah Badu as her inspiration and became very excited to see her live. You can also look at Dave Koz’ high energy show, this should inspire our saxophonist to care about the stage act too while doing manouvers with their weapon. The high octane in open minded jazz playing by Herbie Hancock, the electrifying Indra Lesmana in Tribute to Herbie Hancock and the rebelious Maurice Brown’s way of playing trumpet  are also some of the scene that could inspire others.

Variations, Collaborations and Unique New Things

This year we saw the return of some artists who had landed in the festival before. Interestingly they performed under the whole new concept. Bobby Caldwell was here in 2008, Laura Fygi in 2005 and 2009, Dave Koz was finally back again after his Rendezvous All Stars’ great performance in 2006, Swing Out Sister after 2009, D’Sound and Soil and “Pimp” Session were in 2009 and some other wonderful returns, but they all brought something new. Bobby Caldwell, Swing Out Sister and Laura Fygi performed with big band, also Laura Fygi who has just released her new album “The Best is Yet to Come” as a celebration of her 20th anniversary in solo career plus the first album of her with full big band.

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Some collaborations created new things in this festival. You might have heard Barry Likumahuwa Project before, but this year they injected new ambience by having Ricky Lionardi Big Band with them. LLW finally had Maurice Brown joining their action like how it was planned when the album “Love Life Wisdom” was still in the making. The artiste/humanist Sujiwo Tedjo reflected his jazzy touch over his songs with Javanese language included. Some other shows also had cool collaboration with our own traditional instruments, musics and dancers like Bobby McFerrin’s show (gamelan team including Dwiki Dharmawan, Balinese kecak and masked dancers), the Tribute to Herbie Hancock (with Atjeh’s Saman Dance and the bamboo traditional instrument set Angklung from Saung Angklung Udjo) other than the amazing simakDialog, Tohpati Ethnomission and Dewa Budjana’s session just to mention a few.

Speaking of unique collaboration we also should mention Dwiki Dharmawan and Sa’unine Quartet ft Doni Sundjoyo. It was miraculous to combine jazz with some classical touch both by Dwiki’s piano playing and the appearance of a string quartet. The collaboration of Simon Grey with Tony Momrelle with Indra Lesmana was also sensational, and what a surprise to see KLa Project with the all-new jazzy rearrangements on their hits.

The Galery of The Next Big Thing

Still 27 years old but now has become the new force of the international jazz circuit. He caught Quincy Jones’ attention and made him admitted that this young man is one of the best musicians he ever encountered. That’s the quality of Cuban born Alfredo Rodriguez, a brilliant pianist who’s really attractive during his play. He’s gaining more and more popularity and we know we will see him on top one day in the future. From our own soil we have to mention the ‘scientific’ young pianist with miraculous skill, Sri Hanuraga. His show at the Java Jazz Festival in trio formation stunned or even shocked the audience. “I stumbled into this room by chance, but shortly after I was glued on my seat. I can’t understand the music but it’s just amazing to see the way he played.” said a young man to us after the session ended.  “This man has his left brain works while playing.” said another one in responding to our question. Ade Irawan also showed such unbelievable master skill in such a young age behind the grand piano. He already emerged as a world-class pianist and have played together with many big names even before he reaches 20 years of age. We still remember how he stunned international stars with his dancing fingers at the jam session in Borobudur Hotel last year and he did it again this year. Indrawan Tjhin has just reshuffled his team for his Indrawan Tjhin Group, but clearly this group is really promising. While his ex group Shadow Puppets brought a young girl with thick soulful voice named Nesia Ardi. “The one man show” Taylor McFerrin will definitely follow his father Bobby McFerrin’s footstep.

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Speaking of the potential young generation we caught a cool concept when a dedicated music teacher brought some of his students and collaborated with them one by one. It was the Andi Wiriantono and the Next Generation show. He took rhodes in joining each of the student who played with keyboard right beside him. This show took place in outdoor stage under the drizzling rain, but that didn’t stop us to notice some of the highly potential newcomers. The presentation of Bale Jazz and Margo Jazz Community who sent some bands of youngsters to represent the community including the Margo Rising Star and Kosakata could also be the showcase of the next big thing. Other than these, many great young musicians were also played here and there around the schedule for 3 days. “You know, one of the most important things we tend to forget is the regeneration of jazz artists.” said Andi Wiriantono before the show. Yes, it’s so true. Therefore we really appreciate Java Jazz Festival for accomodating these young talents to experience the joy of playing in a world class festival like this. “Please send my grattitude for program director EQ Puradiredja and the whole Java Festival Production team for giving the chance for these kids to shine.” Andi added.

[flickr id=”6815148948″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”true” size=”small” group=”” align=”left”] There are so many highlights that can make us trance in joy after exploring hundreds of shows for 3 days full at the Java Jazz Festival 2012. As we all still experience a jazz-lag after the massive ‘punch’ we received from one stage to another, it’s become clearer for us to see the Java Jazz Festival as the tangible proof of appreciation for Indonesian (and world) music in the name of jazz as well as making Indonesia proud of being positioned at a respected spot within the most prestigious stages of the world. It’s the biggest jazz show on earth where we can have all the pleasure, excitement, experience and education. Music is a universal language, and jazz is one of the living, breathing thing in it. Through jazz we can send the message of peace, friendship, togetherness in mutual respect. While the world keeps being torn apart by all the differences, hatred, egoism and other negative things, music can be one of the most vital vehicles to make the world as a better place for us to live. Java Jazz Festival has successfully created some kind of  jazz planet where every musicians and fans from around the world can live side by side in harmony.

“Selamat Hari Raya Jazz (Happy Jazz Day)!” said Barry Likumahuwa on stage to point out the big annual celebration of jazz brought by the Java Festival Production. When we look at the tagline, we can also see the progress of this festival year after year. The tagline “Bringing the World to Indonesia” in 2005 is no longer a mission but it’s already an actualization, even now has become the place “Where Jazz Finds a Home”.  It’s the home of jazz, it’s also the familiar home for jazz musicians and jazz aficionados around the world. Home is where the jazz is, and we are happy enjoying the grand vibrant festival for 3 days at home.

The Day of Jazz Celebration is over for this year. All the stages now have gone from the venue. The lights are off. Next year the jazz-vaganza will come again with another interesting lineup. Who will be there and what concept will they bring? Keep those questions for now, what’s important for us is to keep the jazz celebration by continuing the development with the same spirit. Thank you Java Jazz Festival for another unforgettable 3 days of jazz. It surely feels good to come back home. See you again next year!

Written by: Riandy Kurniawan

Photos are taken by Jazzuality team


  1. What a great and inspiring review Riandy. Very well said. Java Jazz festival has become so huge because of the unity, aspirations, dreams, hardwork, and most of all the support and love of the Indonesian people and it’s government to muisc/jazz. We are so lucky to have the opportunity to witness, enjoy and learn from the craft of all these fantastic artists/performers.

    Congratulations and our sincere thanks to dedicated people like you. We are so touched and elated that you support our music. Thank you for your warm welcome.

    We are definitely looking forward to the next Java Jazz Festival. God bless you, your family and the people of indonesia.

    Evelyn and Miguel Juteau ( Aquarela)

    • Dear Eve and Mig, many thanks to’s wonderful to finally meet you in person at the Java Jazz Festival. we are glad to be able to cover the whole shows for 3 days, and i’m happy that you enjoy the fest 🙂 we’ll always support Philippines artists as much as we can, the way we support our own family 🙂 hope to see you again next year, God bless you all! 🙂


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