7th North Sumatra Jazz Festival 2017 : The Report

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Based on our experience in covering jazz events, we learn that consistency is the one of the most important key to have a successful one. It’s not easy, definitely. It takes strength, persistency, or even sacrifice to make things work especially when the event’s just started. But one day you will find it’s all worth it. Usually, a regular jazz event contributes a great deal to jazz development in local area, which in the end gives benefit to bigger scene, even globally. As the habit of jazz is absorbing any local traditional music, it can even give birth to new jazz breed.

For a multi-ethnic province like North Sumatra, a regular jazz event can open up a big opportunity to introduce the richness of the cultures living in it to the global world, including the traditional music. We are proud that this province already has its own annual jazz event which has been running for 7 years in a row. This international-scaled jazz event is growing bigger and better each year. It serves variety of jazz from the traditional to modern, but it has been involving or introducing local ethnic musics too in each edition. Taking place in Medan, the capital of the province, the event’s called NORTH SUMATRA JAZZ FESTIVAL.

In previous editions they have presented many great bands/artists from Indonesia, even some superbands and legends from the chairman’s band Erucakra & C Man, Sherly O, Fusion Stuff, Bintang Indrianto Trio++, Rieka Roslan, Yovie Widianto Fusion, Ligro, Donny Suhendra Project, Balawan, Iwanouz, Agam Hamzah with Rafli Wa Saja, Reza Artamevia, Bertha, Teza Sumendra, Barry Likumahuwa, Echa Soemantri, Ricad Hutapea to Keenan Nasution, Emerald BEX and Krakatau Reunion. From the international source, this event has invited shining international musicians from around the world such as from Norway: Espen Eriksen Trio, from Malaysia: Steve Thornton and Suhu, from Korea: Phil Yoon Group and from USA: native Lebanese Jamal Mohamed, Jonathan Jones and Jeff Lorber.

This year the 7th North Sumatra Jazz Festival has just done successfully. Like before, this edition presented the combination of the top stars and experienced musicians from national and international scene without leaving the local musicians and the ethnic music found in it. This year they invited one of the most shining artists in Indonesia today coming from Bandung, Tulus. Then, a classical maestro who has been living in Medan for many years, Ed van Ness, continuing his magical work together with the founder of the festival, Erucakra Mahameru. Erucakra also acted as the homeband with his phenomenal band, Erucakra & C Man. There were also Indonesian Idol’s alumnus from Medan, Chelsea Hadi who managed to reach the top 20 in this competition in 2014 and a special project Mahasora which involved a singing an rapping DJ also from Medan, Steven Aldo representing the EDM Jazz Jamming with Indian instrument.

Just like the previous editions, the Grand Ballroom of JW Marriott’s lobby was already full of crowds from all ages long before the show started.

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The show started with classical music veteran Ed Van Ness feat Erucakra C Man. Spent most of his age being a violinist, conductor, writer and teacher in Medan than New Jersey where he’s originally came from, Van Ness continued his project with Erucakra on jazz and Indian classical music living legend Terrence Mitchell ‘Terry’ Riley’s famous composition from 1964: “In C”. They have launched “Terry Riley ‘In C’ part I a while ago, now the audience got a golden chance to enjoy the Pat II of this project.

It’s really nice to see the violin-guitar duet performed by van Ness and Erucakra, two maestros from different world. It takes guts, courage and creativity to pin a monumental work like this, but both Erucakra and van Ness surprisingly did a marvelous job. Not only they delivered the masterpiece in full respect, they managed to breath fresh air into it by combining their skill, ability and experience. They showed that when jazz and classical collides, it can create a whole different soundscape especially when it comes from the hands of maestros like them.

The evergreen “Summertime” was the next delightful treat from this unique collaboration.

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7th-NorthSumatraJazzFestival-2017 (11)Erucakra & C Man then got its turn. Before we carry on with their performance, let’s take a closer look on this band. The C Man band was established in 2011 by Erucakra following his success with “Aranti’s Code” and the album “Marathon Journey C Man” over major digital outlets. They have landed on the Java Jazz Festival in 2011 and proudly participated in Yongin Global Jazz Festival (2015) and Daegu International Jazz Festival (2016). How many jazz band from Medan could achieve such greatness? This band did it. That’s why we say this band is phenomenal.

Though we’ve seen their performance every year in this event, there are always new things we got from this great Neo Progressive band. This year, in two of his own composition “Question of the Moment” and “Hold On”, Erucakra also showed his diverse talent as a lead vocalist.

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7th-NorthSumatraJazzFestival-2017 (23)Chelsea Hadi then joined the party. As we mentioned earlier, this girl reached the top 40 in Indonesian Idol 2014. She might have been famous with this shining achievement, but she also became the finalist of Indonesia Mencari Bakat and Bintang Asik Global TV and has sung with the likes of Titi DJ, Krisdayanti and Petra Sihombing. With Erucakra & C Man, Chelsea lit up the stage with Stevie Wonder’s medley “I Wish” and “Isn’t She Lovely”.

Then came Erucakra’s new arrangement “Wak Uteh”, sang by Tito. This song was made playful with thick North Sumatra – especially the Medan’s Malay tribe ethnic music. Erucakra ended his performance with one of his finest, “Balap Liar”. Brian Harefa was on fire with his saxophone, resulting a superb performance, the best we have seen from him so far.

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7th-NorthSumatraJazzFestival-2017 (26)After an appearance of the Governor of North Sumatra, the audience got histerical. Why? Because the most awaited artist, one of the most popular superstars in today’s time, Tulus finally came onto the stage! His satin-smooth, thick soulful crooning voice is like no one else. He makes songs with ear-catchy melody and poetic lyrics. He has a really familiar and connected stage appearance and a tremendous team. These are the keys of his success that makes him stands as who he is today.

Tulus gave his fans a moment to remember by singing his greatest hits from all his albums such as “Gajah”, “Batu”, “Monokrom”, “Ruang Sendiri”, “Tukar Jiwa”, “Sepatu”, “Cahaya”, “Teman Hidup”, and the song that made him a superstar, “Sewindu”. Not only singing, Tulus also took three lucky fans up on stage and going to the audience’s seats.

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Many audience started leaving the ballroom probably because they already felt satisfy with Tulus’ show. Actually, the 7th North Sumatra Jazz Festival still got one final performance: Mahasora. Appearing with three personnels; Steven Aldo, Devin Giovani and Wisnu Bangun, this unique band might be the first group to blend Karo ethnic music – one of the most popular genres in North Sumatra that mostly needs only one keyboard in ethnic events and wedding ceremonies –, Indian music with the touch of Tabla (Indian/South Asian membranophone percussion instrument and EDM. The music they created was really different. We say, this unique concept of jazz-jamming played by Mahasora really needs to be explored more to enrich the local North Sumatra music scene and can be used to introduce the diversity of cultures found in this province to the world. With this stunning show, this year’s edition reached the end.

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The North Sumatra Jazz Festival 2017 continued what has been built since 7 years ago. True, this event has presented some of the best local and international artists, but let’s not forget that this event has highlighted the traditional musics from tribes living in its land. We think it’s very important because not only it will create new style, jazz as the universal language can bring the traditional musics to be accepted by the modern societies and be promoted widely throughout the world. We congratulate Erucakra and everyone behind this event. Thanks to them, we can hope for a bright future of jazz in North Sumatra and the capital city Medan. Keep up the good work, hope to see you again next year!

See more pictures:

Reporter and photographer: Daniel Irawan
Editor: Riandy Kurniawan   .

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