Jazz Gunung 2013: The Report




Jazz Gunung 2013 (Mountain Jazz 2013) is one of the most anticipated annual jazz events in Indonesia. Since the first edition it opened up a new way of enjoying jazz by serving it 2000 meters up high on the mountain hill of Bromo in Probolinggo, East Java. You can imagine how cold it is to sit outdoor in that kind of environment from afternoon until night. It’s freezing, yet the jazz performance somehow warmed everyone.

This year Jazz Gunung has reached its fifth consecutive year. That’s quite an achievement for an out-of-the box jazz event. With the support from the government, local authorities and the people of Bromo, this annual event has been growing bigger, better and ‘badder’ than ever, with lots of surprises all over it.

“Indahnya Jazz, Merdunya Gunung” (Beautiful Jazz, Melodious Mountain) as usual stood as the tagline. It perfectly reflects the concept of this event. For two days straight the audience got tons of very special packages from many great artists performed in an open stage with beautiful mountain view on the background, clear blue sky and the full moon at night. It was magical and refreshing at the same time.


The hillarious MCs Gundhi and Alit plus Butet Kartaredjasa, came again this year to host the event. Last year they managed to add up the entertainment factor with their funny jokes. It became another key factor of Jazz Gunung’s success. People loved them and certainly didn’t dissapoint.

The First Day

The sky on first day of Jazz Gunung was foggy, yet the audience enthusiastically came to the venue. Blambangan Art School Banyuwangi gave an impressive opening act. Then the first surprise appeared. The wheather drastically changed and soon after, the rain started to fall. For the first time ever, Jazz Gunung got wet with rain. Sierra Soetedjo who was already on stage with Tiyo Alibasjah (guitar) and Fanny Kuncoro (keyboard) had to pospone her show due to the heavy rain. After almost 2 hours, the rain finally stopped and the weather got warmer.  Like having the rain washed the sky, we were stunned by the beautiful view above us with full moon and blinking stars were clearly seen in the sky.


The beautiful nightingale Sierra Soetedjo continued her performance. It was an unforgettable experience for her because she had to perform in a very cold temperature, wet weather & thin air. It was challenging, yet she prepared & enjoyed them all. She perfomed some jazz composition such as “It Could Happen to You”, a classic from Sergio Mendes’ 1968 album, “So Many Stars” and the evergreen “Autumn Leaves”. She also sang “Have I Told you Lately” as a birthday present for her father who came to watch her show. Then she continued to perform “Cheek to Cheek” & “Moody’s Mood for Love” which she delivered under a special collaboration with Idang Rasjidi.  


Sierra passed the torch to Balawan Batuan Ethnic Fusion who delivered a dynamic and highly entertaining performance. This is the group formed by the guitar magician I Wayan Balawan in 1997 where jazz and Balinese gamelan live side by side in harmony. At the Jazz Gunung 2013 they performed some compositions such as “Belajar Menari”, “Sunrise”, “Grand Indonesia” and “One Day We Will Make It.” Balawan also invited a special guest, the beatboxer Steve Holden from San Francisco. Steve is also a multi-genre multi-instrumentalist. Joining Balawan Batuan Ethnic Fusion, Steve performed “Spain” which marvelously heated up the night. One special note, that night bawalan didn’t use his famous double neck guitar. He just used two standard guitars. As for the reason, he jokingly said that he wants to be known as a musician, not acrobator. Moving their concept of blending true Balinese traditional music with jazz from the homeland to the mount Bromo in East Java certainly created a highly spirited atmosphere. In 2010 they have performed here, but this time it felt more mystical since they appeared under the dark sky.


Bandanaira was the next act. This is a group of beautiful duo, Irsa Destiwi (keyboard) & Lea Simanjuntak (vocal). Bandanaira is widely known for their jazzy “nationalism” spirit. Assisted by Robert Mulyarahardja (guitar), Kevin Yosua (contrabass), Adi (percussion) & Didiet Violin (violin), they presented some famous Indonesia’s national anthems in a special jazz arrangement, such as “Tanah Airku Indonesia”, “Cinta Indonesia”, “Maju Tak Gentar” and “Di Timur Matahari” which created a different unique atmosphere around the venue. Ismail Marzuki’s “Di Bawah Sinar Bulan Purnama” was also perfect since it was sung with full moon right above them. They went on with more folk songs such as “Burung Tantina”, “Ilir Ilir” and “Cik Cik Periuk”. They closed their performance with a special song created by Lea Simanjuntak, entitled “Aku Indonesia”. If just the two ladies alone could already give something nice, having the reinforcement from solid ensemble of talented boys made their music richer than before. Bandanaira showed that the nationalism spirit can come in joyful jazz package. Not only they encourage us all to be proud of being Indonesian, their happy jolly act with smiles all over their face gave the feeling of peace to the audience too.


Yovie Widianto Fusion became the final performer of the first day. For Jazz Gunung 2013, Yovie came with fusion concept in mind, far different from his popular ‘pop’ image. This time it was bolder, vibrant and dynamically jazzy. Together with Adi Darmawan (bass), Iwan Wiradz (percussion), Gary Herbs (drum), Bambang Purwono (Keyboard) and Arief Setiadi who replaced the late Yoyok CP on sax, they performed 7 composition in total including “6/8”, “Dirantau”, “Untukku” and an award winning composition at International Music Festival, “Pinokio” which appeared for the first time in Kahitna’s third album “Sampai Nanti” (1998). “This is a new experience for me.” he said excitedly. The show went well past midnight, yet the audience enjoyed it until the last minute.

Many of the audience never have seen this side of  Yovie Widianto before, not knowing that jazz is actually the real self of him. In return, Yovie gave his salute the audience for their support both to his music and Jazz Gunung, despite the extreme cold temperature at the venue. “I want to show the different side of me, not the sweet, pop image but my fusion expression.” said Yovie to us. He also shared his happiness to be able to play with his Fusion band. “Not much chance out there for this kind of band, but Jazz Gunung gave it to me. So I’m thankful.” he continued. As for the audience, he said “I wish to see different appreciation from the audience.. not just the hand clapping but something bigger. Tonight I saw so many audience still glued to their seat eventhough the weather was very cold. What a way to show the appreciation, I salute everyone.” Maybe he’s right, his fusion band doesn’t get many chance to perform, not as much as his Yovie & Nuno or Kahitna. But the music fans should know that, despite of his ability to create sweet melodical pop compositions, aside from being gifted as a ‘hit-man’, meaning a man who produce so many hits, this man can be a monster whenever he can run freely with his jazz spirit. You can feel his ecstacy simply by watching him got tranced behind the keyboard when he got sucked into the realm of jazz fusion. The Yovie Widianto Fusion Band (YWF) is the perfect playground for him to unleash his true self which rooted in jazz. We do hope to see them again, may there be more chance for YWF to run wild in our music scene, God willing!

The Second Day

The second day opened by Tahez Komez band from Rompok Bolong Malang Jazz Community. They gave a funny performance with songs like “Jaranan” and “Just Friend” and interacted well with the audience. Traditional group Kramat Madura got the second shot. Coming from Madura, an island off the northeastern coast of Java, this act showed that being rooted in traditional ensemble doesn’t mean that they have to be old fashioned. It was very entertaining as the Kramat Madura heated up the venue with their ‘unity in diversity’ concept through some traditional/folk songs like “Sayonara” and “Yamko Rambe Yamko.” It was an interesting opening that anyone in the audience would surely love to see.


From the list of performance from Jakarta, contemporary band KulKul performed first. This group has been known for their brilliant combination between modern jazz and Balinese traditional music. Consist of Demas Narawangsa (drums),  Didiet (violin),  Zoltan Renaldi (bass), RM Aditya Andriyanto (keyboard), Faizar Fasya (guitar), Ketut Budiyasa (Kendang, Suling, Cengceng Kopyak, Kulkul, Gangsa Pemade), Wayan Sudarsana, Wayan Sudiarta and Kadek Setiawan (Gangsa Kantilan, Cengceng Kopyak, Kulkul), they excitingly performed several compositions from their first album, such as “Welcome to Bali”, “Uluwatu” and “Mecanda”. Combined with misty air, cool weather and blue dusk sky, Kulkul’s performance was mystical yet modern. It was also cool when they played their interpretation of “Melati Suci” and “Janger Bali”.


Ring of Fire Project replaced Kulkul right after. Ring of Fire is an open project which can be filled with any musicians who suit the concept. If last year Ring of Fire project was brought by Djaduk Ferianto, Dewa Budjana and Slamet Gundono, this year the concept of three musicians with unique and different backgrounds shone bright through Djaduk Ferianto, Idang Rasjidi and a beautiful musician from America, Jen Shyu. They were accompanied by Dias (guitar), Jay (sax), Benny (drum), Yoga (base), and touch of ethnical tones by Sukoco (gendang) and Pur (gambang).

At the interview before the show, it was revealed why Ring of Fire Project is more than just ordinary musical project. It’s formed as a sincere attempt to convey a language through music. Taking mountains as inspiration. According to Djaduk, there’s always a deep connection between music and mountains as a part of a culture. Through mountains, we can learn a lot of lessons about culture with full respect to the nature in full honesty and humbleness. Idang Rasjidi continued that there’s a rhythm in life which becomes one of the reasons why music exists. Jen Shyu also explained how comfortable she feels in this project because the three of them share the same vision, plus it’s wonderful to be able to express and share their music to the audience. Another thing that we should inform is about Idang Rasjidi’s condition. Just a while ago he was hospitalized due to his health problem. It’s great to see that he could come back this soon. “I was ‘hijacked’ by Djaduk just a couple of days after leaving the hospital.” he told us. “But actually I’m feeling a lot better because of this (playing music). Hospital is not my world, my world is playing music. I can recover faster when I’m inside my world. Music does heal people.” he said happily.

Jen Shyu led the project in the beginning by singing “Wulang Sunu”, a composition originated from Sumbing Mountain. It told a story about the journey of life, from birth to death, adopted from Arabic language into javanese language. Amazingly, she sang this song in traditional singer (sinden) style, dueting with Djaduk. She continued with a Taiwanese traditional song entitled “Mother Cause Companion”, a composition about a motherly advice to her daughter whom about to get married.


The third song was especially created for Jazz Gunung 2013, entitled “Budhalan”. Inspired by Serat Negarakertagama, the song talked about an incognito parade. After playing “Tanah Airku Indonesia” as the forth song, the traditional folk song “Cublak-Cublak Suweng” sealed their performance. It was supposed to be over, but there was a great surprise. Mr. Gita Wirjawan (the Minister of Trade of the Republic of Indonesia) who was there as a guest gave a spontaneus keyboard improvisation performance due to the massive requests, dueting with Idang Rasjidi. Boy, it feels good to have a minister that can play jazz so well. Jazz actually isn’t a stranger to him, we got an evidence that he still plays it often even when he’s already busy serving as a minister. That was awesome and the audience loved it very much.


Rieka Roslan came to the center with her adorable, warm and friendly gesture. The fact that she had a slight cold didn’t hinder her to give her best, in fact she did really, really well. She performed some self-written songs such as “Cobalah Bercermin Sendiri”, “Make a Better Life”, “Manusia” and “Menari Ku Bernyanyi”.  Rieka literally changed the venue into a big, open-spaced dancing arena when she sang the medley of some hits that she wrote “Dahulu” and “Khayalan”. In between her performance, Rieka also encouraged us to give more appreciation toward songwriters, since they’re rarely been noticed eventhough their role is very important in the music industry. She sealed her interactive performance with a song called “Si Pantun”, telling the audience a story about her anxiousness to our country, Indonesia.


Finally, Barry Likumahuwa Project gave one last blast at Jazz Gunung 2013. This year was their second visit to Jazz Gunung. Assisted by Doni Joesran (keyboard), Hendry Budidharma (guitar), Baschi (tenor sax), Jonas Wang (drum), Dennis Junio (alto sax) and  Adinda Shalahita (back vox), they performed “Twitter Jam”, “Some Skunk Funk”, “Aku dan Hadirmu” and his first hit, “Mati Saja”. A father and son duet performance from Barry & Benny Likumahuwa also got huge applauses from the audience. “Lebih Tinggi” was given in sync with Javanese traditional music, and another song called “Unity” was attractively sang by their vocalists Ray Monte & Teddy Aditya, making the audience danced or at least waved their hands. To close their session as well as the whole fest, Barry led his team to play their famous song Generasi Synergy. It was almost midnight when everything’s done. We heard many words of satisfaction from the audience, something that we also caught from their facial expressions.


In the end, Jazz Gunung 2013 once again gained success. We can clearly see that this event has a certain soul that people sought after, and it indeed delivered. Cool weather, fresh air, beautiful scenery, Assorted jazz goodies from variety of amazing performers and hilarious MCs created a synergy that built unique athmosphere and long lasting impressions. We send our salute and respect to the organizers, performers and everyone behind this year’s Jazz Gunung. Thank you for all your hard work and efforts to make this edition stands as another memorable one. We hope to see you again next year. For the jazz lovers out there, if you missed it this year, make sure to be there next time and get ready to experience the difference!

See more pictures:

Day 1

[flickrset id=”72157634350190807″ thumbnail=”square” photos=”” overlay=”false” size=”medium”]


Day 2

[flickrset id=”72157634353555509″ thumbnail=”square” photos=”” overlay=”false” size=”medium”]


Reporter: Shinta Soebijandono & I Putu Surya K.B
Photographer: I Putu Surya K.B