North Sumatra Jazz Festival 2012: The Report




Entering the second year of its implementation, North Sumatra Jazz Festival 2012 (NSJF 2012) has once again hit Medan. It might look smaller in size compared to last year’s 2 days fest, but make no mistake since this year’s package came with collaboration of internationally acclaimed jazz performers while still maintaining the originality and authenticity of North Sumatra and its capital Medan’s flavor. The North Sumatra Jazz Festival 2012 featured many well known jazz stars like Balawan Trio, Agam Hamzah and Rafly in their project Rafly Wa Saja, the outstanding singer/vocal teacher Bertha, the Papua’s new sensation Iwanouz, and the lovely comeback of a beautiful songstress previously known as Reza Artamevia, now reborn as Rezza Artamevira. From the local scene, Erucakra Mahameru, a stunning jazz guitarist graduated from Berklee College of Music who also stands as the head organizer of this event jumped directly into the jazz pool with his C-Man Band just like last year. This event also got fully supported by Waspada e-Music and Gus Irawan from Gus Center, the North Sumatra’s governor candidate. A mixed of ethnic touch from each performers has given the different colors of jazz in this concert of collaborations.

Living his long obsession, Erucakra Mahameru & C-Man just released their progressive fusion album, “Live Under The Sun” into European and Scandinavian (Nordic) markets last October under the courtesy of WEM Europe Market Division, Norway. Using the velocity high-end CD Audio NEV formats which highly innovative engineered with NEV-HTX (High Tolerance Expander), this album featured live mastering six tracks and continued the success of their previous album on iTunes, 2009,  “The Modern Jazz of Marathon Journey C-Man” and the remastered version of single “Aranti’s Code” on Abbey Road Studios Studios, London, 2010.


After the opening performance by Kolegium Musikum from Universitas Negeri Medan (Unimed) and Dr. Chandra Syafi’i’s Progressive Band who repeated their last year’s participation, Erucakra & C-Man latest formation, consists of Erucakra Mahameru (guitar and vocal), Heri Syahputra (synthesizers & keyboards), Rusfian Karim (drums), Brian Harefa (saxophone) and Radhian Syuhada (bass) began the action by playing two of their first new singles “Balap Liar” and “Mohax”.



Then Rezza Artamevira, one of Indonesian divas then came to the stage and sang her hit single, “Biarlah Menjadi Kenangan” in duet with Erucakra while still backed-up by C-Man Band. She sparkly sang “Love Story” and “All Night Long” with mashed up intros to the famous traditional Tapanuli song, “Sik Sik Sibatumanikam”. It was lovely in every ways. The audience loved Rezza’s new spirit  visiting them in their hometown. She’s still mesmerizing like how she’s used to be, but now she’s shinier than ever. No doubt at all, she will claim her position back again, and yes, the Indonesian music scene will certainly be happy to welcome her.

This concert was also featured new collaboration project between Erucakra & C-Man, Agam Hamzah and Rafly, called Symphony Of Earth with the supports of WEM (Waspada e-Music), WGC (Waspada Green Club) and Indie Jazz Indonesia. They played a number titled “Quiet Rain” (composed by Erucakra and arranged by Edie Zam) from the unreleased album “Giant Butterfly”, and then “Hora Hare Kiamat” composed by Rafly which has the strong touch of Aceh’s traditional music beyond his powerfully shrill voice. Agam Hamzah contributed big deal too in this part, making this session appeared in multitude surprises. In between, Gus Irawan also delivered a speech and sang an old hit of 2D (Dian Pramana Putra & Deddy Dhukun)’s “Keraguan”.


Right after the collaboration project, the festival just got even hotter by the performance of Iwanouz, a multi-talented Papua-Makassar son born in Merauke. He’s excellent as keyboardist, singer and songwriter who’s just finished his showcase around Europe. Blended jazz, folk, blues and reggae in ethnic style, this former member of Steven and Coconuttreez and active member of Ray D’Sky performed attractively both as an entertainer and musicians. He played his keyboard like a percussion in his own songs “Island Of Papua”, “Rocking You”, “Crazy Cidomo” (horse-drawn vehicle in Gili Balinese language) and “Cetik”, means a traditional Lampung music instrument which he also played in this song.


The next performer was Balawan Trio, consists of the famously known guitarist with god’s fingers, I Wayan Balawan, Adi Darmawan (bass) and Dion Subiakto (drums). They played songs including “Mie Goreng”, “Pasar Malam”, “Janger Bali” and “Mainz in My Mind”  before collaborating with another guest star, one of the night’s highlights, Bertha. Bertha is an outstanding vocal coach in Indonesia who got airtime on tv as a jury in some of talent shows. Together with Bertha, Balawan Trio gave two more songs including “Spain”. Bertha also introduced Okto Parulian Silaban, a talented blues guitarist to performed with them. She sang Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful” with blended blues, Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason” and “Come Together”. She and Balawan gave an encore to their performance, Bertha had successfully brought the crowded audience to sing together and doing some interactive acts. And the night ended with all performers came up on stage sang the legendary Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon”.


Not only brought even bigger collaboration and wider combination of jazz genres, mostly in ethnic blend, this year’s North Sumatra Jazz Festival was once again claimed its huge success. With the bigger venue, wider stage and more crowded audience, almost all performers stole the show in their remarkable ways. We’ve got Iwanouz as the rising jazz entertainer, Bertha as the night’s divas, Balawan Trio, as ever, played their very best, Rezza’s comeback created such a memorable scene to her stage performance, Erucakra & C-Man’s attempt to conquer world’s jazz domination, we could clearly see they deserved it, and don’t forget the amazing new collaboration of Symphony Of Earth.

What we can learn from this festival is that it doesn’t always have to be big. What’s important is to give something new, based on the the richness of local musical cultures. A festival served in mini size like this could still create a big hype when it’s brought with originality and different approach. The smart selection of participating artists helped a lot in making this event shone brightly too, also the support from Gideon Momongan and his Indie Jazz Indonesia contributed a big deal in keeping the dream alive.

Like this year’s theme, this is a real concert of collaboration, and here’s a hope that North Sumatra Jazz Festival will always make its mark to Indonesian jazz stage, and coming every year as a notable annual event. Keep up the good work, keep the spirit up and look forward to see you again next  year!

See more pictures:

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Reporter: Daniel Irawan
Photographer: Ferry Rumahorbo
Editor: Riandy Kurniawan