Like a virus, jazz has been spread and infected more and more regions in Indonesia over the last several years. If you’re happen to be our regular readers, you must have been seeing the tremendous growth of Indonesian jazz scene in 2012. Plenty of new festivals appear everywhere while the existed ones still keep their flame on. Now let’s take a look at the upper side of Sumatra, specifically the province of North Sumatra. The capital city Medan is the fourth largest city in Indonesia with over 2 million inhabitants. The large diversity of ethnics living in this city has somehow make this city unique and colorful in many ways. Speaking of music, Medan has been long known as a rock city. The question is, can jazz penetrate Medan too? Yes it can! Since last year Medan (or North Sumatra in bigger scene) has earned its own jazz festival called The North Sumatra Jazz Festival. Thanks to the continuous mutual cooperation between the music section of Waspada, the biggest newspaper in Medan established in 1947, Waspada Music and Indie Jazz Indonesia, the 2nd edition has been confirmed and announced. So all jazz lovers in Medan, hear this out loud: North Sumatra Jazz Festival 2012 (NSJF 2012) will come at the end of this month, on November 26, 2012 at Tiara Convention Hall!
“We are humble and grateful to announce this happy news, that North Sumatra Jazz Festival is coming again this year.” said the organizers in their first official announcement. Last year this festival marked itself as the biggest jazz party in the northern part of Sumatra, filled with variety of jazz styles, served in wide creativity by the talents with international reputation and also from neighboring country Malaysia. Names like Yovie Widianto Fusion (YWF), Emerald BEX, Donny Suhendra Project, Akordeon ft Sruti Respati, Ligro, KSP, and Aria Baron & Violet Jessica joined the local talents like the prog-fusion band with international achievement Erucakra Mahameru and C Man Band, Ethno Big Band from Ethnomusicology of North Sumatra University (USU) and Kolegium Musikum from Universitas Negeri Medan (Unimed). A fusion band with Melayu (Malay) taste from the neighbouring country Malaysia, Suhu was also shared the joy during the 2-day festival. (Read our report here: Day 1 , Day 2). The plan to continue this festival has already mentioned by Gideon Momongan of Indie Jazz Indonesia several months ago to us, but only now we finally heard the confirmation.
It’s true that many regions in Indonesia have their own jazz festivals now. But the North Sumatra Jazz Festival never intended to be just a copycat. They realize the most important things of making this festival strong and long last: it has to have different concept, specific character and unique. “It has to be different than the other jazz festivals throughout Indonesia.” said the committee again. They also take the continuity and spirit seriously, it also has to appear as a friendly entertainment. Last but not least, they wish to take part in merrying the jazz development in Indonesia. For all these goals, the festival is trying to grab the hearts of youngsters in Medan as many as possible, as also stated by Gideon Momongan to us.
If you look at the e-flyer above, you’ll find out that this year the festival will only run for one day. Yes it’s going to be smaller in size, but that doesn’t mean the festival has to loose their quality and variety. Calling the concept as a mini-festival format with the theme of “Concert of Collaboration”, North Sumatra Jazz Festival 2012 presents rainbow-like jazz styles and talents that can bring you total pleasure, whether you stand as a jazz fanatic or not. The variety is more than enough to pleasure wide segment of music lovers in Medan/North Sumatra. Let’s now see the lineup!
First of all, let’s see the proud Medan talent, C-Man led by North Sumatra Jazz Festival’s own founder, guitarist/composer Erucakra Mahameru. Erucakra graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA then decided to keep serving in his hometown Medan instead of moving to Jakarta or other big cities in Java where he could get more chance in playing regularly. The Medan jazz scene wasn’t big at all before, but that didn’t stop him for having his name heard in the international scene. Look at the surprise he made some years ago when he released “Aranti’s Code” in iTunes. The song climbed the chart smoothly and got critical acclaims/praises from names such as Jimmy Haslip, Karl Sterling and Allen Wentz. Like the first edition, Erucakra and C-Man band will participate again. Get ready to have their breathtaking jazz bites that can be spread wide, conceptually speaking, from the deadly progressive, challenging fusion, sweet smooth jazz to even jazz with ethnic twists.
The native Balinese guitar virtuoso who invented his own way of finger taps and can add a certain kind of entertainment value with his magical double-neck guitar demonstration, I Wayan Balawan is listed too. He can play pop, jazz standard, fusion or even rock just as good, but uniquely no matter what he plays, the Balinese spirit can always be felt. He resides in Bali with his family, yet he’s highly active in performing everywhere in Indonesia and abroad. For the very first time he will participate in this festival. Balawan will bring his trio consists of Sandy Winarta (drums) and Adi Darmawan (bass) and join Erucakra C-Man band.
Speaking of guitarist, the other maestro is ready to continue his involvement for the second time. It’s Agam Hamzah. His playing skill is spectacular and respected even outside Indonesia, especially after he joined the MoonJune label with one album distributed internationally. He’s great in playing jazz and blues all the way to the corners rarely visited, but he’s also capable to seduce everyone over his Latin and classical touch. If last year he came with his dare-devil rollercoaster ride trio Ligo, this time he is going to feature his other project, Rafly Wa Saja which place an artist with unique vocal character from Aceh named Rafly. More about Rafly, he started his career in pop and rock in his homeland, Aceh, but later he switched himself to sing in Aceh language and Islamic lyrics. He has supported many Dwiki Dharmawan’s project too like World Peace Orchestra and Krakatau. Together they will bring something new. “I and Agam will bring a different collaboration that we’ve never done before.” said Rafly. “It won’t be like Ligro, it will be totally different. Just wait and see.” said Agam after expressing his happiness to join this fest once again.
Now, speaking of the representative of songstress, the name Bertha should wow us. Why not? She has a very gifted singing voice and undoubtedly stands as one of the best Indonesian female vocalists in Indonesia today. Other than doing her thing on stage, she’s also known as one of the best vocal coach/teachers. Her successful students are uncountable, not only in jazz but all the way to pop or even dangdut. While keeping up the secret of with who she will perform/collaborate at the North Sumatra Jazz Festival 2012, she stated her happiness to be able to entertain Medan audience. “I always feel happy to perform anywhere and get the chance to entertain people. But hey, I’m surprised that actually there’s a jazz festival in Medan. Wow, Medan, you are really something!” she said. So get ready to enjoy this lady with complete package of singing ability within her.
Then, surprise, surprise, the famous singer Reza Artamevia (now reborn as Rezza Artamevira) has confirmed her participation as well! Her beautiful alto vocal line has seduced our ears for many years, either from her debut album “Keajaiban” in 1997 which established two everlasting hits “Pertama” and “Satu yang Tak Bisa Lepas”, or her second album “Keabadian” which popularized the single “Biarlah Menjadi Kenangan” with Japanese male singer Masaki Ueda which then released in two other versions, “Forever Peace” (Japanese) and “The Last Kiss” (English). Quite long she was dissapeared from the surface, but now she’s ready to be back. Not just making her comeback, but just like we said, she now has a new reborn name, Rezza Artamevira, something that she might need to close all the painful problems she had in her previous chapter of life. Some of her previous songs had a little taste of light jazz, but now she has the chance to show her new spirit in jazz soul, and Medan gets the privilege to taste it first of all.
Last but not least, prepare to taste the different sound of jazz from the proud son of Papua, Iwanouz. He’s famous with his reggae band Steven and Coconuttreez and later formed Ray D’Sky and supported other groups like JRocks, Ipang BIP etc while maintaining his solo projects too. “The Nature’s beauty always gives me good inspiration in music. My music is like the sounds of nature. I hope people from all over the world (including you) would like my music, and I can travel all around the world, playing my music and learn many new inspiring things.” he said about himself while releasing his debut single “Islands in Papua” at our independence day on August 17, 2012. Other than playing keyboard, he’s also capable to compose. Last September he surprised the audience of Solo City Jazz by blending all kinds of genres from blues, reggae, chillout to jazz/acid jazz with ethnical nuance. Here’s what he said about coming to Medan: “I want to give Medan audience some good time. This is going to be my first ever solo performance in Medan, I can’t wait!”
All said. The North Sumatra Jazz Festival is ready to roll on November 26, 2012, featuring unique lineup of artists who can bring something unforgettable and spectacular. If you live in Medan or nearby, make sure to be a part of the fest. Medan can establish itself as a rock city, but that doesn’t mean that the people can’t go jazzy! Are you ready? Come and join us and let’s have a jazzin’ good time!
North Sumatra Jazz Festival 2012
Date: Monday, November 26, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm – 11:30 pm
Location: Tiara Convention Hall, Medan
Ticket price: IDR 50.000
Get the ticket at Waspada Office, Jl. Brigjen Katamso/Letjen Suprapto no. 1, Medan and Gus Center, Jl. Pattimura No 342 Medan.
For more info, log on to http://northsumatrajazz.com