The 5th Asean Jazz Festival 2012


Geographically speaking, Batam Island located in a very strategic site. This island with warm sunny weather and sandy beaches is situated about 40 km South of Singapore and can always be accessed easily by ferry from both Singapore and Malaysia and also by plane. That makes Batam stands as one of the most accessible islands in the South East Asia region. Therefore if we are looking for a spot where we can celebrate the friendship, unity and togetherness among ASEAN nations through music particularly jazz, Batam is the answer.

Now let’s see this fact. The number of foreign tourists to Batam rose 14 percent to 1.031 million people during January to November 2011 period. Realizing that Batam is more than capable to be a major tourist destination, the government is commited continuously to keep and increase this very good trend. One of the ways is by preparing various tourism events throughout 2012. How happy it is to know that jazz can be used for this mission, as how it’s been going on for 4 years.

[flickr id=”7217362004″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”medium” group=”” align=”left”] Here comes the great news. The 5th ASEAN Jazz Festival is coming this month. It will be held grand for two days, from 22 to 23 June, 2012. So far this annual event has been serving artists in many collaborative projects in the spirit of peace not only from the ASEAN nations but also from other parts of the globe. This year once again the Festival will bring shining artists from more than 10 nations to merry it by giving up jazz delicatessen in assorted flavors, all will be served on 3 stages. Asean Jazz Festival is presented by the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy Republic of Indonesia, Province of Kepulauan Riau, the city of Batam and has Dwiki Dharmawan as the Festival Director. Once again it will be served at the Harbour Bay, Batam. Other than Indonesia as the host, the 5th ASEAN Jazz Festival has invited artists from Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, USA, Netherlands, England, Canada and France. As Dwiki is in charge and considering the mission of this event, there will be many authentic ethnic musics can be found all over the stages too, like the Sundanese’s traditional bamboo instrument angklung which was announced as UNESCO world intangible heritage, Rampak Melayu and also Minang (West Sumatra) music. Knowing that the people of Batam also likes pop, there will be shows where pop jazz being served at its best as well. What’s amazing is, you can access the whole shows for FREE.

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[flickr id=”7217621126″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”true” size=”medium” group=”” align=”right”] Having Dwiki Dharmawan as the festival director for this event is perfect. He’s contributing most of his time for our music industry and even for the global world. Many people will relate him to Krakatau as one of the founders, but let’s not forget that he also stunned everyone by collecting and conducting more than 100 musicians consisting of wide diversity of backgrounds, instruments, styles and musical roots/disciplines in one mega project called World Peace Orchestra himself. It’s noted as one of the most important collaborations in history, something that Indonesia should be proud of. All rewarded to the man with magic finger and genius brain, Dwiki Dharmawan. This year he has much bigger role in making up this festival from selecting the participants, creating the creative concepts all the way to the promotional matters. When we speak about how a man can promote peace through everything he possesses within, how one can do so many impossible things, giving up the full efforts in supporting and preserving our own cultural heritage without stepping his jazz passion aside, Dwiki is the man.

At this 5th Asean Jazz Festival he’s also listed as one of the performers. Dwiki will bring his new trio, featuring two of the best young musicians bassist Shadu Shah Chaidar and drummer Demas Narawangsa and play alongside his compatriotes, percussionist of the Islamic reigious hymns group Raihan, originally from Brooklyn but now settles in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Steve Thornton, trumpetist from England who plays often with ESQI:EF and active in our jazz scene Ian Ingram and a very beautiful nightingale Sierra Soetedjo. In another session he will play in Angklung Jazz Ensemble, joining Wildan and Bira from Saung Angklung Udjo with his trio and some other special guests.

Supported by The Embassy of Netherlands, The Brag Pack will fly all the way from Holland to Batam.  This band consists of musicians from various countries, Indonesia’s young pianist prodigy Sri ‘Aga’ Hanuraga, Hungarian Dániel Mester (tenor/soprano sax), half Aruban/half Dutch Roald Becher (drums) and German Paul Rutschka (bass). This is the band to watch if you want to see all the jazz action packed as one. You can call it a contemporary fusion, but it is actually infused by uncountable inside influences from hardbop, swing, funk, blues, modern groove to progressive, experimental to even classical. On top of that, this band gives a daring twist in pinning some Indonesian traditional folk songs containing pentatonical scales and make them their own, all executed in mad creativity and top-notch skills. All these things can be enjoyed in their released album, “Just Braggin” (available at our online store). Aga was here for Java Jazz Festival 2012 last March with his trio (read our coverage here), now let’s give a warm welcome to Aga and the rest of The Brag Pack members.

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Now let’s take a look at the trio formerly known as Trioscapes that we believe should be listed in our jazz history’s timeline. Consists of three wizards, keyboardist Riza Arshad, funky bassist Yance Manusama and all-round drum master Aksan Sjuman, the now-called Riza3scapes is ready to bring the reminiscence of the time when jazz had just found its way to be merged with rock harmoniously. Riza Arshad likes to call their music as subtle funk, though when you listen to their compositions, you will find a lot of other musical patterns within. The pleasuring vintage sound presented current, high dose of funky charm, steady but challenging beat, the Riza3scapes has it in store.

Just like the previous editions, the word collaboration plays big deal in this festival. Other than Dwiki’s sessions, you can expect so many unexpected collaborations throughout the show. Look at the group consists of French guitarist Jeremy Tordjman, US drummer Erik Hargrove and the popular young bassist from our own land, Barry Likumahuwa. They have been playing together a couple of times recently, like the performance at No Black Tie, Kuala Lumpur a couple of months ago. What this group bring is unique and interesting. It might be quite difficult to describe their musical pattern, but Tordjman tries to define it in a simple term as Fuzzy Jazz Groove. What’s even more interesting is their move to rise up the game by featuring rapper Kyriz Boogiemen with them. “Basically we’ll play it (fuzzy Jazz Groove) but we challenge ourselves to bring a new nuance by having Kyriz in. Plus, most of the audience are still looking for band with vocals aren’t they?” says Barry, smiling. How the jazz style called Fuzzy Jazz Groove will sound, and how it will turn out to be when a rapper joins in? Go check their stage.

Maybe not many jazzers found in Thailand, but from those few, Natasha Patamapongs should always have to be mentioned. She’s the first Thai jazz vocalist to be noticed internationally and remains dedicated to the tradition. This lovely girl who currently teaches at Rungsit University’s Jazz Department as an Adjunct Professor in Vocal Jazz has performed in so many places around the world. Listen to her satin-smooth voice, you’ll be seduced and dragged into a full-emotion singing style that makes every song she sings become alive. She loves to pin heart-moving jazz standards, delightful candy-like swing, the lively Brazilian/Latin music as well as original compositions. She’s best known as the lead singer of Thailand’s jazz band Mellow Motif alongside Eugene Ang and other band members and also in charge of the band’s arrangement, production, and artistic direction up to the public relations work. In her show she’ll play with Arnat Lamwrongsikul (guitar), Philippines contrabassist Jeri De Leon who’s known by his involvement in K10 Bands and currently plays often with Manila’s front-jazz man boy Katindig, the lady who knows how to melt classical, jazz and sensual Latin tunes all together Nita Aartsen, drummer Gerry Herb and British trumpetist Ian Ingram. This will be one of the show that features multi national players in one lovely collaborative action.

Besides of having her own show, Natasha will also join a group that’s passionate in straight ahead jazz, Indrawan Tjhin Group (ITG). If you think whether or not blessing in disguise exist, you can ask this group. It was formed just to fill up one of the Serambi Jazz session in 2010. But time proofs that the ITG does still exist until now, in fact it’s just started a new journey by having new players inside. Other than the  band leader Indrawan Tjhin who graduated from Konijnklijk Conservatorium of the Hague, today the band consists of William Sugianto (drums), Yudha Gautama Putra (sax) and Gabriella Sava Puteri Miranda (keys). The new formation got its first breakthrough at the Java Jazz Festival 2012 and now they are ready to make another one. If you want to taste the joy of straight ahead, this one is a must see.

Starlite will show you some girl power. Ladies are no longer standing just as the singer or pianist of a group. These Farabi Music School alumnis are highly capable to play other instruments just as great as males too and with Starlite, Sheila, Alsa and Rieka will proof that. They all look sweet, but wait until you hear them play. Keep your eyes on the drum player because she can play sharp with intense action. You will never underestimate the girls’ capability behind their instruments anymore after that. The soulful young man Matthew Sayersz is confirmed to join them on stage.

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The beautiful Indonesian sweetheart Andien is in the lineup too. Who could resist her smooth, soft voice which has jazz breath all over? Having that kind of characteristic makes her able to pour on sweet scent of jazz, even when she sings pop. While stating that she’ll bring more of her maturity out, her cuteness will always be there. Andien will perform with her long time friends/band member/producer Nikita Dompas and his band. Other than serving Andien’s show, this shining young guitarist has his own show too under Nikita Dompas Quartet.

Now let’s switch to Minang Music for a while. This traditional music from West Sumatra is always visually captivating and mentally stimulating. The typical rhythm, the sound of saluang (the traditional bamboo flute from this region), rebana (the single headed drum) and of course talempong (the West Sumatrans gamelan) for example have created a distinctive musical form that never fails to awe the audience, no matter where they come from. The question is can Minang music walk hand in hand with the musical form from the western world, particularly jazz? Sure can. An artiste, composer, musician and teacher of Indonesia Institute of the Arts (ISI) Padang Panjang named M. Halim (also known as ‘Mak Lenggang’) will give one unique session where you can see, hear, feel and taste jazz with Minang taste. We’ve opened up a connection to him and asked what kind of music will he bring. “Listen, Dwiki asked me to bring something unique, so I chose to deliver jazz nuance by using all traditional Minang instruments,” he said. So watch out for full ensemble he called BIGU SUARA using gendang tabuh, rebana, rapa’i, triangle, genta, darabuka, or even plates among other traditional percussive instruments and mouth music. Mak Lenggang will also give one stunning solo act and a duet with Steev Kindwald, who got hooked to Minang Music while he was on a journey to learn about traditional musics around the Middle East.  Seriously, don’t miss this one.

Next, let’s see the Donny Suhendra and Trie Utami connection. This long time friends have been supporting each other for ages, like in Krakatau for example. Their chemistry is strong, so strong that you can always find some surprises whenever they share the stage together. Such evidence was seen at the Java Jazz Festival 2012, and now they are going to repeat those one lovely moments all over again. The bass ‘slasher’ Adi Darmawan, drummer Demas Narawangsa and pianist Roberto Joko are going to support them fully.

The relatively new-formed band consists of young lions Urban Phat is on the list too. This band comprises of Andy Gomez on keyboard and piano, Damez Nababan on saxophone, Ibnu Rafi on drums, Fajar Adi Nugroho on bass and Jordy Waelauruw on trumpet. Each of them is active in playing with different groups and has their own shining achievements. But as Urban-Phat, they unite as one in good chemistry. As we’ve been witnessing the emergence of young lions in Indonesia who show tremendous skills as well as qualify in bringing something fresh to the local jazz circuit, Urban Phatt can be a good display case for this.

The 5th Asean Jazz Festival also features the flamenco guitarist YeppyRomero. He holds MURI records for playing 150 songs for 10 hours non stop, in 10 genres and 4 languages, along with 100 top class Indonesian musicians in 2008 and has played in uncountable small events to big festivals during his more than 2 decades of career. He’s famously known by his tasty flamenco/Latin style, but as a true son of a Batak tribe he never forgets his root at all. One of the evidences can be seen in his project/music concept called Batakustik where he brings popular Batak songs in instrumental guitar. If you’re into a seducing, unpredictable and uplifting guitar play, his show is always a must to enjoy. Bassist Harry Toledo will stand beside him on stage.

As mentioned before, pop jazz will also be there as the highlight. Not only you can find some pop jazz in this festival,  but it’s going to be brought by some of the best in this field too. First of all, prepare yourself to see the return of Ita Purnamasari. She rose to fame in the late 80’s and reached her peak with an evergreen ballad “Cintaku Padamu” in 1993. Later she decided to slow her activity down to focus more in her role as the wife of Dwiki Dharmawan and also as a mother, but that doesn’t make us forget about her and her soft, tender yet bright voice. Making a comeback in jazz stye? Surely that’s something. she will join Iwan Abdie on the second day of the festival. Another pairing with pop jazz on top is one of today’s teenagers favorite Calvin Jeremy and Indonesian Idol’s alumnus Karen Pooroe. Both shows will be supported by Farabi Band. Two local bands from Batam, Adrianus & Friends and Ardhya Band are set to give their best shot in reprsenting their own soil.

Pointing out the Cross Border Tourism, the festival committee wants the tourists from neighboring countries especially Singapore, Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo, and also from other regions of Indonesia such as Riau islands, Sumatra areas all the way to other foreign countries. Once again, all shows (more than 6 hours straight each) will be held on 3 stages for two days for free!  On behalf of Dwiki Dharmawan, the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy Republic of Indonesia, Province of Kepulauan Riau, the city of Batam, it’s our great pleasure to welcome you to the 5th ASEAN Jazz Festival. Let’s celebrate jazz in the spirit of peace together.


Date: Friday-Saturday, June 22 and 23, 2012
Time: 6:00 pm – midnight
Location: Harbour Bay, Batam




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Written by: Riandy Kurniawan



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