Just a couple of days ago, former US President Barack Obama spent a family holiday in Bali. During his five-day vacation, he visited Ubud as one of his destinations, including the Agung Rai Art Museum (ARMA). There, the Obamas were welcomed by traditional dance performances including Pendet and Tumbuk Padi.
Yes, Ubud is a must-visit place now if you are going to Bali. This side of Bali offers something different than the wonderful beaches, ocean breeze and rave parties you could easily find in Kuta. If you are looking for variety of arts like dance, sculpture, painting, metalworking and even the mystical sound of Balinese gamelan, Ubud has it all. But what we always love from this area which is located a few kilometers up from the beach life is the peaceful atmosphere. In Ubu can enjoy cool mountain weather, tranquil rice paddies, stunning scenery in sync with the island’s serenity that would give you the best moment of relaxation. So, yeah, whenever you come to Bali, Ubud is surely not to be missed.
Since 5 years ago, Ubud has another attraction related to jazz. It’s none other than the annual jazz fest simply called The Ubud Village Jazz Festival (UVJF). This ‘local-community-based’ yet international festival has been remarkably showing its own strong color of flavor of jazz. Full of variety but stay true to jazz, served humble yet full of stars ; both local and international. As we are getting closer to August, the festival is preparing themselves for its 5th consecutive year.
The 5th Ubud Village Jazz Festival 2017 is coming soon on 11 – 12 August, taking place at its ground zero which the Obamas just visited, the dramatic ARMA Museum garden. Just like the previous years, the jazz lovers would get the fine jazz treats for around 8 hours a day, for two days straight. The lineup will be shared on three stages, well arranged and smooth flowing that surely will meet your need of having cool jazztertainment. Imagine the jazz party combines with such peaceful surroundings we mentioned above, it will give you something you would get nowhere else. Trust us, we have been there many times and still can’t get enough.
Before we get down to this year’s lineup, we believe it’s good to see this event through the eyes of the founder and how far they have contributed towards the tourism and jazz movement. Proud to say that the festival has gained a lot of compliments from the critics, musicians and the audiences, as well as from the Ministry of Tourism who supports through Pesona Indonesia, Ubud Royal family and local Ubud community. The event now stands as one of the best jazz festival in the region and become one of ‘a-must-see’ new attraction of Bali’s tourism agenda.
What’s the vision of Ubud Village Jazz Festival? “We are trying our best to display jazz music in a different way”. Says Yuri Mahatma, the co-founder of the fest who is also an active musician, teacher, composer and founder of local jazz community, the Underground Jazz Movement. “Our festival does not only provide great musicians and groups both international and national in two days, but also wish to give our audiences a memorable experience by giving added value for the price such as an sophisticated lay out design by our architecture team to ensure that our audience can still feel the local wisdom”, he added.
“The bottom line is, we pay an extra attention and effort in details as we believe that beauty comes from details”, says Anom Darsana ,also the co-founder of the fest who is in charge in production. “We have been doing this since our first year, and it went really well. People really appreciated it” he stated furthermore.
So now, who will they bring in this time? In this 2017 edition you will see another imaginative and eclectic lineup, pulling together a wide variety of top tier mainstream, modern, traditional and Latin performers.
The highlight of the festival this year is the venerable Gerald Clayton Trio with Joe Sanders (bass) and Gregory Hutchinson (drums). Gerald William Clayton, jazz pianist and composer born in Netherlands but raised in Los Angeles USA has been nominated four times with Grammy awards. He won second place in the 2006 Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Piano Competition, also earned a 2010 Grammy nomination for Best Improvised Jazz Solo for his arrangement of Cole Porter’s “All of You”. “Battle Circle”, his composition featured on The Clayton Brothers’ recording “The New Song and Dance” (ArtistShare) received a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Composition in 2011. He received 2012 and 2013 Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for “Bond: The Paris Sessions” (Concord) and “Life Forum” (Concord), his second and third album releases. Not only great in skill, he has deep sensibilities too in presenting music. Such gift has allowed him to perform and record with variety of artists like Dianne Reeves, Diana Krall, Roy Hargrove, John Scofield, Avishai Cohen, Peter Bernstein and Kendrick Scott just to mention a few.
Found in the trio is Joe Sanders. He is without doubt, one of the most sought-after young bass players of this era. Recently he placed 2nd in the finals of both the International Society of Bassists Jazz Bass Competition and the Thelonious Monk Institute’s International Jazz Bass Competition. The trio is getting much solid with Gregory Hutchinson on drums, an American drummer of modern jazz . According to Martin Kunzler, his highly differentiated, “lively” game is reminiscent of Roy Haynes and Philly Joe Jones. According to Jazz Magazine, he is “the drummer of his generation”.
From the legend corner, this year Ubud Village Jazz Festival proudly presents an important man in our jazz history who has such career spanning for more than 50 years, trombonist Benny Likumahuwa. He will share the stage with his son, one of the respected young bassists in Indonesia, Barry Likumahuwa. Pure, spontaneous jazz will surely be heard from his show. Always different, always entertaining.
Internationally acclaimed guitar wizard from Bali, Balawan is set to return to this event and sprinkle his magic jazz dust. He is said to perform with his music concept mix with Balinese gamelan (Batuan Ethnic).
Speaking of magic, the young guitar wiz from Bandung who is now riding his international career and received so many praises, Tesla Manaf will taste the Ubud jazz atmosphere for the very first time. It’s kind of interesting that Tesla actually found his breakthrough by establishing a genius concept by fusing jazz progressive with Balinese gamelan ensemble, plus a Barong dancer. The ensemble’s called Tesla Manaf ft Mahagotra Ganesha. He caught the attention of US-based label MoonJune Records which directly signed him in, resulting a remarkable selftitled album. Balawan started the journey first, but make no mistake, Tesla Manaf who came from the younger generation is following Balawan’s footsteps with his own style. This young man has a ‘deranged’ way of expressing his soul. Unpredictable, groundbreaking, mind-bending. Two guitar-wizards are coming to this 5th edition. Magic is the least you will get from them.
Still from the guitar corner, don’t miss the performance of a senior guitarist who has established his own jazz band at the age of 14, originally from Malang but has been building his career in Bali for many years, Koko Harsoe. His eclectic, stylish guitar playing will quench your jazz thirst instantly. The co-founder Yuri Mahatma is set to play too as usual, along with his dear wife, the caretaker of the festival, pianist Astrid Sulaiman. Joining Yuri Mahatma is the amazing, charismatic female jazz singer from Jakarta, Nesia Ardi.
As a part cultural support, the Australian Embassy endorses Steve Barry and group tour to Bali. Steve Barry is a pianist, organist, composer and improviser based in Sydney, Australia. He is the winner of the 2013 Bell Award for Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year and a runner-up of the 2013 National Jazz Awards. Also from the land down under, saxophonist Julian Banks is going to reprise his memorable shows presenting modern jazz with Indonesian ethnic touch from the third edition in 2015 and fourth in 2016.
Institut Français d’Indonésie also endorses saxophonist Samy Thiebault under his most recent album touring, the Samy Thiebault ‘Rebirth’. This album is really personal to him as it draws in his personal life (his)tory reflected into set of repertoires. The mystical ethnic (world) music sounds from Africa (ranging from Ivory Coast to Mali) to Venezuela to the music and rhythm from the Persian Gulf he stiches inside his modern jazz will take you into a musical voyage of a lifetime.
Two great young saxophonists from our local source will have their own shot. Ricad Hutapea is no stranger to us. He has released an album “Jalan Pertama” (First Step) which opens up his career to reach wider stages. This man has graced many big festivals either in his own show or as a sideman. Then, Pramono Abdi Pamungkas who we have seen a couple of times playing in this festival (including with Koko Harsoe in 2015 edition which we still remember clearly). He is the most wanted saxophonist in Bali today. These two young sax-men will keep funk you up with their tasty, sexy groove.
Endorsed by Austrian Embassy is b.good vogel, consisting of Marc Vogel and Lukas Schiemer aka Barry Good. This duo combines modern jazz with popular groove music where the minimalist acoustic setup then goes wider reaching the new terrain with the help of modern technology / extended electronics. This move will make them sound far bigger ensemble without losing their charm and intimacy.
The new sensation in jazz vocal from Netherland, Maaike den Dunnen will land for the very first time on Ubud’s soil after her participation at the North Sea Jazz 2017. She is not just sings, composes, lyrics and plays the piano, but she brings a strong, energetic musical personality through interesting combination between humor, lyricism and intelligence. We have heard many great comments about her, we are excited to finally meet her in this event. “I’m looking forward to perform one set of my original music with some killer Indonesian jazz musicians. Can’t wait!” she said.
From Germany come two interesting acts: trumpeter Benny Brown and Glenn Buschman Jazz Academy. While Benny Brown is clearly keeping the German jazz full of energy and fresh today, the students, new projects and bands from Dortmund jazz academy which named after the legendary late clarinetist/saxophonist Glen Buschmann, The Glen Buschmann Academy (Glen Buschmann Jazzakademie) will let us see the fascinating future of German jazz.
Next to mention is the sensational young man whom outstanding talent have been witnessed by us since he was still around 15 year-old. He is none other than David Manuhutu. He already shone before he got the chance to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA. In there he quickly received Dean’s list award every semester for having GPA above 3.4 in each semester. He has studied and played with many giants in jazz scene. Not long ago he released his first album titled “A Journey” which remarkably featured Adam Rogers and Peter Bernstein. Now as he is back to his homeland, he is working seriously in building his career. Playing alongside Glenn Fredly was just one of the moves, because this young man is talented in writing unique jazz compositions without forgetting his origin. Back then in 2007 when we first met him, we already knew he’s special. Now it’s a different story. He has become a star with even more enhanced skill and control. We can’t wait to meet a long time friend again.
Bali proud son, the drum genius Sandy Winarta is returning to this fest. This man actually began with classical piano when he was still a kid but then switched to drum at the age of 17. He graduated from the Australian Institute of Music in Sydney, Australia and quickly gained a lot of opportunities after returning home. Although he successfully built his career especially inside the jazz squared-circle, he continued to learn to New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in Manhattan, New York with a scolarship. There he played with many jazz giants. Now as he continues his career in his motherland, this festival has become his home. It’s going to be interesting to see what he’s got to offer this year.
A senior pianist who has been an active musician for 30 years and as a piano teacher for 20 years Bonny Man will have his own show: Bonny Trio. He is the former piano teacher of Joey Alexander when Joey was still in Bali. So far he has released no less than 5 albums independently from 1997 to 2002. Although he hasn’t appeared often in the national scene, he actually has performed in several festivals like Jazz Merah Putih for example. Now Bonny-san (he is also a Japanese teacher by the way) is ready to share his long time experience joyfully to the audience of Ubud Village Jazz Festival. We just love to see a man like him who has produced many musicians to step forward making his own name.
The jazz community Underground Jazz Movement will get their time as usual. We always love their show every year because then we can see how they are doing from time to time. Last but not least, there will be a duo Emily & Siwei. We still got no information about this act, but our guess is that they are going to present the nature side of music. There are more names still to come, we will keep you updated.
Ubud Village Jazz Festival is a festival with a strong character, holding cozy, intimate and empowering as its character. It’s an intimate, Eco-friendly and well organized jazz festival as if it takes place in your own home. Once again, the 5th Ubud Village Jazz Festival 2017 is coming soon on 11-12 August 2017, taking place at ARMA Ubud, Bali.
On behalf of the Ubud Village Jazz Festival committee, we invite you to come to this 2-day jazz party. Here’s your chance to enjoy the mystical paradise only Bali has while tasting jazz in a way you have never experienced before.
ps: The festival will open its gate at 3 pm – 11.30 pm each day