Djarum Super Mild Jazz Traffic Festival 2011: The Report

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The long wait is over for Surabaya’s jazz lovers! The Djarum Super Mild Jazz Traffic Festival 2011 was held with triumphant success last Sunday, November 27, 2011. It’s certainly lovely to see how a big festival like this actually came from a regular jazz program in Suara Surabaya Radio with Errol Jonathans in charge. Since this program has been receiving big success not only by having lots of loyal listeners but also manages to have its own community, it was about time to stretch it wider to become a live event.  What actually happened was something even bigger than that. The idea soon grew bigger to reach the shape of festival featuring some of the best Indonesian jazz artists from different generations from the capital and also local Surabaya’s talents. The lineup was able to make any of jazz lovers drooling in awe. You will see it later when we give you report from each stage. But first look at the enthusiasm from the public. There were almost 3000 attendees came to see this first-ever jazz festival in Surabaya. “It was such an attractive show, full of surprises.. we want more!” said one of the satisfied audiences to us.

[flickr id=”6420625821″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”false” size=”small” group=”” align=”left”]The artists were divided into 3 stages. The stage C was set outside, featuring 11 bands that ran nonstop since the beginning until the end. Two other [flickr id=”6420612905″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”false” size=”small” group=”” align=”right”] stages, the A and B were placed indoor, each presented 4 groups which came into action simultaneously, one after another. That enabled the attendees to watch the whole performances happening on both indoor stages.

The event started with some local groups and also from Jakarta. The temperature was quite high, almost 38°C (about 100.4°F) but still the earlier performers such as Terro Band, Korek Jazz, Bagus Band, Surabaya All Stars, Van Java, Gondo N Friends and Yudi Barlean Trio (with bassist Doni Sundjoyo and drummer Sandy Winarta) managed to bring out their best. Surabaya All Stars seemed to have their own fans that faithfully stayed with them until the end. This group played one interesting song called “Tanjung Perak”, referring to the main port of Surabaya in dixie style.

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The Stage A started big with Barry Likumahuwa Project around 12:30 pm. Barry said that the band came straight from Malaysia to Surabaya to play in front of the [flickr id=”6420558331″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”false” size=”small” group=”” align=”left”] Surabaya crowds. They brought their songs such as “My Prayers”, “Aku dan Hadirmu”, “Craze”, “Twitter Jam”, “Saat Kau Milikku”, “Cinta Abadi”, “Mati Saja” and “Generasi Synergy”. Some of the popular ones made their audiences to sing together. The surprise came on this stage by the special appearance of Benny Likumahuwa with his flute. The collaboration between father and son happened when they both played “Esok Kan Masih Ada” as their way to send their respect to the late Utha Likumahuwa. It was simply awesome and magical. Everyone felt their energy, and clearly they had fun on stage. BLP which arrived with complete member (with Mattew Sayersz-vocal, Jonas Wang-drum, Henri Budidharma -guitar, Donny Joesran-keyboard and Dennis Junio-alto sax).even gave a very cool improvisation of “Indonesia Pusaka”. It was a really catchy performance that made the early attendees fully entertained.

Right after that, stage B was opened by Sandy Winarta Quartet. Having his own friends such as Andy Gomez (piano), Doni Sundjoyo (contrabass) and Robert Mulyaraharja (guitar) enabled him to pour his real taste and color of jazz which mostly based on bop. They played Herbie Hancock’s 1965 masterpiece “Maiden Voyage”, “Blues in F” and “I Love You”. It was a really neat and dynamic peformance.

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We got RAN back in stage A. As one of the most awaited band, this stage was fully crowded mostly by the youngsters. They played selections of song taken from 3 released albums including “Jadi Gila”, “Karena Kusuka Dirimu”, and “Kulakukan Semua Untukmu”, their recycled hit single originally brought famous by Fatur and Nadila and also the newly released song “Sepeda”. Again an attractive and entertaining show that got huge response by their fans.

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The clock almost reached 5 pm when Idang Rasjidi Syndicate got their turn. This time Idang brought his own sons along, the famous Shadu Shah Chaidar on electric bass and Shaku on drums. This showed a good process of regeneration in the family that will be beneficial for our music scene. Besides his two sons, he also brought a young guitarist with bright future recommended by Oele Pattiselano, Tiko Laksono and saxophonist Aswin Hararudin. They started with “U-Turn” and continued with some more songs before Idang invited Putu Sastrani to sing the last song, “Tonight”. The crowds seemed to really enjoyed their show as we saw many of them grooved  and sang along joyfully. After the show Idang Rasjidi humbly stated that eventhough he’s considered as a senior musician, he still learns from many younger jazz musicians. He also expressed his respect to the virtuoso Bubi Chen. After that the festival reached the break.

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Right after the break, the action got even more intense. The devilish rollercoaster ride LIGRO which now signed by the international label MoonJune Records brought some extreme actions on the Stage C. The trio Agam Hamzah, Adi Darmawan and Gusti Hendy got reinforced by the presence of the world-class young pianist, Ade Irawan. Unique, out of the box and in some part bizzare might be the best way to describe their music. They played 6 compositions including “Bliker” part 1 and part 2, where Adi Darmawan shocked the audiences by torturing his bass with zinc plate, nails and other unthinkable materials. “Radioaktif”, “Shaman Spot” and “Orgil” were also brought. Just like their other gigs we’ve covered, they successfully ‘flipped’ the audiences from one corner to another with their edgy jazz/rock music, showing that there are actually many jazz territory that’s been rarely visited. Speaking of one crazy show, it should be crowned to them.

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At the same time, LLW appeared full team in burning the audiences. The enthusiasm to see the trio Indra Lesmana, Barry Likumahuwa and Sandy Winarta along with [flickr id=”6420600209″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”false” size=”small” group=”” align=”left”] Dira Sugandi, Kyriz Boogiemen, Indra Aziz and DJ Cream was unbelievable. A long queue was seen at the lobby before the gate finally opened. The hall got blasted when they started to perform. They brought songs taken from LLW’s [flickr id=”6420599713″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”false” size=”small” group=”” align=”right”] highly successful first album, Love Life Wisdom and also a masterpiece from Indra Lesmana’s supergroup JavaJazz, “Moon Over Asia”. The fresh, new arrangement made this song got a new color but still carried the same spirit from the original. What’s special, for this special show LLW brought Jack Lesmana’s guitar along. This show should really mean as something special to Indra Lesmana since the history of Jack Lesmana actually started from East Java. The crowds popped even more when Dira Sugandi arrived on stage. “We’re happy to be able to perform with the most complete formation for Jazz Traffic Festival 2011″ said Indra Lesmana gladly after the show. LLW has been successully showing a fine blend between the authentic tradition of modern jazz and urban sound by having a DJ behind the turntable and rapper, plus the taste of soulful through Dira Sugandi’s powerhouse vocal. We were not surprised if this stage became one of the crowdiest one since the songs could fit wide range of audiences, not to mention some who wanted to see these famous artists from close range while they got the chance. We noticed that there were many requests sent to Indra Lesmana’s twitter for them to play in Surabaya, now their wish was completely fulfilled in the most magical way. What a show!

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Nita Aartsen took over the stage C from Ligro. For this particular show, Nita Aartsen featured the singer of BLP who will soon release his debut solo album,  Matthew Sayersz. The senior percussionist Iwan Wiradz was also inside the team. Just like how Nita used to do, he presented the top notch harmonious combination between jazz, classic and Latins in harmony. The lady who was once learned in Moscow Conservatory and resided in Nederland for quite some times presented some songs such as “Dejavu”, “On Fire”, “Good Time” and one of Dizzy Gillespie’s masterpieces “Night in Tunisia”. To show her classical background, she played Beethoven’s “Für Elise” uniquely rearranged in dynamic latin percussions style and “Minuet” which was delivered in several languages, sang by Nita and Matthew Sayersz. Having performed internationally along with many renowned international fellow musicians has shaped her into a world class performer. She successfully added more colors into the festival.

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[flickr id=”6420563789″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”false” size=”small” group=”” align=”right”] Meanwhile at the indoor stage Bubi Chen gave a touching performance on stage B. Everybody were sad when Bubi Chen’s legs developed gangrene and had to be amputated. The question whether Bubi Chen would still playing came from many people, but thank God he looks even better now after the amputation. We still remember the look of him holding his pain while performing at the Java Jazz Festival months ago, but now it all dissapeared. He really enjoyed his performance especially by having the reliable young guns beside him such as Doni Sundjoyo (contrabass), Sandy Winarta (drums), Robert Mulyaraharja (guitar) and Eugene Bounty (sax). Bubi opened up the show with warm greetings before he introduced his fellows on stage. What amazed us was the fact that his show got many youngsters who wanted to see the legendary virtuoso live on stage. Some had to sit on the floor because there were no seat left, but they still enjoyed the show at max. The beautiful Sierra Soetedjo captivated the crowds with her stunning look and sweet-breezing vocal. There were many moments to remember on this stage, but most of all we are happy to see Bubi Chen in his fresh and a lot better condition. Thank God for that!

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From Bubi Chen we came back to the Stage A to see one of the top performers in the festival, Maliq n D’Essentials. Just as we predicted, the crowds were filled with mostly teenagers and young adults. The absence of Indah was covered by two backing vocals. As usual their cool, groovy arrangement and lively stage action grabbed the crowds’ attention as they kept on cheering and clapping during this session. The hall turned to be a big choir since they were all familiar with the songs. Angga stood tall in front and sang their favorite songs such as “The one”, “Blow My Mind”, “Terdiam”, “Coba Katakan”, “Untitled”, “Menari”, “Dia”, “Heaven” and “Pilihanku”. A suprise came when they shared the stage with a guest star, Kyriz Boogiemen. His cool rap and energetic moves fitted the style of Maliq n D’Essentials. It was a mind blowing performance. This session wrapped the stage A.

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Outside the real life and stage couple Endah N Rhesa gave their best as promised. Playing in front of their Surabaya fans, they brought some of their hits such as “I Don’t Remember” which was added with Red Hot Chili Peppers’ tunes, “Monkey Songs” which started with Endah’s cute way in telling the story and message behind the song, “Waiting” and “Baby It’s You” with the Theme of Mission Impossible attached in. Their humble, familiar and interactive approach were loved by the audiences. Their spontaneous touch and improviastions were fully entertaining as well. For Endah, the Jazz Traffic Festival has given her such a spiritual experience. “This become an amazing spiritual experience for me. The enthusiasm is also unbelievable.” she said after the show. Besides their cool story telling concept wrapped in ear catchy melodies, their way in delivering romance from the stage to reach our hearts is always something that makes this lovely duo’s appearance loved by many. No matter what song they sing, no matter how they carry their show, we will always feel the love. Thank you for that, Endah N Rhesa.

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Balawan gave a final show on the outdoor stage. He was supported by 5 Balinese traditional musicians, presenting collaborative music between jazz and Balinese traditional music. unlike the normal guitarist, Balawan appeared with two guitars at once. Surely they are heavy, not to think of how Balawan managed to control both guitar. But as a maestro who invented his own ‘touch tapping technique’, he showed how far he could explore the sound with his amazing skill. Among the songlist he brought the jazz standard “L-O-V-E” and “Semua Bisa Bilang” in bossa with ethnical nuance. The crowds loved it. After the show, Balawan took time to share his wish, may the traditional gamelan get better appreciation and able to compete internationally. With his efforts in bridging the modern and traditional music in his every performance, we know it’s not impossible. With Balawan, the stage C reached the end.

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It was close to midnight when Tompi appeared as the last performer for Jazz Traffic Festival 2011. Clearly Tompi has his place in the heart of Surabaya’s jazz lovers. The crowds should already feel tired after so many shows, but still they spared their energy for Tompi. Tompi started with “Sedari Dulu”. Answering his audiences’ request he sang “Menghujam Jantungku”. As usual Tompi bridged the connection with everyone. Another surprise came when Idang Rasjidi suddenly came right in the middle of his session. They did a very cool scat battle to each other along with Yesaya Sumantri’s drumbeating. This action made the crowds laughed, cheered and clapped in showing their happiness. After “Sedari Dulu”, Tompi gave another surprise by singing a part of Ayu Ting Ting’s “Alamat Palsu” with his own style. The crowds got naughty, asking Tompi to sing Sm*sh’ “I Heart You”. He gladly responded and fulfilled their wish. Tompi sealed his session as well as the whole festival with “Aku Jatuh Cinta”.

A very well organized show, featuring lots of stars, cool stage lightings have successfully dropped the jazz bomb on the Surabaya’s soil. Suara Surabaya Radio, Rita Noya, the sponsor Djarum Super Mild and everyone behind this event have given their best in presenting something spectacular for the first time in this capital of East Java. Hopefully this will trigger the brand new day of jazz in Surabaya. Looking at the huge response from the society, we can have a clear proof that jazz is actually popular in this city. We should keep the flame on and let it shine brigher. The organizers promised a Half Day Full Jazz, and they really did so. Just like the Surabaya’s jazz aficionados, we are happy to see that finally jazz has come back home. Thank you for organizing the first-ever jazz festival in Surabaya, hope to see you again next year with even bigger and better blast.

See more pictures:

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Reporter: Destina Kawanti
Photographer: I Putu Surya KB, Arifitra Ekomukti
Written by: Riandy Kurniawan

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