DowntimeReportJava Jazz 2014: WONDERFULLY ECLECTIC


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This year, Java Jazz Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary with a lineup as eclectic as ever.

Java Jazz 2014 was held for three days at JIExpoKemayoran Jakarta, from 28 February to 2 March. Compared with last year, this year’s festival seemed to be dominated by non-jazz musicians.    

Last year’s Java Jazz was considered more consistent with its performers, comprising mostly senior jazz musicians such as Lee Ritenour, Dave Grusin, George Duke, Steve Thornton, David Garfield and a tribute to Miles Davis, just to name a few. But the festival wasn’t as packed with visitors as in 2012 where younger musicians were quite dominant.  

It’s not clear whether or not last year’s experience has affected the selection of this year’s performers, but pop performers we never thought would grace the Java Jazz stage, such as Agnes Monica and Addie MS, made appearances – perhaps the organizing committee’s bid to attract more visitors. The most unexpected act, however, came from JKT48, a Japanese franchised girl band featuring 72 members who are, let’s just say, better known for their provocative dance moves than vocal performances. While some eyebrows were raised, the band’s loyal followers crowded the outdoor stage area. 

Oddities aside, we enjoyed the performances by Magnus Lindgren, Gerald Albright, as well as five Indonesian female singers who performed as one group called 5 Wanita. The latter gave a magnificent tribute to Indonesian legendary band Koes Plus, singing hit singles from the band. Again, Koes Plus was a pop band, but three of its vocalists – RiekaRoslan, IgaMawarni and Andien – are jazz singers. The talented and sexy DiraSugandi wowed the crowd with a performance featuring Ron King Band and Incognito. 

Jamie Cullum hit the stage looking as cute and young as ever. His performance was a ‘Special Show’ and special it was indeed. Cullum reminisced on his first show at Java Jazz years ago, but after admitting to the audience that he had started to feel old, he put on an energetic set that sent his female fans into frenzy. He jumped up and down on the stage and from his piano as he sang hit singles, ‘The Same Things’, ‘I’m All Over It’, ‘Everything You Didn’t Do’ and ‘Mind Trick’, with full-on bravura. 

Natalie Cole gave a touching, wonderful performance in a duet with her late father, jazz legend Nat King Cole, also singing a number of longtime favorites such as ‘When I Fall in Love’, ‘Unforgettable’ and ‘Quizás, Quizás, Quizás’. In the backdrop, photos of her father were projected onto a large screen, taking us back to the heyday of the famous singer. 

Overall, Java Jazz 2014 was a great hit despite some inconsistencies. Congratulations to the Java Festival Production and we can’t wait to see what’s next.