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Our article The Kids Went Wild in Batavia is also available with the two earlier articles about Drugs and Jazz in Batavia as a download e-book (pdf) here. Hotel des Indies 1919 -1930, popular for weekend raves.

“The memory of things gone is important to a jazz musician.” – Louis Armstrong Joey Alexander’s nomination for two Grammy Awards has created a heightened international interest in Indonesia’s jazz scene, yet he is not the first child prodigy to emerge here playing jazz piano. Jazz arrived in what was then the Dutch East Indies […]

Our recent research into the history of jazz in Indonesia has focussed on that played and heard before 1942 when the Japanese brought the Dutch East Indies into World War Two. From section 2.6 of this document (pdf), we know that jazz was first heard in 1919 when the Deca Park Theatre announced: ‚ÄúSomething new! […]

In our researches for A History of Jazz in Indonesia, we discovered that the first time that the music genre was heard in the country was back in 1919. Naturally, this lead us to investigate both the sound of the music and the nature of ‘society’ at the time. The music was easy: the first […]

Continuing our research into the connection between recreational drugs and their role in the popular dance scene in Batavia in the 1920s and 30s, we got to wondering about cocaine. After all, if the Ella Fitzgerald could record a song about it in 1938 … They call it wacky dust It brings a dancing jag […]

Indonesia’s music scene is now amazingly diverse, and not just a reflection of the varied environment, both geological and botanical. From the flood plains of northern Java, to the forested, mountainous tropical hinterlands of the larger islands, the arid east, and the islands of the Mollucas, home of the spices which brought foreign traders, travelling […]

I’m bugged: you all look like insects In your brand new sunspecs. So sings XTC, and here are some more photos to illustrate our anthropomorphism. Mohammed Ali floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee, while others are as slow as a snail or snug as a bug in a rug. Insects inevitably crop […]

My original title was Women Jazz Singers of the 1920s and 30s, but that’s too long. And it’s taken me a long time to assemble the 20 tracks of 20 different singers I invite you to download. It’s been an interesting ‘journey’, not least because I didn’t know that Cab Calloway modelled his act on […]

Jazz is viewed by many as the music of freedom, of creativity and emotion, yet it arose out of the stench of slavery and bondage. Americans are proud of their heritage, and many are happy to proclaim that it is the home of jazz.¬† On February 26, 1917 in Chicago, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, […]

I have already written about the arrival of jazz in Batavia in 1919. What was heard until the invasion of the Japanese in 1942 varied little from the sounds of imported 78rpm platen and transcriptions from sheet music. However what is little known in Indonesia is how Javanese ‘traditional’ music came to be an influence […]