“The modern jazzman has no security but his own integrity and genius.”
– Eric Mottram
Today, the 11th annual Ngayogjazz festival is being held in a village outside Yogyakarta, but for the first time entrance is not free. It had been suggested that festival goers should make a donation to show their appreciation of jazz.
However, as co-founder Djaduk Ferianto says, “Donating books for the needy is also a form of appreciation.” I agree, but donating books is not about showing appreciation of jazz, but a recognition that levels of literacy in Indonesia are low, particularly in rural areas, largely through limited access to any books beyond those demanded for school exams.
Jazz appreciation would come from going to the festival, roaming between the five stages erected in the village and sampling the different sounds, and realising that the musicians in the groups are playing for themselves and that live jazz is of the moment which we are invited to share.
And, for IndoJazzia, what makes Ngayogjazz really special is that aside from a few ‘known’ names, such as the world class Sri Hanuraga Trio, Indonesia’s globe-trotting Gugun Blues Shelter, and veteran Jeffrey Tahalele, it offers a showcase for a number of jazz communities. These include Pekalongan, Surakarta, Magelang, Ponogoro, Trenggalek, Surabaya and Lampung.
By way of contrast ….
Ignoring the punctuation error, there is a smug presumption wafting over the enterprise. For a start, the focus is on Indonesia alone. What’s more the list of categories is skimpy: breakthrough artists, children, contemporary dangdut, pop, production, rock, soul-r&b-urban. This downloadable list of nominees also demonstrates a strong whiff of cronyism. Naturally, we are referring to the Jazz categories.
For example: Jazz Album
Dewa Budjana – Zentuary*
Indra Lesmana Keytar Trio – About Jack (Dedicated to his father, jazz pioneer Jack Lesmana)
Indro Hardjodikoro – Always There
Krakatau Reunion – Chapter One (w. Dwiki Dharmawan & Indra Lesmana)
Tohpati Bertiga – Faces (w. Indro Hardjodikoro on bass)
(Since when was Bertiga a jazz trio?)
*Tony Levin, Gary Husband, Jack DeJohnette, Danny Markovitch, Tim Garland: Guthrie Govan, Czech Symphony Orchestra
+ from Indonesia: Ubiet & Risa Saraswati (vocals – one track each), and Saat Syah (suling – two tracks)
How come this is nominated for an Indonesian jazz album award?
And Jazz Instrumental
Andi Bayou – Sunrise at Borobudur
Dewa Budjana – Solas PM
Dwiki Dharmawan – Frog Dance
Indra Lesmana Keytar Trio – Jack Swing
Indro Hardjodikoro – Always There
Tohpati Bertiga – Faces
IndoJazzia doesn’t know and, to be honest, doesn’t care who ‘won’. The names above are of a generation of 50 year old A-listers who receive special treatment from Bekraf, the government’s Dept. of Creative Economy. Their music harks back to what they have been playing for many years. Download the instrumentals and judge for yourselves.
Where is the contemporary music, the music which comes from the heart? Listen to this track from Erik Sondhy’s follow up to last year’s internationally successful Abbey Road Sessions Vol.1. Would you nominate it for an AMI award?
Erik Sondhy and Djanggo Manggo Duo: Relax 1
And ask yourselves why the Yogya indie band Stars and Rabbit who have toured Asia and the UK in the past couple of years are nowhere to be found in the list of nominees.