Java Jazz draws best performers, fans
M. Taufiqurrahman and Evi Mariani, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
It was not the typical scene that greets people at venues where jazz is played. If jazz lovers usually savored jazz in a small club with a cozy atmosphere, concertgoers at the Java Jazz Festival had to elbow their way into the separate halls as their favorite performers the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire, Incognito and Deodato took to the stage.
A large crowd turned out on Saturday evening, the second day of the Java Jazz Festival, crowding into all nooks and crannies that were left at the Jakarta Convention Center (JCC) in Senayan, Central Jakarta, where dozens of international and local artists congregated to perform in a once-in-a-lifetime event.
All the performance halls in the JCC booked for Java Jazz gigs were filled to full-house, with some concertgoers even sitting and standing in the vicinity of the stages.
The crowd thronged to the Assembly Hall, with a great number of them standing right below the stage and in the aisles -- whether or not they had an assigned seat there -- when veteran guitarist and founding member of local jazz band Krakatau Donny Suhendra came onstage.
Suhendra gave true meaning to the virtuosity and improvisation that constitutes the heart of all great jazz. Every extended and meandering solo from the musicians, including keyboardist Dwiki Dharmawan and drummer Budi Haryono, roused an obligatory -- yet no less enthusiastic -- applause from the audience.
And when the show was over, the pleased concertgoers wasted no time in scurrying and scrambling their way out of the hall to another venue for a different performance.
Contrary to the widely held belief that jazz music is confined to a small, intimate audience, specifically mature ones, the younger generation made up the bulk of the crowd who came to see the jazz maestros.
Young men and women in the latest fashion trends and hairdos shuffled around the venues, hurriedly making their way to see various artists, some of whom they had never heard of before.
"I know Deodato, and I came to his concert because I wanted to see how he performed live," a young jazz fan told The Jakarta Post when asked if he knew of the Brazilian musician who was performing as a headline act in the Saturday line-up.
A number of teen idols ranging from television soap opera actresses to music channel presenters also put in an appearance at the festival, mingling with other like-minded concertgoers.
Deodato's, however, also revealed a grave flaw the festival organizers had failed to mend from the day before: several concert halls had substandard sound systems with the bass turned up so high that it drowned out entire shows. Delayed performances were thus a norm of the festival.
The organizers were lucky that the audience was polite and patient -- unlike those die-hard rock fans notorious for their penchant for throwing stones and breaking glass.
The audience for the Deodato gig were willing to wait over an hour before the stage was finally ready for his evening performance. They sat idly on the stage, made no rowdy provocations, and only booed half-heartedly, when several people spoke aloud about their impatience and frustration.
When the Brazilian group finally appeared with a spontaneous beat of thunderous percussion, the crowd broke out immediately into an applause of appreciation and welcome.
Deodato's Latin origin was not obvious during the show, except for the energetic percussionist, who danced vigorously in between his rhythmic pounding on the drums.
Despite the shortcomings, the audience, who had been deprived of noteworthy music festivals in the past few years, seemed to be grateful -- and gracious -- anyway.
"The festival is great. We've enjoyed it so far. And I think we should have this annually," concertgoer Affan told the Post.
The best thing about the festival is that the performers and the audience forged an excellent bond, as happens naturally when entertainers and fans come together over a shared love.