Takeshi Itoh of T-Square from Japan in action at Java Jazz 2020. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

In the Name of Groove: Java Jazz 2020

BY :JAYANTY NADA SHOFA

FEBRUARY 29, 2020

Jakarta. Java Jazz Festival has become an annual pilgrimage for many music fans in Indonesia, and not just for fans of jazz. 

Held at the JIExpo Kemayoran in Central Jakarta on Feb. 28-March 1, Java Jazz 2020 attracted thousands of music enthusiasts both young and old.

The festival featured local and international acts for the 16th year running and aside from a lot of incredible music, also offered a space where different cultures and musical traditions met. 

Nigerian singer, Keziah Jones in action during Java Jazz 2020. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Nigerian singer-songwriter Keziah Jones in action during Java Jazz 2020. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

One of the opening acts of the festival was Keziah Jones, a Nigerian singer-songwriter whose "Blufunk" – a fusion of blues and funk – put the audience in thrall.

T-Square guitarist Masahiro Andoh in his element. (JG Photo/Jayanty Nada Shofa)
T-Square guitarist Masahiro Andoh in his element. (JG Photo/Jayanty Nada Shofa)

Japanese fusion band T-Square meanwhile impressed the audience enough that they asked for an encore after a set bookended with "Truth," the current theme song for Formula 1. 

Madame & Toean vocalist, Rahma Sekar Savitri sings a song about nature during Java Jazz 2020 on Friday (28/02). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Madame & Toean's singer Rahma Sekar Savitri sings a song about the beauty of nature. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Bandung-based jazz band Madame & Toean, whose singer Rahma Savitri sings in both Sundanese and French, debuted a new single titled "Paris de Java" at the festival, aside from entertaining their fans with hits such as "L'arc en Ciel."

"L'arc en ciel means 'rainbow' in French. We need to appreciate differences, just as we do the seven-colored rainbow, in our society," Rahma said.

Walking Down Memory Lane

For others, the festival became an opportunity to reminisce about the good ol' times.

Erwin Gutawa and his band play a tribute song to Chrisye at Java Jazz 2020 in JIExpo Kemayoran in West Jakarta on Friday (28/02). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Erwin Gutawa and his band play a tribute to pop legend Chrisye. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Composer Erwin Gutawa and his big band resurrected pop legend Chrisye's old hits including "Hura-Hura" (Fun Fun), "Seperti Yang Kau Minta" (Just Like You Ask) and "Anak Sekolah" (School Kids).

Thirteen years after his untimely death, the audience's enthusiastic reaction showed that Chrisye's pop classics are timeless.  

Gutawa's performance incorporated video footage of Chrisye and his actual voice recordings, which made it seem at moments the '70s pop star was actually on stage.

Phil Perry performing his old hits on stage. (JG Photo/Jayanty Nada Shofa)
Phil Perry performing on stage. (JG Photo/Jayanty Nada Shofa)

American musician Phil Perry meanwhile decided to walk down the memory lane by reminiscing on the early years of his career.

"I remember walking home and seeing my mother dance to a Nat King Cole song with a broom," Phil said before singing his old hit "One Heart One Love."

Mateus Asato, Brazillian Guitar Hero

Mateus Asato and his signature rosy pink guitar from Suhr. (JG Photo/Jayanty Nada Shofa)
Mateus Asato and his signature rosy pink guitar from Suhr. (JG Photo/Jayanty Nada Shofa)

Brazilian rock guitarist Mateus Asato and his signature rosy pink guitar from Suhr also returned to Java Jazz this year.

"This is my second time at the festival. It's really cool how things have developed. I want to show how I've grown musically and career-wise over the past few years," Mateus told the Jakarta Globe on Saturday.

Unlike in 2018 when he played with Indonesian drummer Rafi Muhammad, the 26-year-old performed all on his own this year. 

"Hopefully, I'll get a chance to work with them [Indonesian musicians] again once I learn more about the Indonesian music scene. If there's a Java Jazz festival next year, I would definitely come again," Mateus said.

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