In a couple of weeks, from November 23rd to 25th, Jakarta hosts the 9th JakJazz Festival.
Unfortunately, me and mine won’t be going due to the lack of a few million rupiah. This might yet change as the Department of Manpower has ruled that with regards to our case* claiming unfair (and strictly illegal) dismissal, along with my fellow colleague in distress and co-plaintiff, we remain on the payroll of our erstwhile employers. That’s thirteen month’s salary (and rising) plus ‘entitlements’ that we’re owed. Judging by a recent precedent set because other employers of expats prevaricated and appealed the legally binding decisions, we expect the compensation to be substantially greater.
From that point of view, my current deprivations are certainly bearable; I look upon unpaid salary as a savings account. This may well please you as I really want to get out of Jakarta and to be able to move up to West Sumatra where the banner at the top of this website will be the view from my studio. Farewell Jakartass, hello …..?
There is certainly a long way from the sights and sounds of the metropolis, but I doubt that I’ll miss them. The sights of Indonesia that I enjoy are generally green – the unfolding spreads of rice fields, of terraced as well as yet to be sculptured hills and places where a harmony of the senses is achieved, in love not war with the land. This may be hard to perceive, yet within seeming chaos patterns emerge, rhythms and varying cycles interweave.
And that is why I am a fan of the sounds of jazz and the music categorised as ‘world music’, which, in the words of Brian Eno, is constantly integrating and hybridising, where differences are celebrated and dignified.
Although this year’s JakJazz features showbiz stars such as Kool and His Gang and Spirogyra, there are some interesting collaborations mooted which I would be interested in checking out. For example, Luciano with Zarro is a cross-fertilisation between a Brazilian and an Indonesian, though who is what I’m not sure. The Joona Toivanen Trio from Finland will hopefully have some of the sensitivity about landscape so evident in the music of other Scandinavian musicians.
The best music is that which touches the soul and reflects our roots. The festival is dominated by Indonesian musos, some of great renown such as Bubi Chen, Indra Lesmana, Ermy Kullit and Kiboud Maulana. I hope that the many other local musicians stretch their musical boundaries and explore their possibilities.
One I’d certainly like to catch is Dewa Budjana who, in the words of my good friend Leonardo Pavkovic, is an amazing guitarist who has just made a great record featuring Dave Carpenter and Peter Erskine (drummer with Weather Report); the music was played and performed brillantly, with great compositions, but the sound is a bit too ‘American’. Too polite. I wish he could do more unpolite music, but he has a great career with Gigi and makes money.
Leonardo is proprietor of MoonJune Records in New York and recently released Patahan by Simak Dialog. I’ve got the CD and wish I’d known about their gig in Erasmus Huis where it was recorded, but apart from the very good interplay, I don’t really detect a local flavour to their music. The band, like me, are great fans of Pat Metheny and I know the keyboard player, Riza Arshad, was at the Pat Metheny gig in Jakarta in October 1995. So was I, but my listening has moved on since then.
The Joona Toivanen Trio from Finland is one group I’ve yet to hear, but they apparently have some of the sensitivity about landscape so evident in the music of other Scandinavian jazz musicians.
Their music is considered to be lyrical and elegant but equally strongly individual and daring and has its genesis in the Finnish nature and draws from the its rich epic and folk tradition. This is one of the most promising and talented young jazz ensembles coming out of Finland during the past 10 years. They have a skilful grip on the art of improvisation and know how to deliver a great mix of original compositions with superb musicianship, and do so at times with a melancholic Nordic vibe and often an air of gladness and joy is laced through their material.
It looks as if this is one treat I’ll miss – another ho hum moment.
*See posts It Doesn’t Cost Much 1-5 – read them in order, from the bottom upwards.