Jazz Gunung 2014
A Jazz Event with a 2000 Meter Altitude
Sigit Pramono, the main organizer of Jazz Gunung said, “Java Jazz might be the hippest jazz event in Indonesia, but I’m here to say that Jazz Gunung is the highest Jazz event ever”. A statement that is supported by Butet Kertaredjasa, an artistas well as one of the Jazz Gunung’s organizers, “Jazz Gunung is like a prayer – a spiritual experience. We see the stars in altitude, feel the cold, it helps us remember God. You’ll probably only remember the governor being in attendance when you watch Jazz in Kemayoran.” Even without all of these grandiose declarations, most people know Jazz Gunung is an exceptional music event.
The reason why Jazz Gunung is so special can be seen the moment we set foot in the venue. Jazz Gunung is held in an amphitheater located on a cliff in Wonotoro village Probolinggo, East Java, about 30 minutes drive before Mount Bromo’s summit. At an altitude of 2000 meters from sea water, the fresh air, the beautiful scenery, the pretty decorated stage – it is clear that the main selling point of this Jazz Gunung event is the majestic atmosphere.
After its first event was held in Java Banana hotel’s yard in 2009, Jazz Gunung developed into an important jazz event in Indonesia and with it, the event’s popularity. The venue was then moved to a larger amphitheatre with a greater capacity. With the number of seats that are greater each year.
This time, the theme of Jazz Gunung is “Alms the Earth through Harmony”. In addition to underlining the spiritual experience of enjoying jazz, Jazz Gunung 2014 also emphasizes the importance of the “earth alms” element. One of Jazz Gunung’s goals is to help promote tourism in Bromo. As stated by Sigit Pramono “at this time, foreign tourists see the concept of Indonesian tourism only as a 3B: Borobudur (Solo, Yogyakarta and Magelang), Bromo and Bali. They spend most of their time in Borobudur and Bali, and when they are in Bromo, they only spend one day there just to see the sunrise. That’s too bad, because Bromo has a lot of other sights that should be seen as well “.
A commitment that is maintained consistently by the event organizer. As Jazz Gunung goes underway, the surrounding community celebrates the event as well. The local tourism department organizes an exhibition of artworks from the Bromo Tengger area. All the hotels in the area are fully booked. Local residents also celebrate while walking around the venue. “It is very different, Jazz Gunung makes this area more festive, it’s usually very quiet out here.” said a local resident.
In addition to helping develop tourism in the Bromo area, Jazz Gunung also has a desire to change the mindset of the national musician. “We are often embarrassed by the many local musicians who wants to go international. Why should they? That aspiration is flawed, after all, Indonesia is also part of the international community, right? Our hope is to reverse that mentality. We hope that Jazz Gunung will become a benchmark for international musicians who want to get to an international level, that the ones that have never played in the Jazz Gunung does not simply get the international level.”
June 20, 2014, the first day of Jazz Gunung opened with a dance and Gamelan performance by Tengger. Then followed by a fitting opener: Monita Tahalea and the Nightingales. Monita crisp vocal sound perfect as it is being reproduced by the sound system. An opening act that can represent how serious quality control is implemented in this Jazz Gunung event.
The fog began to gather when dusk comes, and becomes so dense as night. At the times when Ring of Fire Project featuring Nicole Johanntgen play, the visibility is only about 3 meters. Instead of being a nuisance, the dense fog provides a mystical atmosphere that rings true to the statement that Jazz Gunung is a spiritual experience.
On Saturday, June 21, 2014, more jazz enthusiasts are coming. The seats have been filled since the afternoon, and as more spectators arrive, some are even willing to stand up to watch the performances. A total of approximately 1500 people attended Jazz Gunung’s second day. Spectators come from all ages, ranging from the typical jazz lovers, middle-aged men, young adults, to children. Jazz Gunung has become an attractive holiday option for families. Jazz Gunung has also become inspiration for organizing music concerts, especially for jazz events nationwide. Event like Lumpia Jazz Semarang (jazz event organized with a strong cultural adaptation of Semarang’s Chinese culture), and Banyuwangi Jazz Beach festival is an example of how Jazz Gunung already made its impact locally.
There is, though, a flaw in Jazz Gunung 2014. The curation of acts in Jazz Gunung 2014 is a little disappointing – somewhat incomparable to the high quality of the venue and audio production. The wide musical boundaries of jazz may be one thing that underlies this loose curatorial process. How The Overtunes can become one of the performers in Jazz Gunung 2014 will be one of the most often asked questions by the media to the organizers. Even if The Overtunes’ appearance widens Jazz Gunungs audience, will it compromise the quality of Jazz Gunung?
Sigit Pramono stated several times that the committee had difficulty in getting sponsors to fund the Jazz Gunung event. Widening the target market is probably one of the organizers answer to deal with the lack of interest from sponsors. But when it begins to interfere with the curation and quality of the music, then they should start thinking about other ways to get funding. The main strength of this Jazz Gunung is its serene atmosphere, and it is something that should be explored further by the organizers.
It’s hard not to imagine Jazz Gunung start opening their door for bands like; Tomorrow People Ensemble, White Shoes and The Couples Company, Sore, Risky Summerbee and The Honey Thief, or even Tigapagi, to play in the Java Banana amphitheater with such sound quality. Who knows, with the increasing quality of the performers, it will also increase the value of the Jazz Gunung brand itself.