Malacca Strait Jazz Green Festival: Riau, Sumatra

As Jakarta prepares for the upcoming Java Jazz festival, it appears jazz fever has spread beyond the capital, reaching as far as Riau province. A jazz festival called The Malacca Strait Jazz Green Festival is scheduled be held, with support from the provincial administration, on June 5-7. Popular local artists will fly to Riau for the festival, including guitarist Dewa Budjana and friends, Donny Suhendra Trio, Canzo, Sherly’O, Andien, Rieka Roslan & Troubadours, Zefanya H & the Uncles, Koko Harsoe, Djogdja Mood Jazz and Jon Gazali.

Carrying environmental messages, the festival will also present young artists, including talented 11-year-old pianist Zefanya and his band The Uncle as A. Junaidi explains.

The festival, marking its second year, was inspired by local band Geliga, which has performed jazz with an ethnic Malay touch in many festivals, including last year’s Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival.

“We combine Jazz with Malay musical elements. We want to introduce Malay culture to Indonesian people and the world,” Gusrianto, Geliga’s bassist, said in a press conference in Jakarta.

Riau scholar and the festival supervisor, Yusmar Yusuf, said jazz as global music could be used as a media to attract international attention to the Malay culture.

“In this globalization era, we want to use jazz to promote our culture,” he said.
Yusmar hoped the festival would attract a local and foreign audience, especially from neighboring countries, such as Malaysia and Singapore.

He said the festival was expected to complement the existing Singapore Jazz Festival, in Singapore, and the Penang Jazz Festival, in Malaysia.

As well as performances from bands and musicians, the festival’s committee will also hold discussions and coaching clinics to introduce jazz to young musicians.

Last year, the first Malacca Strait Jazz Festival, which was held to commemorate the province’s 50th anniversary, was praised by music critics as one of the best jazz festivals organized and staged outside of Jakarta.

The provincial administration has pledged to support the jazz festival by including it in its annual tourism program, as well as the government-sanctioned Visit Indonesia Year 2008 program.