Prambanan Jazz Festival 2018 : The Temple of Jazz

Story By
Jim Gorjy

For three amazing days, Jazz was spread over Prambanan, one of the largest temple compounds in Indonesia. The festival, that was held between the 17th and 19th August 2018, featured two international headliners in Diana Krall and Boyzone. Indonesian headliners included the famous jazz guitarist Tohpati featuring Malaysias legendary pop singer Sheila Madjid, male jazzy-pop from Marcell and Rio Febrian, and the surprise project of Kahitran (Kahitna and Ran).

Prambanan Jazz is one of the biggest jazz shows in Indonesia, with two stages, the Hanoman Stage (festival stage) and the Rorojonggrang Stage (special show stage). The festival stage was the showcase for Indonesian jazz/pop performers with distinctive talent in jazz music and/or pop scene. Local artists and bands lined up such as Java Jive, Fariz RM, Kla Project, Tompi feat. Nadya Fathira, Indra Lesmana feat. Eva Celia, and Idang Rasjidi feat. Syaharani with reportedly more than 40,000 guests experiencing the 4th anniversary of Prambanan Jazz.

One of the unique shows saw GIGI playing their seven popular songs in new-jazzy arrangements with an additional piano player onstage. GIGI was never a stranger to jazz music as their guitarist, Budjana, is a jazz-guitar guru in Indonesia and international jazz artist. Playing a 45-minute set, the guys seemed to be having a good time rhyming and jamming jazzy tunes.

The star of the show was Diana Krall, a jazz musician who has long been awaited to perform in Indonesia. Over 13 songs and backed by trio guitar-bass-drum, Diana did not disappoint. Diana, who sings and plays piano, was on top form on every song she played, thrilling the audience. The crescendo came when she performed the song L. O. V. E. and the entire audience sang along with her. Expressing her amazement for the show, she told the audience “We had a fantastic time. I came from Canada to Jogja. It was a long journey. But it was worth it for you and the exquisite panorama of Prambanan.” She also went on to praise Prambanan Jazz as a world class event.

This 4th annual Prambanan Jazz was also a unique venue for Boyzone, on their last reunion concert tour. The boyband from Ireland (a phenomenon in late 90s) performed an impressive stage act with a vibe you could feel all around you. Truly stealing the show, the closing act dedicated the show to the Indonesian people and the late Stephen Gately, one of the band who sadly passed away in 2009. The four remaining members presented hit songs from the 90s, such as Love Me For A Reason, Love is A Hurricane, and Words. The boys also introduced a new song called Because from their forthcoming final album that is planned to be released in November 2018. Having got the crowd going, they performed two encores as the clock struck midnight, A Different Beat and Life is A Rollercoaster.

Besides the two international headliners, the collaboration projects between Indonesian musicians and singers were also magnifying shows, especially the Day 1 headliners: famous jazz musicians Tohpati feat. Sheila Madjid and senior-junior jazz-pop alliance Kahitna and Ran (Kahitran). On day 2, there was the father-daughter teamwork of Indra Lesmana feat. Eva Celia who performed six songs including a jazzy arrangement of the Dewa 19 hit song Tak Akan Ada Cinta Yang Lain and Indra’s past hit Sedalam Cintamu, and a jazz-pop partnership Tompi feat. Nadya Fathira on the festival stage. On day 3, pop rock band Dewa 19 featuring long time friend/vocalist Ari Lasso performed on the special show stage as opening for headliners Boyzone and full-blown jazz duo Idang Rasjidi feat. Syaharani hit the festival stage. Unique, memorable, nostalgic and joyful.

The 4th Prambanan Jazz 2018 was a celebration of music and culture. A satisfying event for jazz and pop enthusiasts, and easily one of the must-see jazz events in Indonesia. Mark your calender for next year event, be there and experience the culture of Jogja, the solemnity of Prambanan, the exquisite panorama, and all…that…jazz.