Kua Etnika at Jazz Gunung

It was Sigit Pramono, President Director of state-owned Bank Negara Indonesia and chairman of The National Banks Association (Perbanas), who crafted the idea of organizing a Jazz event at Tengger's soil that gave the birth of the first Jazz Gunung last Saturday, July 25, 2009. He's also known as skilled photographer and had published his impressive works in a book titled Bromo, the Majestic Mystical Mountain.

Whatever his intention was (rebranding Bromo or anything else), organizing an open air music event at Tengger during that best period of time to visit Bromo with only two months preparation is certainly a brilliant idea.

The event had given Apey, a friend from blogosphere, a good reason to go to Bromo again. Her encouragement convinced me to join her, even though I felt that I had no stamina to climb Bromo. It was me actually who asked her long time ago to accompany me going to Bromo, after seeing her impressive Bromo's photos. Jazz Gunung made the trip materialized.

Ohm Ulun Basuki Langgeng, heartfelt greetings by Tengger's people, were spoken a couple of times that day to show respect to local culture of the Javanese Hindu community that dominate the Tengger tribe. The Tenggerese are believed to be the descendants of Majapahit princes, Roro Anteng and Joko Seger, according to local legend.


It was the second time that I watched a live performance of Kua Etnika, led by Djaduk Ferianto, younger brother of artist and comedian Butet Kertaredjasa. The first one was when Jaduk shared the stage at Konser Kebangsaan in August 24, 2007, with Leo Kristi, Syaharani, Sherina and other artists at Balai Sarbini, Jakarta, sponsored by Perbanas. So it was not a coincidence that Sigit chose Butet, Jaduk and Kua Etnika to perform at the Jazz Gunung, only this time there was Trie Utami as the guest female vocalist.


The first composition played by the group, titled Dunau, was created by Purwanto during the group's trip to Budapest, Hungary, in April 2004. Purwanto was one of Kua Etnika founders, besides Djaduk, Butet and some others. The group was established at the city of Yogyakarta in 1995. Trie Utami's vocal that brought the nuance of thick Sundanese pitches filled in the air while she's dancing with Jaipongan style. The second composition was Gandekan with a thick Chinese flavor, created by Indra Gunawan.


Djaduk, a talented musician, played a couple of different musical instruments, both with his hands and lips, both traditional as well as modern instruments.
The group played several compositions created by Djaduk, three of them were inspired by his trip to Tengger, titled Bromo, Nirwana and Matahari.


Trie Utami, younger sister of renowned musician and composer Purwa Tjaraka, showed her class as a senior and experienced Jazz vocalist.



Djaduk was quite instrumental in orchestrating the group. He also proofed that Jazz can be played by anybody by collaborating his music with traditional music of Ketimplung from Wonotoro village. The composition seemingly was just created a day before.


Purwanto, who has already been familiar with Javanese music since a kid, played traditional Javanese instruments named bonang, klunthung and sometimes rebab.


Trie Utami was seen singing in a "duel" with a saxophonist playing Kupu Tarung (Butterfly Fight) composition.


I Nyoman Cau Arsana contributed a composition, titled Mademenan, the only composition played that day with unique Balinese flavor. The group left the stage, only to come back a few seconds later at the request of the audience.


It was almost dark, the lamps were lighted, and in the chilly weather Kua Etnika played a lively composition of Ronggeng.


Trie Utami grabbed some of the spectators who followed her to an open area in front of the stage to dance with her to warm up their freezing bodies following the music.


Very soon the space was filled with people, including Yenny Wahid, who cheered and danced, following the last vibrant composition derived from the popular Kopi Dangdut song.

Let's hope that there'll be another Jazz Gunung Festival next year, with more Jazz groups and with the real Bromo-Batok-Semeru gorgeous view as background.
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