The 5th Ubud Village Jazz Festival: Embracing the Beautiful Minds Behind Jazz

Starting next month, Bali will play host to all sorts of music festivals, and if jazz is your thing, then you wouldn’t want to skip the fifth round of Ubud Village Jazz Festival. Since it first debuted in 2013 as a “community concert” involving artists communities in the artistic air of Ubud now the festival has attracted bigger talents in the jazz world that deservedly made it one of the hottest anticipated events of the year. We talked to Astrid Sulaiman, one of the co-founders and celebrated pianist, about what to expect from this year’s festival.
So what do you think sets Ubud Village Jazz Fest apart from other jazz festivals?
We want our festival to be specific in terms of music content. We all agree that jazz music is always moving forward, trying to follow and to adapt to many music genres. But still, it has very strong roots which a jazz musician must know and have as milestones to their jazz artistry. If you go to a reggae, rock or country music festival, your expectation is to see a specific kind of music, right? Well, sadly, these days not many jazz festivals will simply meet this kind of expectation of jazz enthusiasts anymore. Even worse, some jazz festivals cannot even tell which is jazz and which is not jazz (or perhaps they don’t even care). For business reasons, they bring too many artists whose musical roots have nothing to do with jazz. The bottom line: if other genres can be specific at their festivals—why not jazz?
Are there any changes in terms of concept or theme since the first Ubud Jazz Fest?
After five years I think Ubud Village Jazz Festival is getting more well known among jazz musicians and jazz enthusiasts around the world. We get tons of emails from both local and international artists submitting their proposals. So far, the festival went well so we don’t think it is necessary to make any changes in terms of concept. We are still happy to be a community-based and self-funded festival, involving many local Bali creative people.
How many visitors are you hoping to target for this year?
Luckily, the visitors are increasing year by year. Last year there were about 3000 visitors. I believe it’s expected to hit 3500 this year.
Can you tell us about the performers and what to expect from the festival this year?
The line-up will include musicians from nine different countries: Indonesia, Austria, Australia, USA, Germany, The Netherlands, France, Czech Republic, and Spain. Highlight artists, Gerald Clayton Trio, have won Grammy Awards several times and they are well-known worldwide. They will surely be a magnet to the festival. And also there is a Big Band from the Jazz Academy from Dortmund, Germany. This is a collaboration between tutors and students, a project that is meant to be a bridge for both countries in terms of cultural exchange. We have many other great groups who have their own signature sounds and their performance should not be missed. The festival will be held from 3.30 to 11.30 at ARMA Ubud, with a bonus program being the one-hour only Free Flow Sangria by our wine sponsors. Various culinary and beverages booths will be ready to serve guests and there will also be showcases of local products from the Ministry of Cooperation and Small and Medium Enterprises.
Can you elaborate on the meaning of this year’s theme “Beautiful Music for Beautiful Mind”?
Jazz is not only about music—it’s about a fight for freedom, about tolerance and working together despite all differences. It is the most genuine form of democracy. It is indeed a beautiful music that embraces equality since it was born in the late 19th century. People who understand the roots will surely feel the beauty of this music, and surely embrace the same philosophy and these people, undoubtedly, have beautiful minds.
Do you think Ubud Village Jazz Fest caters only to jazz lovers, or anyone can enjoy it?
Anyone can enjoy, any beautiful minded people can enjoy, hahaha.
Don’t miss the 5th Ubud Village Jazz Festival when it played on August 11-12 at ARMA Ubud.
Photo Credit: Phalayasa Sukmakarsa

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