Jazz, born sometime between 1890 to 1935 from the spiritual cadences and work songs of black slaves in the heart of Dixie. Jazz, a music that has spawned a range of subgenres and found footholds around the world, hit the stage in Jakarta last week with a vengeance.
The 5th annual Java Jazz Festival hosted 19 stages of simultaneous performances by more than 70 international artists. And what a mix! There was more diversity in this line-up than I have seen at any other venue.
The musicians included Oleta Adams, a State-side singer who combines gospel, R&B, and pop. She would have been right at home at the New Orleans’ Jazz and Heritage Festival. But then there was Prasada, who whipped up the crowd with his Jimmy Hendricks guitar style, while dressed in a floor length tunic common in his native India. Not to mention Cristian Cuturruffo, a Chilean trumpeter who blew our socks off. But it was while I was listening to the conga drummer from Quasimode, a hip group from Japan, that it hit me. Here I was in Jakarta watching Americans, Chileans, Indians, Japanese, Mexicans, Indonesians, and a host of others engrossed in music that emerged from the swamps of the southern States and the heartache of an enslaved people.
Just imagine what one of those ancestors would have thought if they could have foreseen what I witnessed last weekend. It reminded me to never underestimate the ability of time to create positive change and the unity of our global soul.
Image from Quasimode's website