Traffic ground to a halt yesterday on the approach roads at the start of the sixth annual Ubud Village Jazz Festival, held in the gardens of the Art Museum in Ubud, Bali. Set among the traditional structures and lush exotic plantings, melodic strains filled the terraces and three performance stages from 3 p.m. into the night. It’s definitely a popular two-day family affair, where enthusiastic locals meet international talent, with many opportunities to satisfy all the senses. Well organized, lit, marked and attended, the festival showed the best of the easygoing spirit and hospitality that characterizes life on this verdant isle.
Lucire encountered traditional cool jazz, scat-singing classicists, be-bop inspired three-piece sections, surprising ensembles and fusion sounds that don’t fit in any musical boxes. We loved the smooth style of the Komunitas Jazz Jombang sextet from East Java, whose very cool vocalist kept the crowd entranced with her seductive solos. Especially compelling was the performance on the main Giri stage by Insula, a Paris-based duo of Maher Beauroy and Redha Benabdallah. Their fusion of Martinique-inspired keyboards and rhythmic Algerian oud phrasing accompanied by a remarkable Javanese drummer had the audience mesmerized.
Between sets there was the opportunity to snap selfies, do some Instagram posts, or sample local fare, everything from traditional Indonesian style to vegan burgers to Indian tandoor. Coffee stands were everywhere. You could sip Balinese wines, or visit vendor booths to pick up hand-made jewellery, hand-made shoes from Jakarta and imprinted Festival swag. We discovered two outstanding flavours of all-natural Ademuy gelatos, Bali coffee and avocado (amazing!). We crunched happily on a bag of Tataro taro chips, and we couldn’t get enough of the Cho Jean san chocolate from the west end of the island—both raw and roasted beans and packaged bars—we’re hoping to visit their family farm and see how hand-made artisanal production happens.
The Festival delighted with its multitude of sounds, and the gardens and museum buildings provided a beautiful backdrop for a unique cultural event in this land of spirits and temples and welcoming people. Could it get any better? We even were interviewed by local TVRI television presenter Nana Viana!—Stanley Moss, Travel Editor