March 7, 2009 / 5:08 AM / 10 years ago

Indonesia's Java Jazz festival gets into swing

JAKARTA (Reuters Life!) - Indonesia’s capital has opened one of the world’s biggest jazz festivals, with up to 80,000 visitors expected to cheer 220 local and international acts over three days, organizers say.

Any concerns over the impact of the global financial crisis on the 5th annual Java Jazz festival appear to have been misplaced, with some visitors complaining about the crowds at Friday’s festival launch.

“It’s the renowned jazz artists that are on the line-up,” said Dinesh Sharma, 28, a Malaysian music fan who flew in from Kuala Lumpur to attend the event.

This year’s line up includes international acts like Jason Mraz, Laura Fygi, Dianne Reeves, Swing Out Sister and Brian McKnight, as well as 150 local acts.

The chaotic Indonesian capital is not usually known for hosting many major concerts or other events, and some visitors complained of difficulties getting to the venue in a city notorious for bad traffic and little public transport.

“There are too many people, I had to go round and round one-and-a-half hours before I found parking, but the artists they offer were great,” said local fan Yulvia Suman at a performance by Matt Bianco.

The festival is spread over 19 stages with 70-80 performances a day in the cavernous Jakarta Convention Center.

The price of a three-day pass that excludes many of the international acts is 850,000 rupiah ($70.89), prohibitive for many in a country where millions live on less than $2 a day.

“The appetite is amazing. We didn’t expect it,” said Eki Puradiredja, the festival’s program coordinator.

He dismissed concerns over security. Indonesia has been hit by bombings by Islamist militants in the capital and in Bali but there have been no major attacks for more than three years.

Another Malaysian fan, Martin Dass, praised the festival.

“I’ve been coming here since 2005 (and it) never fails,” he said. “To put all this sound together and there are so many bands. It’s awesome.”

Editing by Ed Davies

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