Ngayogjazz 2018

Mango fruits hanging over the main stage, ducks wandering through the pathways, grandpas watching as the preparations take place holding babies, thus begins the morning of Ngayogjazz Festival 2018. Each year Ngayogjazz takes place in a small village in the countryside of Jogjakarta, Indonesia. Aiming to pull jazz away from the high-class theatres and bars of the city, the festival moves through the streets and homes of the local community — free for anyone wanting to attend. People’s backyards become the home of Indonesia’s thriving jazz scene for one day, bringing local culture, traditions and jazz music fans all together.

As you walk around the village of Gilangharjo, there are small children practicing traditional dance on the Panggung Lurah stage, ibu-ibu (women of the village) preparing bakso and pecel to sell in carts, and a small boy starts hanging bags of gold fish in a tree for visitors to buy. The backdrop of the village is beautiful, with stages nestled amongst a maze of colourful houses, and clumps of bamboo with hand-woven lanterns guiding the path.

It is expected that around 30,000 people will attend the festival today. Far more than the population of 500 the village normally holds, and the excitement is palpable.

Pak Rido and Bu Indah have travelled to Ngayogjazz from the eastern city of Malang. This was the second time they’ve attended the festival and worth the seven hour drive to Jogja. Unlike other jazz festivals where the focus of the event is a only on the music and the fans who attend, Ngayogjazz is much more. Pak Rido explained how the festival puts the local community at the centre of the event. Catering for the festival comes directly from the villagers, who open up stalls in their front yards and all profits from the day are fed directly back into the community. Long term, the village, having given space to showcase its hospitality and traditions, often sees a rise in tourism or interest in products long after the festival itself has finished. For Pak Rido and Bu Indah, most importantly the festival opens up the genre of jazz to everyone, making music which some may consider inaccessible, accessible to everyone. ‘Jazz music,’ Pak Rido explains gesturing a wide arc with his hands, ‘expands the mind and opens creativity. Something that all people should enjoy.’

The line up this year has included an eclectic mix of local, national and international talent. performances have ranged from the velvety saxophone of Kika Sprangers and fellow international artists Ozma Quintet, to joyous Idang Rasjidi and His Next Generation, newcomers Magnitudo and everything in between.

Edited article from the Ngayogjazz website as part of their blogging team where I was asked to write a short series of posts about my experience of the festival. You can find the original at