Intro: The Surinam-born jazz singer Denise Jannah has lived for many years in the Netherlands. She studied singing at the Hilversum music academy. She frequently performs in the Netherlands and abroad, has won several awards, and has already recorded 7 CDs. On her latest CD, Gedichten Gezongen(2004), she brings Dutch, Surinam, South African, Antillean, and even Indonesian poetry. Her performance in Indonesia includes a selection of this work. Denise jannah will be accompanied by an ensemble with guitar, bass guitar, percussion drums, and piano.
I've never heard anything about Denise Jannah before. Last Sunday evening was the first time I knew and saw her performance. As usual, the YPKIB (the Indonesian-Dutch Education & Cultural Committe) sends me a notification of every concert they have here in Surabaya. So, I got it like 2 weeks ago. I usually go to all the events held by YPKIB with Carla, as she's the one who's taking a Dutch class there, but last time was different. Carla was in Jakarta for a Dutch singing Competition. So, I went with Valens instead.
I was 5 minutes late from the agreed time as I had to attend a family gathering to celebrate an aunt's b'day. Valens was already there, at Cak Durasim, when I arrived. But, I wasn't late for the show. So, we directly got into the building, signed our names on the guest's book, then entered the concert room. There weren't many people inside, unlike the previous concerts I've seen. Valens and I wondered why, but didn't discuss much about it. As soon as we were seated in the middle row, we started to talk about various things.
The concert started at 8 p.m, which was 30 minutes late from the show time written on the invitation. I told Valens that Denise and her band must have heard about how much Indonesians "appreciate" time that they are always late for everything :) Well, it's certainly not something to be proud of. I hope I'm not in that category :p
So, more and more people were coming as the concert started. All the lights, except the ones on the stage, were turned off. The MC gave an opening speech, and then asked us to give a big applause as Denise came on stage. She was wearing a loose big orange dress, which reminded me of Jamaican female singers. She looked quite different from the pic I saw on the invitation card. I think she's more beautiful in real. She looked friendly and kind, too.
The members of her band showed up not long after her. There were 3 men. They're Taco Nieuwenhuizen Segaar on contrabas, Bart Fermie on percussion, and Wolf Martini on guitar. After an opening speech from Denise and an introduction on her band members, she opened the show with a song called "Ra".
The concert was divided into 2 sessions. As song by song was sung, I liked her music more and more. She read some poems, told us the illustration of each song in Dutch and English, and made some jokes to live up the show. I loved the way she expressed herself and her moves when she was reading the poems. I would say she's very talented.
I'm still impressed on how she drove the audience mood. She mixes jazz with some other kinds of music, like samba, reggae, latin, pop, and ballad. Most of the songs she sang were in Dutch, which of course I don't understand. But, she always told us the story of each song, both in English and Dutch, so at least those who don't know Dutch would understand what it was all about. I liked and enjoyed all the songs much. I'm sure most of the people inside the building were too, for so many clapped their hands loudly almost everytime she finished a song...even some whistled. I also heard some people sitting near me commenting on what a great singer she is and how beautiful her voice is. I couldn't agree with them more.
The poems she read mostly talked about love and relationship, but she also highlighted nature, life, and people. Everything was just impressive. All her band members played well. I loved how Bart Fermie played all the instruments around him, Taco Nieuwenhuizen Segaar showed his skill, and Wolf Martini played his strings. They all made a perfect collaboration.
To me, Denise's concert is the best Dutch jazz musician I've ever seen. It's just totally amazing and cool. However, too bad that I didn't bring enough money to buy her CD, while in fact YPKIB rarely have a CD selling session after every concert they have held so far.
What a great Sunday evening! Valens drove me home in his car. I was very glad that I didn't have to waste money for taxi fare, hehehe.... Thanks Lens!