[Herald Review] Jarasum becomes island of jazz

By Im Eun-byel
  • Published : Oct 6, 2019 - 23:28
  • Updated : Oct 6, 2019 - 23:28

GAPYEONG, Gyeonggi Province -- The Jarasum International Jazz Festival took place from Friday to Sunday on Jarasum in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi Province.

The event, launched in 2004, is one of the most successful music festivals here. Hosted on a once-abandoned island, it has garnered a total of 2 million attendees over the years.


Attendees of the Jarasum International Jazz Festival enjoy music on the island of Jarasum in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi Province. (JJF)

On Friday, with the sun glaring, the 16th edition of the annual festival kicked off, featuring 121 artists, 15 overseas acts and eight local acts.

Gugak-inspired jazz band Black String was the first to grace the main stage. Creating modern contemporary jazz music based on traditional Korean melodies, the band has released two albums under ACT Music, a major jazz label in Europe, in a first for an Asian music act.

The four-piece band presented songs from its latest album, “Karma,” released in late September. While the crowd was somewhat familiar with the sounds of traditional instruments, it was interesting to see how the sounds blended with a jazzy vibe.

The band was followed by 4 Wheel Drive, a Swedish-German ensemble of four established jazz soloists. The ensemble, put together earlier this year, highlighted each member’s talent.

Drummer Wolfgang Haffner recalled his childhood memories by presenting “Lobito.” British singer Sting’s “Shadows in the Rain” covered by 4 Wheel Drive made the crowd sing along.

Later, Jon Clearly & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen, who visited the Jarasum Festival for the first time, went onstage. 

Keyboardist Jon Clearly plays at the Jarasum International Jazz Festival on Friday. (JJF)

Legendary British keyboardist Clearly paid homage to the home of jazz New Orleans with “Tipitina,” “Sometimes I wonder” and more. Playing the guitar, piano and synthesizer and singing, Clearly proved why he is a living legend.

Ozmosys ended off the long night. The quartet formed by legendary drummer Omar Hakim presented more traditional jazz music.

The next day, Cuban legend Oamr Sosa quarteto Afro Cubano and Matthew Whitaker Quartet took the stage. On Sunday, the festival organizers prepared a special performance featuring an ensemble of pianists -- Kim Kwang-min, Lim Mi-jung, Lee Ji-young and Ko Hee-an -- followed by pianist Terence Blanchard and the E-Collective.

Like the previous years, the festival had three stages: Jazz Island, Festival Lounge and Welcome Post. It is known for preparing separate stages for those who did not purchase tickets. The nearby areas turned into a picnic site for families.

At Welcome Post, the reception area, aspiring jazz musicians had the chance to showcase their talents to jazz enthusiasts.

Every year, the festival selects a guest nation and focuses on its jazz musicians. This year, Danish jazz artists were invited, such as Kalaha, The Danish Radio Big Band & Marilyn Mazur and Horse Orchestra. Next year’s guest nation will be Canada.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)