When the Island Goes Jazz


By Sahiri

Reverberating from the streets of Seminyak, the freestyling tune of jazz is probably the least expected sound to hear in Bali. But what not many people realize is that jazz is quite big here on the island, well at least amongst the genre’s musician and avid fan.

Back in 2016, a pint-sized jazz prodigy that goes by the name Joey Alexander made headlines when his piano-driven album garnered two Grammy nods for Best Improvised Jazz Solo and Best Jazz Instrumental Album. The now 14 years old Balinese pianist actually cuts his teeth playing in an open stage night at Ryoshi – House of Jazz, inarguably the most popular jazz joint in Bali. “He was here performing with veteran jazz musicians like Indra Lesmana and that kid drove him to his maximum potential!” says Ryoshi’s founder, Saigon Togasa.

The House of Jazz section of Ryoshi is truly devoted to real jazz, the kind that allows impromptu jamming and improvisation just like old jazz club of yore. Other than Indra Lesmana, household local names like Rio Sidik, Bali Gypsy Jazz, Balawan, and Erik Sondhy have made their mark here.

Other notable clubs in Bali are Paris Jazz Cat Club in Petitenget: it has a posher vibe and reminiscent of the sort of the underground jazz clubs from the western hemisphere, with cocktails bearing the names of jazz legends such as Miles Davis Negroni or Billie Holiday Strawberry. Oh they are equally intoxicating.

Bali Pocket Magazine