Selasa, 07 April 2009

Jazz Cafe Ubud

Located on the verdant slopes of South Central Bali, Ubud is well known as the island's historical center for music and art. A place where cultural tourism thrives and where many go to escape the hectic streets of Seminyak and Kuta; from traditional gamelan orchestras to cozy bars and their lounge soundtracks, music is a popular aspect of Ubud. And located on Jl. Sukma, Tebesaya, is a live music venue that is dedicated to a special musical niche. Well known to both residents and tourists alike since its inception 10 years ago, the Jazz Café is an Ubud favorite that presents live Jazz (and it's many derivatives) 5 nights a week in a very relaxed and loungy atmosphere.

Jazz Café, "The Original Jazz Venue," is the brainchild of 44 year-old Balinese owner and musician, Agung Wiryawan, who opened the popular spot with purely personal intentions. Not ones motivated by profit, but just for the music and to have space where he and his friends could jam acoustically to their hearts content. Certainly what one might expect from a music-loving musician who grew up in a family of traditional Balinese players and dancers. Self-taught, but unable to read music, Agung learned to play guitar by emulating the likes of his six-string American folk idols, Bob Dylan and Neil Young, by listening to their cassette recordings passed down from his brother. Honing his skills throughout the early 90's in towns from Candidasa to Sanur, he had to take a break after an accident severed his tendons and while heartbroken and frustrated, he learned open tuning slide guitar techniques that saved his sanity. And then in December 1996, he opened Jazz Café and virtually through simple word of mouth, the venue has enjoyed enormous popularity since day one.

The flyer for Jazz Café is a simple black and white design that advertises "unique cuisine, creative cocktails, great music" with a list of famous Jazz artists' names listed on faded grey backdrop. Herbie Hancock, Thelonius Monk, Nina Simone, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and scores of others. And the concept of Jazz Café is as simple as the flyer itself. Live jazz presented in a classy, yet relaxed, environment for the enjoyment of locals, ex-pats, and tourists alike, and also while providing excellent original cuisine choices worthy of a proper supper club, exotic cocktails, and wines from every major region.

The food at Jazz Café is primarily Asian with a generous selection of starters, mains, pizza, pasta and desserts that range reasonably from Rp. 22,000 to 73,000. Begin with a first course of Balinese Tuna Fish Salad or Crisp Tofu Tempura with Roasted Peanut Soy Dressing. And then for a main course, choose from sumptuous options such as Seared Tuna Teriyaki, Coconut Coated Chicken Breast with Yellow Curry, or Thai Crispy Vegetable Stir Fry with Toasted Cashews and Shitake Mushrooms. Finish up the meal with homemade desserts that range from Wicked Chocolate Truffle Cake with Coconut Cream to Ginger and Orange Crème Brulee. If only stopping by for drinks and a show, Jazz Café's cocktails are as adventurous as their music concepts and with names that share the theme: The Blues Colada, Mango Dixie, Java Jive, Swell Ella, or Cool Louis. Their signature drink, however, is the lethal Mega-Margarita, which comes in several varieties and served in very large glasses.

Jazz Café's design is quite perfectly conducive to lounging and listening. The main room consists of a traditionally shaped Balinese alang-alang roof that is set a bit lower so as to provide a more ambient feel. The small stage is opposite the bar and has numerous table settings that face it a la traditional Jazz bar arrangement. Past the main floor is an elevated area where black and white upholstered cushions surround 4 low tables with an unobstructed view of the stage. And then beyond the room is an outdoor area that consists of a lush garden with elevated bale areas and more low tables and cushions. On any given weekend night, the entire seating areas full and those unfortunate to be without a reservation are forced to enjoy from their bar seats, or even stand as has often been the case.

Musicians from such disparate countries as America, Denmark, and Japan have all stopped by Jazz Café to perform or engage in a jam session, but regularly scheduled bands are presented from Tuesday through Saturday from 8 – 10:30 pm (bar remains open late after performances). Tuesdays feature the soprano saxophone talents of Joe Rosenburg (USA); Wednesdays are controlled by the "Buena Terra" band and their Latin vibe; Thursdays presents the jazzy "For Free Band;" Fridays are for the acoustic Latin sounds of "Compass;" and Saturdays highlight the talents of owner, Agung's own band, "Bali Blues Band" and their popular repertoire of original and cover numbers. And by June 2006, Jazz Café will also be featuring monthly special band events. Even on Sundays, Mondays, and before and after the featured band, the quality music selection doesn't quit. Customers can always hear Django Reinhardt's guitar work, Billie Holiday's sultry crooning, George Benson's slick scat, or Miles Davis' Be-Bop via the handpicked compilations that Agung puts together for the venue's hi-fi.

Whether a fusion, blues, swing, Latin, or classic fan of the genre, Jazz Café offers a very unique and enjoyable experience where one can dine, lounge, and listen to great music in a relaxed atmosphere while enjoying the aesthetic and cultural delights that Ubud has to offer.

Jazz Café also offers a free pick up service from hotels around Ubud

Jazz Café
Jl. Sukma 2 Tebesya, Ubud – Bali
TEL: (0361) 976 594



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