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Dewa Budjana: Joged Kahyangan

Geannine Reid By

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Dewa Budjana: Dewa Budjana: Joged Kahyangan Guitarist, composer and producer Dewa Budjana is from Waikabubak, West Sumba, Indonesia. Budjana has been building a collection of jazz-inspired works and CDs, while also playing and composing for the rock band Gigi. Budjana's influences are varied and he has always infused the traditional sounds Indonesia no matter what genre he is exploring. Budjana's ability to bring together rock and jazz has firmly established his position as one of Indonesia's top guitarists.

Budjana's courageous investigation of blending jazz with the traditional sounds of Indonesia emerged early on in his career and is evident in his group, Nusa Damai. The group focuses on the sounds of Javanese and Balinese gamelan (traditional musical ensemble) and its name would later become the title of his first solo album. Budjana has earned his fame as the founding member of Gigi, which has released 24 albums to date, and considered one of the biggest pop/rock bands in Indonesia.

Budjana's solo career started in 1997 with the release of Nusa Damai, followed by Gitarku (2000) , with its meditative sounds, and Samsara (2003), in which Budjana collaborated with the Grammy-winning Peter Erskine (drums), the late Dave Carpenter (bass) and Ernie Adams (drums). A tribute album for the Asian tsunami victims, Home (2006) was released in collaboration with Erskine, Carpenter and bassist Reggie Hamilton. Budjana's compositions consistently focus on incorporating jazz, pop and traditional sounds to produce music that is personal yet universal.

A biography titled Gitarku, Hidupku, Kekasihku (My Guitar, My Life, My Lover) and a concert DVD of the same title were released in 2008. Together with Indonesian guitarists Balawan and Tohpati, Budjana formed Trisum, earning the reputation of being the home of the jazz guitar gods. With Trisum he released First Edition (2006), Five in One (2010) and a concert DVD.

Budjana's fifth album, Dawai in Paradise, marked Budjana's MoonJune Records debut and was released in February 2013. Dawai in Paradise is a progressive blend of jazz and world music featuring Peter Erskine, Dave Carpenter, Howard Levy (harmonica), Indra Lesmana (keyboards) and Ade Irawan (piano).

Joged Kahyangan (Dances of Heaven) was recorded on June 7th 2012 at Firehouse Recording Studios, Pasadena, CA. and is Budjana's second MoonJune release. The CD features a collaboration, again, with Peter Erskine, alongside Bob Mintzer (sax), Jimmy Johnson (bass) and Grammy-nominated Larry Goldings (piano). A special selection features lyrics and vocals from Grammy-winning singer Janis Siegel of the The Manhattan Transfer.

Kahyangan is the Indonesian word for "heaven." Naturally, it is believed to be a place of great beauty, which is very much indicative of the music throughout the project. Budjana's fluid guitar work always dances between notes and spaces, letting the music breathe. The compositions are all logical journeys that infuse world, jazz and pop/rock into a flowing organic collection of tunes performed by a group of connected, listening musicians.

"Dang Hyang Story" starts with a minor melody over a dramatic sequence of open chords (no thirds, just roots and fifths). The phrasing conveys the shifting time, which mostly consists of 10/8 (6/8 and 4/8) in a natural way with Erskine's drum work providing a substantial rhythmic pulse that keeps everything moving forward. Budjana's warmly distorted guitar blends very nicely with Mintzer's sax for the A section. The bridge finds Mintzer playing the melody, with Budjana switching to a cleaner tone, layering chordal work over a driving 6/8 pulse. The A section follows, leading to a wonderful piano solo by Goldings. Goldings slowly builds his single note flurries, accompanied by cleanly strummed, funky style guitar pads and the big sound of Johnson's pristine lines. Budjana's solo starts with a clear development of motifs and rhythms, with clean articulation and logical statements. Erskine's solo is musical and is backdropped by the 10/8 main theme from the A section. The B section is stated again with a solo from Mintzer over the B sections harmonic movement moved up and over a nice 6/8 pulse. Mintzer make a beautiful statement over the short section which flows back into the recapitulation.

Joged Kahyangan is a very enjoyable collection of compositions that have a fresh sound and feel to them with a core of musicality. The ensemble is tight and the production work is very nice. This is a fine addition to the MoonJune Records library and their heavy hitting roster of guitar players.


Track Listing: Foggy Cloud; Joged Kahyangan; Dang Hyang Story; As You Leave My Nest; Majik Blue; Erskoman; Guru Mandala; Borra’s Ballad.

Personnel: Dewa Budjana: guitar, synth guitar; Larry Goldings: Hammond organ, acoustic piano; Bob Mintzer: tenor and soprano saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet; Jimmy Johnson: bass guitar; Peter Erskine: drums; Janis Siegal: vocal (4).

Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Moonjune Records | Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


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