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Dewa Budjana: Joged Kahyangan

Glenn Astarita By

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Every so often a major pop artist steps out of the loop and shows the world another side of his or her technical acumen and penchant for executing within a more demanding, if not less commercially viable art-form. Drummer Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones is a noteworthy example with his jazz big-band recordings, for example. A similar paradigm applies to Indonesian guitarist Dewa Budjana via his affiliation with the multi-platinum selling Indonesian pop/rock group Gigi. And to summon jazz heavyweights, drummer Peter Erskine and multi-woodwind ace Bob Mintzer for support, it is a safe bet that you'll need to possess the requisite goods to stand among such veritable warriors. However, Budjana's follow-up to Dawai In Paradise (Moonjune, 2013) leans a little more towards the contemporary jazz playbook along with a few strategically rendered nods to his indigenous roots

Budjana shows restraint, a genial touch, and dishes out scorching crunch chords, climactically designed solo licks and trades hearty fours with Mintzer. And on "Joged Kahyangan," Larry Goldings' lush piano work and Budjana's placid acoustic guitar lines bear an endearing melody, topped off by bassist Jimmy Johnson's sinuous solo, framed upon the primary theme. Moreover, the ensemble engages in sprightly jazz improv as drummer Peter Erskine gingerly ups the ante with snappy rim- shots and brisk snare and cymbals work.

The artists interconnect many passages with jazz-fusion fare, but Manhattan Transfer vocalist Janis Siegel guests and lowers the temperature on the wistful ballad, "As You Leave My Nest." With the following piece "Majik Blue," Budjana tears it up on electric and gradually increases the pitch, highlighted by Mintzer's gusty sax voicings. Elsewhere, the guitarist morphs Indonesian folk into cheery jazz-shaded treatments and struts his stuff atop weighty rock pulses. Budjana closes the program with the tender ballad "Borra's Ballad," lightly paced by Erskine's ever-so-soft brushes and Goldings' crisp organ solo.

Budjana is a painter; a badass fuzoid and prog-rock shredder and a proficient jazz guitarist who can hang with the best of them. He possesses a broad vernacular and is by no means a one- dimensional artist, as he places more emphasis on compositional form, cogently evidenced throughout this delightful album.

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).

Title: Joged Kahyangan | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Moonjune Records


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