Balinese guitarist Dewa Budjana's seventh album on Moonjune Records, Naurora, revealsfor those who have not heard hima musician of seemingly unlimited talent and an artist in possession of an expansive vision. He has been called a "progressive fusion maestro" and, if he has to be labeled, that description feels right. Leading off with this disc's eleven-minute title tune, Budjanawho composed, arranged and produced the music herelays down huge, rich soundscapes in the company of a bunch of forward-looking allstars, including pianist Joey Alexander and guitarist, pianist & keyboardist Joey Alexander.
From start to finish, the music has a fusion-eque polish, featuring great bass work along the way from Ben Williams, Carlitos del Puerto and Jimmy Johnson, setting up grooves that drive Budjana's polished and accessible sound forward. On a first time meeting with a disc led by any guitarist, the expectation might be one of electric shredding in front of supportive but understated sidemen; but that is not to be with Naurora. The entire band shines in the collective soundscaping, with the leader standing out just a bit. Seamless sonic collages pervade, wide-ranging, luminescent walls of sound, interspersed with shifts into delicate intricaciesJoey Alexander's piano solo on "Sabana Sahanti," for example. All of this is backed by the crisp, tight drum work of Dave Weckl and Simon Phillips.
Budjana's soaring guitar work brings Jimi Hendrix to mindhad Hendrix survived the perils of his twenties and evolved as an artist. Budjana's orchestral soundscaping and positive energy might also make one think of guitarist Pat Metheny, with shadings of exotic (to Western ears) Balinese backdrops, on this brilliantly conceived and joyfully executed forty minutes of forward-looking music. .