Review

DEWA BUDJANA Dawai in Paradise

Album · 2011 · World Fusion
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5/5 ·
kev rowland
Moonjune boss Leonardo Pavkovic has a real love for Indonesia, and also for the music of the country. Although I have yet to go there myself, I do have some Indonesian friends and just from talking to them I understand how important music is to the people. Leo wants to ensure that he does all he can to publicise great music, and I know that he feels that music from Indonesia deserves a sub-label within his own roster and from what I have heard to date I totally understand why that is the case. This is the fifth solo album from Dewa Budjana, who may just well be the finest fusion guitarist you have never heard of. He may start the album with some strange sounds being pulled from his guitar, but he can shred with the very best of them while also at times just using simple nuances to take a number to a whole new level.

Leo describes this album as “ranging from the bold and adventurous to the gracefully elegant, Dewa’s playing bounces from the frantic urgency of a Fripp or McLaughlin to the organic intimacy of a Metheny or Towner with equal ease and fluidity. Previously unexplored waters are navigated with an adroit leisure, as his bountiful skills as both a composer and improviser are clearly on display. His international debut is chocked full of surprises, and it’s elegance and repose belies the enormity of the album's ambition. This is progressive jazz and world music of the absolute highest order, and a “coming out party” for one of its best-kept secrets.”

Personally, I am just blown away by the quality of the music on offer: if ever anything should ever be called fusion then this is it as he moves from avant-garde to folk influences to progressive to melodic jazz to anything and everything that takes his fancy. What impressed me so much with this album is that while it is his name on the cover, Dewa is more than prepared to take a back seat and let others shine while he just adds some poignant touches. There are a whole host of other musicians involved, but some that should be mentioned are Grammy-winning artists drummer Peter Erskine (Weather Report; Steps Ahead) and multi-instrumentalist Howard Levy (Bela Fleck & The Flectones), the renowned Indonesian jazz keyboardist and producer, Indra Lesmana, his Indonesian contemporary, celebrated pianist Ade Irawan, and the late legendary jazz bassist, Dave Carpenter.

When I played this the first time around I kept trying to think of one word that I could use to describe it, and while “masterful” and “incredible” are words that certainly fit, the one that makes the most sense to me is “beautiful”. This albums sums up why I stay involved with the music scene, and why I spend so many hours sat in front of a keyboard, because if it wasn’t for being sent this to review I would certainly never have found it on my own. Essential. www.moonjune.com
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