Guitarist, composer and producer.
Born I Dewa Gede Budjana on 30 August 1963 in Waikabubak, West Sumba, Indonesia.
Based on a solid body of work as a jazz artist in his solo albums whilst also being the lead guitarist and songwriter of the band Gigi, Dewa Budjana’s ability to bring together rock and jazz has firmly established his position as one of the top Indonesian guitarist.
The journey as a musician started at the early age of eleven when he bought his first guitar. His passion and talent for the instrument was further nurtured when the Balinese native moved to the city of Surabaya where he was introduced to the music of Leo Kristi and John Denver. During this period, his tendencies varied from jazz rock to progressive influenced by John McLaughlin of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Yes, Gentle Giant, ELP and later by Keith Jarret, Jan Garbarek, Chick Corea, Bill Frissell, Jeff Beck, Pat Metheny and Weather Report as he was more drawn to jazz.
With his first band Squirrel, 1980 became the year Budjana started his journey as a guitarist and composer while still in high school. The band’s repertoire included Budjana’s original instrumental compositions at a time when local jazz bands were mostly playing covers of famous bands. It was his composition Nusa Damai (Peaceful Island) that won Squirrel’s title as best band in the highly regarded Light Music Contest in 1984.
Budjana’s intrepid experimentations blending jazz with the traditional sounds emerged since early on in his career as evident in Nusa Damai with its sounds of Javanese and Balinese gamelan (traditional musical ensemble). Nusa Damai would later become the title of his first solo album.
Upon graduation he made the decisive move to Jakarta to further pursue his career.
In Jakarta Budjana met and tutored under the Indonesian jazz legend, Jack Lesmana who introduced him to the principles and basics of jazz. It was Jack Lesmana’s son, Indra, who suggested Budjana to become a session player. This period was the beginning of his first professional performances with among others Isbandi in Telerama, a musical show on national TV, Twilite Orchestra with Addie MS, Erwin Gutawa Orchestra and Elfa’s Big Band.
In 1987, Budjana joined Spirit Band releasing two albums before leaving to join Indra Lesmana’s band, JavaJazz to release Bulan diatas Asia (1993). With JavaJazz he performed in the North Sea Jazz Festival.
Budjana earned his fame as the founding member of Gigi Band in 1994 and has released 24 albums to date, firmly establishing Gigi as one of the biggest pop rock bands in the country.
1997 marked the beginning of Budjana’s solo career with the release of Nusa Damai, a recording of his early compositions from 1994 to 1997.
Gitarku (2000) with its meditative sounds and Samsara (2003) in which Budjana collaborated with Peter Erskine (drums), the late Dave Carpenter (bass) and Ernie Adams (drums) added to this body of work. This album was earned the Best World Music Award, Anugrah Music Indonesia 2002
A tribute album for the Asian tsunami victims, Home (2006) was released in collaboration with Grammy-winning drummer Peter Erskine, the late Dave Carpenter and Reggie Hamilton (bass). His compositions in these solo albums incorporated jazz, pop and traditional sounds to produce music that is personal yet universal.
A deep believe in harmony through music is reflected in Budjana’s frequent interfaith collaborations with his band Gigi and other artists.
His vision for peace through the universal language of music led to the creation of Nyanyian Dharma foundation. Through this foundation and with the collaboration of numerous artists, he produced three albums of music and song inspired by Hindu philosophies.
The role as a producer continued in Globalism (1998), the guitarist Balawan’s album with Batuan Ethnic Fusion.
A biography titled “Gitarku, Hidupku, Kekasihku” (My Guitar, My Life, My Lover) and a concert DVD of the same title was released in 2008.
Together with guitar big names Balawan and Tohpati, Budjana formed Trisum, earning this group 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.
In 2011 Dewa Budjana’s orchestration abilities was showcased in the TV special “Harmoni SCTV: The Best of Gigi” where he arranged a selection of Gigi greatest hits for a full orchestra.
Through the fifth album Dawai in Paradise (2011), Dewa Budjana made his international debut. Released by MoonJune Records in February 2013, it is said to be “progressive jazz and world music of the absolute highest order, and a coming out party for one of its best-kept secrets” (MJR Artist Intro)
In this album new compositions are introduced and earlier ones revisited all in contemplation of his musical journey so far.
Peter Erskine and the late Dave Carpenter continued to contribute their music and recent collaborations are with Howard Levy (harmonica), Indra Lesmana (keyboards) and Ade Irawan (piano).
With the aim of capturing original jazz interpretations of Dewa Budjana’s compositions by American jazz greats , his sixth album Joged Kahyangan (Dances of Heaven) was recorded on June 7th 2012 at Firehouse Recording Studios, Pasadena and released in April 2013.
A life recording guided by the organic rhythm, perfect control and true musical artistry of Grammy-winning Peter Erskine (drums) and Bob Mintzer (sax) , Jimmy Johnson (bass) and Grammy-nominated Larry Goldings (piano), Joged Kahyangan captures the colours and warmth in moments of open interpretation, free of mechanical structure. It is an honest expression of Dewa Budjana’s music, a living pulsating creative organic musical musings between friends.
Featured in this album is a song recorded in June 2012 with lyrics and vocals by Grammy-winning artist Janis Siegel of the Manhattan Transfer.
In August 2013 Dewa Budjana released a book featuring his extensive collection of painted guitars by various renowned painters. These masterpieces will eventually be on display in his guitar museum, the first in Indonesia. The museum will be located in Payogan Ubud, Bali.
His latest album "Surya namaskar" just released in early march 2014, brings music legend Vinnie Colaiuta on drums and Jimmy Johnson on bass in a collaboration that is a departure from Dewa Budjana’s previous works, introducing a pop nuance to his progressive jazz/ world music style.