Dewa Budjana may not be quite known, as yet, in the Western world but he is a household name in the music scene of his own country, Indonesia, mostly due to his participation in GIGI, which is a very popular pop-rock act. Of course Dewa, as a complete and well-studied musician, is more than that. How couldn’t he actually? Having been influenced by some truly amazing artists & bands such as: John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, Jeff Beck, Allan Holdsworth, Gentle Giant, Yes, Chick Corea and Weather Report among others, Dewa unfolds his full music talent on his solo works where he finds space & time for improvisation & musical expression due to lack of restrictions.
After his cooperation with the NY MoonJune records, Dewa started releasing new albums immediately. “Dawai in Paradise” was originally released in 2011 but it was in March 2013 that it was released worldwide. Now, after almost 6 months here comes “Joged Kahyangan” and as I read there’s a new album on the way in January 2014! Dewa’s probably trying to cover new ground and overcome the wasted time, as the Western world has now started becoming aware of this gifted musician.
Dewa has reduced the ethnic features to minimum (as there’s only one ethnic song – “Guru Mandala”) and has had a Western turn in his music so as to become more pleasurable (in a way) & easily acceptable by his new US & EU audience. “Joged Kahyangan” is a bursting jazz, fusion, progressive (rock) album with some pop-rock melodies, atmospheric touches & a contemporary sound. After all, Dewa himself has produced the album which was recorded by Rich Breen at Firehouse Studio in Pasadena, Los Angeles. The sound is smooth, clear and full.
As Dewa told me, the album was recorded in a single day, with no prior rehearsals. Most of the songs were second or third takes, with the first take acting as the only rehearsal for the group, thing which makes “Joged Kahyangan” a rather “live” album. I know that might seem a bit “strange” or “improbable” to some, but judging from the members’ musical skills then I think that this was an “easy thing” for them to achieve. If you have any second thoughts about that, read the other musicians that are participating in this album and you’ll reconsider.
A few of the most prominent and renowned musicians such as: Larry Goldings (acoustic piano and Hammond organ), jazz saxophonist Bob Mintzer (Yellowjackets), bassist Jimmy Johnson (James Taylor, Allan Holdsworth, Roger Waters, Planet X, Flim & the BB’s etc.) and drummer Peter Erskine (Steely Dan, Al Di Meola, Weather Report,Manhattan Jazz Quintet) are featured on “Joged Kahyangan”. Ain’t that an impressive line-up or what?! Furthermore, there’s one track with vocals, “As You Leave My Nest”, in which the wonderful signer Janis Siegel (The Manhattan Transfer) is participating. “As You Leave My Nest” is a warm, charming & dreamy jazz-pop tune. I’d prefer to listen to more tracks with vocals by Dewa in the future.
Concluding, “Joged Kahyangan” can be defined as an “orgy” of jazz, fusion & prog (rock) improvisation, with various heartwarming melodies & a very smooth & easy-going sound. This album can and will appeal even to those who are not into this kind of music but they do appreciate stimulating music at large…