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  DEWA BUDJANA

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Guitarist, composer and producer Dewa Gede Budjana was born on 30 August 1963, in Bali, Indonesia.

Dewa has established a solid body of work as a jazz artist on numerous solo albums (featuring a "who's who" list of current jazz luminaries), while also being the lead guitarist and songwriter of the internationally-acclaimed pop/rock band, Gigi. His fluidity and grace in both rock and jazz idioms has firmly established his position among the very elite guitarists in the world, as well, perhaps, as Indonesia's most well-known and -regarded guitarist ever.

Dewa’s 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 music -- influenced by John McLaughlin of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Yes, Gentle Giant, ELP; and later by Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Chick Corea, Bill Frissell, Jeff Beck, Pat Metheny and Weather Report, as Dewa became steadily more drawn to jazz.

  Image: MoonJune Records recording artist, Dewa Budjana.
Dewa Budjana started his journey as a guitarist and composer while still in high school, starting his first band, Squirrel, in 1980. The band’s repertoire included his original instrumental compositions -- and at a time when local jazz bands were mostly playing cover songs of famous bands of that era. It was their performance of his composition "Nusa Damai" ("Peaceful Island") that won Squirrel the title of "Best Band" in the highly regarded Light Music Contest, in 1984.

Dewa’s intrepid experimentations blending jazz with traditional sounds emerged since early on in his career, evident in the song, "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.

Image: Dewa Budjana, pictured recording guitar tracks in L.A.  
Upon graduation, Dewa aggressively pursued his dreams, making the decision to relocate to Jakarta, to further his musical ambitions and embark on a career. While there, Dewa met and tutored under Indonesian jazz legend, Jack Lesmana, who introduced him to the principles and basics of jazz.

It was Jack Lesmana’s son, Indra, who suggested to Dewa that he should become a session player. This period was the beginning of his first professional performances -- a period which saw him become very busy -- where he was featured on "Isbandi in Telerama:" a musical show broadcasted on national TV, with the Twilite Orchestra with Addie MS, the Erwin Gutawa Orchestra and Elfa’s Big Band.

In 1987, Dewa joined Spirit Band, releasing two albums before joining Indra Lesmana’s band, JavaJazz, and performing on their release, "Bulandiatas Asia," in 1993.

With JavaJazz, Dewa became even more renowned and acknowledged, as he performed in numerous venues and big events -- having had the honor of performing, most notably, in the prestigious North Sea Jazz Festival.

Dewa Budjana first earned international fame and celebrity as the founding member of Gigi, in 1994. The band has released 22 albums to date, firmly establishing Gigi as one of the biggest, most successful pop rock bands in the region.
Image: International pop-rock sensations, Gigi, from Indonesia.

1997 marked the beginning of his solo career with the release of "Nusa Damai," a recording of earlier compositions written between 1994 and 1997. The album was also his first production.

Dewa's expanded role as that of producer continued with guitarist Balawan’s album "Globalism," in 1998 (with Batuan Ethnic Fusion).

2000's "Gitarku," Dewa's second solo effort, featured flowing, elegant meditative sounds.

"Samsara" (2003) saw Dewa recording with Grammy-winning artist, drummer Peter Erskine and the late legendary jazz bassist, Dave Carpenter. The album was highly-regarded, earning recognition with the "Best World Music Album" award, in the 2002 Anugerah Music Indonesia Awards.

The 2004 Asian tsunami inspired a tribute album for its victims: "Home" (2006), the second collaboration with Peter Erskine and Dave Carpenter (which also featured bassist Reggie Hamilton). It was a masterful effort, colored with breathtakingly beautiful moments and some of Dewa's most inspired writing.

The common thread connecting his body of solo works is the merging of multiple musical elements: incorporating jazz, pop, rock and traditional sounds, producing music that is personal and intimate in its delivery, yet universal in its appeal. It is a music whose rare beauty and intimacy is immediately apparent to the listener.

A deep believe in harmony through music is reflected in Dewa’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 the Nyanyian Dharma Foundation.

Through this foundation, with the collaboration of numerous artists, he produced three albums of music and song inspired by Hindu philosophies.

A biography titled “Gitarku, Hidupku, Kekasihku” (My Guitar, My Life, My Lover) and a concert DVD of the same title was released in 2008.

  Image: Poster of Dewa Budjana, promoting a live performance event.
Together with established world-class guitarists 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.
Image: Dewa Budjana, pictured performing with Trisum (which also features MoonJune Records recording artist, Tohpati.)
In 2011, Dewa’s orchestration abilities were showcased in the TV special “Harmoni SCTV: The Best of Gigi,” where he arranged a selection of Gigi greatest hits for a full orchestra.

On his solo fifth album, "Dawai in Paradise," Dewa introduces new compositions and visits earlier ones, all in contemplation of his musical journey thus far. This album includes collaborations with Grammy award-winning artist Howard Levy (harmonica) and the celebrated Indonesian pianist, Ade Irawan, among others.

Image: Dewa Budjana, pictured with (from left to right) Jimmy Johnson, Bob Mintzer, Larry Goldings and Peter Erskine.  
Recorded on June 7th, 2012, in LA’s Firehouse Recording Studios, Dewa Budjana’s latest album, "Journey," is scheduled to be released later in 2013. A live recording guided by the natural rhythm, control and musical artistry of Peter Erskine and Jimmy Johnson, joined by Larry Goldings (piano) and (Grammy Award-winning saxophonist) Bob Mintzer.

The album captures all the colors and warmth in moments of open interpretation, free of mechanical structure, and is an honest expression of Dewa’s music, presenting pulsating, creative, organic musical musings between friends.

Dewa is currently working on his next project, a book featuring his extensive collection of guitar artwork by various renowned painters. These masterpieces will eventually be on display in his guitar museum, the first in Indonesia, to be located in Ubud, Bali. He has also just completed another recording session in L.A., with master progressive jazz musicians bassist Jimmy Johnson and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, for a future power trio album release.

Discography

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