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  Image: CD Cover: MJR059: DEWA BUDJANA, Joged Kahyangan.  
Joged Kahyangan  
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Boasting a stellar lineup of modern jazz icons Larry Goldings, Bob Mintzer, Jimmy Johnson and Peter Erskine (and featuring guest vocalist, the fabulous Janis Siegel), Indonesian guitar maestro Dewa Budjana's sixth solo album -- his second for MoonJune Records -- is a progressive jazz master-class session of huge proportions. Overflowing with moments of elegance, grace, depth and invention, Joged Kahyangan is Dewa's musical interpretation of the beauty of heaven.

Featuring eight exquisitely-crafted, -arranged and -executed gems, Budjana and friends have raised the bar for the genre; each song is performed with a profound sensitivity and diction unquestionably worthy of the project's lofty ambitions. The scope of this album is reflected in the album's liner notes, from quotes from the Bali native, himself:

Kahyangan is the Indonesian word for "heaven." Naturally, it is believed to be a place of great beauty. (... and, for me, Indonesia is Kahyangan!) This album, Joged Kahyangan ("Dances of Heaven"), is my musical interpretation of this beauty; it is a music that is shaped by my native cultural roots.

My vision for this album was to collaborate with some renowned musicians in the US, whose work I have long admired, and capture their spontaneous interpretations of these songs, heavy with jazz flavorings and nuance -- incorporating their cultural roots.

Fusing elements of Dewa's Indonesian roots with advanced melodic and harmonic sensibilities and subtle-yet-sophisticated, organic arrangements, Joged Kahyangan, once again, showcases the multifaceted character of his extraordinary talents as a composer and arranger, as well as a world-class guitarist [as did his previous album (his fifth solo album and MJR debut), this year's magnificent Dawai In Paradise (MJR051)]. The album finds all of its legendary participants in exceptional form, with understatement and reverence of the moment clearly trumping any thought of flaunting chops. (... and this is a collection of superlative, articulate musicians who clearly have huge respective vocabularies from which to draw.)

Joged Kahyangan solidifies Dewa Budjana's rightful place among the world's most elite musicians and the genre's most original and compelling newly-emerging voices. It is an intricately-woven tapestry of supreme modern jazz, eclipsing borders as it transports listeners to truly heavenly destinations.

This is an album not to be missed for any fans of modern jazz, progressive and world music ... it simply doesn't get any better.

TRACKSClick on any highlighted track title to listen to individual audio samples, or listen to them all on the player to the right.
Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer Spacer
LARRY GOLDINGS: Hammond organ, acoustic piano
BOB MITZER: soprano & tenor sax, bass clarinet
JIMMY JOHNSON: bass guitar
with Special Guest:
JANIS SIEGEL: vocals (Track 4)
Recorded in Pasadena, Los Angeles, CA, by Rich Breen at Firehouse Studio, July 2012.
Produced by Dewa Budjana.
USA Release Executive Producer: Leonardo Pavkovic
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"Budjana is a painter; a badass fuzoid and prog-rock shredder and a proficient jazz guitarist who can hang with the best of them. He possesses a broad vernacular and is by no means a one- dimensional artist, as he places more emphasis on compositional form, cogently evidenced throughout this delightful album."

- Glenn Astarita, All About Jazz

"The elegant atmospheres throughout the disc harbor a secret: the entire CD was done in a single day, everyone meeting for the first time (one small exception: Siegel mailed it in, from New York recording her beautiful voice encanting goopy lyrics on the only non-instrumental cut), each first run-through the only rehearsal, the second and third takes comprising the final documentation, making the entire result impressive on several fronts."

- Mark S. Tucker, FAME

"... an inventive guitarist with a clean refined sound."

- Jack Goodstein, Seattle Pi

"... prolific and majestic compositions and arrangements ... the sound takes on a gentle approach, evoking a mood not unlike much of John Scofield’s or Pat Metheny’s classic work ... this isn’t a showcase for a lot of jaw-dropping guitar techniques, but instead a forum for excellent composition, arrangements, and inspired soloing on a variety of instruments."

- Peter Thelen, Exposé

"... as elegant and superbly-crafted and -performed as any jazz album I've ever heard. This is world-class progressive jazz."

- John McGuire, Amazon

"... a bursting jazz, fusion, progressive (rock) album with some pop-rock melodies, atmospheric touches & a contemporary sound."

- Thanos, Grande Rock

"... a great tone and a rhythmic sense that sets him apart ... very pleasing listening."

- Grego Applegate, Gapplegate Guitar and Bass Blog

"... killer line up, fantastic musicianship ... For those looking out for new fine guitar music, this album is the one."

- Sasha Markovic, Amazon

"While Dewa Budjana has enjoyed rock-star status in his homeland, Pavkovic and MoonJune Records have introduced him to the world as a Jazz Master. Ignore comparisons to Pat Metheny or anyone else. Dewa Budjana stands on his own."

- Travis Rogers, Music Life and Times

"For my money fusion and prog are just a little over opposite sides of the jazz to rock spectrum. This is close enough to the center to fit either place. It’s also an awesome album."

- G.W. Hill, Music Street Journal

"A very finely textured recording with plenty of space for the instruments to sing out on their own as well as interact with the other seasoned players, Joged Kahyangan truly is a heavenly slice for music lovers into progressive jazz and fusion all bathed in a lush world music atmosphere. Dewa's technique has been compared to that of Ralph Towner, Pat Methany and John McLaughlin. His mercurial style of playing brings a graceful sense of movement to these compositions. Highly recommended!"

- Dan Burke, Amazon

"One of the things I love of hearing great music in the world of Jazz Fusion and Progressive Rock, is that I would always get a funny feeling that something magical and special is about to happen. And one of those people that I’m blown away by is Indonesian guitarist virtuoso, Dewa Budjana.

"Moonjune Records have really scored a home run with this!"

- Zachary Nathanson, Music From The Other Side of the Room

"... expressive nylon string playing ... Fans of Budjana’s aggressive electric shredding will find some good moments ... Budjana is a master of melodic development ..."

- JS, Jazz Music Archives


Guitarist, composer and producer Dewa Gede Budjana was born on 30 August 1963, in Waikabubak, West Sumba, Indonesia, in the region known as Bali. It is an area considered by those who know it to be a tropical paradise.

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 Indonesian nationally-celebrated 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, Indonesia's most well-known and highly-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. 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.

Both Dewa's intrepid experimentations -- blending jazz with traditional sounds -- and his hunger to pursue his gift were evident early on in his career. 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 was tutored by 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. It was a time which saw him become very busy, where Dewa was featured on "Isbandi in Telerama" -- a popular musical show broadcasted regularly on national TV.

Dewa Budjana first earned international fame and celebrity as the founding member of Gigi, in 1994. The band has released 24 albums to date, firmly establishing Gigi as one of the biggest, most successful pop rock bands in the region.

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 Grammy-awarding winning drummer, Peter Erskine, the late Dave Carpenter (bass) and Ernie Adams (drums) -- added to this body of work, with the latter of the two earning Dewa the "Best World Music Award," at Indonesia's Anugrah Music celebration, in 2002.

A tribute album to the Asian tsunami victims, "Home" (2006), was released in collaboration with Grammy-winning drummer Peter Erskine, the late Dave Carpenter, and Reggie Hamilton.

A deep belief 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 the Nyanyian Dharma Foundation. Through this foundation, and with the collaboration of numerous artists, Budjana produced three albums of music and song inspired by Hindu philosophies.

In addition to his considerable talents as a player and composer, Dewa is also an accomplished producer -- a role which began with the release of his first solo album, "Nusa Damai," in 1997, and continued with guitarist Balawan's album, "Globalism," the following year.

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 -- beautifully melodic, rich in harmony, and universal in its appeal.

With the release of his solo fifth album, "Dawai in Paradise," Dewa introduced new compositions and revisited earlier ones, all in contemplation of his musical journey thus far. The album included collaborations with: Peter Erskine, once again; multi-instrumentalist Howard Levy; the renowned Indonesian jazz keyboardist and producer, Indra Lesmana; his Indonesian contemporary, celebrated pianist Ade Irawan, and; the late legendary jazz bassist, Dave Carpenter, among others.

With the aim of capturing original jazz interpretations of Dewa Budjana’s compositions by American jazz greats, his sixth solo album, "Joged Kahyangan" (translated: "Dances of Heaven") was recorded on June 7, 2012, at Firehouse Recording Studios, in Pasadena, CA. It was released in April of 2013. This was a "live in the studio" recording -- once again guided by the organic rhythms, graceful nuance and true musical artistry of modern jazz icons Peter Erskine (drums), Bob Mintzer (sax), Jimmy Johnson (bass), and Grammy-nominated Larry Goldings (piano).

Joged Kahyangan captures the colors, warmth and fluidity of Budjana's music in moments of open interpretation, free of mechanical structure. It is an intimate, honest rendering whose technical brilliance never imposes on the friendly chemistry evident with the group, and individual soloists carefully temper their efforts in subtle reverance and subordination to the beauty and sanctity of the corporate music moments being created. Among the many highlights featured on the album was a song recorded in June 2012, "As You Leave My Nest," with lyrics and vocals by Grammy-winning artist Janis Siegel, of the Manhattan Transfer.

In August 2013, Dewa Budjana applied his creative genius in a new direction -- releasing a book featuring his extensive collection of painted guitars, by various renowned Indonesian painters. These masterpieces will eventually be on display in his guitar museum, Museum Gitarku, the first in Indonesia. The museum will be located in Payogan Ubud, Bali. (For more information on the museum and its grand opening in 2015, please visit http://museumgitarku.com/)

In March of 2014, Dewa released his seventh solo album, "Surya Namaskar." The release was essentially a "power trio" album, uniting the renowned music legends Vinnie Colaiuta, on drums, and Jimmy Johnson, on bass. The collaboration was a true departure from all of his previous works, highlighting a more powerful, prominent role for Budjana's guitar work -- eschewing his previous album's 'group tapestry' approach for a more powerful, direct, "balls to the wall" delivery. The results were potent and dynamic, with Dewa's fretwork taking center stage and the freestyle freight train tandem of Colaiuta and Johnson pushing him to new heights. The album drew rave reviews from critics around the globe.

The year 2015 offers yet more revealing details of Budjana's complex musical persona. Late January saw the release of his eighth solo album, "Hasta Karma" -- an album which featured contributions from the Pat Metheny Unity Group battery of the uber-talented, prodigious Ben Williams on upright bass, and the otherworldly drumming of the great Antonio Sanchez, joined by the legendary NYC vibraphonist and veteran session man, Joe Locke, on vibes (with some wonderful contributions from Indonesian icon, Indra Lesmana, on keyboards, as well). The album is already drawing rave reviews, and has been hailed as a "modern jazz masterpiece."

This wonderful album's release coincided with Dewa's collaboration with yet more legendary musical figures, as that same month (January) saw Dewa return to the US to contribute to Dwiki Dharmawan's debut for MoonJune (to be released later in 2015), "Passion, Love, Life" -- a session that included fellow Indonesian guitar icon and MJR recording artist, Tohpati, supported by jazz / progressive greats, the magnificent Jimmy Haslip, on bass, and the phenomenal veteran drummer, Chad Wackerman. The recording took place in L.A. (The group reunitied in Indonesia in February, for a short but highly-touted series of dates, in support of the project.)

Immediately after the session in LA, Dewa flew to NY and headed to Woodstock, for two days of recordings at Jerry Marotta's Dreamland Studio, featuring: the incomparable jazz legend, Jack DeJohnette, on drums and piano; King Crimson alumnus, the great Tony Levin (on 5-string electric upright bass), and; Allan Holdsworth' and John McLaughlin's long-time iconic contributor, the ultra-talented Gary Husband (piano and drums). This monumental quartet was assembled for the first day's recordings; the second day saw Dewa streamline proceedings -- doing strictly trio work, with Tony remaining on his electric upright (and adding some Chapman Stick on several cuts, as well) and Gary Husband handling all of the duties on the drum kit.

The two days yielded two albums worth of fresh, invigorating material (to be release later in 2015, and early in 2016, respectively), and signaled still more new directions for Budjana as both a player and composer.

Never lacking in either ambition or vision, Dewa Budjana is a multi-talented artist who never sits still for very long!

Image: MoonJune Records artist, world-class guitarist, Dewa Budjana.



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