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Dewa Budjana - Mahandini CD (album) cover


Dewa Budjana


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.30 | 136 ratings

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5 stars Extraordinary Indonesian guitarist DEWA BUDJANA (formerly of the Indonesian band Gigi) has gathered a cast of virtuoso musicians around him and none other than Jimmy Haslip in the engineering/production studio to record some of his more recent compositions for, once again, Moonjune Records. Though Dewa's Balinese and Indonesian influences are often present, this is an album that comes off as far more Western J-R Fusion than anything he's done before.

1. "Crowded" (5:55) a laid-back John Frusciante rock composition on which John provides the vocals (and a little guitar). Marco Minnemann makes his skills and talents known from the start filling little spaces with incredibly subtle percussion work. The music ramps up into heavy rock territory with the second verse and chorus before any soli enter (John and Dewa's guitars). Not a real fan of this one. (8.25/10)

2. "Queen Kanya" (6:59) melodic modern jazz fusion with a speed and intensity that is over-the-top in skill and virtuosity. It takes a minute for the composition to establish the intro and moving the groundwork of the song's body, which is quite melodic, quite Western jazzy. Dewa's like the new ALLAN HOLDSWORTH or John Mitchell while his support crew of bassist Mohini Dey, keyboard artist Jordan Rudess and drummer Marco Minnemann are simply at the top of the skill charts--and this song really demands it! Mohini even adds some konnakol vocals (the drum- like vocalizations common to several Indian musical traditions that guitarist John McLaughlin has done so much to bring to light with his SHAKTI projects) in the fifth and sixth minutes. I love music that tries to explore a combination of East-meets-West traditions! I'm also reminded of the wonderful jazz fusion compositions that Canadian bass virtuoso ANTOINE FAFARD has produced over the past decade. (14.25/15)

3. "Hyang Giri" (7:44) opens with Gamelan percussion and drums with Indian vocals provided by Soimah Pancawaiti- -whose melodies and style drive the whole song. Between the vocal passages are some sick prog whole group instrumental passages in which Marco, Mohini, Jordan, and Dewa take no prisoners and astonish. Jordan's piano solo in the fourth minute is so LYLE MAYS-like but is then followed by otherworldly bass play by Mohini Dey and Dewa's majestic lead guitar before being then reprised in fifth before the band comes back together with astonishing machine gun speed runs before gelling again to support Soimah's beautiful vocal. Choral chants close it out. Wow! What a ride! I LOVE East-West fusions! (14.5/15)

4. "Jung Oman" (6:52) opening with rousing classical piano solo, guitar and piano arpeggi with soaring guitar notes flitting away above establish a slow, melodic, almost MAHVISHNU chord progression. Jordan Rudess is on fire with his classical piano play beneath the slow, steady melody being played by Dewa's guitar. At 2:57 we have a heavy rock bridge ushering us into a more sparsely-populated soundscape for Dewa's acoustic guitar solo. Beautiful. (14/15)

5. "ILW" (6:39) a rock jam featuring experimental guitarist Mike Stern in a guest starring role. Man! Marco and Mohini make one rock solid/extraordinary rhythm section. The guitar sound used by the first guitarist's solo is exactly the same one that John McLaughlin has been using (especially in live performances) for the past 20 years: muted saxophone-like. The two guitarists trade solos for the bulk of the song but this does nothing to mute the contributions of the rest of the band despite the fact that none of them are highlighted. Once again, I find myself thinking of and comparing this a lot with the music of Antoine Fafard from the past decade. (8.75/10)

6. "Mahandini" (8:17) a beautiful Pat Metheny (or Jean-Luc Ponty)-like melody from Dewa's guitar and Jordan's keys with comparatively laid-back play from Mohini and Marco, the order of solos is bass (Mohini), Fender Rhodes (Jordan), guitar (Dewa), and drums (Marco) with TFK-like bridges between each. A great jazz-rock fusion song explicitly contrived to show off the individual talents of its four extraordinary instrumentalists. And, boy! Does it succeed! (18/20)

7. "Zone" (5:56) the album's second John Frusciante song. Though basically a rock song, the softer verse sections are made a little pop-jazzy by Jordan Rudess's jazzy piano work. The vocal is, to my ears, much better, more nuanced and engaging, than the album's uponing song, while Dewa's guitar really gets to shine. Marco and Mohini are, of course, rock solid and so delightful to listen to for their idiosyncratic nuances. Better than the opener but still not in the same realm as the jazz-fusion songs. (8.5/10)

Total Time 48:22

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of jazz-rock fusion-oriented rock music--some of it successfully crossing lines between and blending Eastern and Western musical traditions. Some people might even like the two John Frusciante songs more than I do--which would really propel this into full masterpiece status.

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |


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