Band: Dewa Budjana
CD Title: Zentuary
Label: Favored Nations Records (2016)
Rating: Satisfying 3/5
This is studio album number six for Budjana and this time around it’s a double disc set; a full one-hundred minutes but only twelve compositions, so you’d be correct is figuring these are mostly longer compositions in the eight to ten minute range. Budjana has maintained quite an accomplished career in his homeland of Indonesia where his John McLaughlin-influenced guitar style has won him many accolades. What makes his jazz-fusion musical approach unique however is the inclusion of local ethnic Indonesian sounds and instruments into his work. Apart from this you would not be wrong to see his music as a type of Mahavishnu Orchestra, not by any means a copy, but certainly stylistically similar in compositional approach. The compositions are all instrumental and while they revolve around his guitar work, he’s not afraid of changing this up with different instruments taking a solo here and there. This is not the kind of jazz fusion that is overly complex and busy; rather Budjana’s approach is one where the music flows from one intricate melody to another. Every-so-often musical accents or punctuations take the tune to another level spiced up with a searing guitar solo. I guess the other thing that is evident to my ear is that in most of these tunes his rhythmic foundation is closer to rock than it is to jazz or let’s say it tends to return to the rock side of the equation after detours into a jazzier realm. It should be noted that Budjana has the help on this release from some high-powered players including Tony Levin, Gary Husband, Jack Dejohnette, Tim Garland and a number of other quite accomplished players all of which makes for quite a powerhouse of musical virtuosity. Let me just say to all Prog fans, if you’ve never given Jazz-Fusion a try, Dewa Budjana’s musical out is a great place to start that adventure and this release Zentuary is in my opinion one of the best.