Dewa Budjana, Indonesian iconic guitar legend of Balinese ethnic heritage, is releasing his 3rd album (his 7th solo effort on his parallel jazz-fusion career) on MoonJune Records; the New York City independent label of progressive music that explores boundaries of jazz, rock, avant-garde, ethno & the unknown, run by its cosmopolitan honcho and executive producer Leonardo Pavkovic.
Recorded in Los Angeles by the world renowned engineer Robert Feist (who recorded Stevie Nicks, Anita Baker, and 8 albums of Allan Holdsworth, among many others) during two sessions in January and October of 2013, Surya Namaskar (Salute to the Sun, in Budjana’s native Balinese language) represents a significant change from Dewa Budjana’s last album, Joged Kahyangan. While bassist Jimmy Johnson (Allan Holdsworth, James Taylor, Flim & the BB’s) is back from that session, this time the drummer is the much in-demand powerhouse Vinnie Colaiuta (Frank Zappa, Herbie Hancock, Jeff Beck, Sting), with ubiquitous guitar session ace Michael Landau (James Taylor, Renegade Creation, Joni Mitchell) and drummer turned keyboardist Gary Husband (John McLaughlin, Allan Holdsworth, Jack Bruce) making valuable guest appearances on one track each.
Full of twists and turns you could never see coming, Surya Namaskar provides ample evidence that the Balinese guitarist is just as much at home in moments of pure spontaneity, ripping over a killer groove, as he is in denser, more orchestrated settings. Exploring previously-unrevealed facets of his artistic mystique, this album highlights a more instinctive, uninhibited approach to both his guitar playing and music making. Served up just-out-of-the-oven fresh and delivered with conviction and urgency, each song is its own unique, engulfing cosmic voyage.
The sum total of Surya Namaskar is most definitely greater than its individual – monstrously talented – parts. Together with his two previous MoonJune recordings – Dawai in Paradise (January, 2013) and Joged Kahyangan (October, 2013) – Surya Namaskar paints the ongoing portrait of a guitarist who may be a superstar in the Indonesian pop-rock world as a founding member of the multi-million selling Gigi (one of the most prolific bands in Indonesian history, with 24 releases to their name, celebrating this year their 20th anniversary with their 25th album Live at Abbey Road, in which Budjana is the main composer and author of many hits), but whose lesser-known credibility and, more importantly, visibility as a jazz and fusion guitarist is slowly on the ascendance, as more and more international progressive music fans discover the depth, the heart, and the profound spirituality of Dewa Budjana, at fifty a new guitar hero of strength, creativity and significance.
In January 2014, Dewa Budjana has recorded in New York City material for another studio album to be released by MoonJune, in October 2014, featuring Antonio Sanchez on drums, Ben Williams on upright bass (both recording and touring with Pat Metheny) and Joe Locke on vibraphone.