Dewa Budjana - Hasta Karma,
One of the real joys of following the Moonjune career of Indonesian guitarist Dewa Budjana, is that one is never sure quite what to expect with each release, as he often changes the musicians he is playing with which has a direct impact on each album. This time he has brought in NYC vibraphonist, Joe Locke, and Pat Metheny Unity Group's bassist, Ben Williams, with drummer, Antonio Sanchez, and Indonesian keyboardist, Indra Lesmana. There are so many wonders and delights contained within this 2014 album that it is hard to know where to begin. In many ways Dewa has taken something of a back seat with this release, and it has a much stronger band feel than the others, as he shares the melody lead with Joe. I used to regularly see Poli Palmer (ex Family) play and his touch on vibraphones was great, but he never sounded like this! Gentle touches, or blistering speed, Joe can do it all, and consequently is incredibly relaxed as there is nothing left for him to prove. This has allowed Dewa also to relax and go with the flow, not always having to be at the centre. With Ben and Antonio playing their part to perfection, the result is fusion that is mind-blowing in just so many ways.
From the cover artwork of the digipak, through the sleeve notes of John Kelman, and then into the fifty-two minutes of the album itself, this is the complete package. If I had to pick one track to showcase the beauty of this majestic album, then it would have to be “Desember” where Dewa provides some stunningly quick runs, and then leaves the song for bars at a time to allow the rest of the guys to build new rhythms and melodies, returning when the moment is right. When it comes to modern instrumental jazz fusion then it doesn’t get any better than this. Faultless.