Dewa Budjana - Zentuary album review

A moment of Zen from an Indonesian master

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That the ninth solo album from Budjana is released via Steve Vai’s Favoured Nation label is both a testament to the Indonesian player’s rising profile and the hard work put in by Moonjune Records’ Leonardo Pavkovic, whose restless commitment in bringing the music of South Asia to the wider world seems finally to be paying off.

Standing as his best album to date, it’s not just the addition of King Crimson’s Tony Levin, John McLaughlin sideman Gary Husband and ex-Miles Davis legend Jack DeJohnette as the core band that commands attention. Memorable guest spots from Chick Corea’s Tim Garland on sax and Guthrie Govan moonlighting here from The Aristocrats and Steven Wilson, also adds to the weight. Budjana delivers the kind of lithe, melodic playing that’s entirely noodle free in compositions that glitter with invention, designed to support dazzling turns of phrase. The Mahavishnu-style slalom of Dancing Tears and the brooding Stick Men composition, Crack In The Sky, with lyrics translated into Indonesian, provide broad, contrasting moods. Powerful and rather special, it comes with a sumptuous production that includes the Czech Symphony Orchestra. If you don’t know Dewa Budjana’s work, Zentuary is the perfect place to start.