Budjana’s Laid-back Jazz
Dewa Budjana gave a sparkling performance at the Jazz Buzz Salihara. Acting laid back, he was accompanied by a string quartet and a vibraphone.
DEWA Budjana casually appeared on stage in his bare feet. Some of the audience sat cross-legged on the floor, forming a half circle very close to him. There was practically no distance between the ticket holders and the performers, yet their presence did not bother the musicians. Between songs, Budjana cracked jokes and offhand witty remarks, much to the crowd's delight. "Just relax. If one is tense, one won't play well," said Budjana during his performance at the Jazz Buzz Salihara on Sunday night, February 18.
Appearing very laid back, his music though was anything but indifferent. Budjana collaborated with a string quartet, all highly experienced musicians. Alvin Witarsa and Eko Yuliantoro played the violins, Adi Nugroho on viola, and Dimawan Krisnowo Adji on cello. Their performance was further complemented by Arief Winanda’s vibraphone. Budjana’s usual band was on a break for the night.
The combination of Budjana’s guitar and the string formation gave off a different air: similar to the feel of a mini orchestra. The tones of the vibraphone were a welcome accompaniment, at times sounding similar to the gamelan (traditional Javanese orchestra), at times resounding like a pure bell. The ensemble started off with two new pieces by Budjana: Queen Kanya and Mahandini. Both works are part of his upcoming album, Mahandini planned to be launched in April.
Quenn Kanya had a moderate rhythm with sharp, energetic guitar chords. Budjana wrote the piece in tribute to Ida I Dewa Agung Istri Kanya, the Balinese queen who led the Klungkung people in resistance against the Dutch colonialists between 1814 and 1850. The Dutch nicknamed her the Iron Lady, because she succeeded in killing Major General A.V. Michiels, reportedly with a hairpin. But impressing Budjana the most is the fact that the queen was also an accomplished composer. "My friends and I are striving to make Ratu Kanya named a national hero. Only very few people know about her accomplishments," said Budjana.
Mahandini is the title track of Budjana’s upcoming album. The word was coined by Budjana himself, much like when he coined the term ‘zentuary’. Mahandini is a combination of nandini, meaning train, and maha, which means great. Mahandini will most likely be Budjana’s astonishingvehicle, because the album will contain works created in collaboration with world class musicians Jordan Rudes of Dream Theater, Mohini Dey, who recently worked with Steve Vai, and Marco Minneman from Germany who has performed with Joe Satriani.
During the show, Budjana played pieces from his previous albums which he had re-arranged for strings. Budjana had made careful selection of his works suitable for strings with no drums or percussion. Among those he selected were Zentuary, Caka, Dawaiku, Bunga yang Hilang, Lake Takengon and Joged Kahyangan.
Budjana said the idea for collaboration with a string quartet came from Salihara music director, Tony Prabowo. The two discussed the project for two years. The vibraphone was added later, because Budjana needed a pitched percussion element. "We only fixed the quartet three months ago, and only started practicing after I returned from the USA," said Budjana.
Performing with the quartet carried certain nostalgia for the guitarist. The Sa’Unine String Quartet players had already been performing with Budjana since they were first established in 1992. They had even toured with the Dewa Budjana band as the Trio Sa’Unine on a joint tour and a recording. "When I first began writing for strings, they were my victims," Budjana said laughing.
It was no wonder, then, that Budjana’s interaction with the string musicians was fluid and full of laughter. During certain parts, they were left to improvise, while Budjana stood by and watched. In Bunga yang Hilang, Budjana was only accompanied by Dimawan Krisnowo Adji’s cello. The two produced an enchanting arrangement.
A surprise emerged in the middle of the show when Budjana suddenly called up somebody from the audience onto the stage. It was Shadu Rasjidi, a bassist and son of jazz musician Idang Rasjidi. Budjana spontaneously asked Shadu to play with him. "I have performed with the father for a long time. Now it is his son’s turn," said Budjana.
Moyang Kasih Dewimerdeka