Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Masterpiece of the Month - "Dwiki Dharmawan: Pasar Klewer"

Masterpiece of the Month
Dwiki Dharmawan: "Pasar Klewer" (Musikita/MoonJune MJR 081, 2-CD set)
Rating: ***** (musical performance & sonic quality)

Produced by Leonardo Pavkovic and Dwiki Dharmawan.
Executive producers: Dwiki Dharmawan for Musikita and Leonardo Pavkovic for MoonJune Music.
Graphics & artwork by Aga Dilaga.
Front cover pencil artwork by Daniel Indro W.
Liner Notes by John Kelman

Recorded in London, June 9 & 10, 2015, at EastCote Studio by Phil Bagenal.
Boris Savoldelli’s vocal parts recorded at BSS home studio in Pisogne, Italy, August 30, 2015.
Peni Candra Rini and gamelan orchestra pre-recorded in Jakarta in May 2015.
Balinese frogs recorded live in Ubud, Bali, in August 2015.
Mixed and mastered by Mark Wingfield at Heron Island Studio, Cambridgeshire, England in October 2015 and April 2016.

Dwiki Dharmawan – acoustic piano
Yaron Stavi – upright bass (all tunes, except tune 5, disk 2), bass guitar (tune 5, disk 2)
Asaf Sirkis – drums (all tunes, except tune 2, disk 1), udu clay percussion, shaker & konakol singing (tune 2, disk 1)
Mark Wingfield – guitar (tunes 1 & 4 on disk 1; tunes 4 & 6 on disk 2)
Nicolas Meier – glissentar (tunes 2 & 5 on disk 1; tune 1 on disk 2), acoustic guitar (tunes 3 &5, disk 2)
Gilad Atzmon – clarinet (tune 2 on disk 1; tune 2 on disk 2), soprano sax (tune 3 on disk 1; tune 3 on disk 2)
Boris Savoldelli – vocals (tunes 4 & 5 on disk 1);
Aris Daryono – vocals, gamelan percussion, kendang percussion, rebab 3-strings violin (tunes 1, 2 & 3 on disk 1; tune 1 on disk 2);
Peni Candra Rini – vocals (tune 1 on disk 2);
Gamelan Jess Jegog led by I Nyoman Windhy – gamelan orchestra (tune 3 on disk 1; tune 1 on disk 2);
Balinese Frogs (!!!) – (tune 3 on disk 2)

Indonesian keyboard star Dwiki Dharmawan, a true virtuoso, returns following his 2015 MoonJune Records debut, the more fusion-heavy "So Far, So Close," with the even more ambitious "Pasar Klewer." This brilliant acoustic piano-driven two-CD set features the cream of Britain’s younger expat crop, blending with Indonesian to create a passionate, seamless cultural cross-pollination.

Bassist Yaron Stavi and superb drummer/percussionist Asaf Sirkis form the core trio with Dharmawan, while reed multi-instrumentalist Gilad Atzmon, Gamelan musical virtuoso Aris Daryono and guitarists Nicolas Meier and Mark Wingfield all make significant contributions to several tracks.

Italian singer Boris Savoldelli  -- one of the world's best jazz vocalists -- also guests on two tunes, including a reinvention of Robert Wyatt’s “Forest,” and the Jess Jegog Gamelan Orchestra and singer Peni Candrarini bring cultural verisimilitude to Dharmawan’s radical rearrangement of the traditional “Lir Ilir.”

MoonJune Records’ founder Leonardo Pavkovic describes Dharmawan as “one of Indonesia’s most prominent musicians; a cultural icon in his homeland and accomplished  keyboardist, composer, arranger, performer and peace activist. A true cultural ambassador of his beloved country, Dwiki has forged a very successful thirty-plus year career, performing in over sixty countries with solo and collective projects.”

"So Far, So Close" was Dharmawan’s pan-cultural, fusion powerhouse MoonJune debut, but for his second MoonJune effort, Dharmawan wanted to try something different. “Indonesia is the place of ‘ultimate diversity,'” the pianist says. “Here, the urban cultures accelerate the ‘acculturation’ process, which generates changes in cultural patterns and creates new forms of musical expression. Pasar Klewer is the answer to my search for ‘the difference,’ and also a valuable answer to our modern crises and urban uprooting. The album’s distinctive sound originates from an ancient Gamelan tonal system called Salendro, known in the Karawitan traditional music of the Sundanese, Javanese and Balinese. Based on the Gamelan tonal system, I also adapted, as my inspiration, other musical elements from all over the Indonesian archipelago, as well as the western diatonic system.”

Pasar Klewar’s exhilarating opening title track, indeed, possesses a microtonal-informed melody drawn unmistakably from Dharmawan’s cultural roots; but its modal nature also affords the pianist and his band mates the freedom to explore everything from Metheny-esque landscapes (though Wingfield’s heavily overdriven electric guitar provides a completely non-Metheny vibe during his light-speed solo) to a mid-song shift in mood, where Stavi and Sirkis drive Dharmawan’s post-Coltrane, Tyner-via-Beirach-through-Corea exploration of spiritual freedom with similar passion and fire.

Daryono takes an impressive vocal/rebab (three-stringed violin) solo before some empathic three-way interplay amongst the core trio leads to a thoroughly drum solo reaching deep into the heart of the song before Stavi and Dharmawan re-enter, bringing this twelve-minute epic to a finish with another  brilliant piano solo of grand proportions. Cross-pollinated with Wingfield’s additional fiery interaction, the music builds to such a climactic peak that, when it suddenly comes to a stop, the band members shouting “Yeah!!” is left to conclude the track, reflecting the energy clearly felt in the studio.

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