A concert in Ubud, Bali, brought together two leading jazz-fusion guitarists, Dewa Budjana from Indonesia and John McLaughlin from the UK.
The title of the concert — Duaji and Guruji — was apt. In guitarist Dewa Bujana’s words, “Duaji is what people call me in Balinese and means someone who’s become a father to their children, while Guruji means a guru, a teacher, a role model.”
Dewa, aged 52, is well-known for his career with rock group Gigi and in Indra Lesmana’s ethno-jazz group Java Jazz and for his solo jazz albums.
John McLaughlin, now 73, began his career in 1962 playing blues and jazz-beat. He was also a session player for the Rolling Stones, among other bands. In 1969 he moved to the US, where he played with Tony Williams’s Lifetime and with Miles Davis on the seminal jazz-rock albums In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew.
Duaji & Guruji: A Night for the Heart
McLaughlin became the Master, Guruji, with the release in 1971 of the first Mahavishnu Orchestra album, The Inner Mounting Flame, which has influenced scores of musicians since.
Forty years later and Dewa Budjana has that same power to move audiences with spiritually infused jazz-fusion.
Dewa’s many albums reflect his Balinese Hindu heritage. Hinduism is another connection with McLaughlin, who was given the name Mahavishnu by his yoga teacher Sri Chinmoy.
Ubud’s Arma Museum provided the perfect venue for the Oct. 18 concert. Adjacent to the Balinese art gallery is an open field bordered with tall trees and a stage with a Balinese temple backdrop. For this occasion, a huge translucent, multi-layered screen was installed.
The sounds and scents of Bali filtered through: a distant cacophony of barking kampung dogs, a chorus of cicadas high in the trees, clatter and chatter from the bar at the rear, a whiff of kretek cigarettes, sandalwood incense and frangipane. Above, the night sky threatened rain and somewhere among the clouds a waxing crescent moon drifted.
Following an excellent warm-up by the Bali Guitar Club on a small side stage, the lights in the main arena dimmed and a glittering night sky was projected onto the backdrop. Dewa Budjana strolled onto the stage wearing a Balinese udeng (head cloth), picked up his guitar, and the music began.
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