Dwiki Dharmawan — So Far So Close
(Moonjune MJR075, 2015, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2015-10-31
Moonjune is never short on surprises when it comes to introducing outstanding jazz-rock acts from Indonesia, and keyboardist and composer Dwiki Dharmawan is just the latest of many, with So Far So Close, his first international release. Already a star in his own country, he is well known as a solo artist, collaborator, and a member of his fusion band Krakatau for over 30 years with eight full length releases, as well as other projects like his World Peace Orchestra. Here, Dharmawan is teamed up with renowned jazz bassist Jimmy Haslip (who also played on Dharmawan’s previous release, 2014’s Live in USA), famed drummer Chad Wackerman, Indonesian guitarists Tohpati and Dewa Budjana, I Nyoman Windha playing an assortment of traditional Indonesian instruments and vocals on what is perhaps the album’s most adventurous track, the ten minute “Jembrana’s Fantasy,” and on the opening track “Arafura” none other than Jerry Goodman on electric violin. The bulk of the pieces here echo the golden age of fusion from the early 70s onward through the mid-80s, occasionally recalling greats like Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, but with his own unique stamp which brings in elements of the traditional sounds of West Java and Bali. The second cut, “Bromo,” honors East Java’s most famous volcano with beautiful and memorable melodies and a sound that may remind some listeners of the jazzier tendencies of Japanese band Kenso. Other standouts include the gracefully melodic “Whale Dance,” the more hard edged and funky “NYC 2050,” where Budjana graces the proceedings with a sterling guitar solo, and the album’s closer, “The Return of Lamafa,” where the ancient and traditional take a tour through the modern idiom of classical-informed jazz. All taken, So Far So Close is proof positive that fusion is alive and well.
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more