A group of superb musicians from the jazz fusion and world music scenes got together in La Casa Murada studio in northeastern Spain in 2017. What they recorded is Rumah Batu, an extraordinary genre defying album that combines progressive jazz, Indonesian music, flamenco and other influences.
Indonesian pianist, composer and producer Dwiki Dharmawan is an acclaimed maestro, known for his eclectic music work and openness. In La Casa Murada, he was joined by a stellar group of musical colleagues: Vietnamese-French electric guitar wizard and note-bending innovator Nguyên Lê; famed Spanish flamenco fretless bass player Carles Benavent (Paco de Lucia’s bass player); and the formidable rhythm section of UK-based bassist Yaron Stavi and drummer Asaf Sirkis.
Although most of the album was recorded in Spain, additional musicians were recorded in Indonesia, adding a strong Southeast Asian essence to the album: Indonesian suling flute virtuoso Sa’at Syah; Ade Rudiana on kendang percussion; Dewi Gita on lead vocals; Teuku Hariansya & Indra Maulana Keubitbit on Rapa’I Acehnese percussions; Nyoman Windha’s Gamelan Jass Jegog Balinese gamelan and percussion; and Smit on vocals and LaLove traditional Sulawesi flute.
Although the majority of the album is instrumental, track three features the mesmerizing and evocative vocals of Dewi Gita.
Rumah Batu is an exceptionally expressive and imaginative album featuring an impeccable kaleidoscope of jazz and Indonesian sounds.
Few keyboardists in jazz history matched the creativity and eclecticism of Joe Zawinul. He was a true innovator in the world of jazz and one of the originators of today’s world fusion sounds.
Joe Zawinul was born on July 7, 1932, in Kirchbach, a small village near Vienna. His first instrument was the accordion. At the age of 12, he started to learn the piano, which became his main instrument. After World War II, Zawinul continued his musical education at the prestigious Vienna Conservatory. He moved to the United States in 1959 on a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music in Boston.
In the United States, he inevitably became involved in jazz, playing as a sideman to artists such as Slide Hampton, Dinah Washington, and Cannonball Adderley. He met and collaborated with Miles Davis while the latter was moving into his electric era and was essential in the outcome of Bitches Brew (1970), Davis’ first electric project.
After releasing his debut solo album on Atlantic in 1970, Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter put together one of the most important jazz groups of the 1970s, Weather Report. Drawing on the power and theatricality of rock and R&B, while maintaining allegiance to jazz and the pure spirit of improvisation, they were pioneers of the fusion movement of that decade while carving out their own unique niche.
Even though band members came and went, Weather Report’s spirit prevailed over the course of 17 albums, including the groundbreaking Black Market and the enormously popular Heavy Weather, which included Zawinul’s infectious song “Birdland.” That song, in versions by Weather Report, Manhattan Transfer and Quincy Jones, won separate Grammy awards in three successive decades. Weather Report itself won a Grammy for its live album, 8:30.
In 1985, after he and Shorter finally agreed to go in separate musical directions, Zawinul continued to create adventurous new grooves in the group known as Weather Update and then the Zawinul Syndicate, whose albums included My People in 1996 and the two-CD, World Tour in 1998.
Other special projects included an adventurous solo electronic album, Dialects (1986), and work as producer and arranger on Salif Keita’s landmark album, Amen (1991). Meanwhile, as another side project of his creative life, Zawinul also pursued classical composition, writing his ambitious Stories Of The Danube in 1993 and working with renowned classical pianist Friedrich Gulda. His special solo project “Mauthausen,” released in Europe in 2000, is a memorial for the victims of the Holocaust, and was performed on the site of the Austrian concentration camp after which it is named.
Zawinul had honorary doctorates from Berklee School of Music, and is the official Austrian goodwill ambassador to 17 African nations. In January 2002, Zawinul received the first International Jazz Award, co-presented by the International Jazz Festival Organization and the International Association of Jazz Educators. In 2002, he released the CD Faces & Places.
The live album Vienna Nights came out in 2005.
Zawinul was a pioneer in the use of electronic keyboards, ranging from synthesizers to samplers. He incorporated global sounds into his keyboards, developing cutting edge world fusion.
Joe Zawinul died in Vienna on 7 August 7, 2007.
To You with Love (Strand, 1959)
Money in the Pocket (Atlantic, 1966) Rise & Fall of Third Stream (Vortex, 1968) Zawinul (Atlantic, 1971) Dialects (Columbia, 1986)
The Immigrants (Columbia, 1988)
Black Water (Columbia, 1989)
Lost Tribes (Columbia, 1992) My People (ESC, 1996)
Stories of the Danube (Polygram, 1996) World Tour (ESC, 1997)
Mauthausen – Vom großen Sterben hören (ESC, 2000)
Faces & Places (ESC, 2002)
Joe Zawinul & The Zawinul Syndicate – Vienna Nights – Live at Joe Zawinul’s Birdland (Heads Up, 2005) Brown Street (Heads Up, 2006) 75 (Heads Up, 2008)
In a career that has spanned over 4 years John McLaughlin has been part of or led some of the most important movements in jazz and music. His compositions are now being treated with the reverence of classical music pieces and being interpreted the world over musicians of many varied genres.
John McLaughlin was born January 4 1942 in Doncaster, Yorkshire in England. The guitarist is well known for his eclectic taste in music. McLaughlin was a child when he first fell in love with jazz and the blues and he was just 11 years old when he began studying and playing the guitar.
The 1960s found him playing jazz rock and blues in his native England where he worked with Alexis Korner and Ginger Baker among others before moving to New York at the end of the decade.
McLaughlin had a busy year in 1969. He recorded his debut album Extrapolation and started working with two seminal voices in early fusion: Tony Williams (who employed McLaughlin and organist Larry Young in his trailblazing group Lifetime) and Miles Davis. Never afraid to forge ahead Davis had done a lot to popularize cool jazz and modal post-bop in the past and he continued to break new ground when he introduced fusion on his 1969 sessions In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew both of which feature McLaughlin’s playing. The guitarist was also featured on 1970’s A Tribute to Jack Johnson another Davis gem of the time.
Like bebop in the 1940s and modal jazz in the early 1960s fusion was controversial. Jazz purists felt that rock and funk rhythms had no place in jazz but thankfully McLaughlin disagreed and let his musical instincts guide him.
After participating in Davis’ and Williams’ groundbreaking fusion combos McLaughlin founded an influential group of his own in 1971: The Mahavishnu Orchestra fusion’s first super group. The Mahavishnu Orchestra created music that still has a unique influence today. The band included some of the finest contemporary jazz instrumentalists of the time: violinist Jerry Goodman (later Jean-Luc Ponty), keyboardist Jan Hammer (later Gayle Moran and Stu Goldberg), bassist Rick Laird (later Ralphe Armstrong) and drummer Billy Cobham (later Narada Michael Walden). The Mahavishnu Orchestra combined electric jazz and rock with Indian influences.
By the time Mahavishnu broke up in 1975 it had recorded several classic albums for Columbia (including Birds of Fire, Between Nothingness and Eternity, The Inner Mounting Flame, Apocalypse and Visions of the Emerald Beyond) and gone down in history as one of the 1970’s most influential fusion ensembles.
In 1973 collaborated with Carlos Santana on the album Love Devotion Surrender dedicated to their guru at the time Sri Chinmoy. They covered John Coltrane pieces including the classic “A Love Supreme” (with chanting) and several Mahavishnu compositions.
In 1975 McLaughlin did the unexpected by founding Shakti an acoustic group that employed traditional Indian musicians including tabla player Zakir Hussain violinist L. Shankar (Ravi Shankar’s nephew), T.H. Vikku Vinayakram (ghatam) and earlier Ramnad Raghavan (mridangam). The group released Shakti with John McLaughlin and A Handful of Beauty.
Shakti underscored the guitarist’s interest in India’s music culture and religion. Shakti reminded listeners that McLaughlin was as appealing on the acoustic guitar as he was on its electric counterpart and proved that he wasn’t about to confine himself to playing any one style of music exclusively.
Indeed McLaughlin was heard in a variety of musical settings in the 1980s everything from a brief Mahavishnu Orchestra reunion in 1984 to an acoustic guitar summit with Al DiMeola and Flamenco legend Paco de Lucia in 1982 (The Guitar Trio) to a classical album with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1988. At the same time McLaughlin was also at the forefront of technology using the first guitar synthesizers.
McLaughlin was no less eclectic in the 1990s when his Verve projects ranged from 1993’s acoustic Time Remembered: John McLaughlin Plays Bill Evans (a tribute to the late pianist) to sessions featuring organist Joey DeFrancesco (1993’s Tokyo Live) and an acoustic McLaughlin/DiMeola/de Lucia reunion in 1996.
It was in 1997 that McLaughlin reunited with Zakir Hussain and a reconfigured version of Shakti for several U.K. concerts that were documented on Verve’s two-CD set Remember Shakti. In the subsequent years John has releasedAfter the Rain with Elvin Jones and a career retrospective titled The Promise as well as the live The Heart of Things and most recently Industrial Zen.
In 2005 he created a revolutionary guitar instructional DVD This is the Way I Do It that has met with universal praise. Today he continues on his musical journey by once again delving into yet another musical form that combines all of his past experience with as of yet unlearned knowledge.
‘I’m a guitar player that’s what I am primarily that’s what I’ll always be‘ McLaughlin has been quoted as saying. ‘(And) I’m an eternal learner. I don’t want to stop learning because I feel that no matter what I’ve done; I’m really just beginning again. I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning.’
In 2010 he received the reputable German jazzahead! Award. The award honors the activities of artists in the vibrant and distinct musical language of jazz.
In 2015 McLaughlin released Black Light featuring 8 original McLaughlin compositions including a tribute to his departed colleague collaborator and friend Paco De Lucia, with whom McLaughlin had intended to compose an album’s worth of new material just before De Lucia’s untimely passing. McLaughlin returned to acoustic guitar for a tribute to his friend titled “El Hombre Que Sabia”.
The rest of Black Light is electric showcasing McLaughlin’s band the 4th Dimension, “my three favorite musicians,” said McLaughlin. The 4th Dimension is composed of multi-instrumentalist Gary Husband on keyboards and drums, Etienne Mbappe on electric bass and drummer Ranjit Barot.
Rahul Mukerji – Ma De Re Sha (Rahul Mukerji, 2017)
Ma De Re Sha is a great electric guitar album by Rahul Mukerji, an Indian musician living in the Washington D.C. area. Mukerji combines powerful rock guitar hero licks with jazz-rock fusion, Middle Eastern beats and Indian music influences. He also uses a note bending technique that gives it a South Asian flavor and sets him apart from western guitar players.
The lineup includes Rahul Mukerji on guitars, guitar synth, e-bow, sampling, tabla and drum programming; Bruce Ng on additional drum and percussion programming on all tracks; Ruben Rubio on bass.