Moonjune Records continue to surprise me with the discovery of Indonesian bands. It seems as if they've found a source of musicians strongly devoted to their music. This time this source generated a band with the rather uncommon name I Know You Well Miss Clara led by guitarist Reza Ryan. The band, formed in 2009, comprise three graduates from the Indonesia Institute Of Art. Keyboardist Adi Wijaya is the youngest member who excels on the piano. He's the musical counterpart of Reza Ryan who challenges him to move the bar a few notches every time they play together. The rhythm section consists of bass player Enriko Gultom and drummer Alfiah Akbar who form a steady base for the impressive, adventurous melodies and improvisations of Ryan and Wijaya.
Musically they mix 'old school' jazz-rock and fusion in the vein of John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra , Soft Machine, Chick Corea and even Joe Zawinul. This sound is imbedded in modern-day improvisations and techniques. Sometimes Ryan creates a wide range of sounds on which Wijaya reacts quite melancholically. Listen for instance to the ten-minute opening piece Open The Door, See The Ground. The combination of the bass and the electric piano in the following Conversation really does justice to the song title. If you listen attentively following the flow of the music, you'll hear the musicians having a nice conversation by means of their instruments! The musicians nicely build up their music during Pop Sick Love Carousel. It starts rather dark, but gently the mood gets livelier while the guitar provides the positive energy with a nice tune. The rhythmic capabilities of drummer Akbar are outstanding during this piece, which also applies to the jazzy guitar riffs that perfectly fit in this impressive composition.
Reverie #2, the longest track on this CD lasts over fourteen minutes. It takes you back to the seventies in which era John McLaughlin, Jeff Beck and Allan Holdsworth already produced this kind of music. Reza Ryan masters all these styles and blends them with dark keyboard sounds. I think this track will become my favourite one. Next is Love Letter From Canada, a mellow composition with extended guitar sounds over a slow rhythmic base, while Dangerous Kitchen is an improvised piece mixed with pure piano jazz. Adi Wijaya really shines on this one. Halfway the guitar takes over which leads to a modern improvisation blended with different sounds.
The final song with the curious title A Dancing Girl From The Planet Marsavishnu Named After The Love, features a nice saxophone passage by Nicolas Combe, who - by the way - played on the previous song as well. This ten-minute composition sounds as a spontaneous jam. The rhythm section provides this piece a solid base while the piano adds fine melodies and chords. Combe's saxophone and Ryan's guitar fill the solo spots with strong and inspired playing. It's a very pleasant song to listen to and a good one to end an album with.
Indeed, I Know You Well Miss Clara have written and recorded Chapter One. Although jazz-rock and fusion already exists for many years, this album might be regarded to be chapter one of a new book of jazz-rock and fusion. I hope the genre gets a boost by this young Indonesian band and I think this is the best release of Moonjune Records so far. Leonardo Pavkovic, the man in charge with Moonjune Records, will certainly come up with other new and astonishing bands.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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