With the addition of Tesla Manaf to the increasingly growing gathering of musicians, Moonjune Records enlisted a young Indonesian guitar player, whose goal is to convert spoken words to notes. In Tesla Manaf's case into guitar notes.
The album consists of two parts, the first half is a 2014 recording called A Man's Relationship With His Fragile Area, which has besides Tesla's guitar, Rudy Zulkarnaen on upright bass, Desal Sembada as drummer and Hulhul on clarinet, trompet pencak and the Indonesian wooden flute. This half of the album sees music, heavily based on jazz and even classical music. I hear influences of renowned players like Pat Metheny and Ralph Towner, who are absolutely great musicians, but overall I do think Tesla's guitar should have been more in the leading role. Now the sometimes annoying sounds of Hulhul are too dominant, like during Counting Miles & Smiles. Luckily during other compositions the guitars have the lead and you can hear a guitarist that has a lot of skills. Too bad Hulhul takes away most of the fun I could have had on this part of the album.
The second part of the album is the 2011 recording It's All Yours, which sees a different approach. This part is much more based on traditional Indonesian music and in a way I can appreciate this jazz meets traditional music more that the first part of the album. Although this part is a few years old, it still sounds fresh and Tesla's guitar perfectly works with the vocal parts during It's All Yours: Part 4 and the great range of variety on percussive instruments.
Tesla Manaf is not quite progressive rock material, but especially the second part of the album has many interesting parts where jazz guitar and tradition go perfectly well together. In the end, this is an album for jazz enthusiasts with an open mind for traditional music and their percussive instruments and improvisation.
*** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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