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Indonesian Pianist Sri Hanuraga Travels 'To the Universe' on deMajors Records [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt m.greenblatt@classicalite.com on Mar 12, 2016 12:11 PM EST

Sri Hanuraga -- known as Aga -- is a young piano player from Indonesia whose new CD, To The Universe (deMajors Records), is influenced by Herbie Hancock and McCoy Tyner, yet it's Brad Mehldau who Aga apes on this self-produced quartet recording of piano/bass/drums/flute.

His cast of European musicians stick to him like a second skin, especially drummer Kristijan Krajncan and bassist Mattia Magatelli. Flautist Rodrigo Parejo Mateos flies his own curlicues up, over, around and through the mix like a demented butterfly, giving To The Universe a light, airy personality, and almost stealing Aga's spotlight on three of the 10 tracks (the three part "Ever Changing" suite).

When Aga is alone, he's splendiferous, wonderfully trilling across the 88s like an amalgamation of the aforementioned pianistic professionals. Switching between acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes, Aga can really bring it home showstopper style. The kid certainly doesn't mind showing off! Opener "Teka-Teki" is a great showcase of his talents before he gives the foreground to the flute. The title track then cements his dominance while "Amadeus" provides classical flourishes and "A Palm For You" uses just the right touch of dissonance to set it apart as a highlight.

Recorded in Amsterdam, Holland, To The Universe is the culmination of Aga's lessons with Indonesia's top jazz piano player, Indra Lesmana. He's since gone on to perform various genres including progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion and straightahead jazz throughout Southeast Asia and Europe, winning numerous prestigious talent awards in the process.

The combination of originals and folk songs arranged for jazz quartet is a heady brew. Props must go to MoonJune Records for distributing and promoting this Indonesian beauty stateside. The label bills itself as "Progressive Music Exploring the Boundaries of Jazz, Rock, Avant-Garde & the Unknown." It gets its name from a 1970 prog-rock album entitled The Moon In June by Soft Machine drummer Robert Wyatt, and, under the leadership of Leonardo Pavkovic, a musician himself, has positioned its wares as a solid independent alternative with an alive roster of courageous adventurers.

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TagsSri Hanuraga, MoonJune Records, indonesia, REVIEW