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Volume 11 Issue 6 - March 2006

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EXTENDED PLAY POT POURRI

EXTENDED PLAY POT POURRI Wayang Golek: The Sound and Celebration of Sundanese Puppet Theatre Giri Harja III; Asep Sunandar Sunarya Multicultural Media MCM 3019/24 (6 CDs) www.multiculturalmedia.com/mcm3019-24.html According to the informative 45 page booklet by American ethnomusicologist, puppet theatre expert and recording producer Dr. Andrew N. Weintraub, Wayang Golek is the rod puppet theatre of the Sundanese people of West Java, Indonesia, which "celebrates significant life-cycle events and other important social occasions in the lives of the Sundanese people". It uses wooden puppets to relate stories from the Hindu epics Mahabharata and Ramayana told in the Sundanese (plus other) languages. The performance is directed by a dalang or puppet master, who not only manipulates dozens of different puppet characters, but also delivers most of the narration and dialogue, entertains the audience with topical jokes and sings many of the songs during the all-night performance. western opera, albeit a sort of opera where puppets rule the stage! In addition, there are also elements of circus, stand-up, religious ritual and satire added for good measure. Politics and commerce have a place here too . In The Birth Of Gatotkaca, there is a song promoting governmental family planning and several commercials. My favourite commercial is the song spoofing the 1970's Sundanese superhit Daun Pulus, in the popular jaipongan dance club style, with its "Ju-ga-la" refrain, full of menacing male attitude. "Ju-ga-la" is substituted here with the word "Ya-ma-ha", promoting a local motorcycle shop. Very drole. The Birth Of Gatotkaca belongs firmly in the cultural and political context of the West Java, Indonesia of 1994, at the twilight of the political era dominated by its long-term president, Soeharto, and Dr. Weintraub's illuminating booklet provides many social and artistic details of the time. In order to tell the 6 hour lakon or story - The Birth I must admit that I was initially daunted by the Of Gatotkaca, (A Nationalist Hero) - recorded on prospect of making my way through hours of these 6 CDs, Asep Sunandar, the most sought-after Sundanese dialogue, while waiting for the tuneful puppeteer in West Java (pop. c. 35 million), directed songs and flashy gamelan instrumentals. a large ensemble consisting of 17 male musicians Fortunately, on an enhanced CD, the producer who play a type of orchestra called gamelan and two has included English translations of the play, pasinden (female singers). The dalang and his cued to the CD tracks, and an innovative and ensemble skillfully blend many types of performing detailed Performance Flow Chart in the booklet, arts: life-like puppetry, philosophical narrative, which itemizes musical titles and dramatic dialogue at times dramatic and other times elements like monologue and dialogue, genre and humorous, popular songs of the day, and brilliant stage action. All this helped me navigate through instrumental music. All these are combined into an the CDs, to understand the story and allowed me exciting and sometimes raucous popular to enjoy the music in its full context. And once entertainment which at times still shows aspects of armed with the accurate track and performance its sacred roots. Wayang Golek has maintained its info it's easy to customize your listening. For appeal to Sundanese people of all ages and social instance, you could select just your favourite classes, even in this era of massive social, cultural arias or sequence the instrumental gamelan and political change and in the face of the ascendance sections only to create your own orchestral suite. of international mass media. As an indication of his popularity at the time, Asep Sunandar and his group Giri Harja III, were hired to give an average of200 such performances each year. This play was performed and recorded on stage in front of a live audience of some three thousand. For this listener, this set attracts due to the subtle and charming Sundanese songs and the strong, exciting musical performances by the gamelan - all couched within the palpable electricity which only a live performance can deliver. Giri Harja III plays a special gamelan (orchestra), which is distinct from most others, as it is tuned to accommodate seven different 5-tone laras or scales on their single set of instruments. Usually a single gamelan can play one or two different scales only. The result is that this "multi-laras" tuning allows great tonal variety in the music, giving the impression at times of surprising modal modulation. It also allows this group to perform several types of songs found originally in various Sundanese genres, each tied to one particular tuning system. To my mind, in the large human and historical themes it broaches, its theatrical sweep and in the sophisticated musical forces it employs, Wayang Golek sometimes comes tantalizingly close to Andrew Timar Red and Brassy The Duncan Hopkins Quartet with the Canadian Staff Band of the Salvation Army LRM004 There are several things that make Duncan Hopkins' latest recording stand out from the crowd. The first and most obvious is the combining of his quartet (Hopkins on bass, alto saxophonist Roy Styffe, pianist Adrean Farrugia and drummer Anthony Micheli) with the Canadian Staff Band of the Salvation Army. The CSB has recorded commercially before, with trumpet soloist Jens Lindemann with excellent results, however, this is the first record I can think of that fully integrates a brass band with a jazz group. Hopkins' compositions are the second outstanding feature - this CD does not come off as a jazz group backed by a band, but rather as a seamless melding of the quartet with the broad tonal palette and depth of sound of the brass band. My first thoughts on listening to the disc were that Hopkins must have been inspired by the music of Kenny Wheeler. As I discovered on reading the liner notes, one of the works is actually dedicated to this Canadian-born trumpeter/composer. One of the pieces, White Pants, Red Suspenders is written as a traditional big band swing number; another, On the March is a straight ahead piece for brass band alone. My personal favourites are Changing Tides and The Eminent Immigrant. A project like "Red & Brassy" would be difficult enough to pull off in a studio setting, but this entire disc was recorded live at Glenn Gould Studio. This CD is a remarkable musical accomplishment - highly recommended! Merlin Williams Concert Note: Duncan Hopkins' inspiration Kenny Wheeler teams up with Phil Dwyer, Don Thompson and Rick Wilkins for a performance Glenn Gould Studio on March 31. 74 WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE.COM M A RCH 1 - A PRI L 7 2006

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