Rez Abbasi


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Pakistani-born Los Angeles-raised guitarist Rez Abbasi debuted with Third Ear (november 1992), followed by Modern Memory (1996), Out Of Body (2002), with two ten-minute jams (Ganges and Dark Bones), Snake Charmer (june 2003), featuring Indian vocalist Kiran Ahluwalia and reedist Dave Liebman, Bazaar (september 2005), with Rudresh Mahanthappa on alto sax plus Dave Liebman on soprano sax, Things To Come (january 2009), that debuted the Invocation quintet with alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa and pianist Vijay Iyer (and guest vocalist Ahluwalia), containing Within Sanity and Realities Of Chromaticism, Natural Selection (may 2010), his first acoustic recording, accompanied by Bill Ware on vibraphone, Stephan Crump on acoustic bass and Eric McPherson on drums, Suno Suno (december 2010), another Invocation collaboration with Mahanthappa and Iyer, with stellar interplay and thoughtful compositions (Thanks for Giving, Onus on Us, Nusrat, Overseas, Part of One), Continuous Beat (may 2012), a trio with bassist John Hebert and drummer Satoshi Takeishi, and Intents and Purposes (april 2014), the acoustic follow-up to Natural Selection.

Rez Abbasi also formed Junction with saxophonist Mark Shim (who played with Hamiett Bluiett, Elvin Jones, David Murray, Greg Osby, Vijay Iyer), veteran keyboardist Ben Stivers and drummer Kenny Grohowski of Secret Chiefs 3. They debuted with Behind the Vibration (august 2015). The five lengthy jams that constitute the bulk of the album are a bit too predictable. These seasoned players are obviously skilled and don't need to prove it here, but there is a general lack of passion and imagination. It feels like a fashion show in which models perform well-tested memorized movements. The liquid jazz-rock Holy Butter (9:01) is quite derivative, no matter how vibrant and competent the playing. There is, nonetheless, plenty to digest. For example the lyrical and summer-y guitar refrain and the eloquent organ solo in Inner Context (8:51), the raga-psychedelic beginning of Uncommon Sense (8:54), the stuttering trumpet solo in New Rituals (9:05), which is probably the album's standout (but feels like a collage of individual solos), etc.

The trilogy with Iyer and Mahanthappa was completed by Unfiltered Universe (february 2016) that documents a lineup with Vijay Iyer (piano), Rudresh Mahanthappa (alto sax), Johannes Weidenmueller (double bass), Dan Weiss (drums) and Elizabeth Mikhael (cello).

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