Nov 19, 2011
Guitarist Rez Abbasi was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and grew up in California listening to rock music. Today, he mixes the sounds of his native Southern Asia – particularly devotional Qawwali music – with jazz and classical sounds to create true world music. Whether he is playing with the electric Rez Abbasi’s Invocation (with Rudresh Mahanthappa and Vijay Iyer), Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet (“RAAQ”), the Indo-Pak Coalition (with Mahanthappa and Dan Weiss) or with his wife Kiran Ahluwalia’s band, he is performing at the highest level, and becoming a leading figure in modern jazz.
I spoke with Abassi earlier in November, following the release of his latest CD, Suno Suno, one of the best of the year. Rez Abbasi’s Invocation has a band capable of performing both western jazz and eastern sounds with great dexterity, creating music that shifts and swirls as often as it subtly swings. Click here to listen to the interview, which includes musical selection like:
Kiran Ahluwalia – “Aks” from Wanderlust. When we spoke, Rez was on tour as the musical leader of his wife Kiran’s band. He plays guitar and produced the CD, which creates a fusion of ghazals, the Indian and Persian sung poetry often about unrequited love, and fado, the melancholic Portuguese song form also based in poetry. Kiran was born in India, raised in Canada, and now lives in New York.
Rez Abbasi – “Dream State” from Things to Come. Rez’s killer band – Rudresh Mahanthappa on alto sax, Vijay Iyer on piano, Johannes Weidenmueller on bass and Dan Weiss on drums and tabla – kicked off the CD with this tune that allows everyone to stretch out a bit. Listen to the closing solo by Mahanthrappa, in which he at times tries to replicate the tone of a traditional Indian shenai (a double reed conical oboe).
Rez Abbasi’s Invocation – “Onus On Us” from Suno Suno. You’ll have to listen to the interview to hear a great story on how this song, and thus the album, came to be titled. The same band is here in its glory, on a Qawwali-influenced number
Rez Abbasi’s Invocation – “Part of One” from Suno Suno. A more conventional jazz structure makes this tune a standout. Rez really gets a chance to solo here.
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – “Shamas-Ud-Doha, Badar-Ud-Doja (Edit) (Edit) “from Passion Sources. Passion Sources was compiled by Peter Gabriel as a companion album to Passion (the music written for the film The Last Temptation of Christ). Legendary Qawwali Singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan contributed greatly to Gabriel’s attempt at a genuine Middle Eastern feel.