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Rez Abbasi: Unfiltered Universe review – punchy jazz guitarist merges west and east

Finding his voice … Rez Abbasi.

Fans of the tightly-wound, rhythmically capricious New York downtown jazz sound of Tim Berne or David Binney will welcome this punchy set by Karachi guitarist Rez Abbasi, which also subtly interweaves rhythmic thinking from traditional Pakistani and Indian music. Abbasi has recruited two firebrand virtuosi with related roots - pianist Vijay Iyer and alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa – and though Asian music has been more explicit on his earlier albums, this one disguises those origins in teasing and sometimes unsettling drifts between time signatures, and features western instruments. The dense, rigorous Propensity unfolds over a stealthily time-bending bassline and features Mahanthappa’s blistering avant-bop sax improv, while the title track lays a kind of Indo-Latin feel beneath Abassi’s lissom guitar lines. Thoughts mixes Pat Metheny’s trumpet-like synth-guitar sound and a sitar’s slurs, and classical cello sporadically softens the street-edgy mix. Balancing high-speed jazz with so many taxing rhythm-bends while maintaining cohesion is a tough call at times, but Abbasi is plainly an emerging force with his own voice.

This article titled "Rez Abbasi: Unfiltered Universe review – punchy jazz guitarist merges west and east" was written by John Fordham, for The Guardian on Thursday 12 October 2017 06.00pm


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