Rez Abbasi: Snake Charmer (2006)
Typical throughout, as on the title track, the fleet-fingered Abbasi dances around the propulsive rock-like grooves of drummer Danny Weiss, and organist Gary Versace jumps into the fray. On "Pearl" (dedicated to slain American journalist Daniel Pearl) and "Rumi," guest soprano saxophonist Dave Liebman explores the outer realms, joined by the Indian-style singing of singer Kiran Ahluwalia.
On my favorite track, "Motherland," Abbasi and the band take the volume level down as Weiss' tablas lay down a steady rhythm, allowing Ahluwalia to vocalize with wordless vocals, producing a hypnotic and transcendent, almost otherworldly effect. She appears again on the closing "Thanks for Nothingness," with Abbasi playing acoustic guitar. Indeed, Ahluwalia's singing is the highlight of Snake Charmer and what prevents it from becoming just another East-meets-West musical exchange. The musicians in this tight group listen to one another, never getting in each other's way, and allow for lots of solo opportunities.
Track Listing: Snake Charmer; Pearl; Tantra; Motherland; Kismet; Rumi; Blood Orange; Thanks for Nothingness.
Personnel: Rez Abbasi: guitar, sitar; Gary Versace: organ; Danny Weiss: drums, tabla; Kiran Ahluwalia: vocals.
Record Label: Earth Sounds