Indian music has been integrated into jazz in many ways. It has been subject to the harmony of jazz and has also taken the leading role, with jazz harmony in support. There are been many essayists of this fusion, and Rez Abbasi is one of them. But there is something that sets Abbasi apart: his exquisite use of the raga and jazz.
Abbasi's compositions flow gently. As they do, they envelop rich textures, the final product striking in its detail. And his sense of invention and technique on the guitar pushes the music into startlingly delightful tonalities.
Abbasi's thick notes roll off on "Snake Charmer, the whorl capturing the Indian notation before he dips into jazz structure and opens the plain with a spin of exhilarating notes. That's just the covenant for the organ of Gary Versace, who shades the tune with boisterous runs, and Danny Weiss, who lays down some punchy drumming.
A whole new sound seeps into "Pearl," the music more Indian; Weiss plays tabla, Abbasi plays the sitar-guitar and percussion, and the accomplished Kiran Ahluwalia sings in classical Indian style. Abbasi's instrument and the tuning give the tune a distinct blend of colorsgorgeous but never overwhelming. Dave Liebman adds the final daub, curving into the melody and adding adjuncts that go to swell the appeal. Liebman's ability to get into the crux of a melody and fill it with warmth is seen in "Rumi, where Abbasi dips into the nuances and finds his muse, making this another winner.
Personnel: Rez Abbasi: guitars, sitar-guitar, percussion; Gary Versace: organ; Danny Weiss: drums,
tabla; Kiran Ahluwalia: Indian vocals, tanpura; Dave Liebman: soprano saxophone.