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Rez Abbasi & Junction: Behind the Vibration

Mark F. Turner By

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With a unique touch and distinct abilities, guitarist Rez Abbasi has produced some captivating recordings that have combined modern jazz and Pakistani/American in forward thinking projects like 2015's Intents and Purposes (Enja) with his Acoustic Quartet which put a fresh spin on popular 1970s jazz-rock compositions. Here he presents Junction, a new electric project of original music delivered by like-minded musicians with a lively plugged-in aesthetic—throbbing keyboards and funky yet tricky rhythms that lean heavily toward his early rock influences.

Abbasi's bass-less quartet is cohesive; his searching guitar is lifted by the versatile first call tenor stylist Mark Shim who also provides an array of sound on electronic MIDI Wind Controller. Beat Kaestli Ben Stivers brings a plethora of keyboard and organ tones while Kenny Grohowski's adds drumming pyrotechnics.

The album at times gives a nod to the fusion guitar-deities like Allan Holdsworth but retains elements of Abbasi's Indo-Pak flavor which find fresh avenues that explore quicksilver notes and a cool time-warping effect on "Uncommon Sense" a track where Shim's abstract tenor workout simply sizzles.

Behind the Vibration offers plenty of sonic goodies. "Holy Butter" lays down the funk as Shim's Wind Controller ranges from earth shaking low end frequencies to flutelike synthesizer highs whereas "And I You" is draped with funeral-like organ and caressing drum traps. Abbasi's axe is imbued with multiple granularities: pristine clean, slightly fuzzed or nasty distortions that are always coupled with feeling and control.

Abbasi once again takes the listener to unexpected places showing whether playing in an acoustic or electronic/techno setting. While Behind the Vibration might contain influences of progressive-rock Abbasi's music has always represented a fusion or junction of different ideas. This release is another extension of his interests that will hopefully be revisited.

Track Listing: Holy Butter; Groundswell; Inner Context; Uncommon Sense; And I You; Self-Brewing; New Rituals; Matter Falls.

Personnel: Rez Abbasi: guitar & composition; Mark Shim: tenor saxophone & midi wind-controller; Ben Stivers: keyboards, B3 organ, Rhodes; Kenny Grohowski: drums.

Title: Behind the Vibration | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records


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