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Rez Abbasi Trio: Continuous Beat

Glenn Astarita By

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Guitarist Rez Abbasi is one of the more prolific modern-era guitarists, calling New York City home but often adhering to his Pakistani roots through the looking-glass of jazz. Other than his impressive chops, he often amalgamates—to varying degrees—an Indo-jazz vibe into his solo outings and session gigs. However, on this plugged-in trio date, Abbasi instills a quasi, jazz-fusion vibe while adding minimal doses of distortion into the grand schema.

With a formidable rhythm section supplying a loose but highly regimented backdrop, it's also a democratic engagement as the respective artists enjoy free rein during the improvisational components. The trio rocks out and engages in some tricky progressive jazz-like time signatures, yet each piece encompasses several moving parts and intimates a winning formula, especially from a compositional standpoint. Abbasi's dark-toned electric bears a slight edge. It's music with 'tude, as the band integrates fluidity, power, and zooms into overdrive to highlight the overall dynamic. Abbasi launches several soaring solos and a few lyrically charged breakneck fills, often executed in animated fashion.

Other than Abbasi's original compositions, the trio tackles pianist Keith Jarrett's sleek and snaky "The Cure," the rhythm section instilling a jaggedly flowing pulse. Here, drummer Satoshi Takeishi fills in the gaps with swarming rolls across the toms atop bassist John Hébert's earth-toned lines and booming ostinato groove. The trio also deconstructs pianist Thelonious Monk's "Off Minor," with a slap-and-dab cadence, while dancing around the primary melody during the bridge, improvising within the free-zone and then rigidly following the main theme for the coda. Abbasi then picks up his acoustic guitar and closes out the album with a somber spin on the "Star Spangled Banner."

Where other guitar trio albums are solely built on running through scales and complex time signatures for the sake of it, this trio frames its existence on substance from nearly all angles and perceptions. With lessons learned from a holistic view for aspiring jazz artists and students, it's clear why Abbasi and company are among the best in the business.

Track Listing: Introduction; Divided Attention; Major Major; Rivalry; Itexture; The Cure; Off Minor; Back Skin; Star Spangled Banner.

Personnel: Rez Abbasi: guitars; John Hébert: bass; Satoshi Takeishi: drums.

Title: Continuous Beat | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Enja Records

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CD/LP/Track Review
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