The combination of acoustic guitar and harp is seldom heard in jazz and improvisational circles but it is explored here in exciting fashion by harpist Isabelle Olivier and guitarist Rez Abbasi. Accompanied by Prabhu Edouard on tabla and David Paycha on drums, they bring their instruments' sounds together in a variety of musical textures ranging from intense to contemplative.
The guitar and harp shimmer delicately together on "Cherry Blossom" and swoop and dive with swagger on their version of "My Favorite Things." The two percussionists also play important roles throughout, providing solid undercurrents which give added tension and drive to melodic rhythms like the mesmerizing chug of "Timeline" and the liquid interplay of "Looking For Dad." Edouard's tabla gets a few stand-out moments such as his brief solo turn on "Couer qui bat" and his work on "Road Movie," underlining an ominous harp and guitar weave, as well as taking his own spotlight workout playing tabla and singing.
The contrast between the guitar's melodic waves and the harp's percussive accents is really pronounced on "Other Tones." Buoyed by the drums and table, the two produce a thick and urgent melody which resembles Ralph Towner's efforts with the band Oregon. Abbasi also takes a tender Spanish-tinged solo here. "Stepping Stone" has Abassi and Olivier engaging in slick, quick-fingered interplay which is eventually overwhelmed by a misty collage of drums and electronic distortion. The electronic effects come even more to the front on "Dodeca," an atmospheric setting for isolated guitar and harp notes in a deep field of echo.
This CD can sound both bracingly different and subtly seductive at different points. Whether Olivier and Abassi are playing off each other with dizzying flourishes or carving bits of sound into cavernous silences, they create stimulating and elegantly exotic sounds.
My Favorite Things; Lemongrass; Cherry Blossom; Timeline; Cover Qui Bat; Stepping
Stone; Road Movie; Dodeca; Other Tones; Looking For Dad.
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