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Rez Abbasi: OASIS

Mark Corroto By

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Guitarist Rez Abbasi and harpist Isabelle Olivier's OASIS (an acronym for Olivier Abbasi Sound In Sound) is embodiment of fusion. Not the variety you may recognize as jazz-rock fusion, more like fusion cooking, for example Korean-Mexican or sushi-pizza. Okay, not sushi-pizza, but you get the idea. Olivier and Abbasi are pulling together jazz, Indian-Pakistani, and European classical music without compromising the character of each.

Abbasi, a Pakistani-American is better known than his French partner (who lives part time in Chicago) via the the Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet, Rez Abbasi Trio, Rez Abbasi & Junction, and Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition. He has the skills and maybe more importantly the temperament to seamlessly switch between soul-jazz, South Asian music, post-bop, blues, and world music. With OASIS all those skills are exhibited, plus he deals with a new instrument, a harp and Olivier's compositions.

The harpist's music explores the elegantly delicate on "Cherry Blossoms," shifts into Hitchcock-like soundtrack scores with "Timeline," and employs ethereally contemplative ambiance on "Dodeca." Additionally, the pair decided to add two percussionists, David Paycha (drums) and Prabhu Edouard (tabla & kanjira), to the musical meal. The two-string and two-percussion approach frustrates any attempt to categorize this outing. Olivier's harp often morphs into a piano-like sound ("Stepping Stone") or it mimics a sitar on "Lemongrass," with Abbasi providing a bass line. Olivier's "Looking For Dad" and the quartet's cover of Richard Rodger's standard, "My Favorite Things," might be the best examples of this edible fusion. Like John Coltrane's version of MFT, they take a bit of saccharine and turn it into something savory. "Looking For Dad" combines the pieces without degrading parts. Indian tabla music acts as a pillar for both a Spanish-tinged guitar and some European chamber-meets-popular music.

OASIS is a melange with crisp edges.

Track Listing

My Favorite Things; Lemongrass; Cherry Blossom; Timeline; Cover Qui Bat; Stepping Stone; Road Movie; Dodeca; Other Tones; Looking For Dad.


Rez Abbasi: guitar, acoustic; Isabelle Olivier: harp; Prabhu Edouard: tablas; David Paycha: drums.

Album information

Title: OASIS | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Enja Records/Yellowbird


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