Rez Abassi

Jazz
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Editorial Review

REZ ABBASI'S INVOCATION
Album review: "Suno Suno"

"Suno Suno" is Urdu for "listen, listen," and if the title of the new album by guitarist Rez Abbasi's Invocation suggests an urgent desire to communicate, the same can be said for Abassi's goal as a composer.

A surging spirituality is evident throughout the album, which is influenced by Pakistani Qawwali music and underscores connections to American gospel and blues. The common thread, as Abbasi explains in his liner notes, is the way these genres affect the listener - "a complex subtlety that goes beyond theory and fills the air and ear with its spirit."

Born in Pakistan and raised in California, Abbasi wrote all seven selections on the album, and they reflect myriad influences, including modal fusion jazz and progressive rock. The performances tend to be lengthy, fervent and highly interactive, with Abbasi, pianist Vijay Iyer and alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa featured prominently. Mahanthappa's alto sax often brings a burning intensity, beginning with 12-minute opener "Thanks for Giving" and culminating with album coda "Part of One." Iyer's contributions are brightly chromatic, sharply dissonant and elegantly melodic by turns.

As for Abbasi, whether contributing to streaming harmonies and entrancing grooves, or fluidly improvising, he thrives in a series of quintet settings that are vibrantly animated and deftly textured by bassist Johannes Weidenmueller and drummer Dan Weiss.

--Mike Joyce, Jan. 13, 2012