Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet
Sunday, February 7th, 8 p.m.| Arcata Playhouse
"By stripping away most of the bravado that tended to coat these songs in their original incarnations, Abbasi brings forward melody, detail, and thrilling subtlety."
—Will Layman, PopMatters
Rez Abbasi keeps busy. In addition to playing with his supergroup “Invocation” (the quintet he brought to Arcata in 2012) and his new trio “Junction” (which had its coming-out at this year’s WinterJazzFest in New York), he tours with his wife, the vocalist Kiran Ahluwalia, as her arranger and music director. He’s also brought out two albums in the four years since we saw him last: a trio date with John Hébert and Satoshi Takeishi, a band he took to the Newport Jazz Festival in 2013, and a sophomore release from his “Acoustic Quartet” entitled Intents and Purposes—which just happened to be one of our favorite discs of 2015. No wonder Abbasi makes perennial appearances in the illustrious DownBeat Critics Poll, where he was picked as 2013’s #1 Rising Star guitarist.
Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Abbasi grew up in Los Angeles, where he took up the guitar at age 11. Even as his high-school garage band covered Rush, Led Zeppelin and King Crimson, the teen-ager busied himself transcribing solos by the likes of Carlos Santana and B.B. King. But hearing Joe Pass and George Benson pulled him in a different direction, and he eventually pursued jazz and classical studies at USC and the Manhattan School of Music (he’s lived in New York for more than 20 years), while studying privately with everyone from guitarist John Abercrombie to pianist Kenny Werner to tabla master Ustad Alla Rakha.
Famous for his “fusions” of post-bop and South Asian traditions, Abbasi is widely known as “an emblematic figure in the globalization of jazz.” But he is also what PopMatters calls “a classic American omnivore,” and on Intents and Purposes, Abbasi effects a different kind of fusion, reimagining 1970s classics by Weather Report, Return to Forever, and Mahavishnu Orchestra as acoustic tunes, dialing down the volume and bringing out the beauty. The unplugged arrangements retain the rhythmic drive and complexity of the originals, but explore their open spaces, their hidden textures, and above all their unexpectedly gorgeous melodies.For our tenth season, we made a point of inviting back some of our favorite bandleaders from our first nine years, and we were pleased and honored that Abbasi was so keen on returning to the redwoods, this time with veteran vibraphonist Bill Ware (Jazz Passengers, Groove Collective), bassist Stephan Crump (Vijay Iyer Trio) and drummer Eric McPherson (Fred Hersch Trio).
Tickets ($15 General Admission, $10 Students & Seniors) are available here at our website and at People's Records, Wildwood Music, Wildberries, and The Works.
Rez Abbasi will also present an open public workshop on Monday, February 8th at 12:00 noon in HSU's Studio Theater (Theatre Arts Room 115, to the left and down the hall from the Van Duzer lobby). People of all levels of experience are welcome to attend, and admission is FREE.
Words & Pixels:
Video (see also at left)
Audio (see also at left):