Rez Abbasi Spotlight

"Things to Come" from his CD Things to Come
TGS Spotlight Player from March 4, 2010

Born on the Indian sub-continent, removed at the age of four to the vastness of Southern California, schooled at the University of Southern California and the Manhattan School of Music in jazz and classical music, as well as a pilgrimage in India under the tutorial of master percussionist, Ustad Alla Rakha, Rez Abbasi is a vivid synthesis of all the above stated influences and genres.

Making New York home for the past 18 years, Rez Abbasi is considered by many to be one of the foremost modern jazz guitar players on todayís scene. He has developed a unique sound both as a composer and an instrumentalist and has honed his skills with performances through out the world including multiple tours in Europe, Canada, the U.S., Mexico and India. He has performed and recorded with many jazz greats including, Grammy winner Ruth Brown, Peter Erskine, Kenny Werner, Barre Phillips, Tim Hagans, Marc Johnson, Billy Hart, Marvin 'Smitty' Smith, Gary Thomas, Rick Margitza, Dave Douglas, DD Jackson, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Tony Malaby, George Brooks, Pandit Ronu Majumdar, Pandit Kadri Gopalnath, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Marilyn Crispell, Greg Osby, Howard Levy and a host of others.

Rez is musical director and producer for Indian/Canadian Juno award winning vocalist, Kiran Ahluwalia. Kiranís 2008 recording, Wanderlust on the World Connection label, hit the top ten on the European world-music radio charts and also received top ten in Song-Lines magazine. The group travelled extensively throughout Europe, performing at the Paleo and Sfinks festivals. Rez also plays an integral role in two of saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappaís award winning groups, The Indo-Pak Coalition (Innova) and Kinsmen (PI). Kinsmen placed in twenty top ten listís for 2008. As a result, Rez was interviewed by NPRís All Things Considered, Rolling Stone Magazine India and featured in the New York Times. The Indo-Pak Coalition recently performed at many festivals including the Montreal Jazz Fest. and Newport Jazz Fest. Rez can also be heard as a member of saxophonist Dave Pietro's Chakra Group (Challenge Records), Sandro Dominelli trio among many others.

With six albums of original compositions under his belt, Abbasi continues to garner new groups of musicians to help his musical vision come to life. His 2005 recording Snake Charmer, has created a stir in the music world partly due to his organic, original approach in blending two complex musical genres together, namely jazz and Indian music. The provocative instrumentation of organ, drums and guitar alongside Indian vocalist Kiran Ahluwalia, is on one hand, a sound grounded in jazz and yet uncommon in jazz arenas. 20th Century Guitar reviewed the CD as, "One of the best examples yet of how to merge Indian Classical music with jazz ... Snake Charmer really breaks new ground." In 2007, Rez achieved even greater heights with the follow up to Snake Charmer, Bazaar.

Bazaar continues the group's journey through uncharted territory and achieves results unparalleled in today's jazz/world music scene. Rez makes wise use of his fellow playerís talents to create a larger sphere of sound. Besides Gary Versace on organ and Dan Weiss on drums and tabla, Kiran Ahluwalia returns as a central member of the group.

Abbasiís musical philosophy states, ďTo create a global-based music steeped in jazz is my goal. In this way, Iím following in the footsteps of some of the greatest jazz musicians. Coltrane, Ellington and Gillespie all immersed themselves into music from around the world and then brought it back home. If I have that kind of unifying affect, Iíve succeeded!Ē

Rez recently finished his newest work, Things To Come (2009), which is yet another leap into unchartered musical territory and his most intriguing. It features a star studded group of Vijay Iyer, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Kiran Ahluwalia, Johannes Weidenmueller and Dan Weiss and was included into Down Beatís top CDís of the decade. Rez was also awarded the Chamber Music America Grant in 2009 and has been commissioned to compose a new work for this ensemble. The premiere of the work as well as his newest all acoustic quartet (RAAQ), is scheduled for 2010. - Stay Tuned!

Visit Rez Abbasi's website at

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