Rez Abbasi's Invocation Quintet
Wednesday, April 25, 8 p.m.| Fulkerson Recital Hall
"A guitarist with a taste for fluid introspection and slippery fusions."
—Nate Chinen, New York Times
"Of all the recent experiments blending music from South Asia with jazz, Abbasi's...may be the most elegant and seamless. This music, superbly conceived and played, makes far-flung diversity feel like the mainstream of its art."
—Will Layman, Pop Matters
(For music and links, scroll to the bottom of this page)
Like his bandmates, friends, and fellow innovators Vijay Iyer (RJA 2010-11) and Rudresh Mahanthappa, guitarist Rez Abbasi is, as Yoshi's jazz club in Oakland described him last spring, “an emblematic figure in the globalization of jazz.” His seamless welding of South Asian sounds and vanguard jazz put his quintet's debut album, the prophetic Things to Come (2009), among DownBeat's top discs of the decade. (Last year's Suno Suno, the group's latest and Abbasi's eighth, is an Editor's Pick.)
Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Abbasi grew up in Los Angeles and took up the guitar at age 11. While his garage band covered Rush, Led Zeppelin and King Crimson, he 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 music at USC and the Manhattan School of Music (he's lived in New York for the past 20 years), while also studying privately with everyone from guitarist John Abercrombie to pianist Kenny Werner (RJA 2006-07) to tabla master Ustad Alla Rakha.
You can hear all that and more in Abbasi's music—he's what critic Will Layman calls a “classic American omnivore”—but his explorations of Indian and Pakistani musics are a constant. The compositions on Suno Suno (“Listen Listen” in Urdu), for instance, were inspired by Qawwali, a driving, Sufi spiritual music from Pakistan.
Although Iyer and Mahanthappa's busy schedules meant they were unavailable for this tour, their chairs are ably filled by up-and-comer pianist Matt Mitchell (Tim Berne's Snakeoil, John Hollenbeck's Claudia Quintet) and alto saxophonist David Binney, a ubiquitous presence on the progressive jazz scene who visited Arcata with his own quartet last fall. Regulars Johannes Weidenmueller and Dan Weiss anchor the group on bass and drums & percussion, respectively.
Invocation, wrote Lawrence Peryer at AllAboutJazz.com, is “living, breathing proof that jazz music can be as vital and boundary-pushing as ever.” Fitting, then, that along with composer Chen Yi and Kronos Quartet, they will take part in HSU’s “New Horizons” Festival of Music and Diversity. (Addtional festival information here.)
Tickets ($15 General Admission, $10 Students & Seniors) are available here at our website, or at Wildberries, Wildwood Music, People's Records, and The Works.
Rez Abbasi will also present an open, pre-concert public workshop at 4:00 p.m. on the afternoon of April 25th in Room 130 of the Old Music Building. People of all levels of experience are welcome to attend, and admission is FREE.
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