Monday, September 27, 2010

Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet - Natural Selection (Sunnyside, 2010)

After making a name for himself with some excellent albums featuring his electric guitar playing (notably 2009's Things to Come) Rez Abassi decided to move into a different direction forming an all acoustic quartet that was featured at the Newport Jazz Festival with Bill Ware on vibraphone, Stephan Crump on bass and Eric McPherson on drums. The group achieves an intimate and thoughtful sound that is very interesting to listen to. "Lament" opens the album with a nice rhythm, featuring dark toned guitar with bowed bass. Swirling vibes give the music an unique and cool sound with guitar slithering around the edges, the music sounds like is would be an excellent accompaniment to visual art or film. "Pakistani Minor" has a complex melody with Ware's vibes probing over a nice beat, occasionally breaking into showers of notes. Abassi takes an intricate solo that leads to a full quartet improvisation. The open ended mood continues with Keith Jarrett's "Personal Mountains" which is melodic and fast paced. Rapid quartet improvisation leads into a dramatic conclusion. There are a couple of solo guitar interludes, "When Light Falls" which features a slow and contemplating feel and the ending track "Ain't No Sunshine" which approaches the blues in feel with a haunted and oblique tone. "Bees" has fast paced, swirling vibraphone that moves deftly in sync with the drums. "Blu Vindaloo" is bass centered, with Crump setting a deep pocket for the rest of the band to pivot around. After a nimble guitar solo, the band fills in with strong and dexterous playing. This was a really well done album from a group that has found a unique sound and really made the most of it. The front line of acoustic guitar and vibes makes for a very compelling sound that is light and nimble. Natural Selection -

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