Sunday, July 05, 2015

Rez Abbasi - Intents and Purposes (Enja, 2015)

Guitarist Rez Abbasi comes up with a very interesting concept on this record: playing acoustic interpretations of 1970's jazz-fusion songs by the likes Joe Zawinul, Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams and more. Abbasi plays a wide range of acoustic guitars along with Bill Ware on vibraphone, Stephan Crump on acoustic bass and Eric McPherson on drums. Weather Report’s “Black Market” opens the album with light bass and drums and nimble acoustic guitar developing a fine medium tempo groove. Ware’s vibes are subtle, shading and framing the music before stepping out for a solo of his own. Abbasi’s own solo is subtle but svelte and well integrated into the band’s overall progress. There is a nice swanky feel to “Butterfly” with a gently rolling texture, where jabs of guitar are juxtaposed against the vibraphone. The leader is quick and light in his movement and develops a nice duet with Ware’s vibes and the rhythm that is developed is excellent. Things gradually mellow back down before finishing with some ravishing drumwork. There is a very cool rhythm of drums, vibes and bass on “Joyous Lake” where the whole sense of the music has a natural and organic feel and with Abbasi’s guitar adding to the rhythmic sensibility with everybody playing in harmony together very successfully. The pace begins to pick up and move faster, moving up and developing a fleet guitar solo with the drums and vibes keeping pace very well. After that burst of activity the musicians allow the proceedings to take a slow fade to the conclusion. “Medieval Overture” has the full band playing with a bright and happy nature with beams of vibraphone, which is really an excellent instrument for this configuration, and Ware plays brilliantly throughout. McPherson’s drums muscle in and things get tougher with some bowed bass, which shifts the feeling of the music entirely, making way for spry guitar and fast accompaniment with the loose drumming sounding really good. The band downshifts to a bass solo before everyone swings back to life for the culmination. Unadorned guitar, bass and drums open “Resolution” with a raw sensation along with deep bass and subtle percussion. McPherson’s drums begin to slash and burn and the pace of the music develop faster accordingly. Vibes and drums more uneasily forward and this works well as Abbasi and crew are about to move into music that allows open space in which they are able to develop their own feeling and conception. The plan of this album was an interesting one, and it develops quite well, in fact it is turns out to be something of a vindication for the often criticized jazz fusion with Abbasi showing the melodies and ideas of that music were valid and worthy of being mined for fresh ideas. Intents and Purposes -

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