Guggenheim Fellow (2021), voted #1 Rising-Star Guitarist in the 2013 DownBeat Critics Poll and subsequently placed in the “Top-Ten Guitarists” alongside luminaries Bill Frisell and Pat Metheny, guitarist and composer Rez Abbasi is one of the most original voices on the current scene.
Born in Karachi, Pakistan, 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, along with a pilgrimage in India under the guidance 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 25 years, Abbasi is considered by many to be one of the foremost modern jazz guitar players the world over. He has honed his skills with performances throughout Europe, Canada, the U.S., Mexico and India and has performed and recorded with many jazz greats including, Grammy winner Ruth Brown, Peter Erskine, Kenny Werner, Barre Phillips, Tim Berne, Michael Formanek, and a host of other luminaries.
With his latest album, Django-Shift, Abbasi chose seven of Django’s original pieces and two classic tunes that Django was greatly associated with, and arranged the pieces in a contemporary jazz setting reflective of Abbasi’s unique voice. Arranged for trio format, with Neil Alexander on organ and electronics and Michael Sarin on drums, the resulting album is an astounding sonic collection of shared genius in a musical discussion across time.
Abbasi was commissioned in 2017 by New York Guitar Festival to compose an original score for the 1929 silent film, A Throw of Dice. The resulting work was released as a stand-out album in 2019 with his Silent Ensemble. A Throw of Dice is available as a truly unique and immersive touring film project (projection required).
“During the past decade or so, Rez Abbasi has established himself as one of the leading guitarists in jazz … known for innovative fusions of jazz with Indian and Pakistani musical traditions, as well as for unique approaches to soundtrack music. [Django-Shift is] an album from the forward-thinking guitarist [offering] muscular new renditions of the music of early jazz great Django Reinhardt” –Martin Johnson, The Wall Street Journal