|Photo: John Rogers|
In late 2019, Abbasi released two new albums, one a session co-led with French harpist Isabelle Olivier and the other a new soundtrack for a classic Indian silent film from 1929. Both albums are connected in their use of Eastern and Western instruments plus the multi-rhythmic diversity of the musicians.
|Photo: Piero Ottavino|
"Oasis" lives up to its name as it provides a wellspring of ideas and musical adventures. One hopes that this is just the first of numerous projects and concerts from Isabelle Olivier and Rez Abbasi, that they continue to blend the myriad influences that each bring to the collaboration.
For more information, go to www.reztone.com and/or isabelleolivier.com.
Here's a short video to introduce you to the music and the musicians:
Rez Abbasi was approached in 2017 to create a new soundtrack for the classic Indian silent film "A Throw of Dice" - it's the third in a trilogy of movies created by German director Franz Osten (1876-1956) and is based on the Sanskrit classic "The Mahābhārata". Osten, enticed to India in 1924 by Himansu Rai, a European-educated businessman with a love of motion pictures. They made a series of silent films and then were in the forefront of "talkies" creating over three dozen movies in the 1930s to sate a growing audience. Osten returned to Germany as World War II began to rage across Europe; he never made another film but is still famous in India as one of the forefathers of "Bollywood".
For this project, Abbasi created a new quintet – The Silent Ensemble – that is composed of Pawan Benjamin (tenor and soprano saxophones
bansuri and western flutes ), Jennifer Vincent (acoustic bass, cello),
Rohan Khrishnamurthy (mridangam, ghatam, khanjira), and Jake Goldbas (drum set) with the leader on acoustic and electric guitars plus electric sitar-guitar). The group members bring a wealth of experience to this music. Benjamin has worked with Roscoe Mitchell, bassist Reggie Workman, and choreographer Bill T. Jones while Khrishnamurthy has worked with the Ragmala Dance Company and toured with trumpeter Amir ElSaffar. Miss Vincent has worked with Betty Carter, Abbey Lincoln, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and Jazz at Lincoln Center while Goldbas has also worked with Bill T. Jones, Aretha Franklin, in Broadway pit orchestras for "The Color Purple" and "Dear Evan Hansen" plus is featured in composer-arranger Miho Hazama's large ensemble.
The best ways to listen to "A Throw of Dice" is to watch the movie from start to finish or sit down and listen to the recording all the way through. Rez Abbasi has created quite a set of musical images that work with or without the film because the music is so intelligent and The Silent Ensemble so gifted. It's quite a journey, one well worth taking!
For more information, go to rezabbasi.bandcamp.com/album/a-throw-of-dice.
Here's the opening track:
"Impressions in Blue and Red" (Outside In Music) is a 2-CD set built upon the artist's understanding that both music and understanding of color can, in his words, "..evokes a response that is processed with language." Goodman does not imply that he's a synesthete ( someone for whom sound waves create colors) but that his music in inspired by the colors certain painters use. For this collection of originals and other works, the guitarist assembled two different quartets. The "Blue" group includes Ben Van Gelder (alto saxophone), Martin Nevin (bass), and Jimmy Macbride (drums) while the "Red" features Alex LoRe (alto saxophone), Rick Rosato (bass), and Mark Ferber (drums). On both CDs, each musician gets a short solo improvisation that introduces a Goodman composition and both disks close with a standard ("I'll Never Be The Same" and "If I Loved You") played solo by the guitarist.
|Photo: Desmond White|
"Impressions in Red and Blue" contains an impressive amount of music and impressive musicianship. Alex Goodman and his two quartets give the listener plenty to dig into or to let float through the room. There are moments when one hears a touch of the late John Abercrombie in his solos but, overall, this music sounds fresh and exciting.
For more information, go to www.alexgoodmanmusic.com. Goodman, along with Alex LoRe, Mark Ferber, and Martin Nevin, will play a CD Release Show on March 8, 2020 at The Owl in Brooklyn NY – check out the guitarist's website for more details.
Here's the "Red" Quartet in the recording studio: