Behind The Vibration
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A junction is the point at which several things converge. For the visionary and award-winning jazz guitarist Rez Abbasi, his new band Junction weaves together musical currents he's spent his career navigating. Abbasi has been at the center of some of the most enthralling and culturally expansive music of the past two decades, and his Cuneiform debut Behind the Vibration introduces a bracing new body of music, a sinewy 21st century approach to jazz-rock inspired by his far-flung influences.
In myriad inspired collaborations, from the South Asian jazz synthesis of alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coaltion to the Punjab-meets-Tuareg vocal flights of Kiran Ahluwalia, Abbasi has manifested an uncommon gift for creating new sounds in settings deeply inflected by traditional forms. In his own projects, the Pakistani-American musician has displayed similarly fierce creativity, like his gorgeous unplugged reimagining of jazz-rock classics with the Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet's (RAAQ) critically hailed 2015 album Intents and Purposes (Enja), and his all-star quintet (and sometimes sextet) Invocation with Mahanthappa, Vijay Iyer, bassist Johannes Weidenmueller, drummer Dan Weiss, (and latest addition cellist Elizabeth Means).
''Everything I do musically is stimulated by call and response,'' Abbasi says. ''I did the Acoustic Quartet project of covers from the '70s jazz-rock period and that impacted me to want to do an electric project of all originals. The new album reflects a continuum of what I've been doing all along finding fresh orchestrations to present my music through. In some ways this project connects me more directly back to my first love, the energy that comes out of rock music. I wrote new tunes for this band and it was time for all these musical worlds to collide.''
Junction, the electric project that Abbasi formed to bring his original tunes to life, features Mark Shim on tenor saxophone and the electronic MIDI Wind Controller, Ben Stivers on keyboards, B-3 organ and Rhodes, and drummer Kenny Grohowski. The band is a supremely maleable ensemble that has forged a poised and texturally accute group approach. While exploring a vivid palette of electronic sounds and aggressive grooves, Junction maintains the dynamics, precise calibration, and interactive imperative of an inspired jazz 'acoustic' combo.
With this newest album, Behind the Vibration, realized via his new electric Junction, Abbasi takes another bold step, embracing his rock 'n' roll roots with a bear hug that encompasses post-bop, South Asian traditions, and state of the art sonics. ''More than anything that I've ever recorded, this album is the convergence of everything I'm interested in,'' he says. ''The musicians I've chosen are versatile enough to pull it off. It's not only all of the influences that have come up to this point, it's also the process of merging it with the technology of today. This is music that could've only happened now.''.
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According to Rez, ‘Behind the Vibration is fully original and uses a lot of electric instruments to find new territories within the compositions. Some of the tunes were already written prior to the acoustic album for an organ trio but as I researched a lot of ‘70s jazz-rock for the acoustic project, I came away with a desire to turn up the heat. Junction was formed with that in mind but the caveat was that it had to sound unique to today— everything from the technology, the compositions and the players. Each of us has lived inside and outside of the jazz universe so what we bring collectively is pretty unprecedented—current experiences from heavy metal, electronica, pop, Carnatic and Hindustani classical, to name a few.’
The ensemble is Rez Abbasi - guitar/composition, Mark Shim - tenor saxophone/MIDI wind controller, Ben Stivers, keyboards, B3 organ and Rhodes, and Kenny Grohowski – drums
The tracks are as follows:
And I You
It seems with every new release Rez grows and matures. Excellent album. Grady Harp, June