Rez Abbasi Biography

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27 August 1965, Karachi, Pakistan. Moving with his family to the USA as a very small child, Abbasi was raised in southern California. He studied piano and also took up the guitar as a youth, later studying at the University of Southern California. Following this, he extended his studies by attending the Manhattan School of Music. He also spent time on the Indian sub-continent, studying with percussionist Ustad Alla Rakha. From the early 90s, Abbasi was resident in New York City, where he became a significant performer and a respected practitioner of contemporary jazz guitar. Both as player and as composer, Abbasi has demonstrated an acute awareness of the musical heritages of his adopted country as well as his homeland. Taking American post-bop sensibilities as a starting point, he has seamlessly blended in his awareness of Indian classical music and also qawwali music of Pakistan.

Touring extensively throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia, Abbasi has played and sometimes recorded with many noted artists, including Ruth Brown, Peter Erskine, Michael Formanek, Tim Hagans, Billy Hart, Christian Howes, D.D. Jackson, Marc Johnson, Rick Margitza, Barre Phillips, and Kenny Werner. He is also a member of bass player/composer David Phillips’ Freedance, a collective group that also features alto saxophonist John O’Gallagher and drummer Tony Moreno. On his 2004 release Snake Charmer Abbasi developed intriguing concepts that allied the improvising traditions of both Indian music and jazz. The band on this album included saxophonist Dave Liebman, organist Gary Versace, drummer Danny Weiss and vocalist Kiran Ahluwalia. A promotional tour followed the album’s release, at which time Liebman was replaced by tenor and soprano saxophonist Marc Mommaas, a frequent collaborator with Abbasi.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.