Jazz guitarist Rez Abbasi, whose family came to Southern California from Pakistan when he was 4, grew up playing in bands that worshiped Van Halen, Rush, and other prog rockers. When he discovered Charlie Parker at age 16, he lost interest in rock in favor of bebop – acoustic music that swung. As a result, Abbasi never listened to jazz fusion artists like Chick Corea, John McLaughlin and Weather Report – until now.
Abbasi’s new album Intents and Purposes (Enja) explores classics of the fusion era with a twist – everything is played on acoustic instruments by the Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet, including Bill Ware (vibraphone), Stephan Crump (bass) and Eric McPherson (drums). The results are beautiful and amazing. Even if you don’t like fusion, perhaps especially if you don’t like it, this album is a must-hear. My profile of Rez from the March 2015 DownBeat is here. You can hear a few samples from the album and view a “making of” video here.