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ALBUM REVIEW: "Intents and Purposes"

Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet

"Intents and Purposes"


Guitarist Rez Abbasi was born in Karachi, Pakistan, but grew up in southern California. Since casting his lot with jazz in the 1980s', he's been enamored of the great music produced in the 1940's, 50's and 60's. As he explains in the liner notes of his Acoustic Quartet's excellent new album, "Intents and Purposes," he bypassed the jazz-fusion of the 1970's. After two decades as a major player on the New York scene, Abbasi decided to take another look at the lost decade.

What he found was a trove of compositions compelling enough for a fresh look. He decided to take these works, originally performed on electric keyboards, guitars, and basses, and unplug them. On this album Abbasi — who's primary instrument is, ironically, electric guitar — plays steel string, fretless, and baritone acoustic guitars. He's joined by Bill Ware on vibraphone, Stephan Crump on bass, and Eric McPherson on drums.

Tunes like John McLaughlin's "Resolution," Joe Zawinul's "Black Market," and Chick Corea's "Medieval Overture" are stripped of their special effects and lovingly reinvented. The one thing that doesn't disappear is the virtuosity it takes to play tunes by these and other masters. In vibrant new arrangements, and with nicely sculpted solos, Abbasi and company put their own stamp on some of the best tunes of the 70's.