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Pakistani-born/NYC-based guitarist Rez Abbasi has never shied away from injecting other sorts of music or instrumentation into his jazz, and not only the musical traditions with which he grew up. For Charm, however, he seems to have hit on something really special. In partnership with sitarist Josh Feinberg, he’s co-created Naya Baaz (“new falcon” in Hindi), a cross-cultural exchange that’s all about serving the tunes. Thus the duo (joined by cellist Jennifer Vincent and drummer Satoshi Takeishi) sometimes trades licks, as on the co-composed “Reaching” or “Emancipation,” or sometimes one acts in a textural capacity in favor of the other, as does Feinberg on Abbasi’s “No Lack Thereof” and the guitarist on the sitarist’s “Peony.” Based more in a melodic postbop tradition than anything else, the songs themselves avoid obvious Hindu/jazz hybrids, using the Indian and Pakistani influences subtly – more cinnamon than sugar, essentially. The end result of this carefully crafted collaboration is an album that sings on the strength of performances and compositions, rather than genre-fucking, while still maintaining respect for the cultures that inform it. Charm does more than charm – it dazzles.
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