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Rez Abbasi’s Invocation: Suno Suno

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Don’t get hung up on the fact that Rez Abbasi’s new album is being touted as his attempt to blend jazz and the devotional Qawwali music of his native Pakistan. Suno Suno is hardly another world-music hybrid grafting the surface trappings of one tradition onto the skeletal framework of another. Whatever influence Qawwali-the ecstatic Sufi vocal music made most famous by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan-had on Abbasi’s writing, it is fully integrated into a taut, adventurous ensemble sound.

It doesn’t hurt that Abbasi’s Invocation quintet largely comprises instrumentalists with the proven dexterity to fuse cultural influences into a singular vision. The guitarist is joined by his compatriots in the Indo-Pak Coalition, saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa and drummer Dan Weiss, and by Mahanthappa’s frequent collaborator, pianist Vijay Iyer. While their own border-crossing experiments prove valuable here, what is most important is each musician’s skill at navigating the elusive pathways of Abbasi’s intricate compositions.

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