Guitarz Forever.com Interview w/ Jazz Guitarist Rez Abbasi
“Producing so vivid a music that it can almost be tasted, Abbasi sounds like no one who has gone before him. His compositions are sheer genius…” - All About Jazz
Scott - Hi Rez, thank you for agreeing to do an interview w/ my website Guitarz Forever.com. How is life treating you these days?
Rez - It's about how I'm treating life...I try not to take myself too seriously and therefore life follows:-)
Scott - I was checking out your Youtube videos and I see that you play some mean jazz guitar. What got you into jazz music as a whole?
Rez - A friend basically spurred my curiosity in high school. We were both rockers and I was impressed by him reaching further. I followed his cue and kept going hard!
Scott - Where is your stomping-grounds these days?
Rez - The world but for real, NY for the past 23 years.
Scott - Are there a lot of places to play your style of music in and around your area? What are some of the venues that you play?
Rez - There are, however, there's also a ton of competition and so the wait periods between gigs are longer. I play with my groups at a few places, Cornelia St. Cafe, Jazz Standard and Iridium.
Scott - So please tell us of any new musical project that you are currently working on?
Rez - The newest release comes out Feb. 10th. It's an all acoustic project that reinterprets and recasts '70s jazz-rock or "fusion" classics. I'm playing steel string fretted and fretless guitars accompanied by Bill Ware on vibes, Stephan Crump on bass and Eric McPherson on drums. Material spans the gamut from Return To Forever to Herbie Hancock. And then there's a very different project I'm recording this year which will feature my originals in an all electric setting, kinda the polar opposite of what I just did.
Scott - What is the name of your latest album and tell us how that album came about and whose on it.
Rez - The new album is called Intents & Purposes. It came about essentially because of two reasons: I had my acoustic quartet with the aforementioned players that had already recorded one album and I wanted to do another with them. The other is that as I looked back on my 'jazz' education I found a gap in my knowledge of the 'fusion' era. It's a time in jazz that I didn't love at the time I discovered it, when I was 18 or so. The reason for that is due to the overwhelming electric influence of the music. The use of synths, electric bass and rock drum sets was a turn off to me at the time because I had just discovered acoustic jazz while leaving behind rock bands like Rush, Van Halen etc...
So this dawned on me while I was also thinking about the acoustic quartet. It was an educational deal as well as a great compliment for my acoustic group.
Scott - How do you come up with your songs?
Rez - Depending on the project, I think differently. For this project I listened to a lot of tunes first and then made my personal 'best of' list. A more original project would be entirely different. I write ideas down whenever they come and sometimes then decide which band would suit the composition or vis a versa.
Scott - How often when you start an idea for song, does it actually get finished?
Rez - Probably only 20% percent of my ideas end up as a composition or within a larger tune.
Scott - I was wondering if you ever hear music in your dreams and turn them into songs?
Rez - A tune called 'Thanks For Giving' on my Album, Suno Suno started as a dream. I woke up and wrote it down and then finished it at a later time. That's the only time it happened.
Scott - Are you a schooled guitar player or a self-taught guitar player? Do you read sheet music and charts?
Rez - All the above!
Scott - So, what type of guitars do you play and why?
Rez - My electric guitar is a D'Angelico made in Japan from about 8 years ago. I also have a bunch of acoustics including a Guild, a Gold Tone Baritone and a Washburn that I converted into a fretless. These are all steel stringed acoustics.
Scott - What type of amps do you use? Do you use different amps for the studio vs live shows. If so, why?
Rez - Usually if an amp sounds great but it's big, I won't take it on gigs. So I have a number of amps. I use a DV Mark tube amp which is very versatile, mostly in studio but rarely live. Also I use a Evans Head and pair it up with a speaker cabinet for both live and studio in stereo with the DV. For local small gigs I use sometimes a Hendrickson, it's kinda like a high tech Polytone.
Scott - Do you have any endorsement with instrument and or gear companies?
Rez - DV Mark amps, D'Addario strings, Reunion Bags, Evans Amps and soon, Empress pedals.
Scott - How did you first get into the music business?
Rez - It just happened sometime after graduating college.
Scott - Who have been your main influences on your career to date?
Rez - All of my teachers and many others. John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Jim Hall are probably the top and will always remain that way.
Scott - How has your guitar playing evolved over the years?
Rez - It just has:-) it's difficult to contextualize that but I'm glad I can feel the progress.
Scott - What are you listening to these days?
Rez - A variety of music including going back to bands like The Scorpions, Led Zeppelin, Rush, artists as Elliot Smith, Stevie Wonder, classical music, world music and so much more.
Scott - Do you have a dream car?
Rez - Well I don't drive in NY but if I had to get a car, probably and if I could afford it, a Volkswagen SUV:-)
Scott - I also don't want to forget this... Tell us about any other things you may be in involved in or any special interest besides music that is close to your heart?
Rez - I have a formidable curiously about all things spiritual. I'm a seeker of truth whatever that is...but part of that search includes getting past the enormous amount of dogma that is found in religious and spiritual practice. So far I'm in that process as it's a long one.
I'm also a huge boxing fan, a huge motocross fan and a huge surfing fan!
Scott > I would like to thank you for your time and candor with our loyal readers and keep up fighting the good fight to bring us some awesome jazz music.
Rez - Well put, Scott! Thank you...