For 'Django-shift' Rez Abbasi chose seven of Django Reinhardt's original pieces and two classic tunes that he was greatly associated with. The arrangements were soon created for a contemporary trio format, with Neil Alexander on organ and electronics and Michael Sarin on drums. The results give a fascinating and original insight into an often-overlooked attribute of Django's genius, his compositions.
Rez Abbasi has established an enviable reputation over the course of his fourteen album releases as leader: not simply as one of the finest guitarists of his generation, but also as a musical alchemist with the ability to parlay his continent-crossing range of influences into consistently fresh and innovative compositions and reframings of the tradition. His deep musicality has been applied with equal conviction to contemporary New York acoustic jazz, the Qawwali and Indian Classical traditions of South Asia and the heady fusion sounds of the 1970s, each time applying the filter of his own musical personality to deliver inimitable results.
Commissioned to present a project on Django Reinhardt from the Freight & Salvage's Django Festival in California, he boldly redefined his engagement by turning the focus away from Django, the codifier of the Sinti guitar vocabulary, and onto Django, the composer. Abbasi has kept Djangos' melodies intact and then infused each piece with his own compositional voice, adding elements of metric and harmonic expansion and allowing his collaborators room to add their own personalities to the mix.
These unique interpretations, alive with imaginative compositional interpolations and inspired improvisations, reframe this timeless music for the modern age.
Personnel: Rez Abbasi (fretted & fretless acoustic guitars), Neil Alexander (organ/electronics), Michael Sarin (drums)