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Naya Baaz (new falcon in Hindi)  is the duo of American, Pakistan-born jazz guitarist Rez Abbasi and American master of the Hindustani sitar Josh Feinberg, also a jazz bass player who studied with Paul Bley and Dave Holland. Feinberg plays here a custom-made sitar that allows him to play chromatic melodies and jazz harmonies, and find common ground with Abbasi’s musical vision. The duo enjoys the company of  5-string cellist Jennifer Vincent and drummer-percussionist Satoshi Takeishi, with his specially augmented drumset, on its debut album Charm, recorded at Samurai Hotel in New York in November 2021.

The music of Charm embraces elements of traditional Indian music and Indian folk music but its musical vision is far greater than a typical West meets Eats cross-cultural exchange. This rare collaborative meeting of the guitar-sitar duo, with the collaborative composing process of Abbai and Feinberg, searches for more adventurous and less obvious musical terrain.

Charm begins with the high-octane «Bekhayal» and the folky «Bhairavi», both pieces flirt with traditional Indian music but do not surrender to traditional conventions. Abbasi’s tribute to Corea, «Chick’s Magnet» and «No Lack Thereof» (referencing Eckhart Tolle’s declaration of abundance within) are more ambitious and complex performances of Abbai and Feinberg with only subtle and less typical elements of Indian music but with jazz and fusion-like grooves. Vincent’s propulsive bass lines on the title piece dictate the bluesy swagger of a Led Zeppelin song.

Feinberg’s delicate «Make it so», inspired by the harmonized chromatic lines of Bach, expands even more the musical vision of Naya Baaz. The lyrical «Emancipation» and «Reaching» were developed together by Abbai and Feinberg and both cement the deep understanding of these gifted musicians and their open and inclusive aesthetics. Charm ends with an acoustic duet of Abbai and Feinberg on «Peony», a light classical Indian melody composed by Feinberg spiced with Abbasi’s gospel-like harmonic enhancements.

Eyal Hareuveni

Rez Abbasi (el.g, ac.g), Josh Feinberg (sitar), Jennifer Vincent (5-string c), Satoshi Takeishi (dr)

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