Born in Karachi, Pakistan, removed at the age of four to the vastness of Southern California, schooled at the University of Southern California and the Manhattan School of Music in jazz and classical music, along with a pilgrimage in India under the tutelage of master percussionist, Ustad Alla Rakha, Rez Abbasi is a vivid synthesis of all the above stated influences and genres.
Making New York his home for the past 20 years, Abbasi has developed a unique sound both as a composer and an instrumentalist. He is considered by many to be one of the foremost modern jazz guitar players the world over. Since graduating from the Manhattan School of Music, Rez has honed his skills with performances throughout Europe, Canada, the U.S., Mexico and India. He has performed and recorded with many including, Grammy winner Ruth Brown, Peter Erskine, Kenny Werner, Barre Phillips, TIm Berne, Marc Johnson, Billy Hart, Gary Thomas, Dave Douglas, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Mike Clark, Tony Malaby, George Brooks, Ronu Majumdar, Kadri Gopalnath, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Marilyn Crispell, Greg Osby, Howard Levy and a host of others.
Among Abbasi’s activities are musical director, arranger and producer for Indian/Canadian Juno award winning vocal sensation, Kiran Ahluwalia. Kiran’s 2008 recording, Wanderlust, was in the top ten European world-music radio charts and also was among the top ten albums of 2008 in the premiere world music magazine, Song-Lines. Her follow up, Aam Zameen (2011) features the Grammy winning Touareg group Tinariwen and garnered the 2011 Juno Award. Another of Abbasi’s highly regarded associations is with heralded saxophonist and composer, Rudresh Mahanthappa. Rez plays an integral role in Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition (Innova) and Kinsmen Ensemble (PI). Kinsmen’s album placed in over twenty top ten list’s for 2008. As a result, Rez was interviewed by NPR’s “All Things Considered”, Rolling Stone Magazine India and featured in the New York Times. Rez can also be heard in a variety of other projects.