Exposé Online banner

Isabelle Olivier / Rez Abbasi — Oasis
(Enja , 2019, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2019-12-19

Oasis Cover art

A big part of my enjoyment of music, and certainly what pushes my exploration forward, is finding something that pushes a boundary, defies conventions, and piques the imagination in a way that hasn’t been done before. Taking a known idiom and expanding it with a new cross-cultural instrumental vocabulary is always a recipe for something good, provided that it’s in the hands of capable and imaginative composers, which in the case of Oasis, it certainly is. The seed for this project was planted several years back at a jazz festival in France, where the idea of creating a soundworld between guitar and string harp was discussed by the two principals, leading to a grant by the French American Cultural Exchange in 2018, when the work on this project began in earnest. Rez Abbasi is a Pakistani born American guitarist and composer with numerous previous releases and collaborations we have covered in these pages before, while Isabelle Olivier is a French harpist and composer with half a dozen solo recordings to her credit at this point in time; of the nine original compositions on Oasis, six are credited to Olivier, three are Abbasi’s, plus the album opens with Abbasi’s interesting arrangement of “My Favorote Things” which we all know from The Sound of Music. Originally it was simply intended to be a duo, but as the project evolved, both felt the compositions would be better served by the addition of percussive elements, so they added Prabhu Edouard on tabla and kanjira (Indian frame drum) and David Paycha on standard drum kit, resulting in a full quartet on every track. When the original material begins on track two with Abbasi’s “Lemongrass,” we have a brilliant blending of sounds that are at once open and free, but loosely fit into the world jazz idiom, with guitar handling the structural elements along with the percussionists, and the melodic elements proposed mostly by harp. The next two pieces, “Cherry Blossom”and “Timeline,” are both Olivier compositions driven by a strong harp melodies, yet remaining a bit more introspective overall, though the latter grows in intensity with the addition of electric guitar. Abbasi’s “Stepping Stone” grooves along nicely with several freewheeling improvisational breaks and solos from all, while Olivier’s “Dodeca” seems like pure improvisation that grows organically as it goes. Sometimes one might be obliquely reminded of the work of Steve Tibbetts, and at other times the world music group Ancient Future, but truly this is a unique creation like no other that seems to transcend all boundaries.


Filed under: New releases, 2019 releases

Related artist(s): Rez Abbasi, Isabelle Olivier

Latest news

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more

2020-03-17
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music festival world, and music festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more

2020-03-06
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Various Artists - Progfest '94: Variety Arts Center - Los Angeles – When it finally appeared at Progfest '95, the ink was still drying on the booklet of this two-CD retrospective of the show a year before. Each of the nine featured bands (Halloween, Kalaban,...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues