Pat Metheny was a prominent influence on Rez Abbasi's debut recording of 1991-2, Third Ear, but the guitarist wasn't nearly as Metheny-minded when he recorded his second album, Modern Memory in 1996. While the influence of Bill Frisell and Jim Hall (who is one of Metheny's major influences, by the way) can be heard on this fusion/post-bop CD, the bottom line is that Abbasi is an expressive improviser in his own right. Although Modern Memory offers engaging interpretations of Thelonious Monk's "Monk's Dream" and Hermeto Pascoal's "Serie de Arco," its main focus is Abbasi's own compositions, which range from the cerebral ("Blu Vindaloo") to the quietly reflective ("Every Sunday"). Some of the material contains enough rock influence to be called fusion, but about half of the songs find Abbasi sticking to the acoustic guitar -- and all of them employ Michael Formanek on nothing but the upright bass. With this album, Abbasi lived up to the promise of Third Ear while continuing to grow as an artist.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson