So what’s Bhatia listening to, and, accordingly, what does he sound like? The hip-hop and electronic musician Flying Lotus, for sure, and his predecessors in minimalism and dubstep. (During that show at Mercury Lounge in mid-October, Bhatia performed his cover of Flying Lotus’ “Pickled.”) But also the subtle, blue shadings of classic soul; the postbop of Miles Davis and Andrew Hill; and even the low, black clouds of some doom metal. It’s little surprise that Bhatia doesn’t pledge fealty to any particular scene.
In his solos, Bhatia hints at, but never really embraces, the heroic allure of jazz guitar in the wake of fusion, and he often touches on the harmonics and attack of Indian classical music. There’s Bill Frisell in there, and Rez Abbasi. When he plays arpeggios it’s a clenched-up action, no filigree involved. But in spite of all its rigor and intensity, Bhatia’s music—which is available on two recent debut records from the Rest Assured label, an EP called Strata and the full-length Yes It Will—never grates or tries to irk you. More surprisingly, it hardly ever gets muddled. His musical swirl is really about digging into individual moments and seeking refinement.
[snip] Bhatia, 25, grew up in North Carolina, in an Ismaili Muslim family of South Asian descent, though the previous two generations had lived in East Africa. He went through a conflict of conscience in high school, trying to justify a career as a guitarist over something more clearly humanitarian. At Oberlin College, he studied neuroscience and economics but settled on pursuing music.
via Jazz Articles: Rafiq Bhatia: Everything at Once – By Giovanni Russonello — Jazz Articles.
Earlier related: Rafiq Bhatia and Friends at Cameo Gallery – NYTimes.com