In 1993 John Zorn began composing and performing his 208 tunes that now comprise what is known as the Masada songbook. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of this, his most popular musical project, John Zorn has organized a series of CDs, featuring his most illustrious colleagues performing their own unique arrangements of these classics of modern Jewish music. This first release contains three guitarists whose styles are as varied as the compositions they perform. From the singular brilliance of Marc Ribot, the lush sonorities of Bill Frisell, to the orchestral virtuosity of Tim Sparks, Masada Guitars is a glittering tribute, lovingly executed by three of the most original guitarists in the world.
For this very special release in The Book of Angels series, Zorn has brought together five of the most acclaimed musicians in modern jazz to perform nine of his most distinctive and lyrical compositions. Truly a jazz supergroup, these five master musicians explore Zorn's beautiful and exotic tunes with profound melodic and harmonic knowledge and a depth of feeling that is a joy to hear. One of the most breathtaking CDs in the entire Masada series—a touch of the sublime from the beautiful new Masada Quintet!
Uri Caine is a musician of astonishing virtuosity and versatility. Coming out of the legendary Philly Jazz scene, his playing is an encyclopedia of styles from Tatum to Evans and beyond. With Moloch he interprets tunes from Zorn’s Book of Angels in a breathtaking outing for solo piano. Virtuosic and soulful, this latest volume of material from Masada Book Two is an absolute tour-de-force. Fifteen musical miniatures by one of the world’s greatest piano virtuosos.
From its first manic blast, it's clear that Masada, Vol. 10: Yod is going to be one of John Zorn and company's wildest, most confident works. It's also one of the most accessible, though that's hardly a safe recommendation: like all of the Masada series' works, Yod is not a friendly listen. The middle section of the album, though, with its gentle, hypnotic pace, offers a reprieve from the intensity of the other compositions. What continues to impress in this, their tenth release, is the group's relentless energy and the sheer brilliance of their interplay. The incredibly visceral soloing of Zorn and Dave Douglas, the mesmerizing, exotic pulse: all are the trademarks of one of jazz's greatest units, a group practically exploding with talent and ideas.
With its keen balance between the form and freedom, cogent solos, and forward momentum, John Zorn's Masada series is without a doubt his most musically sound and rewarding output of this decade. On Tet, Zorn and his cohorts continue to successfully juxtapose Jewish folk melodies with modal grooves and harmelodic labyrinths.
Recorded four months after the fragmented loose ends of Masada, Vol. 7: Zayin, Masada seems to be settling into a new – perhaps mature or more conventional – phase with Masada, Vol. 8: Het. The frantic frenzy that drove its early releases is largely reined in, a couple of actual ballads sneak in the repertoire, and there are some solos by John Zorn or Dave Douglas with just the rhythm section instead of their usual countermelody exchanges. "Shechem" opens with very loose-limbed, Ornette Coleman-influenced free bop, with the two horns playing off Joey Baron's light tom-tom touch before Zorn takes a very melodic, flowing soloing on his own until organically handing it off to Douglas.