Drawing inspiration from various Gnostic philosophies of the Nag Hammadi library, Transmigration of the Magus is a musical evocation of the mystical journey of the soul through the bardo. Lyrical and tender, the music has a lush orchestral sweep and features Bill Frisell and John Medeski reveling within the magical sonorities of vibraphones, bells and harps. Created to help the passing of Zorn’s dear friend Lou Reed through the bardo realms and released on the one year anniversary of his passing, Transmigration of the Magus is a memorial tribute to one of Zorn’s musical mentors and is one of his most touching and emotional projects—truly music of the angels.
Working together since 1978, the partnership of Zorn and Frith is one of the most enduring musical partnerships in the downtown scene. Their periodic duo concerts have always been special events in themselves, but when it happens in celebration of Zorn's 50th Birthday, it takes on even greater meaning. Two masters of improvisation meet head to head in the redhot crucible of Tonic for an hour of telepathic communication and exploration, and you are there.
A spectacular presentation of eleven new compositions from Zorn’s Book of Angels by two passionate virtuosos whose work together is never less than perfection itself. Contextualizing the music into a classical recital for violin and piano, this is the chamber music of the future. Exciting and breathtaking, Mark and Sylvie have put together a program filled with imagination, lyricism and an intense energy. New Jewish music by one of the greatest violin/piano pairings ever. This is a whole new all-encompassing direction for classical music.
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.
"49 Acts of Unspeakable Depravity in the Abominable Life and Times of Gilles de Rais" is the fifth CD by Simulacrum, an organ trio of unparalleled power that brings the sounds of heavy metal, blues, funk and jazz together with modern classical music. Tighter than ever and able to stop and start at breakneck speed, Medeski, Hollenberg and Grohowski are at their raging best as they blaze through Zorn’s wildest flights of fancy—a ten-movement suite evoking a sick and decadent descent into madness. Driven by an intense and powerful fury, this CD contains some of the craziest sounds you are ever likely to hear as genres, noise, instrumental colors and driving rhythms collide head-on. A jaw-dropping visit to a new musical world where absolutely anything is possible!
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.
Masada's seventh volume sounds almost like an odds-and-sods collection. It's a more fragmentary and disparate disc that doesn't have much musical middle ground – the extremes between the group's atonal free improv bursts and its more melodic or atmospheric pieces are very pronounced. "Shevet" has a more overt klezmer influence and almost timbales tones from Joey Baron, while the segmented "Hath-Arob" is very Ornette Coleman-like before breaking down into free-blow sections.
As John Zorn’s most popular project reaches its tenth year, Tzadik celebrates the Masada songbook with a series of all-star tributes. Following Masada Guitars, Volume 2 is an eclectic and powerful collection of almost two dozen Masada classics artfully arranged by some of the downtown scene’s most creative performers. Zorn’s catchiest and most lyrical tunes performed by rock bands, klezmer groups, vocalists, jazz.