This two-disc release captures beautiful and refined music that makes full use of two ensembles' extraordinary musicianship. Drawing from John Zorn's Masada songbook are the Masada String Trio and the Bar Kokhba Sextet. Each ensemble fills one CD with beautiful chamber jazz woven around a heart of Jewish melodies. Zorn skeptics will find the superb and elegant music on The Circle Maker surprisingly stable and accessible. This is a fitting successor to the other Masada works that Zorn doesn't actually perform on -- the first Masada chamber project, Bar Kokhba, and Film Works, Vol. 8, whose recording session wrapped up weeks before this weekend date of December 1997. Issachar is the name of the disc on which bassist Greg Cohen, cellist Erik Friedlander, and violinist Mark Feldman perform. Zevulun features the Bar Kokhba Sextet: the Masada String Trio plus drummer Joey Baron, percussionist Cyro Baptista, and guitarist Marc Ribot. All of these musicians are accomplished in jazz and improvised music, and have performed extensively in world and/or classical settings as well. The Circle Maker is a very necessary recording for all appreciators of chamber jazz, new Jewish music, or any of these stellar musicians.
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AllMusic Review by Joslyn Layne
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2