50th Birthday Celebration, Vol. 4

Electric Masada

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50th Birthday Celebration, Vol. 4 Review

by Sean Westergaard

At long last, John Zorn's Electric Masada project gets a release of its own. Recorded during his 50th birthday celebration in September of 2003, the set delivers everything you would expect from an Electric Masada show: great tunes, blistering solos from everyone concerned, and a slightly rocked-up atmosphere. The band does not disappoint; there seems to have been a real air of excitement surrounding the whole 50th birthday series, at least judging from the performances that had been released to this point. The bulk of the soloing belongs to Zorn on alto, Marc Ribot on guitar, and Jamie Saft on Rhodes, with Ikue Mori's laptop contributing interesting colors and tones, with sounds that range from what sounds like a babbling child to shards of broken glass. The double drums with percussion of Kenny Wollesen, Joey Baron, and Cyro Baptista come up with some wild rhythms, especially during Ribot's solo on "Tekufah." "Idalah-Abal" really rocks things up, and "Hath-Arob" gets even crazier, sounding like a Cobra-esque conduction. "Yatzar" and "Kisofim" are on the mellow side, but no less exciting musically. Several of the tunes stretch out to near epic lengths, giving the players plenty of room to play, with Zorn leading the way and calling the shots. This is a fantastic ensemble, with lots of time spent playing together, and Zorn knows how get the best out of them. Fans of the Masada series will not be disappointed. Excellent.

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