Big-time consumer alert first: Masada, Vol. 4: Dalet has three pieces with all of 18 minutes of Masada music, so don't get caught paying full price (and don't necessarily blame the store, because it may be as just as unsuspecting as you are). While it's easy to imagine John Zorn's punk side getting off on the idea of a Masada EP, Dalet may just round up three stray tracks from the quartet's first session. Musically, "Midbar" is bluesy and Ornette Coleman-like, with occasional harmony flashes between Dave Douglas and Zorn and some mutated R&B quotes in the latter's solo. "Mahlah" is fairly muted, playing to the slower, forbidding side of Masada's music, and "Zenan" works off a harder tom-tom punch from Joey Baron. There's nothing to fault with the performances, and obviously Zorn wanted the music released, but really, what's the point? Is anyone seriously into Zorn and/or Masada going to knowingly choose an 18-minute disc with so many full-length volumes out there? Why didn't someone just squeeze the three pieces in somewhere on Masada, Vol. 1: Alef, Masada, Vol. 2: Beit, or Masada, Vol. 3: Gimel? Dalet isn't bad, just pointless except for total completists or timid souls who want to gingerly dip their toes in these swirling whirlpool waters. And it just doesn't compute that those kind of timid souls are going to be checking out John Zorn and Masada.
AllMusic Review by Don Snowden