John Zorn

Unknown Masada

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OK, by now everyone familiar with John Zorn's Masada project should realize that it's actually a songbook, and not a band per se. Unknown Masada is the third installment in the Masada 10th Anniversary series, presenting tunes from the book that had not been recorded to this point. As you might expect, there is a tremendous amount of stylistic diversity here, from the very traditional sound of Julian Kytasty to the very untraditional sounds of Fantômas. In fact, listeners more familiar with The Circle Maker or Bar Kokhba might not be prepared for some of the hard rock treatments of some of these tunes. Zahava Seewald, Erik Friedlander's Topaz, and Kytasty represent the more traditional end of the spectrum, while Koby Israelite, Jon Madof, and Jamie Saft give more of a hard rock sound to their tracks. Wadada Leo Smith's track features a very spare trumpet melody over a queasy soundscape supplied by Ikue Mori. Fantômas takes the hard edge a step further (to be expected), but the prog rock feel of both Tatsuya Yoshida and Eyvind Kang is somewhat unexpected. In fact, Kang's treatment of "Belimah" almost sounds like a lost early-'70s King Crimson outtake! Track highlights include "Kinyan" (Friedlander), "Vehuel" (Dave Douglas, featuring Greg Tardy and Zorn himself), "Zarach" (Saft), and "Belimah" (Kang). The Zorn crowd tends to follow his every move and usually know what to expect; the uninitiated should probably approach this one with some caution.

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