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John Zorn: Filmworks XIV (2003)

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John Zorn: Filmworks XIV No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Fans of composer/saxophonist John Zorn often talk about him in metric terms, as in “my Zorn collection has grown to this many meters in length.” His output of late has focused on his composing; he has been heard less on record, preferring to step back and showcase his writing. Other bands cover his Masada compositions and chamber ensembles play his modern classical pieces.

Likewise, his fourteenth Filmworks release features an acoustic version of his Electric Masada band sans Zorn, performing the soundtrack to the Jewish Documentary Hiding And Seeking.

Part folk, part exotica, the band lands in a playful land of frolic. The film is reported to be a return to the "roots" of a family whose homeland is Poland. Zorn mixes the seemingly nonsequitur instrumentation of classical guitar, Brazilian hand percussion, vibraphone, and wordless vocals into a warm kindred assemblage of quickly familiar tunes.

It’s a film score, so the repetition of themes is the order of the day. Zorn chooses Latin rhythms and the 1950s bachelor pad approach to music. The much ignored (until the last decade) exotica genre is ripe pickings for serious light-comedy soundtrack work. Ribot’s nylon strings weave the simple theme throughout, backed by Downtown drummer Kenny Wollesen’s vibraphone work. It is truly beautiful to hear Jewish folk music mix with the pure acoustic hand percussion of Cyro Baptista and the the wordless vocals of Ganda Suthivarakom.

Yes, this is a beautiful record.

Track Listing: Merkabah (vocal); Sekhel; Zhakor; Muflah; Abulafia; Abulafia (vocal); Chink; Moadim; Zhakor; Sekhel (vocal); Adamah; Merkabah.

Personnel: Marc Ribot - Guitar; Kenny Wollesen - Vibraphone; Trevor Dunn - Bass; Cyro Baptista - Percussion; Ganda Suthivarakom - Voice;

Record Label: Tzadik

Style: Modern Jazz


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