John Zorn: Filmworks XVIII & 50th Birthday Celebration Vol. 11

Kurt Gottschalk By

Sign in to view read count

John Zorn
Filmworks XVIIII

Bar Kokhba Sextet
50th Birthday Celebration Volume Eleven

There can be something nice, relaxing even, about the casual works of a genius. Like Woody Allen's slight comedies or Chopin's preludes, a master in repose can be extraordinarily entertaining.

So while John Zorn - a master no doubt at his craft - has created massive, epic, shocking, challenging and beautiful works, there's something deeply sweet about his 'lighter music'. His recorded catalogue has made clear his interests in romantic pop by the likes of Burt Bacharach, Serge Gainsbourg and Martin Denny and it's those interests that informs the latest in his Filmworks series, the soundtrack to a romantic comedy called The Treatment. The Filmworks CDs haven't been Zorn's strongest work, often borrowing from stronger projects to create incidental mood music. And to a degree, the same is true here. While it's not as rich as his 2001 album The Gift, it is a simple pleasure and one of the least explored of Zorn's many interests. The group (violinist Mark Feldman, bassist Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz, Rob Burger on accordion and Kenny Wollesen on vibes, with guitarist Marc Ribot sitting in on two cuts) is alternately leisurely and sprightly but never quite heavy and the dozen cuts are nicely satisfying.

Zorn's Masada project isn't quite so light an affair, but of the growing number of ensembles performing the songbook (including a 14-piece string ensemble that premiered as part of the Oy!Hoo Festival in New York City last month at 92nd Street Y), the Bar Kokhba Sextet is the most fun. With the Masada String Trio (Feldman, cellist Erik Friedlander and bassist Greg Cohen) at its core and guitarist Marc Ribot and percussionists Joey Baron and Cyro Baptista pushing the energy level, the group is the strongest mix of exuberance and precision of any of those performing the burgeoning songbook. The new volume in Zorn's series of recordings from his month of performances marking his 50th birthday preserves three of the four sets they played over two nights, 28 tracks over three discs. They sound great, with Zorn conducting and the recording itself is fantastic - intimate enough to hear the audience, but clear enough that you're not left longing for a studio recording. For Masada completists, it's a given, but even for the dabbler it could stand alone as a representation of the band - rare for a live recording, but they're a rare band.

Tracks and Personnel

Filmworks XVIII

Tracks: The Treatment; Romance; Why Me?; Family; Marking Time; Anxieties; Freud's Rondo; Totem and Taboo; Rush Hour; Bad Dreams; Uncertainty; Happy Ending.

Personnel: Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz: bass; Rob Burger: accordion; Mark Feldman: violin; Kenny Wollesen: vibraphone; Marc Ribot: guitar.

Album Title #2

Tracks: Disc 1: Lilin; Ner Tamid; Karet; Yatzar; Khebar; Eitan; Kivah; Teli; Disc 2: Khebar; Lachish; Kisofim; Jachin; Kochot; Hazor; Avelut; Lilin Disc 3: Khebar; Hadasha; Hazor; Eitan; Karet; Idalah Abal; Teli; Avelut; Bith Aneth.

Personnel: John Zorn: composer, conductor; Cyro Baptista: percussion; Joey Baron: drums; Greg Cohen: bass; Mark Feldman: violin; Erik Friedlander: cello; Marc Ribot: guitar.


More Articles

Read Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago Multiple Reviews Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 21, 2017
Read New, Notable and Nearly Missed Multiple Reviews New, Notable and Nearly Missed
by Phil Barnes
Published: January 25, 2017
Read Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas Multiple Reviews Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas
by Doug Collette
Published: January 14, 2017
Read Weekertoft Hits Its Stride… Multiple Reviews Weekertoft Hits Its Stride…
by John Eyles
Published: January 7, 2017
Read Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio Multiple Reviews Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio
by Jim Trageser
Published: January 4, 2017
Read 2016: An Ivo Perelman Marathon Multiple Reviews 2016: An Ivo Perelman Marathon
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 3, 2017
Read "The Unity Sessions / Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny" Multiple Reviews The Unity Sessions / Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 7, 2016
Read "Montreux Through The Decades: Jazz Recordings, Part One" Multiple Reviews Montreux Through The Decades: Jazz Recordings, Part One
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 27, 2016
Read "Nate Wooley Makes America Great Again" Multiple Reviews Nate Wooley Makes America Great Again
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 1, 2016
Read "John David Souther: Black Rose and Home By Dawn" Multiple Reviews John David Souther: Black Rose and Home By Dawn
by Doug Collette
Published: March 26, 2016
Read "Paul Kelly: Seven Sonnets & A Song and Death's Dateless Night" Multiple Reviews Paul Kelly: Seven Sonnets & A Song and Death's Dateless Night
by Doug Collette
Published: October 16, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!