434

John Zorn: Masada Guitars

Farrell Lowe By

Sign in to view read count
With the release of Masada Guitars, John Zorn begins a ten-year anniversary celebration of his Masada songbook. On this project Zorn asked three of his favorite guitarists (Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, and Tim Sparks) to contribute solo renditions of his pieces. Why solo guitar versions of these pieces? It was a wise choice in both personnel and instrumentation. From the perspective of composition, this recording reveals the strength, subtlety, depth, and beauty of Zorn's writing. His music has a wonderful lyrical, singing quality that becomes more apparent the more it's stripped down. That's the hallmark of any great song. These songs convey a sense of time, deep and dusty, where even the smallest gesture carries great meaning. After listening to other versions of these pieces, I'm awed by the power of the solitary voice. It provides a stronger sense of intimacy and reveals different emotional qualities in the music, showing just how great a composer John Zorn can be.

This recording also reveals how powerful the modern guitar can be. Zorn chose three very distinctive players to interpret these pieces. Each guitarist shapes and cuts his own world of sound out of Zorn's compositions. Bill Frisell imbues his selections with quiet grace, goofy wit, friendly challenges, and a depth of understanding that is downright humbling. He works and pulls at the edges of strong melodies, fashioning them into brilliant new colors. Listening to Frisell on this album is like taking a walk in a teeming ancient forest along with an old friend filled with stories and a talking bird on his arm that points the way home.

Marc Ribot is another kettle of fish altogether. His vision reveals a darker, edgier side of Zorn's pieces. Ribot's tone is gritty and elemental, cutting to the core of the tune right out of the gate. He brings a directness and muscularity to the songs that reflect the composer's New York roots. Listening to Ribot work these tunes is like driving an old green Dodge pickup truck down a gravel road with Sam Shepard and a dog. It's a trip worth taking!

Is Tim Sparks the secret son of John Fahey?' What a wonderful player. He approaches these songs with the expertise and conviction of a river gambler on the Delta. In his hands, the music surges and pulses with poise, bravado, and quick turns of phrase.

Masada Guitars speaks to the modern mind with ancient roots, and besides, it's loads of fun!


Track Listing: 1. Abidan 2. Kodashim 3. Kedem 4. Bikkurim 5. Ravayah 6. Hadasha 7. Katzatz 8. Kanah 9. Hodaah 10. Kisofim 11. Sippur 12. Sansanah 13. Galgalim 14. Elilah 15. Kedushah 16. Shevet 17. Kochot 18. Tzalim 19. Kivah 20. Avelut 21. Moshav

Personnel: Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, Tim Sparks: solo guitar.

Title: Masada Guitars | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Tzadik


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Slægt CD/LP/Track Review Slægt
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 24, 2017
Read An Eye on the Future CD/LP/Track Review An Eye on the Future
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 24, 2017
Read Cherry ‎– Sakura CD/LP/Track Review Cherry ‎– Sakura
by John Sharpe
Published: September 24, 2017
Read Blow, Strike & Touch CD/LP/Track Review Blow, Strike & Touch
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 24, 2017
Read Elusive CD/LP/Track Review Elusive
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Transitions CD/LP/Track Review Transitions
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 23, 2017
Read "Think Ahead" CD/LP/Track Review Think Ahead
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: July 8, 2017
Read "Time on My Hands" CD/LP/Track Review Time on My Hands
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 10, 2016
Read "On Hollywood Boulevard" CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: December 6, 2016
Read "Live In New York" CD/LP/Track Review Live In New York
by John Sharpe
Published: October 4, 2016
Read "Sektion 1-2" CD/LP/Track Review Sektion 1-2
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 21, 2016
Read "Binary" CD/LP/Track Review Binary
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 19, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.