179

John Zorn: O'o

By

Sign in to view read count
When John Zorn released The Dreamers (Tzadik) in 2008, it might have seemed like a temporary aberration: Zorn the master of the arbitrary (Cobra), the cutting edge (Torture Garden) and the anarchic (too many projects to mention) had embraced the genres of lounge and 1950s exotica to produce music that, perhaps ironically, approached easy listening, building on the more tuneful elements in his Electric Masada and Morricone projects. It seems the aberration wasn't temporary. On O'o Zorn returns to the same blend of genre elements and the same ensemble, with guitarist Marc Ribot, keyboardist Jamie Saft and vibraphonist Kenny Wollesen in the foreground and bassist Trevor Dunn and drummer Joey Baron in the background, all of it accented by the brilliant vernacular percussion of Cyro Baptista.

The fundamental elements include the "jungle sounds" of Martin Denny, a tropical midnight soundscape of birdcalls and insect percussion, coupled with lushly resonant instrumentation. There's lounge a-plenty, but it covers terrain from surf guitar instrumentals to the Latin jazz of Cal Tjader and Vince Guaraldi to some sudden soulful piano that might recall Horace Silver or Sonny Clark. The clarity of Zorn's musical vision combines with the recovered elements to create sometimes startling emotional connections (that the CD is named for an extinct song bird is telling as is the booklet of bird drawings), as in the profoundly beautiful opening of "Akialoa," with its suggestion of John Coltrane modality and Morricone soundscape. The individual performances are at a consistently high level, but it would be impossible not to single out Ribot for his uncanny range of guitar timbres, remarkable not simply for their variety but their intensity and unfailing aptness.

While The Dreamers might have seemed like a brilliantly executed one-off, O'o testifies not just to Zorn's absorption in the new style, but to the band's commitment as well. You might go some distance to find contemporary music with more precisely meaningful detail or dedication to nuance.

Track Listing: Miller's Crake; Akialoa; Po'o'uli ; Little Bittern; Mysterious Starling; Laughing Owl; Archaeopteryx; Solitaire; Piopio; The Zapata Rail; Kakawahie; Magdalena.

Personnel: Cyro Baptista: percussion; Joey Baron: drums; Trevor Dunn: bass; Marc Ribot: guitar; Jamie Saft: piano, organ; Kenny Wollesen: vibraphone.

Title: O'o | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Tzadik


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Triple Double CD/LP/Track Review Triple Double
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 21, 2017
Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "Prick of the Litter" CD/LP/Track Review Prick of the Litter
by Doug Collette
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "Hakos Trios" CD/LP/Track Review Hakos Trios
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 27, 2017
Read "Zea" CD/LP/Track Review Zea
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 22, 2017
Read "Putting Off Death" CD/LP/Track Review Putting Off Death
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 17, 2017
Read "Crop Circles" CD/LP/Track Review Crop Circles
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 16, 2017
Read "Groovin' Hard: Live At The Penthouse 1964-1968" CD/LP/Track Review Groovin' Hard: Live At The Penthouse 1964-1968
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 18, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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