178

John Zorn: O'o

By

Sign in to view read count
John Zorn: O'o 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 Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Thick as Thieves CD/LP/Track Review Thick as Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Dream Within A Dream CD/LP/Track Review Dream Within A Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Live At The High Noon CD/LP/Track Review Live At The High Noon
by Doug Collette
Published: June 22, 2017
Read As It Should Be: Ballads 2 CD/LP/Track Review As It Should Be: Ballads 2
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 21, 2017
Read Karoujite CD/LP/Track Review Karoujite
by John Eyles
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "Open Air" CD/LP/Track Review Open Air
by John Kelman
Published: June 2, 2017
Read "Shapes" CD/LP/Track Review Shapes
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 6, 2016
Read "Natural Language" CD/LP/Track Review Natural Language
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 9, 2016
Read "Living Water" CD/LP/Track Review Living Water
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 15, 2017
Read "Intenso!" CD/LP/Track Review Intenso!
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 1, 2016
Read "Cuts" CD/LP/Track Review Cuts
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 5, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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