Aaron Novik blends the readings of the Kabbalah into a nouveau, borderless set of musical inferences, combining horns, strings, electronics and disparate instrumentation with Jewish mysticism and man's destiny into a shadowy portraiture. Featuring ominous passages and weighty movements, the San Francisco-based leader integrates his electric clarinet amid a cavalcade of psycho-rock sorties and lean improvisational segments, embedded into an ultra-progressive program.
Here, Jewish traditional music is often low-key, but suitably presented in various forms and flavors. However, Novik and his large ensemble override the core elements with contemporary chamber movements, electro-acoustic metrics, and pulsating arrangements, featuring Carla Kihlstedt's scorching electric violin solos.
Eminent guitarist Fred Frith incorporates avant-rock treatments as Cornelius Boot's bizarre robot clarinet lines offer a portentous bottom-end. Within various theme-building escapades dispersed throughout these five movements that follow the Kabbalah, Novik and his cohorts impart guerilla tactics via alien-like treatments and moments that summon a day of reckoning mindset.
Not feeble by any stretch, Novik casts a soul-drenched series of abstractions into more conventional frameworks, where treks into an interminable abyss blossom into harrowing sound-shaping vamps. Yet, the band lightens the load a bit on the closing "Secrets of Formation (Bulgar)," dishing out a happy-go-lucky, cartoonish soundtrack moving along in linear fashion.
The album signals a potpourri of divergent perspectives, unanticipated surprises and gargantuan opuses. Novik summons imagery that teeters upon social disorder, coupled with the inherent religious aspects that correlate the basis for his heterogeneous tactics.
Track Listing: Secrets of Creation (khoisdl); Secrets of the Divine World (terkish); Secrets of the Divine Chariot (hora); Secrets of the Holy Name (doina); Secrets of Formation (bulgar).
Personnel: Matthias Bossi: drums; Cornelius Boots: robot bass clarinet: Aron Novik: electric clarinet, percussion, programming; Carla Kihlstedt: electric violin; Willie Winant: tympani, vibraphone, glockenspiel, gong, tubular bells; Fred Frith: guitar; Ben
Goldberg: contra-alto clarinet, clarinet; Lisa Mezzacappa: bass: Aaron Kierbel: dumbek. The Real Vocal String Quartet: Irene Fraser: violin; Alisa Rose: violin; Dina Maccabee: viola; Jessica Ivry: cello; Jazz Mafia Horns: Henry Hung: flugelhorn, trumpet, marching french horn; Adam Theis: trombone; Jamie Dubberly: bass trombone; Doug Morton: tuba.
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.