Electric Masada combines the raw power and manic speed of Naked City, the improvisational edge of Cobra and the spiritual lyricism of the Masada songbook. Their second release captures them at the end of a long European tour, at the very peak of their powers. Tight as a drum and as hot as a blow torch, these two incredible live performances will leave you breathless. Featuring a level of musical communication, excitement, versatility and complexity very few bands have been able to attain, this is Zorn at his very best. Astonishing group conductions, searing solos and crazed insanity from one of the most amazing bands Zorn has ever had.
The long awaited first release of Zorn's most recent and most powerful Masada unit. A true downtown supergroup, blending the raw power of Naked City with the improvisational madness of Cobra and the lyrical soul of the Masada songbook, Electric Masada is considered by many to be the most exciting band Zorn has ever had. This set, the taut climax of a three night run at Tonic, features the full octet at its wildest and most creative. Incredible solos, jaw dropping ensemble conductions and much more.
With the growth of saxophonist/composer/bandleader/producer John Zorn's Masada project into a veritable cottage industry that includes Masada Recital , Masada String Trio , Masada Guitars , Electric Masada and The Unknown Masada , it may be easy to forget how, ten years ago, his Masada Quartet, with trumpeter Dave Douglas, bassist Greg Cohen and drummer Joey Baron burst onto the scene with a series of ten rapidly-released studio records that combined a Jewish music sensibility with the improvisational edge and sense of adventure of Ornette Coleman.
From its first manic blast, it's clear that Masada, Vol. 10: Yod is going to be one of John Zorn and company's wildest, most confident works. It's also one of the most accessible, though that's hardly a safe recommendation: like all of the Masada series' works, Yod is not a friendly listen. The middle section of the album, though, with its gentle, hypnotic pace, offers a reprieve from the intensity of the other compositions. What continues to impress in this, their tenth release, is the group's relentless energy and the sheer brilliance of their interplay. The incredibly visceral soloing of Zorn and Dave Douglas, the mesmerizing, exotic pulse: all are the trademarks of one of jazz's greatest units, a group practically exploding with talent and ideas.
With its keen balance between the form and freedom, cogent solos, and forward momentum, John Zorn's Masada series is without a doubt his most musically sound and rewarding output of this decade. On Tet, Zorn and his cohorts continue to successfully juxtapose Jewish folk melodies with modal grooves and harmelodic labyrinths.
Recorded four months after the fragmented loose ends of Masada, Vol. 7: Zayin, Masada seems to be settling into a new – perhaps mature or more conventional – phase with Masada, Vol. 8: Het. The frantic frenzy that drove its early releases is largely reined in, a couple of actual ballads sneak in the repertoire, and there are some solos by John Zorn or Dave Douglas with just the rhythm section instead of their usual countermelody exchanges. "Shechem" opens with very loose-limbed, Ornette Coleman-influenced free bop, with the two horns playing off Joey Baron's light tom-tom touch before Zorn takes a very melodic, flowing soloing on his own until organically handing it off to Douglas.
Masada's seventh volume sounds almost like an odds-and-sods collection. It's a more fragmentary and disparate disc that doesn't have much musical middle ground – the extremes between the group's atonal free improv bursts and its more melodic or atmospheric pieces are very pronounced. "Shevet" has a more overt klezmer influence and almost timbales tones from Joey Baron, while the segmented "Hath-Arob" is very Ornette Coleman-like before breaking down into free-blow sections.
As John Zorn’s most popular project reaches its tenth year, Tzadik celebrates the Masada songbook with a series of all-star tributes. Following Masada Guitars, Volume 2 is an eclectic and powerful collection of almost two dozen Masada classics artfully arranged by some of the downtown scene’s most creative performers. Zorn’s catchiest and most lyrical tunes performed by rock bands, klezmer groups, vocalists, jazz.