Sunday, October 19, 2008

John Zorn - The Dreamers (Tzadik, 2008)

Saxophonist and composer John Zorn seems to take perverse enjoyment in confounding the critics that want to peg him as just a screaming avant-gardist. On this album, for instance, melody is the key and it has some of Zorn's most accessible compositions yet. Joined by guitarist Marc Ribot, the keyboardist Jamie Saft, the bassist Trevor Dunn and the percussionists Kenny Wollesen, Cyro Baptista and Joey Baron, the album has a fascinating cinematic feel, with its shifting rhythm provided by drums, hand percussion and vibraphone, this sounds like a more upbeat version of Zorn's Filmworks series. All of the musicians play well, but it is Ribot who dominates the proceedings, shredding at a level that seems to summon the spirit of Sonny Sharrock on the epic "Anulikwutsayl." People who have been looking to check out John Zorn's music, but who have been scared off by his fearsome reputation would do well to check this disc out, because it is thoughtful and creative without being off-putting.

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