Sunday, July 01, 2012

John Surman - Saltash Bells; John Zorn - The Hermetic Organ

John Surman - Saltash Bells (ECM, 2012) Saxophonist John Surman has had a long and interesting career playing in everything from big bands to solo concerts and everything in-between. This particular album is a solo performance, but one with a twist, with Surman playing several instruments overdubbed upon one another that create a thoughtful and evocative musical scene. Surman juggles a wide variety of instruments: soprano, tenor and baritone saxophones, alto, bass and contrabass clarinets, harmonica and synthesizer to evoke images of his childhood growing up in the western section of England. The music is very atmospheric with the different saxophones and clarinets intertwining around as the bell like synthesizer quivers around the wavering sound. I found the sounds that Surman creates on this album to be quite unique, developing layer upon layer and really evoking a mysterious place and time in an alluring performance filled with lyrical beauty.  Saltash Bells -

John Zorn - The Hermetic Organ (Tzadik, 2012) Composer and instrumentalist John Zorn is unwilling to stay in one spot for a very long time, and surprised fans by returning to his original instrument, the organ, for a series of solo recitals during the fall and winter of 2011. Taking inspiration from the scores of silent films and Phantom of the Opera, Zorn brings a unique conception to the organ the builds dynamic contrast between washes of pure sounds and eerie stretches of ominous silence. Recorded live at Columbia University in December of 2011, the suite “Office Nr 4” is broken down into six sections, “Introit, Benediction, Offertory, Elevation, Communion and Descent.” The motifs and moves that are developed by the huge pipe organ are very impressive and at times overwhelming. This is an interesting and well played album that shines a completely different light on Zorn’s method as a composer and improviser. He tries his best to tame the powerful beast and succeeds in creating some evocative sounds and alluring moods. It is really unlike anything else in his catalog. The Hermetic Organ -

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