Monday, July 06, 2015

John Zorn - The Song Project Live (Tzadik, 2015)

As a part of the Zorn@60 celebration came this fascinating concert at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City, where John Zorn conducted some of his favorite musicians and vocalists in a program ranging from thrash rock to delicate South and Latin American music. There were original songs and music from John Zorn’s many groups. The vocalists are: Mike Patton, Jesse Harris (on guitar also) and Sofia Rei. The musicians are some of Zorn’s most stalwart collaborators: Marc Ribot on guitar, John Medeski or keyboards, Trevor Dunn on bass, Kenny Wollensen on vibes, Cyro Baptista on percussion and Joey Baron on drums. “Flying Blind” opens the album with vocals from Mike Patton, and some snarling guitar sounding like heavy metal from another planet. Patton screams for all he’s worth with Medeski’s organ and Dunn’s bass making chase. Gentle acoustic guitar makes for a dramatic change of pace for “Sombra En El Espejo” sung by Sofia Rei. The vocals have a sultry yearning feel to them; with subtle vibes in the background while Baptista’s percussion and Medeski’s piano make for an excellent backdrop for the emotional singing. “Perfect Crime” is a duet between Mike Patton and Sofia Rei with some slinky guitar and organ developing and old west Tom Waits vibe. The lyrics are quite cosmic, about the beginning of the Universe and the planets doing time as if they are in some run down frontier jail. The vocalists work well with the surreal material and Ribot absolutely goes to town with a derermined guitar solo that is perfect for the song. Ms. Rei performs a duet with Jesse Harris on “Kafiristan,” which has a more refined and sensual feeling. The overall sense is one of loneliness and longing and lyrics about mysterious characters accompanied by tasteful guitar and vibes. Mike Patton’s gritty voice opens “Do Not Let Us Forget” and then the band slams in led by Medeski’s great organ and then Ribot lets loose with an extraordinary solo against the screaming vocals making for completely unhinged music. Patton returns on “Burn” which has wild keyboards and the singer wailing at the extent of his powers and releasing the force of the organ that flat out bellows. “The Man In the Blue Mask” has lyrics by Jesse Harris and vocals by Mike Patton. It opens with subtle guitar and deep vocals and Patton’s voice picks up and carries the music to another level of pure rock and roll. There is an excellent section for guitar and drumming, leading the music through dynamic crescendos. This was a fascinating album, which moved from the most avant garde scorching to gentle sounds of exotic acoustic flavored music. Zorn acted as directed as a director and master of ceremonies and created a wide ranging program of successful music. Song Project Live -

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