Friday, April 08, 2016

John Zorn - Flaga: The Book of Angels Volume 27 (Tzadik, 2016)

This is a great inside/outside jazz group, something that might not be expected from a John Zorn project but it is all the more interesting for it. The group is a crackling trio of Craig Taborn on piano, Christian McBride on bass and Tyshawn Sorey on drums, playing Zorn’s music from the Book of Angels. “Machina” opens with the state of the art piano trio playing brilliantly together, Taborn and Sorey may thrash and scowl at times, but this is still deeply melodic music and McBride holds the center ably proving he can play on the fringes as well as the bop and groove music he is known for. There is a lighter sensibility to the piano on “Peliel” with bass and drums coming in after a minute of solo space. They develop a fast and exciting trio improvisation, dropping off to allow McBride some room to shine before everyone climbs back fast for the conclusion. “Katzfiel” shows the trio in fast and thunderous mode, with Taborn zipping up and down the keyboard and punctuating these runs with pounding notes, all the while in the company of storming bass and drums. Sorey’s drums take the lead on “Talmai Take 1” and get the music moving to a running start. The piano and bass are a touch milder and more melodic, but this is all about the drums and Sorey seems to be everywhere, and at great volume too. “Pista” is the longest track and the centerpiece of the album, opening with quiet piano and spare drumming that gradually build to a very intense force of nature. A very deep and powerful collective improvisation develops with everybody playing with a strong rhythmic sense and extreme power, which is fiercely generated during the improvisation. They move into a more abstract area to explore before bubbling up to the surface, riding the waves of Sorey’s massive drum sound. After that epic, they slow the sound a bit on “Agbas” which has a touch of forlorn sadness to it, since Taborn has a wonderful ability to convey deep emotion in very few notes and his playing answered by McBride who is right at home in a more melodic setting. “Rogzeil” flips the page admirably with pounding piano, epic elastic bass pulls and massive percussion making for two and a half minutes of warp drive music where they pin their ears back and howl. “Talmai Take 2” ends the album with a blast of thunderous noise, a drum solo which clearly shows that Tyshawn Sorey is superhuman and accompanied by massive piano and bass which are totally in control but playing with reckless abandon that makes this collective improvisation sound as mad as any of the freest improvisation. This was an excellent jazz album, taking a trio of diverse musicians and giving them interesting compositions to explore and setting them free to do what they do best. It’s a very “loud” album, which I particularly enjoyed, the music was flesh and blood and so very real. Flaga: The Book of Angels Volume 27 -

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