Wednesday, June 09, 2021

John Zorn - Heaven And Earth Magick (Tzadik Records, 2021)

John Zorn combines jazz and classical music on this album, writing music for an excellent band featuring Ches Smith on drums, Stephen Gosling on piano, Sae Hashimoto on vibraphone and Jorge Roeder on bass. The combination of notated sections and improvisation sets up the group for an energetic session beginning with the opening track, "Auto-da-Fe," which shows the group sounding wild, running free with great percussion and vibes playing vibrant and alive, as thick bass centers the music. Everything spaces out for a while, inaugurating a dynamic wax and wane. Vibes ring with long sustain, building space then the crashing loudness of a massive musical push enters including concluding drum solo. There is a stark loud vs. quiet dynamic on "Acephale," with bowed bass, short jabs from the other instruments, creating a sense of spare quiet, where piano and vibes evoke a calm, steady medium rhythm leading to pleasant full band interplay. The final movement of this performance unveils beautiful spacey bass playing, with vibes probing the scene, followed by a massive full band race to the finish line. "Asclemandres" is fast and intricate, with repetitive aspects, building to a frenzy. This band is amazing, playing this complex music without a hitch, flowing, slaloming and cascading at high speed through a challenging course. Turning briefly to open an piano and vibes centered area, the group pulls together again with a complex piano led push to the conclusion. Piano focused and free sounding but probably not, "Descent into the Maelstrom" uses vibes to shadow and comment, swathes of bowed bass sounding very cool, and a dynamic burst when you least expect it. Torrents of fast soaring music where the piano assumes control with percussive bursts. "Konx Om Pax" uses cautious piano tendrils with vibes framing, creating music of an abstract nature, but shocks the listener by ending in a full band blowout. Finally, "Casting the Runes" has a torrential / speed kills interaction with knotty full band play, creating a fantasia of piano and vibes, allowing the music to churn and rampage, incorporating a short drum and bass solo section, leading back to a chase like section for full band full out sprint, slowing down dramatically before the dramatic finale. This was a fascinating album, the combination of John Zorn's unique and original writing and the talent of the band to take this music into unexpected directions leads to a memorable combination. Heaven And Earth Magick - amazon.com

Send comments to Tim.