John Zorn – Masada Guitars (2003)

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John Zorn’s Masada is an interesting group. The way I’ve come to describe them is “Ornette Coleman-listens-to-klezmer.” While that’s not the only way to get there, it’ll do.

Pick any recording from the Masada series and you’ll hear some fine interplay between Zorn’s sax, the trumpet of Dave Douglas and Greg Cohen’s bass. All of this supported (and sometimes shattered) by the fricken’ exquisite drumming of Joey Baron.

So what to make of Masada Guitars? Pretty cool stuff. Guitarists Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot and Tim Sparks put their own stamp on tunes from the (huge) Masada catalog. This drastically transforms what Masada usually brings to the table. While some of that familiar off-kilter energy is gone, it is replaced by a kind of introspection that reminds me of Jerry Garcia’s improvisations on the Zabriskie Point soundtrack.

If you’re looking for some solo guitar that’s outside of the mainstream (not too far … we’re not talking Derek Bailey here) then you’ve come to the right place.

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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