John Zorn | Electric Masada - 50th Birthday Edition, Volume 4 Jarring, cerebral, soaring, discordant, strange, abstract, free, deeply grooving, radical. Zorn, as usual, defies easy categorization on this epic album from his own Tzadik label. Masada is the name given to a catalog of arrangements based on Klezmer/Jewish scales written by Zorn in the 80s. The Masada songs have been performed by a plethora of various musical groupings, with or without Zorn's presence. In my opinion, Electric Masada kicks the most ass. The band might actually be my favorite band right now, maybe of all time? Combining jazz fusion, improvisational mastery, celestial-rocking and chilled-out, futuristic sound scapes, this albums takes you through a fleshy spectrum of celebratory musical experience. The band members (Zorn on saxophone; Marc Ribot, guitar; Cyro Baptista, percussion; Jamie Saft, keyboards; Ikue Mori, laptronics; Trevor Dunn, bass; Kenny Wolleson, drums; and special guest Joey Baron, drums) communicate with deep fluidity, letting the music breath in and out, raging then caressing, hammering then soothing. Alternatively spewing hellacious scalding dragon-fire, then icy oceanic sea-breezes. The music tests the listener. At times too manic, too crazy, too much. But, in true tension/release formula, the turbulent, difficult sections only tend to sweeten the fruit of the melodic, loping phrases. Like any great album, subtle musical nuances reveal themselves with each successive listen. Electric Masada picks up were Miles' "Bitches Brew" and "On the Corner" left off. It leaves the listener on the edge of their seat, thrilled, disturbed, intrigued, and ultimately...inspired. - Ethan K.

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