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John Zorn The Mysteries (2013)


John Zorn — The Mysteries (2013)

Bill Frisell / Carol Emanuel / John Zorn / Kenny Wollesen
John Zorn — The Mysteries
¶   A second volume from the fabulous trio of Bill Frisell, Carol Emanuel and Kenny Wollesen who first came together on the Gnostic Preludes from 2012. Universally acclaimed as one of Zorn’s most beautiful and evocative projects, the music here follows in that tradition—a minimalist modal lyricism distinguished by complex rhythmic twists and turns, Zorn’s dramatic ever-shifting sound blocks and, of course, the brilliant improvisations of guitar wizard Bill Frisell. Gorgeous mystical music uniting Ancient traditions with those of the 21st century, this is a charming collection of Gnostic Odes and Dances to be enjoyed by young and old alike! 
Location: New York
Album release: March 26, 2013
Record Label: Tzadik
Cat. # 8306
Duration:     48:38
1. Sacred Oracle    (5:35)
2. Hymn Of The Naassenes    (5:05)
3. Dance Of Sappho    (4:06)
4. The Bacchanalia    (2:56)
5. Consolamentum    (5:49)
6. Ode To The Cathars    (6:56)
7. Apollo    (3:28)
8. Yaldabaoth    (3:55)
9. The Nymphs    (10:48)
Carol Emanuel: Harp
Bill Frisell: Guitar
Kenny Wollesen: Vibraphone, Bells
Heung-Heung "Chippy" Chin  Design
Carol Emanuel  Harp, Primary Artist
Bill Frisell  Guitar, Primary Artist
Scott Hull  Mastering
Kazunori Sugiyama  Associate Producer
Marc Urselli  Engineer, Mixing
Kenny Wollesen  Bells, Primary Artist, Vibraphone
John Zorn  Arranger, Composer, Primary Artist, Producer
Album moods: -Ambitious-Amiable/Good-Natured-Complex-Confident-Dramatic-Dreamy-Enigmatic-Literate-Lively-Lush-Quirky-Refined-Self-Conscious-Sensual-Whimsical-Atmospheric-Concise-Euphoric-Innocent-Intimate-Meditative-Mystical-Optimistic-Sophisticated-Spacey-Spiritual-Thoughtful-Tuneful-Uplifting-Warm
Album themes: -Meditation-Early Morning-Late Night-The Creative Side-Wisdom-Sweet Dreams
Label: http://www.tzadik.com
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/johnzorn © Photo credit: Jimmy Katz
Review by Thom Jurek  (Editor rating: ****)
¶   On The Mysteries, composer John Zorn reunites the trio of harpist Carol Emanuel, vibraphonist Kenny Wollesen, and guitarist Bill Frisell for another chapter in his growing body of chamber recordings influenced by myth and mysticism. The group's first outing was 2012's The Gnostic Preludes: Music of Splendor. The intimacy of those works is preserved here, but the flavor is different. Where the compositions on the previous album felt of a piece (they were) -- no matter their stylistic diversity -- the tunes here wander a bit further afield. In addition, where Emanuel was the undisputed center of the work on The Gnostic Preludes, it is Frisell who holds that role on these nine cuts. The interplay between the guitarist and Emanuel in the intro to "Sacred Oracle," the album's opener, is haunting, repetitive, minimal -- for the first two minutes. Frisell seeks the margin of Emanuel's progression and gets inside it. The theme changes up and Wollesen enters on vibes and bells, but this time it's Frisell setting the melody. While "Dance of Sappho" begins with harp in a modal melody that seems ancient, the guitarist, with just a hint of reverb, walks the edges of country and even surf music as Wollesen plays in sharp, shifting rhythms in his instrument's upper middle register. "Ode to the Cathars" opens as an abstract, nearly ambient piece with the controlled, spaced-out sustain of Frisell's guitar. But Wollesen and then Emanuel enter, offering a pulse that eventually transforms into one of the loveliest melodies on the record. Closer "The Nymphs" is the set's longest cut at nearly 11 minutes. Led by Frisell, it moves through skeletal phrases toward post-minimalism but but crosses that line, too. It's airy yet moody and full of knotty twists and turns melodically and harmonically as minor modes, counterpoint, and miniature themes alternately assert themselves -- especially when Frisell decides to get whimsical in the codas. The Mysteries is another facet of this fine trio's persona as they elegantly yet inquisitively interpret these beautiful pieces by the composer. Their interplay is at such a high level, it feels nearly instinctive.  --------------------------------------------------------
¶   Le jeu élégant et subtil de Bill Frisell convient parfaitement aux compositions de John Zorn.
-------------------------------------------------------------------  © Photo credit: Jimmy Katz  

Review by Brian Olewnick
¶   Tops of Trees was the first album as leader by harpist Carol Emanuel, a mainstay of the downtown New York avant-garde music scene since her early-'80s participation in several of John Zorn's first projects. The ten pieces presented here are each by different composers (all of whom were involved in that same scene); three are solo harp performances, the rest utilize revolving groups ranging from duos to quintets. Among the more successful are Evan Lurie's moody, Spanish-tinged "Travel," master accordionist Guy Klucevsek's lovely "Singing Sands," and Zorn's knotty, harp-abusing "Tasmanian Devil" which allows Emanuel to pull out all stops and perhaps a few strings. Both of the more rock-oriented pieces, Amy Rubin's "Blue Ridge" and Bobby Previte's "How Long Is the Coast of Brittany?" fall flat, the former succumbing to an ECM-ish Muzak-y languor, the latter getting lost in a flurry of bombast. Improvising harpists are a relatively rare breed, however (Zeena Parkins and Rhodri Davies being two other examples), and it's certainly interesting and encouraging to hear players like Emanuel venture into the territory. Though Tops of Trees is a hit and miss affair, it's worth hearing for that reason alone.


Biography by Joslyn Layne
¶   Percussionist Kenny Wollesen performed on over 30 recordings during the 1990s and, as the decade progressed, gained increasing renown as a musician of astonishing versatility, skill, and ingenuity. He has recorded and toured with all kinds of musicians, from Tom Waits (Wolleson performs on Waits' 1993 collaboration with William S. Burroughs, Black Rider), to Sean Lennon, to Ron Sexsmith (Wolleson performs on his second album, Other Songs). A founding member of the New Klezmer Trio, Wolleson is also all over N.Y.C.'s downtown jazz and avant-garde musicians' recordings, and has been so active as to tour with Bill Frisell and Myra Melford in the same month.   JOHN ZORN, ANTWERPEN - Het is telkens een bijzonder, bijna magisch ogenblik, als de eerste jazzklanken in Park DenView / www.dewereldmorgen.be


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