Music Reviews

Live Act(s): John Zorn and the Book of Angels (Masada Quartet, Electric Masada, Masada String Trio, Masada String Orchestra)
Event Date: 10 September 2006
Type of Event: Theatre Event
Venue: Y (92nd St.)
Promoter/Organizer: Michael Dorf
Rated: *****
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The 2006 New York Jewish and Heritage Festival organized every year by the unstoppable Knitting Factory owner and Arts Exchange promoter/creator Michael Dorf, started out in this year the best possible way with an amazing quadruple whammy concert night. Featuring and portraying John Zorn's many incarnations as writer, performer, conductor, arranger all in one night and on one stage, this unforgettable show also celebrated the 13th anniversary of Zorn's Book of Masada (the second in a series of five songbooks including over 300 of his compositions in the second volume alone).
This unprecedented event saw Zorn conducting his Masada String Trio (featuring the amazing Erik Friedlander on cello, Mark Feldman on violin and Greg Cohen on upright) and the Masada String Orchestra (a 15+ piece orchestra which included the two amazing cello players Friedlander and Fred Sherry, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center artist member; as well as Jennifer Koh on violing, among others). This configuration performed only one piece, "Kol Nidre" (a Jewish evening service synagogue prayer; Zorn's version was also was played in the background during the September 11th victims' names radio broadcast memorial), but were amazing nonetheless; definitely (too) short but (very) sweet!
During the remaining part of the evening, Zorn blew his horn (and conducted, of course) with the Masada Quartet (feat. Dave Douglas on trumpet, Joey Baron on drums and Greg Cohen) and the Electric Masada (feat. Marc Ribot on guitar, Jamie Saft on the Rhodes piano, Ikue Mori on her Max/MSP apple laptop, an untiring Trevor Dunn on electric bass, both Joey Baron and Kenny Wollesen on drums and Cyro Baptista on percussions).
Zorn's conducting style (consisting in swiftly pointing to the musicians that he wants playing the next four bars or so, effectively shuffling them around like cards) is unique and better left to be seen in person, rather than described.
The Y Theater is a beautiful venue. The audio was ok from where I was sitting, although it changed a lot through out the space, I was told. The event was priced at a pretty affordable $25 for the worst balcony seats and up ($45, $75 and a whopping $118 for the first rows).
Definitely a great show that will be remembered throughout the festival and NY downtown music scene (which did "rise" all the way to 92nd St for the occasion) for years to come!

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