Zion80 is music by a Jewish composer Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach played with Fela Kuti inspired arrangements. That combination alone spiked my interest. I had first seen an early incarnation of this ever-changing and developing band at the 6th St Synagogue on Xmas eve of last year and later Zorn assigned Madof the residency, which allowed the band to grow, experiment and build upon the body of work that Madof had chosen. Every Monday an open rehearsal at 7.30 and a show at 9 (different than the usual 8 and 10pm sets) culminating in what was (I heard) one the best and busiest nights conveniently taking everyone into the Yum Kippir celebrations. The band was huge tonight! 18 musicians crowded the performer's area at the Stone: 7 horns (Jessica Lurie on baritone sax, Frank London on trumpet and the master Zorn himself sitting in, just to mention a few), 3 guitar players when you count Madof who skillfully conducted everyone from his Home Depot step stool while ripping a few great solos here and there, 4 percussionists (including Deep Singh and Mathias Kunzli, Madof's bandmate in Rashanim), 1 bassist (Rashanim's other third, Shanir Blumenkranz), 1 keyboard player (Brian Marsella, from Cyro Baptista's Beat the Donkey and Banquet of Spirits) and 2 drummers (Aaron Alexander and Yuval Lion). For those of you who have been to the Stone before you must know that fitting all those musicians in there is an achievement in itself! If to that you add the crowd, sitting, dancing and lining up outside I'd say Madof really succeeded with Zion80, as he deserved to. The project really beautifully bridged musical genres, historical times, geografic areas, cultures and religions in a way that I was used to see at the Stone, but probably even more so on this night. The music was great. Probably some of the most accessible I've ever seen at the Stone (I don't think I had ever seen a crowd dancing there before), it had everyone really engaged and grooving, whether they were sitting on standing.
Look out for their CD being recorded in December and coming out on Tzadik next year.