John Zorn: Flaga

between sound and space: ECM Records and Beyond


Eight tunes from The Book of Angels make up Flaga, the 27th installment in a series exploring the parallel opus to John Zorn’s popular Masada series. His interpreters this time are pianist Craig Taborn, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Tyshawn Sorey. “Machnia” puts listeners into the thick of things, highlighting the playing as much as Zorn’s prolific gift for melody.

What would appear to be a triangular relationship in theory turns into a pyramidal one in practice. The atmosphere is joyful and exciting and finds each musician grabbing the wheel in succession with idiosyncratic vigor. It’s a formula that leads to consistent piquancy in the remaining tunes, if at times dulled by the compactness of the engineering, which suffocates tunes like “Peliel” and “Katzfiel.” Other places it works beautifully, however, as in “Shiftier.” Here Taborn balances sacred and secular impressions, launching into his solos with territorial wanderlust. But not even…

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