John Zorn: Cerberus: The Book of Angels Volume 26

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Surf Jazz / Downtown scene
premiera polska:
Wydawnicto Audiofilskie

seria wydawnicza: Archival Series
kontynent: Ameryka Północna
kraj: USA
opakowanie: digipackowe etui
opis: - ocena * * * * 1/2:
Osiemnasto-osobowa the SPIKE Orchestra Sama Eastmonda i Nikki Franklin to zespół jedyny w swoim rodzaju. Ufundowany został na muzyce jazzowej, rocku, współczesnej klasyce, muzyce do eksperymentalnych filmów animowanych i oczywiście nowej muzyce żydowskiej. Nie dziwi więc fakt, że do swojej stajni zaprosił ich John Zorn.
XXVI tom jego wybornej 'The Book of Angels' trafił w ręce dowodzących orkiestrą Sama Eastmonda i Nikki Franklin. I trzeba przyznać, że są to ręce wyjątkowe. Ich aranżacje mają w sobie precyzję nagrań Gila Evansa i Milesa Davisa, rozmach orkiestr Duke'a Ellingtona, dowcip kabaretowych szlagierów Brechta/Weilla i motorykę nowoorleańskich korzeni rhythm & bluesa i jazzu. Wszystko to owocuje wspaniałym, bardzo spójnym, doprawionym wybornie swingiem kreatywnym jazzem.

the SPIKE Orchestra wbija w fotel, trudno nie poddać się ich wyobraźni i energii. Doskonale wyczuwają istotę zornowskich kompozycji, skupionych na złożonościach języka muzyki. Jedni będą rozkoszować się stopniowo odsłaniającymi się detalami, inni podziwiać będą erudycję muzyków, ujawniającą się w biegłości stylistycznych szarad. Jeszcze inni podążać będą za energetycznym rytmem lub zaczerpniętymi wprost z muzyki żydowskiej melodiami, które sprawiają, że bigbandowe granie zyskuje nowe życie.

Cerberus jest dwudziestym czwartym duchem Goecji. Jest najodważniejszym markizem piekła, marszałkiem polnym i generalnym inspektorem wojsk piekielnych. Rozporządza 19 legionami duchów. Obdarza ludzi elokwencją we wszystkich sztukach i naukach. Jeśli tytuł płyty nie jest przypadkowy, to trafia w sedno kompetencji londyńskich muzyków, Sam Eastmond i Nikki Franklin nie tylko obdarzyli elokwencją swoich muzyków, ale także słuchaczy, bo jakże słuchać 'Cerberus: The Book of Angels Volume 26', nie znając 'Sketches Of Spain' Milesa Davisa i Gila Evansa, 'The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady' Charlesa Mingusa czy chociażby 'Diaspora Soul' Stevena Bernsteina.

Prawdziwy klejnot z wydawanej przez Johna Zorna serii 'The Book of Angels'.
autor: Witek Leśniak
Copyright © 1996-2017 Multikulti Project. All rights reserved

Editor's info:
This is the Big Band Masada project you’ve been waiting for. Led by composers Sam Eastmond and Nikki Franklin, The SPIKE Orchestra is a large ensemble that draws on a wide range of influences including Duke Ellington, Frank Zappa, Carl Stalling, Zorn and more. Melding jazz, rock, klezmer, cartoon and the avant-garde into a compelling and cohesive vision, this new Angels installment is one of the most imaginative and manic masterpieces in the whole series. An outrageous and explosive swinger that will thrill even the most hardened skeptic. Essential.

All About Jazz - ocena * * * *:
Taking inspiration from the divine is a tough sell. Get it wrong and it can appear sacrilegious or insulting to the faithful; too devout and our largely secular society turns away. In the past the poet William Blake was famously beaten by his own mother when he claimed to have had angelic visions at the age of eight, but nowadays an artist is more likely to receive concerned enquiries as to their sanity. Yet creativity is so hard to pin down and define that maybe we should be less hasty in our judgments. Many artists describe inspiration as being channeled through them and have sought to explain its source using angels or muses as a metaphor—whether an attempt to make sense of the unknowable through naming, or a demonstration of faith it must be respected as a personal choice.

Which brings us to this, the second marvelous Spike Orchestra CD of 2015. Cerberus showcases their arrangements of John Zorn's Masada project, Book of Angels volume 26, intended by its composer ..." to produce a sort of radical Jewish music... to put Ornette Coleman and the Jewish scales together." Like with the gospel fire of Aretha Franklin, it is not necessary to share the faith to appreciate the skill, passion and craft that have gone into this record. Sam Eastmond and Nikki Franklin have done an incredibly tight arrangement job here, almost every piece is a bewildering mosaic of melody and atmosphere, propelled by pacey rhythm and counter rhythms. While it adds a level of meaning to know that opener "Gehegial" is, apparently, in the Kabbalah an angel warden guarding the entrance to the 6th tier of the 7 celestial halls through which prayers ascend before reaching God, there is more than enough in the music to justify its independent existence. Take the way that the opening trumpet blast gives way to a bossa nova beat before settling into the sort of big band swing that a klezmer Ellington might have contrived or the way the brass accents against the rhythm, seeming to pan across the stereo image, that builds momentum. Add in the odd hint of Gershwin and this could easily soundtrack a chase sequence in some prime period Woody Allen film.

If that sounds hugely diverse then, you'd be right— there are hints of many styles and genres from the rolling 'Black Saint' era Mingus rhythms to the nods to improvised rock in say the wah wah solo in "Hakha" or to Gil Evans in the opening sections of "Hananiel" or "Armasa." It's a vibrant cinematic music from the way that the brass plays against the stabbed rhythm of "Hakha" to suggest fast moving passing traffic, to the dirty rhythm guitar mixed perfectly on "Thronus." Franklin is less prominent vocally than on Ghetto but she is very much on point for the wonderfully spooked "Pahadron" that closes the collection—perhaps recalling the great Mary Margaret O'Hara's cameo on "November Spawned a Monster." Pahadron is regarded as the chief angel of terror in Jewish mysticism and the Orchestra do a fine job in evoking this on what is undoubtedly a highlight of a very strong album.

We don't need a manifestation of Gehegial or any other angelic host in the midst of our cramped and cluttered modern living spaces to enjoy the verve, energy and excitement of the Spike Orchestra's performance. This is a music to be surrender to, be swept along with and ultimately become immersed in, revelling in the many layers of detail that progressively reveal themselves. Cerberus has a remarkable breadth of styles, energetic tempos, rhythms and melodies that makes for an invigorating listen. The visual element to the music makes it seem inevitable that Eastmond and Franklin will one day be asked to soundtrack films, so we should treasure and enjoy their music while we can before Hollywood , or Pinewood, comes calling. Cerberus is a second triumph of 2015 and as such is highly recommended.
Cerberus is the latest installment in the Angels series — part of the Masada project orchestrated by John Zorn with the considerable help of the deliriously talented Spike Orchestra. In 2004, John Zorn wrote over 300 tunes for his Masada project and Cerburus is from Masada Book 2: The Book of Angels, Vol. 26.

The Spike Orchestra’ Cerburus is a surprise on many levels. It combines elements and references to many of the great jazz musicians and bands of the past including Ellington, Zappa, Stalling and Zorn, yet it has a very distinctive identity, and one stamped on the project from the start.

With a massive big band opening, “Gehegial” assaults the senses with strong melodic undertones, overdriven by a rollicking tenor sax solo from Paul Booth culminating at one point with a delicious to and fro between brass and wind with a foot-tapping undercurrent as a distinct nod to the big bands sounds of the past. There are many brassy ensemble chords, tempered by interludes of drums and Latin beats. There is a touch of the big, brassy sounds of the ’60s orchestras here, tempered with a youthful cheekiness and energy. “Hakha” is the Spike Orchestra’s second track, and this works around a repeating chord sequence, one that taken, used, abused a little bit and worked upon until a guitar solo from Moss Freed guitar introduces a transition section into a marching, thumping beat which the orchestra uses to the full working up to a sax solo from Mike Wilkins — complete with over blowing which is one of the highlights of the album and transcends the “oompah” beat enforced by the rest of the orchestra.

“Hananiel” starts as a gentle, ’60s-esque mood piece and builds until becoming something so much more — a deep, full orchestral occasion with solos from Stewart Curtis on clarinet and Paul Booth tenor sax. “Lahal” is fun and includes lots of riffs worked over a counterpoint drum beat. The wood section leads with clarinets stating the tune, but the back-up from percussion and horns creates a conversation into which the vibraphonic sound of the keys of Sam Leak drops in and out. The track just keeps building, until a stonking tenor sax solo from Booth creates a free sounding section before the full orchestra are all in by the end.

“Armasa” is started with brass setting the soft, delicate tones, before the tenor sax of Paul Booth creates a light, comical, almost cartoon-esque riff which is repeated back, over the constancy of the rhythm section. That’s followed by an exquisite alto sax solo from Vasilis Xenopoulos, interspersed by big brassy chords. All is brought back to the main riff before the comedic motif is introduced again from the guitar. Then there is another sax solo before the motif is introduced again by the tenor to finish. It’s a brilliantly developed piece with structure and deep textures.

“Thronus” begins in epic style, developed by the brass section with much fanfare and noise before guitar and drums set up a conversation over which the various solos enter. Sam Eastmond takes a turn on trumpet, then there are saxes from Stewart Curtis, Paul Booth, Xenopoulos, Wilkins and Erica Clarke; and then Mike Guy on accordion. “Shinial” is an piece schlepped in Eastern promise with a delightful clarinet section underpinned by a Swiss oompah sounding grind from the brasses before a key section from Sam Leak introduces a whimsical feel, topped by trumpet and later drums. The tuba of Dave Powell delivers a short but enigmatic solo here.

“Donel” is a slightly more laid back event, with a wonderful, sleazy, loosely flowing trombone solo from Ashley Slater, then three trumpets of Noel Langley, Karen Straw and George Hogg exchange the tune before an absolute stealer of a solo from, echoing the theme from the alto sax of Mike Wilkins. A great, easy-to-listen-to number. The Spike Orchestra’s “Raguel” may prove more of a challenge, starting with a fugue of different instruments at once competing for primacy yet at the same time blending into what develops into an absolute delight. Brass feature heavily, but so do wood and guitar, underpinned by a consistent bass beat which keeps everything together. The final track “Pahadron” is deeper, darker and has a grinding, mesmeric beat set by bass, guitar and sax with solos from Sam Eastmond on trumpet, Nikki franklin on voice, Vasilis Xenopoulos on alto sax.

The Spike Orchestra’s Cerberus is an album which, with each play, you hear more layers, textures and colors. Initially, you hear the structure but with each listen you can hear more going on underneath — little interspersions of keys, brass and quietly thrumming bass, a little riff inserted before a solo, a quick flurry from percussion just to add another layer. Many of the tracks establish a strong theme, which works as the spine of the piece with members of the orchestra playing as parts of the whole. They are connected limbs of sound, working to forge one body, one gigantic structure which makes the benign monster that is Cerberus. It has elements of big bands, improvised sounds and is all about the essence of communication.

Cerberus is special, it makes you smile, it makes you laugh out loud at times because from nowhere comes a massive chord set. What makes this very special is the connection between members of the Spike Orchestra, the way everything works apart yet is drawn together like there is a connecting chord. Cerberus works; it works!
by Sammy Stein

freejazzblog Definitely recommended:
First, I love that Tzadik bills this as “the Big Band Masada project you’ve been waiting for.” From one perspective, there have been a handful of big-band Masada projects throughout the Book of Angels series. And yet, about halfway through the album, when the London-based, 18-piece Spike Orchestra hits its Ellingtonian stride on “Armasa,” it’s clear this really sounds unlike any other Masada project. In truth, the big-band swing kicks in about a minute into “Gehegial,” the album opener. Cue up 00:35 and be transported to a fantasy New York where Harlem borders Hasidic Williamsburg. The band, led by vocalist Nikki Franklin and trumpet player Sam Eastmond, wears its classic big-band influences on both sleeves and waves them like huge flags. “Hananiel” is a straight-ahead swinger that really cooks under Stewart Curtis’s clarinet solo. “Lahal” nicely blends orchestral verve with klezmer, showcasing Sam Leak on keyboards and Paul Booth on tenor sax. The centerpiece of the album, and my personal favorite track, is “Armasa.” Erica Clarke lays down a banging baritone sax riff, and gradually the rest of the band layers on until about 2 minutes in, when the swinging melody takes over. Clarke remains the highlight of the track, but the high brass section of Eastmond, George Hogg, Noel Langley, and Karen Straw adds brilliant counterpoint. On the final track, “Pahadron,” a guitar-heavy stomp backs Franklin’s almost mystical vocals. A brief klezmer-inspired bridge segues into a melancholy solo from Eastmond. The closing moments are an inspired blast of chaos, hinting at some greatness to come.
By Lee Rice Epstein

London Jazz News:
John Zorn has always been a fascinating and polarizing character. I’ve been a fan since many years ago when I saw him do a solo set at the old Knitting Factory in New York. Since when I’ve loved his Masada groups and hated his improve sessions with Lou Reed. As a composer he is bizarrely prolific across jazz, films, klezmer, rock and several other genres.

He wrote his first Masada book of 200 tunes during the 1990s. All the tracks were named after angels; and the themes included a lot of references exploring Zorn’s Jewish heritage. There were 10 albums all performed by his own very fine Masada band.

The second Masada book contained 300 tunes and was written in a single year. The first 25 volumes of those compositions have all been performed by other artists. Which brings us to Cerberus, Book of Angels Volume 26 performed here by London’s Spike Orchestra. They are in exalted company with earlier volumes having been recorded by, amongst others, Uri Caine, Pat Metheny, and Medeski, Martin and Wood.

It should be said that Zorn’s compositions can range from cheesy sounding film themes to klezmer to avant-garde jazz to rock. What they seem to have in common is the ability to bring out the best in arrangers and improvisers.

The Spike Orchestra is the brainchild of composers Sam Eastmond and Nikki Franklin, and it’s a large 18-piece band featuring a host of talented improvisers. Their previous album Ghetto introduced the band, and featured smaller groups as well. Clearly it’s combination of musicality and subject matter was enough to persuade John Zorn to give them this unique chance to record a big-band version of Masada.

So - this is The Spike Orchestra’s version – John Zorn from a full on big-band with some delicious arrangements of ten tunes – named after ten angels.

The arrangements are characterised by very crisp riffs, sometimes in broken rhythms, and strong pulsing bass lines including some nice use of baritone sax and tuba. It’s very melodic and accessible music. A few tracks are overtly klezmer in style, others more reminiscent of classic modern big-bands – think Carla Bley with a hint of Loose Tubes. The arrangements give lots of scope to the excellent soloists but there are too many to single out.

In the end the stars here aren’t the soloists, good though they are. This is an ensemble piece with the musicians, the arrangements and the tunes all in sync.

I do hope we are going to have an opportunity to this performed live fairly soon – meanwhile the CD, which is available from the Spike Orchestra website, has gone straight into my “Best of the Year” selection.
by Peter Slavid

Paul Booth: Tenor Sax, Clarinet
Erica Clarke: Baritone Sax, Bass Clarinet
Stewart Curtis: Tenor Sax, Clarinet
Sam Eastmond: Solo Trumpet
Nikki Franklin: Voice
Moss Freed: Guitar
Ben Greenslade-Stanton: Trombone
Mike Guy: Accordion
George Hogg: Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Noel Langley: Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Sam Leak: Piano, Keyboards
Chris Nickolls: Drums
Dave Powell: Tuba
Ashley Slater: Trombone
Karen Straw: Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Mike Wilkins: Alto Sax, Clarinet
Otto Willberg: Bass
Vasilis Xenopoulos: Alto Sax, Flute

1. Gehegial 5:00
2. Hakha 5:09
3. Hananiel 5:09
4. Lahal 5:20
5. Armasa 7:35
6. Thronus 6:47
7. Shinial 4:42
8. Donel 5:48
9. Raguel 4:46
10. Pahadron 6:19

total time - 56:37
wydano: 2015-10-10
nagrano: Recorded and mixed July - August 2015 at Kungar Sound Studios, London, UK

more info:
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Tzadik (USA)
John Zorn
The SPIKE Orchestra / Sam Eastmond / Nikki Franklin
John Zorn
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