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The Circle Maker [2-CD Set]
John Zorn, Masada String Trio, Bar Kokhba Sextet
The Circle Maker [2-CD Set]
Genres: Folk, World Music, Jazz, New Age, Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #1

Zorn's work with Masada is prolific if nothing else: 10 CDs of Ornette Coleman-inspired klezmer tunes that evoke the Old World and swing. These two discs highlight those compositions in a whole new setting, music for chamb...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: John Zorn, Masada String Trio, Bar Kokhba Sextet
Title: The Circle Maker [2-CD Set]
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 0
Label: Tzadik
Release Date: 3/17/1998
Genres: Folk, World Music, Jazz, New Age, Pop, Classical
Styles: Jewish & Yiddish, Avant Garde & Free Jazz, Jazz Fusion, Modern Postbebop, Bebop, Historical Periods, Modern, 20th, & 21st Century
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 702397712220

Synopsis's Best of 1998
Zorn's work with Masada is prolific if nothing else: 10 CDs of Ornette Coleman-inspired klezmer tunes that evoke the Old World and swing. These two discs highlight those compositions in a whole new setting, music for chamber groups. One disc has a string trio, the other adds percussion and Marc Ribot on guitar to create a sextet. Great playing by New York City jazz heavyweights and compositions that sound like they belong on a spaghetti Western soundtrack combine to make this one of 1998's best jazz discs. --Jason Verlinde

CD Reviews

Jewish Chamber Jazz Soundtrack Music ?
(5 out of 5 stars)

"John Zorn is nothing if not prolific - he already has released at least 4 CDs in 1998. His new album "The Circle Maker" is difficult to categorize. I could perhaps describe it as Jewish Chamber Jazz, and be reasonably close. There are actually two CDs. One, called Issachar, is performed by the Masada String Trio. Masada is the name of a group of Zorn's that plays modern Jewish music. Their nine albums are only available as Japanese imports. This first CD is a string trio, consisting of violin, cello and bass, performing various Masada tracks. As is to be expected with the instrumentation it has a chamber music feel, although the bass provides a more jazzy, swinging underpinning, and at times the musicians attack their instruments in a manner reminiscent more of Albert Ayler than any classical player. The second CD, Zevulun, is performed by the Bar Kokhba Sextet, which augments the trio with guitarist extraordinaire Marc Ribot, brazillian percussionist Cyro Baptista, and jazz drummer Joey Barron. As is to be expected, this is a jazzier set, although the basic material is still Masada songs. Some of these tracks are reminniscent of another of Zorn's longstanding interests, soundtrack music. The tracks in which Ribot takes the lead in particular sound like they could come from a Morricone spaghetti western. Both CDs are extremely good, although I prefer the greater dynamic range of the trio disc. This is highly recommended."
Deeply lyrical, gorgeous Jewish chamber music.
Lord Chimp | Monkey World | 11/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"_The Circle Maker_, a two-disc collection of Jewish chamber jazz, is one of my favorite items to bear John Zorn's name. Zorn does not actually perform on either of these discs -- they are songs from the Masada songbook rearranged for two different formats. As is typical with Zorn, the musicians he employs are world-class wonders proficient in jazz and classical, imbuing the pieces with feel and lyricism and mature consideration. _The Circle Maker_ consists of two discs. The first is _Issachar_, which is performed by the the Masada String Trio, comprised of Mark Feldman (violin), Eric Friedlander (cello), and Greg Cohen (double-bass). For the most part, the songs are highly melodic and picturesque Masada pieces, minus the free n' dissonant battle-damage of Zorn's original quartet. It tends to be very beautiful and soothing with a feisty rhythmic spirit, all the while evoking images of middle eastern and Mediterranean lands. Greg Cohen usually plays a disciplined, bouncy rhythmic anchor over which Friedlander and Feldman swirl and twist and clash. (If you have heard Zorn's _Taboo & Exile_, the string trio pieces there are pretty much representative of what _Issachar_ is.) Some of the pieces, especially the short ones like "Karet" and "Zebdi", are very frenetic and dissonant. "Yatzah" is also very intense, but in a different way: Cohen and Friedlander hold down a single rhythmic phrase for eight minutes while Feldman's violin minimalistically rises from quiet scratching to shrieking strikes. One piece, "Elilah", is a gorgeous cello solo, and definitely one of the highlights of the string trio disc.The other disc, _Zevulun_, is performed by the Bar Kokhba Sextet, which adds to the string trio guitarist Marc Ribot, percussionist Cyro Baptista, and drummer Joey Baron. Ribot's glistening, mesmerizing electric guitar lines sparkle between the two percussionists (one in each channel) and the string trio fills in the blanks. _Zevulun_ is a little less rigorous than its counterpart in this is more swaying and mellow. "Tevel" is familiar because a different arrangement of it appears on Zorn's _Music for Children_ as "Dreamer of Dreams". The songs are a little more diverse on this set: "Laylah" is very eerie and dramatic, "Khebar" has an almost-pointillist arrangement with some very catchy melodies that evoke a bustling desert village, and "Idalah-Abal" is a nocturnal piece centered around a gorgeous cello theme and peppered with a constellation of effervescent cymbals and reflective drumming. The more of John Zorn's music I hear, the faster he is on the way to becoming my favorite artist. And among his mammoth discography, _The Circle Maker_ is one of his best and most pleasant -- which is saying a lot. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and not just for hardcore Zorn nuts like myself. It's hard to imagine anyone with good taste _not_ liking this. It's so good is EXPLODES the Amazon rating system."
Beautiful klezmer chamber music
SPM | Eugene, Oregon | 12/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is one of John Zorn's ten best albums, and it's likely to stay in the top ten for a long time. Unlike some of his other work, which emphasizes noise and quick changes from one piece of music to the next, The Circle Maker plays out in elegant waves of melody and percussion. It's Zorn's most beautiful album. It started with Masada, Zorn's four-piece jazz band. Masada plays "free jazz klezmer" --- original compositions based on traditional Jewish folk music themes, written in a simple way that encourages improvisation. On the Masada albums, the band blows the melodies apart on trumpet, saxophone, drums, and bass.Zorn wrote new arrangements of these songs for chamber ensembles, replacing the old instruments with cello, violin, viola, guitar, bass, and percussion. The improvisation is out. The musicians concentrate on the melodies, playing off of each other in very subtle ways. The result is a combination of jazz, chamber music, and Jewish folk music, all rolled into one --- and played simultaneously. Even if you have no interest in John Zorn, you'll love this album. There isn't a single bad song on these two CDs. After you hear it, you'll want Bar Kokhba, which is more of the same."