Search - John Zorn :: Bar Kokhba

Bar Kokhba
John Zorn
Bar Kokhba
Genres: Folk, World Music, Jazz, Special Interest, New Age, Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #2


Larger Image
Listen to Samples

CD Details

All Artists: John Zorn
Title: Bar Kokhba
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: Tzadik
Original Release Date: 8/20/1996
Release Date: 8/20/1996
Genres: Folk, World Music, Jazz, Special Interest, New Age, Pop, Classical
Styles: Jewish & Yiddish, Avant Garde & Free Jazz, Historical Periods, Modern, 20th, & 21st Century
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 702397710820

CD Reviews

Beauty and Variety
horshack | Houston, TX | 02/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I never was a "hardcore" Zorn fan. I liked Naked City, I like the Masada albums, I like the Filmworks series, but I was never crazy for everything Zorn put out, nor have I heard everything Zorn's put out. However, the two things that struck me about this album were its beauty (the shimmering, quiet, spacious elegance it displays) and its variety. I know Zorn is in some situations synonymous with variety, but, as opposed to such albums as Locus Solus, the variety here is not so farflung and extreme that it alienates people not into all of the styles represented. The variety here is less stylistic, and more related to the different instrumental combinations. Plus, this was the album that finally convinced me that Marc Ribot is the Man. At any rate, for hardcore Zorn fans there may be better albums, but for me, this was THE best overall Zorn album I've yet heard. The Circle Maker was good too, but since it was pretty much the same group, the textural and instrumental variety was somewhat narrower, and over two disks, I found that a little tiring. But Bar Kokhba made me happy the whole way through, and still does. I would highly recommend this."
Just get it
W. P. Gardner | Menlo Park, CA, United States | 04/23/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I agree, this is a very fine record. However, if you buy this and assume all John Zorn's other records are sort of like this, you're in for a big surprise. This is John Zorn you can play with your mom around. Listen to the samples that has to get an idea what is on the other records. I am a BIG John Zorn fan but some of his work has left some of my friends cold. There are some Zorn records I listen to a lot and some I don't: I listen to Bar Kokhba a lot, also The Circle Maker (which is very similar) and the Masada records (which are wilder and crazier). I ALSO listen to the Naked City record over and over(the first one with the Weegee cover) but let's just say if you never liked punk music, you should hold off a little bit from that one. Spillane's another good place to start."
As good as its reputation.
Michael Stack | North Chelmsford, MA USA | 08/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Bar Kokhba" is one of John Zorn's most tirelessly praised and revered albums-- look no further than the reviews here, all of them give the recording five stars. Likewise, every commercial review sings its praises-- "[t]he album consistently impresses" (All Music Guide), "a double album of painfully beautiful music" (, "simply excellent music" (Lord Chimp's review here on amazon).... the praise goes on and on. The album is discussed as the kind of Zorn you could play for your friends and family, I even saw one review mention this as dinner music. Zorn? Dinner music? So what's the truth? Is this piece all those things? "Painfully beautiful"? Arresting and engaging? Human and living? A total masterpiece?

You know, it pretty much is. There's few albums that stretch over two hours as this one does that can really hold my interest, but this does so effortlessly. "Bar Kokhba", for those unfamiliar, is effectively billed as chamber ensembles play the Masada songbook. For those unfamiliar, the Masada book is a series of melodies written by Zorn using the "Jewish scales"-- this lends that Middle East meets Eastern European vibe that you get from traditional Jewish musics. Originally performed by a quartet modelled after Ornette Coleman's famed quarter on his Atlantic recordings (alto sax, trumpet, bass and drums), "Bar Kokbha" was the first recording to explore the music in different lights. Featuring violinest Mark Feldman, cellist Erik Friedlander, bassists Greg Cohen and Mark Dresser, guitarist Marc Ribot, pianist/organists Anthony Coleman and John Medeski, clarinetists David Krakauer and Chris Speed, drummer Kenny Wolleson and trumpeter Dave Douglas in various formations, the music is performed with a depth and sensitivity. Alternatingly aggressive (the Masada String Trio on "Sheloshim") and passive (piano and organ duet "Mo'ab"), delicate (downtempo Speed and Medeski duet "Abidan") and explosive (Coleman/Dresser/Wolleson piano trio "Nefesh"), patient (bubbling solo guitar piece "Mochin") and schizophrenic (Cecil Taylorish Medeski solo piano piece "Hath-Arob"), the music never ceases to engage the listener fully.

Still, as wonderful as this recording is, it's not the kind of thing everyone's going to "get" It's still a Zorn piece, and for every easily digestable piece ("Mashav"), there's one that's not so easy to deal with ("Paran"). Both of these are duets between Krakauer and Coleman, but while the former features melancholy clarinet over delicate piano, the latter features swirling, avant-garde organ and dug-in bass clarinet. But it's really this duality that makes the album so successful.

One more note-- the production on this is fairly unique-- it's almost as though Zorn wanted a human feeling to this-- clicking clarinet keys, fingers muting strings, and breathing all are readily apparent, and this serves only to enhance the recording. All in all, an essential entry in Zorn's catalog. Try a straight Masada piece first if you're new to the music (I'd recommend "50th Birthday Celebration Volume 7", a recent live recording for an introduction), but this may be a good second place to look. Highly recommended."