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Album Review
mike


John Zorn - The Goddess
Tzadik
Produced by John Zorn
Recorded by Marc Urselli and Eric Elterman
Mixed by Marc Urselli
Mastered by Scott Hull
2010

5 out of 5 mics

John Zorn continues to defy expectation, categorization, and quite possibly even gravity. The Goddess is intricate, emotional, energetic, provoking, soothing music. It's also much more than all that. There are few musicians/composers who are creating at the level of Zorn and fewer still who do it at such a pace.

The Goddess finds Zorn pushing further into territory he first discovered on his album In Search Of The Miraculous. Around the foundation of Burger (piano), Cohen (bass), and Perowsky (drums)we find the vibraphone of Kenny Wollesen dancing, the guitar of Marc Ribot soaring, and the harp of Carol Emanuel floating. The arrangements and instrumentation are challenging and complex, but are not dense. There is plenty of space for each musician to exist in, and musicians this talented make their presence known effortlessly.

Zorn's compositions have always flirted with ideas well known to us - jazz, classical, chamber, klezmer, surf - to name a few. But while embracing all that these modes of expression have to offer, his music exists outside of them. He is composing with a subtlety and understanding of sound that I've never heard anyone come close to, outside of perhaps Ellington. The key pieces to check out, if you're not already convinced to run out headlong and buy the album, are 'Drawing Down The Moon' and 'Untitled'.

Even as Zorn's music reaches new levels of complexity and depths of subtlety, recording engineer and mixer Marc Urselli rises to the challenge of realizing it in recorded form. He is able to achieve what can only be called perfect balance among the players in the ensemble. There is an immediacy to the sound, which is vital to this type of music and performance. Zorn prefers to have his pieces rehearsed minimally and recorded live. Urselli knows precisely how to capture pristine sounds and keep the feel of the performance in the mix.

Zorn, Urselli, mastering engineer Scott Hull, and everyone involved remain at the top of their game.