Nov 24 2016
There’s no new territory opened up here. This is not a re-imagining of past Gnostic Trio recordings. There are no moments on The Mockingbird where you will say, wow, this is something completely different. This is the same ol’ stuff as I’ve written about before. The thing of it is, though, that more of the good stuff from the trio of guitarist Bill Frisell, harpist Carol Emanuel and vibraphonist Kenny Wollesen is as fine a gift as you could ask for. The compositions of John Zorn open up the door wide for the trio to roll out one gorgeous melody after the other. The harmonic and rhythmic elements add essential character to each song, and show the compositions are more than one-dimensional beauty. But not for nothing, those melodies are the thing that’s gonna get their hooks into you and enchant and mesmerize and break your hearts before rebuilding them from scratch.
Cheery tracks like “Scout” key off the melodic-rhythmic axis where guitar and vibraphones meet, and it’s why it’s the perfect music for a walk on an autumn day, when the gloom of winter is hinting at its arrival, but colors are everywhere you look. When Emanuel’s harp is dictating the action, as it does on “Riverrun,” the melodies are bold pronouncements, and the harp’s wide harmonic range allows Frisell and Wollesen to go off on tangents that add a sense of unpredictability and fun. “Pegasus” is a great example of what happens when all three musicians work out the melodic possibilities each with a different cadence… each melodic statement has its own arc and gives the impression of intersecting orbits, which adds all kinds of textural beauty to the dizzying sense of motion. The space-y “A Mystery” hits that same sweet spot, and the harmonic haze they develop individually yet together resonates like mad.
There’s nothing new here, and that’s okay, because all of it is beautiful, and you should scoop up every single one of these Zorn Gnostic Trio recordings.
Your album personnel: Carol Emanuel (harp), Bill Frisell (guitar), Kenny Wollesen (vibraphone, chimes) and John Zorn (compositions).
Released on the Tzadik label.
Available at: Amazon