Best of 2019 #49: Zion80 – “The Book Beri’ah Vol.8: Hod”


There’s a nearly delirious euphoria that accompanies Zion80 as they switch between dancing a melody on a pinhead and grooving like a second line through the streets of New Orleans.  The dectet’s fusion of Jewish music and Afro-beat is a natural fit for John Zorn’s Book of Angels series, where the mysticism, mayhem, and celebratory cheer are complementary ingredients for one powerful drink.  Heady infusions of rock, Balkan music and punk attitude add a left hook to go with the music’s stinging right cross.  There’s something special about how this group embraced Zorn’s compositions.  It’s not a unique occurrence; these Zorn projects seem to bring it out of the musicians, and it’s why these installments are so beloved by music fans.  But the frequency with which this special quality manifests makes it no less precious each time it occurs.  The enthusiasm this music transmits is positively infectious.  It sounds like the band was in the studio having the time of their lives.  Perhaps they were.  This music is all the evidence they’d need to present, and that’s something we, as music fans, can never get enough of.

Your album personnel:  Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz (bass), Yoshie Fruchter (guitar), Frank London (trumpet), Jessica Lurie (baritone & alto saxophones, flute), Jon Madof (guitar), Brian Marsella (keyboards), Greg Wall (tenor sax), John Zorn (sax), Yuval Lion (drums), Zach Mayer (baritone sax), and Marlon Sobol (percussion).

Released on Tzadik Records.

Music from New York City.

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