Sep 22 2017
There’s plenty of individual moments to enjoy on the new installment of John Zorn’s Book of Angels series, but what ultimately reveals itself to be the greatest factor in this album’s success is the nature of the changes between pieces and how their accumulation delivers a seriously powerful emotional impact. There’s the more obvious examples like the transition between storm and eye on consecutive tracks “Jekusiel” and “Diniel,” then “Akzariel” and “Palaleil,” and then all over again on “Parymel.”
But there’s also the more subtle shifts. Like how the mystical elements of “Karkiel” and the late-period hard bop of “Tsirya” and the blues of “Bazazath” and the scattered patterns of “Avial” all seem to walk the same line, and that the dominance of any one particular influence is a difference as thin as the length of the shadow cast by the trio’s expressionism.
And then there’s the echo of memories. John Zorn has been at this Book of Angels project for 31 volumes spanning nearly thirteen years. Similarities begin to emerge. This happens between different volumes in the Masada series and also those of other Zorn projects. The sense of Zorn’s hand in the creation of the music resonates strongly at times. There’s a real satisfaction earned from listening to these different projects and picking up the nuanced differences between bird-of-a-feather compositions, and reveling in how they blossom under the guidance of different musicians and ensembles. In this instance, pianist Brian Marsella adds a new voice to the continuum, and is joined by long-time Tzadik label regulars, bassist Trevor Dunn and drummer Kenny Wollesen. And so it’s no wonder that Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31 sounds like a little something old as it gives voice to something very much new. This John Zorn series just keeps on giving.
Your album personnel: Brian Marsella (piano), Trevor Dunn (bass) and Kenny Wollesen (drums).
Released on the Tzadik label.
Music from West Orange, New Jersey.
Also, for an alternate view of Marsella’s music, you should check out his Imaginarium project and the 2016 release The Clocks Have Gone Mad. I never ended up writing about it, but it is something different and odd and compelling in its way. You can give it a listen and purchase it on his Bandcamp page. Hat tip to Kevin Coultas for the heads-up about that album.