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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

John Zorn: A Vision in Blakelight (Tzadik, 2012) ****

“A Vision in Blakelight” is also part of series of the 21st century mystical works, this one apparently inspired by the works and ideas of the British poet William Blake - and there are obvious similarities between him and Zorn. Until today Blake is admired for his expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work - something that could easily be said about Zorn as well. Although both are apparently interested in spirituality they have been skeptical to any form of organized religion. For Blake the artist – not the priest - was the actual connection to God.  As to their art both are hard to classify.

On this album Zorn juxtaposes the Nova Express quartet – which is John Medeski (p), Kenny Wollesen (vib), Trevor Dunn (b), Joey Baron (dr) - to Carol Emanuel on harp, Cyro Baptista on percussion and the British actor Jack Huston reading from Blake’s works.

The pieces are short compared to the tracks on the other albums. The first track “When the Morning Stars Sang together” is the motto of the album because the musicians are obviously the morning stars.  On the one hand the songs are light and breezy, sometimes even crispy like “The Hammer of Los” with its minimalist theme and its piano arpeggios, on the other hand they are absorbing and seductive like “Night thoughts” or “Jerusalem”, sometimes there is even a psychedelic and prog rock approach. But you can also find Keith Jarrett allusions (“An Island in the Moon”) or Naked City and Masada structures augmented with heavy free jazz piano chords (“Marriage of Heaven and Hell”). The album is a wonderfully varied suite reflecting Blake’s vision and eventually one of his most famous quotations (“if the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite“) is turned into music by the works of John Zorn.

Listen to “Night Thoughts” here: 


Anonymous said...

Is this lost track from Philip Glass "Solo Piano" album? Smile.