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Masada - Masada 5: Hei CD (album) cover





2.17 | 4 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars John Zorn is so polymorphously productive that reviewing a single album is like critiquing a grain of sand on a beach. However...

The concept was and is tantalizing; John Zorn, the quintessential symbol of NYC experimental music, embracing the rich traditions of Jewish music with a free-jazz ethic (I like the former quite a bit and the latter in moderation, if that helps you to make use of my opinion). "What would Miles Davis have done with klezmer?" I thought, mentally rubbing my hands together with glee...I chose number five to start with, lured by the possible Khamsa and Hashem symbolism.

Once, twice, three times through. All together and in pieces. Gave it time to breathe and grow on me...and it didn't. The music on Hei is almost totally unsatisfying on nearly any level.

To be fair, about a tenth of Hei delivers the jazzy-Jewish goods, if nothing else. Some sections vividly bring to mind Coltrane and Miles Davis (in fact, didn't I hear "Cheesecake" and "Laura" melodies in there somewhere?), and some sections briefly exhale a few notes of a scale that evokes a vaguely Jewish, gypsy mood.

However, what you mainly have is yet another John Zorn collection of clattering drums and incessant overblowing squeals. If that's your bag, you'll love this (and 90% of all of Zorn's other works). If you're searching for a meaningful modern extension of the uniquely evocative sounds of Jewish music, Hei isn't it. And if you're looking for the artist that manages to wring a cohesive and memorable composition out of wildly diverse styles and sounds...well, keep poking around in the John Zorn back catalogue; you'll probably find it eventually.

James Lee | 2/5 |


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