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NOVA EXPRESS

John Zorn

RIO/Avant-Prog


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John Zorn Nova Express album cover
3.05 | 4 ratings | 2 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Chemical Garden
2. Port of Saints
3. Rain Flowers
4. The Outer Half
5. Dead Fingers Talk
6. The Ticket that Exploded
7. Blue Veil
8. IC 2118
9. Lost Words
10. Between Two Worlds

Total Time 46:20

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

Joey Baron: Drums
Trevor Dunn: Bass
John Medeski: Piano
Kenny Wollesen: Vibes

Releases information

Tzadik
Cat. # 7389

Thanks to mezzanotte for the addition
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JOHN ZORN Nova Express ratings distribution


3.05
(4 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
0%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
50%
Good, but non-essential (50%)
50%
Collectors/fans only (0%)
0%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

JOHN ZORN Nova Express reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars With every new John Zorn release you never know what to expect from it. Last year (2010) was extremely productive for John with more than 10 albums released by him or related projects.Covering wide range of genres, Zorn's some last year's works almost all are of great quality.

First some months of 2011 weren't so fruitful for Zorn, so I really waited for this album trying to expect what kind of music will be presented on his new release.

So - here it is,new Zorn's album with 10 Zorn's composed almost neo-classical compositions on it played by excellent modern jazz quartet. As often Zorn doesn't play on the album himself, but all musicians are his old collaborators and highest class NY downtown artists,including pianist John Medeski (of MM & W), bassist Trevor Dunn (Mr.Bungle, Secret Chiefs 3 and Fantômas between others), Kenny Wollesen on vibes (John Patton, Rickie Lee Jones,Bill Frisell, Bar Kokhba,etc)and drummer Joey Baron ( Bill Frisell, Stan Getz, Steve Kuhn,etc).

Musically Zorn returns to modern composition, combining well structured pre-composed complex neo-classical avant-garde pieces with crafty but limited jazzy improvisation. Rhythm section is excellent but piano and vibes both are obviously leading instruments. Quite unusually for Zorn's compositions in general music there on this album isn't noisy or chaotic at all,but reminds the sound of cleverly engineered and perfectly assembled expensive German car's engine. Or Frankfurt airport's sterile huge half-empty waiting halls with lot of lights. Fortunately, there are some warmer tunes and some improvs here and there,and these small attributes make the music much more attractive. Everyone familiar with Zorn's music knows he is far not only great musician and composer, he is great manager and constructor and he perfectly knows how to mix his every next new brew.

Possibly not the album for fans of Zorn's noisy free-jazz madness or melancholic and almost dance-able klezmer-jazz's beauty, but really good work for modern avant-garde flavored third stream.

My rating is 3+

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#440244) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, April 29, 2011

Review by Anthony H.
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars John Zorn: Nova Express [2011]

Rating: 6/10

Nova Express is the first of the five albums that John Zorn released in 2011. 2010 was a prolific year for Zorn; he released melodic-jazz, contemporary-classical, and avant-rock releases during a mere twelve months. This unbelievable productivity continued in 2011, starting with this piece of experimental third-wave jazz. Nova Express features the piano/vibraphone/bass/drums setup that is typical on Zorn's melodic-jazz releases, but this album is not completely mellow. These pieces seem unsure whether or not they want to be melodic or cacophonous. Jangling disharmony contrasts with quiet melody. Sometimes, these two extremes are layered on top of each other to create something that is both mellow and brutal at the same time. Zorn is no stranger to such juxtaposition, but he rarely combines the sonic spectrum in such a fluid manner. Unfortunately, this combination sounds emotionally distant most of the time.

"Chemical Garden" opens the album with drum blasts and disharmonious piano/vibe insanity. The musicianship here is astounding. "Port of Saints" is more subdued. The driving bass-line gives it a distinct sense of menace. "Rain Flowers" starts off like a free-jazz piece, but it transitions into a nice piano groove with vibe soloing. This is one of the best tracks on the album. "The Outer Half" is pure mellow jazz with pleasant quiet piano work. "Dead Fingers Talk" is a short vibraphone solo that further displays Kenny Wollensen's chops. "The Ticket That Exploded" features some more excellent soloing, but it doesn't do much to separate itself from the rest of the album. The semi-ambient "Blue Veil" features a superb bass solo, but the track drags on a bit as a whole. "IC 2118" pulls more of the same tricks, even though the piano work is undeniably impressive. "Lost Words" is a mellow bass-driven interlude that serves as another highlight. The album ends with "Between Two Worlds", which also happens to be the strongest track here. This is Zorn-style melodic jazz as its best.

Nova Express is a good piece of semi-experimental contemporary jazz, but it doesn't stand out as one of Zorn's best releases in the style. The musicianship is jaw-dropping, but it often seems to be too technically focused (an unusual problem for jazz music). Homogenous compositional structure is also a major flaw here. Still, this is an enjoyable piece of work, and I have fun listening to it. O'o, In Search of the Miraculous, and At the Gates of Paradise are all superior albums, though.

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Send comments to Anthony H. (BETA) | Report this review (#597284) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, December 27, 2011

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