John Zorn - Alhambra Love Songs

New Yorker shows soft side on odes to San Francisco Bay

Alhambra Love Songs

Zorn, the former enfant terrible of modern music, is arguably best known for honking out some aggro duck call sax yowl over the schizophrenic blitz of Naked City and with his grind project, Painkiller. But he has always betrayed a softer underbelly. On Alhambra Love Songs the New Yorker rustles up some sublime jazz trio vignettes, performed with poise and evident affection by Rob Burger (piano), Greg Cohen (bass) and Ben Perowsky (drums).

Largely operating within the same icy realms of urbane coolness as Scandinavian groups such as the Tord Gustavsen Trio or e.s.t., Zorn injects these pieces with doses of Hassidic melody and his unique chutzpah to prevent their dissolution into mere ether muzak. Burger’s ivories pirouette endlessly, leaving vaporous trails of emotion and suave sophistication in their wake, as Perowsky’s ride cymbal flourishes and snare drum shuffles combine with Cohen’s measured bass runs to provide these tracks with their dexterous spine.

This set captures a group in total togetherness, both with each other and also the wishes of their composer. In a decidedly vast and varied canon, Alhambra Love Songs may just prove to be one of John Zorn’s most rewarding and enduring works.

4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars

Tzadik | TZ 7374

Reviewed by Spencer Grady
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