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Zion 80 is the brainchild of guitarist Jon Madof, a wildly popular project that seamlessly blends the Afro pop stylings of the legendary Fela Kuti with the Jewish tradition. Featuring an exciting 11-piece all-star band, Madof masterfully blends horns, guitars, keyboards and percussion, mixing the polyrhythmic intensity of Afrobeat with the freewheeling madness of the Downtown scene. A one of a kind ascent into madness, Madof’s creative arrangements of 8 tunes from Zorn’s Book of Angels are spiritual and endlessly exciting. Workshopped at The Stone and recorded at Bill Laswell’s studio in New Jersey, this is grooving Jewish music for the 21st century!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Judeo-Afrobeat7 Aug. 2014
The Delite Rancher
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
"Adramelech" is a glorious celebration of Afrobeat, John Zorn style. The twenty-second Book of Angels was handed to longtime Tzadik artist Jon Madof. For this project, Madof leads Zion80, an eleven piece band. The name of the group is surely a nod to Fela Kuti's beloved Egypt '80. Stylistically, the band plays Afrobeat with a Jewish twist. This is in contrast to the band's debut which expresses a more straight ahead vision of Afrobeat. Alas, this isn't an original idea, but it exceeds previous efforts of those like the Fourth Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra. A heavy Afrobeat groove is the foundation of the project's musical formula. On top of this, the brass section plays Afrobeat phrases that are often infused with a Klezmer sensibility. Instrumental Jazz and Rock are also woven into this musical tapestry. The eclectic instrumentation includes multiple brass and woodwind instruments, bass, percussion and drums. 'Araziel' is a good opener in that it introduces the listener to the "Adramelech" experience. The album features fantastic keyboard work courtesy of Brian Marsella who also plays on "Caym," Cyro Baptista's Book of Angels. As on 'Sheviel,' Marsella's retro organ sound brings much to the table. Considering that the bandleader is also the guitarist, Madof practices restraint with regards to the modest amount of time that the electric guitar is heard. That said, he rocks hard on a few songs like 'Metatron.' 'Lelahiah' brings to mind the fantastic work that he's done in projects like Rashanim. Moving along, 'Shamdan' has a strong Jewish sensibility. Many of the offerings have a psychedelic, trance vibe. Along these lines, 'Kenunit' is a ten minute jam featuring Jazz style solos. In many of the Book of Angels releases, the last song is one of the strongest. Featuring beautiful flute work by Jessica Lurie, 'Nehinah' doesn't disappoint. The groove is to die for. For fans of Afrobeat, "Adramelech" offers instant gratification. That said, this is no rehash. While an Afrobeat revival has been going on for around a decade, most members of the movement have been reluctant to step out of Fela's long shadow. In contrast, "Adramelech" is fresh on the ears as it successfully integrates Jewish aesthetics. With its twenty-second eclectic installment, the Book of Angels now features an Afrobeat offering. It begs the question, when will John Zorn run out of ideas? How many more sonic frontiers can he and his compatriots incorporate, break, and create? If the past is any predictor of the future, let's hope that John Zorn is only getting started.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
ONES OF THE MORE POWERFUL CD OF THE YEAR31 Aug. 2014
Manuel Grosso Galvan
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
A great album, Zion80 is the new group of Jon Madof, is a big group, 11 musician, with incredible arranged and a powerful sound. Is a perfect blend of afro-pop, Jewish tradition, rock and latin sounds..with compositions of Zorn. Great absolutely great . Have the big band sound but with some rock feeling of the psychedelic times . A nice surprise that open a new ways for Zorn music. Please hear it, really good. PS. Thanks to John Zorn for his collection "Book of Angels" that always introduce great musicians, some unknown, into his world and his fantastic compositions. Thanks again, and try to buy this CD