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Book Of Angels: Stolas Vol. 12
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Book Of Angels: Stolas Vol. 12

16 Jun. 2009 | Format: MP3

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 16 Jun. 2009
  • Release Date: 16 Jun. 2009
  • Label: Tzadik
  • Copyright: Tzadik
  • Total Length: 1:02:56
  • Genres:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 194,726 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sordel TOP 500 REVIEWER on 30 Sept. 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The latest configuration for John Zorn's Masada project is even more stellar than usual, giving pianist Uri Caine a second stab at the Book of Angels material and tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano a featured role. Quartet regular Dave Douglas plays his part on trumpet, while Zorn himself sits in for one track (Rahtiel) to provide just a hint of alto grit to the oyster.

Like Zorn, Lovano is a saxophonist in the avant garde tradition, but you wouldn't know it from the laid-back and conservative performances here. He breathes smokey, economical lines through his solos, creating a "cool" sound that will certainly not offend jazz purchasers whose listening has not extended far beyond Kind Of Blue. Douglas, a rather dry-toned trumpeter perhaps more at home softening a squealing alto than coarsening a mellow tenor, sounds edgy here, as if he is trying to push Caine and Lovano into more probing territory. The overall effect, however, is very inoffensive and unchallenging.

Those who like to compare different performances of the base material will be interested by the appearance here of "Rigal", which was first aired by Marc Feldman & Sylvie Courvoisier on volume III of this series. At twice the length, the version here is a more generous exploration of the material and provides the album with a climactic highlight.

Those who like their Zorn with the bones taken out will be very happy with this recording, which is again superbly recorded and played, but which certainly lacks something in terms of excitement. While Zorn has always steered this series away from the idea that Jewish themes can be reduced to Klezmer, he is in danger of demonstrating, at great length, that these themes can lose their potency if subjected to too much softening.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4 1/2 stars-- Lovano steps into Masada. 24 Jun. 2009
By Michael Stack - Published on
Format: Audio CD
When John Zorn conceived the second Masada songbook, one of the goals was to have the music be the star rather than the band, so he committed to recording different records with different groups, "Stolas" beyond the twelfth such volume, a record recorded by the Masada Quintet featuring Joe Lovano. Other than Lovano (featured here exclusively on tenor), the band is all Masada regulars-- trumpeter Dave Douglas, pianist Uri Caine, bassist Greg Cohen and drummer Joey Baron, all of whom except for Caine played with Zorn as their sax player in the great Masada quartet that documented the first book of Masada so thoroughly. This grants an interesting opportunity to hear Zorn's melodies in a familiar form, but without his distinctive voice in there. That the performance is so strong nicely validates the notion that the music can live (particularly in such a strong jazz form-- many of the other successful Masada projects stray into other territories) without its composer.

Lovano is stuck in sort of a difficult position here, taking on the role of Zorn in this band, and to his credit, he sits comfortably in the band, performing with significant fire and creativity, adhering a bit closer to the downtown sound than I would have suspected. On occasion, he seems a bit out of his element (someone once said to me that the downtown guys are all about shtick, e.g. Zorn's high pitched squeals, Lovano not so much), but by and large, it's not apparent and when there is conflict, it's not to the detriment of the music. Moreover, to expectation, the other four guys in the band turn out characteristically fantastic, if a bit subdued on occasion, performances-- we don't get much of the Masada fury that pushes pieces higher and higher as they go on and certainly a bit of the cartoony playfulness is missing (back to that shtick thing again). But you know, not all the Masada pieces were about that stuff, even when it was the quartet playing.

What we do get is great post-bop performance after great post-bop performance-- if the old Masada band is oversimplified to Ornette does Klezmer, this is more a '50s Miles does Klezmer. Opener "Hamiah" is a great example of this, three brief post-bop styled solos by Lovano, Douglas and Caine end in a Masada style collective improv, all sandwiched between a catchy theme statement. The album continues in this vein, with great performances throughout, particularly from Douglas, who just seems to be eating this quintet arrangement up with firey solos throughout ("Tagriel" is the best example, Douglas just explodes and keeps going, it's a performance to hear). The composer sits in on bass feature "Rahtiel", duetting as an intro with Lovano (the two sound fantastic together), then providing some Zorn shtick to assist in thematic drama before turning over to a bass feature for Cohen. After my first couple listens, I decided the real gem of the record is piano feature and closer "Rigal" (which also received a violin and piano duet rendition on Malphas: Book of Angels, Vol. 3). Caine, whose own Masada Book II workout, Moloch: The Book of Angels, Vol. 6, I found a bit lacking, plays with such sensitivity and loveliness during the introduction that you're almost left disappointed that the rest of the band joins him (Douglas does take a nice turn at a solo here, but this one is Caine's feature).

All in all, "Stolas" is a highly satisfying listen and well worth the investment. It's not quite among the best of the Masada pieces (The Masada String Trio record Azazel: Book of Angels, Vol. 2 and the Secret Chiefs 3 on Xaphan: The Book of Angels, Vol. 9 come immediately to mind in that regard), but it is awfully good. Highly recommended.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
(Mostly) Warm and melodic new Masada chapter 30 Nov. 2009
By Art Johnson - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Stolas: The Book of Angels, Vol. 12 is the newest installment in John Zorn's ongoing Book of Angels series, and possibly the best yet. For most Zorn fans, I would imagine that this part of the series would be particularly exciting, as it features the studio return of the Masada Quartet (Zorn on alto sax, Dave Douglas on trumpet, Greg Cohen on bass, and the great Joey Baron on drums), with some augmentations; Joe Lovano on tenor sax replaces Zorn and pianist Uri Caine is added. Despite the relative change in the lineup, the Masada Quintet plays with all the tightness, taste and musical intuition of a band together for years. Lovano adds a more round, even tone, and isn't as aggressive or abrasive in his playing as Zorn (although he is capable of some fire). This makes for a more relaxed, evenly-tempered Masada. Uri Caine's piano adds a lot of harmonic flavor without limiting the players, and adds some interesting solos like the Cecil Taylor-like one on "Sartael". The pieces, all by Zorn, feature memorable themes, fun grooves, and plenty of space for both the individual and the ensemble to shine, as well as some entertaining, interactive out playing, although nothing really on the level of the fiery, intimidating previous Masada quartet releases. (The only things that come close are "Sartael", a speedy, energetic blowing session driven by Baron's forceful drumming, and "Rahtiel", the only piece that features Zorn on alto.) Cohen and Baron are a world-class rhythm section as always, adding plenty of propulsive force, groove, and melodic color. This is a worthy addition to the Masada catalog and a rewarding listen.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Top-notch Masada 5 Sept. 2009
By Anthony Cooper - Published on
Format: Audio CD
John Zorn has recorded seemingly countless Masada songs in even more versions with different bands by 2009. This CD is perhaps 'accessible mainstream jazz' Masada, with a lineup of Joe Lovano on tenor, Dave Douglas on trumpet, Uri Caine on piano, Greg Cohen on bass, and Joey Baron on drums. It's a versatile group, but the members are very strong in mainstream jazz. The songs chosen for this disc are fairly accessible, too. John Zorn produced the disc, and also plays alto sax on one song. The end result is accessible, excellent, mainstream jazz. The group simply knocks the songs out of the park like they're at batting practice. Because Zorn had so many songs to choose from, he chose some of the best. Still, maybe a little more adventure (done well) would have helped the disc, and brought it up to a 5-star ranking. The only song one I'm not crazy about, "Rahtiel", is ironically also the one Zorn plays on. I recommend this disc to just about any jazz fan.
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