COMPOSERS: Pat Metheny
ALBUM TITLE: Pat Metheny: Tap: John Zorn’s Book of Angels, Vol. 20
WORKS: Tap: John Zorn’s Book of Angels, Vol. 20
PERFORMER: Pat Metheny (guitar), Antonio Sanchez (drums)
CATALOGUE NO: 7559795875
Every few years, this listener-friendly guitarist shakes loose his group – and his trademark lyricism – and does something crazy. In the past he has worked with saxist Ornette Coleman. This time he’s teamed up with avant-gardist John Zorn and recorded a sliver of the latter’s massive klezmer-inspired song cycle, the Masada Book.
An extraordinary home production, Metheny plays everything himself apart from the drums, including his infernal orchestrion contraption. Long-time collaborator Antonio Sanchez laps up the chance to rock out. Metheny’s treatment of Zorn’s own 21st-century take on klezmer music isn’t obviously Jewish – though in parts it has a Latin, Sephardic feel; instead, he ranges wide and free across the six tracks, contrasting gritty urban distortion with gentle acoustic reflection via middle-eastern counterpoint.
Tap might be strong stuff, but Metheny’s facility and focus has produced an exhilarating snapshot of Zorn’s magnum opus.