There may not be a more creative group of artists anywhere within the boundaries of any art form than those within the Peter Brotzmann Chicago Tentet. These are individuals that comprehensively understand their responsibility to art and it is only through this level of integrity and creativity that art can, and will continue to move forward. Thus, it is completely mystifying and disheartening that this group of brilliant artists from Germany, Sweden, Norway, Chicago and New York remain relatively unknown outside of avant-garde circles. They have created their own dimensions of sound, their own sonority of power and intensity, with shapes of silence that collide and separate at varying levels of speed and measurements of time. They have not introduced a new language as much as they invent new universes within fields of time and space through intellect, passion and importantly, attitude.
The 19th installment in John Zorn’s Masada Book 2: The Book of Angels is a doozy. As with the rest of the series, these are Zorn pieces given to an extraordinary talent (or set of talents) to perform, re-imagine, or demolish, and acoustic/electric bassist and oudist Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz has done all three with his batch of songs.Blumenkranz, part of New York’s vibrant “experimental” scene, here performs on the gimbri, a three-stringed Middle Eastern bass lute. He’s essential to the material, which is a hearty dose of Jewish progressive rock, but his collaborators do their best to steal the show.Kenny Grohowski is an absolute madman behind the drum kit, unleashing maelstroms of double-bass blasts and triplets and frenetic, unyielding drum fills. The guitarists are masters unto themselves — check out Aram Bajakian’s Kef and Eyal Maoz’s Edom if you get the chance — and their intonations are very bit as vital as their technical abilities.Outside of the “ritualistic Jewish rock” tag that comes with Zorn and his cohorts, the obvious comparison here is one to prog-fusion giants such as Mahavishnu Orchestra. But particularly with the percussion, there’s a much more frantic, metallic, Zach Hill-ish vibe, and Abraxas will appeal to progressive ears new and old.