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Pat Metheny And John Zorn: A Vivid Sound World

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Pat Metheny And John Zorn: A Vivid Sound World

Music Reviews

Pat Metheny And John Zorn: A Vivid Sound World

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now, an unlikely collaboration from two veterans of instrumental music. Guitarist Pat Metheny is revered for his bright, accessible jazz. But for his new album, he interprets compositions by John Zorn, who is known for dissonant experimental sounds. The album is called "Tap: John Zorn's Book of Angels, Vol. 20." And Tom Moon has this review.

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TOM MOON, BYLINE: If for some reason a Hollywood film director ever asks me for music to accompany an exotic Orient Express-style railroad caper, I will be ready.

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MOON: And if there's ever need for the soothing music that emanates from the lotus blossoms at a meditation retreat, I've got that covered too.

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MOON: Pat Metheny has been making records for over 30 years. Whether he's playing a sunny Brazilian fantasy with his group, or exploring in a more cerebral mode with jazz legends, he thinks in terms of wide open vistas. If he were a painter, he'd do landscapes, not portraits.

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MOON: These John Zorn compositions are part of a mammoth series of songs inspired by and built around the ancient scales of traditional Jewish music. Zorn started the project in the 1990s. It eventually ballooned to over 500 tunes, the last 300 written in a three-month period. Metheny selected some of those for this album and began recording them in his home studio between tours. He plays all of the instruments except drums, which are handled by his frequent collaborator Antonio Sanchez.

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MOON: That's how this collection begins, in a fitful zone that suggests angry river rapids. The basic theme is provided by Zorn. But as with everything here, what's written is just an outline. It offers no guidance about instrumentation or mood or anything else. Metheny takes what's on the page and goes to work conjuring. The result is an ornate, stunningly vivid sound world that neither artist would have found on his own.

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SIEGEL: The new album from Pat Metheny is called "Tap: John Zorn's Book of Angels, Vol. 20." Our reviewer is Tom Moon.

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