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Pat Metheny – Tap – John Zorn’s Book of Angels – Volume 20

May 28, 2013

Pat Metheny John Zorn

I have been a Pat Metheny fan for about 35 years, but the last few years he has really blown me away.  Between the Orchestrion project, the Unity Band and now this John Zorn album, Metheny is on a serious roll.  Metheny is one of those rare musicians who can balance between pop art and “serious” art effortlessly.  This album is on the “serious art” side of things, yet it is highly accessible.

I will admit that I am only vaguely aware of John Zorn – I know he is a “serious” musician.  I only have one of his albums in my collection – 1986’s The Big Countdown – John Zorn plays the music of Ennio Morricone (famous for his scores of spaghetti westerns).  I was not aware of his highly ambitious Masada songbook of which Book of Angels is a part of.  From my limited research I learned Zorn has composed hundreds of compositions based on Jewish music.  Zorn has authorized various musicians and bands to interpret the works from the song book and Pat Metheny is the latest.

As a long time Metheny fan it is a great pleasure to hear him lend his musical palate to the songs of another composer – nearly all of Metheny’s recorded works are his own compositions.  Metheny is clearly inspired by Zorn’s compositions and he uses his entire arsenal to address them.  The album is pure Metheny, but it is not – as a long time fan I can tell these are not his compositions – yet he feels completely at home with them.

It turns out Metheny is a long time fan of Zorn and deeply familiar with his music.  Metheny completely immerses himself in Zorn yet he does not lose himself  – his voice is clear and never lost – like a great Shakespearean actor interpreting the bard.

I loved this album at first listen – which is not always a good thing – I often get bored by albums that I love at first sight – but this one is different – every listen reveals more secrets and has me reviewing  Metheny’s back catalog: I re-listened with new ears to the highly challenging Zero Tolerance for Silence and the accessible debut Bright Size of Life – both of which I can hear in Tap.

So why the name Tap?  Zorn’s Book of Angels compositions have Jewish names – as do all the songs on Tap.  Therefore my only conclusion is that Tap is just Pat spelled backwards – as if Metheny has found his kindred spirit in the mirror – everything he is – but opposite.

In summary this is my favorite album of 2013 – hopefully it will continue to reveal its secrets over the next few months.

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From → Music Reviews

One Comment
  1. I’ll have to dive into this one.

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