Wow. I don't hesitate to call this the best Masada album ever released. Finally, the insane interplay of their shows is being distributed on compact disc. After the somewhat disappointingly tame Live in Jerusalem this disc was a very welcome surprise. It is everything Jerusalem wasn't: out of control solos, a restless drive to take old songs to new places, and an anarchic energy that captures the live Masada experience. Several tracks on this album are done in versions I've never heard before. Shebuah is transformed from a quickstop improv free for all to a medium paced jazz groove that swings its ass off. I was especially excited to hear Midbar on this disc which is one of my favorite Masada tunes, and which I have never seen live. The only Masada song I know of which uses a funk beat, Midbar is given an extended treatment on this disc, reaches some really crazy moments of musical interplay and intensity.
Is there a catch? Of course! The recordings aren't exactly top notch, which makes it the virtual opposite of Live in Jerusalem, which was a live album that sounded like it was recorded in a studio. The sound on this is a little reverby and y the tiniest bit distorted. In addition, the band occasionally makes minor mistakes: someone come in late on a melody, etc. But in my opinion these warts make this Masada recording so exciting to listen to. The band is obviously pushing their own limits, and the mistakes only make it better.
This is one of the best albums Zorn has ever released,
and is great for both new comers and hard core fans. This is one of my
favorite jazz albums ever made, and I highly recommend it to anyone.