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viernes, 27 de noviembre de 2015

Pat Metheny - Tap (John Zorn's Book of Angels vol. 20) (2013)

Una colaboración entre dos gigantes, un producto ultragigante: la obra de John Zorn, Masada Book Two, The Book of Angels, en las manos libres y sabias de Pat Metheny, que con este álbum lleva la colección de Zorn al volumen 20. Un disco alucinante, evocador, sorprendente.

Artista: Pat Metheny
Álbum: Tap (John Zorn's Book of Angels vol. 20)
Año: 2013
Género: Jazz Fusión / Avant Garde
Duración: 50:37
Nacionalidad: EUA


Lista de Temas:
1. Mastema
2. Albim

3. Tharsis
4. Sariel
5. Phanuel
6. Hurmiz

Alineación:
- Pat Metheny / Guitarras eléctricas y acústicas, guitarra barítono, guitarra sitar, tiples, bajo, piano, orchestrionic marimba, campanas orquestales, bandoneón, percusión, electrónica, fliscorno
- Antonio Sanchez / Batería




Hace 10 años, con la salida de Astaroth por Jamie Saft Trio, el prolífico compositor John Zorn inició la serie Book of Angels: obras escritas dentro de su proyecto personal Masada Book Two (300 temas escritos en tres meses), y comisionadas a diferentes artistas. Tap de Pat Metheny es el volumen 20, aparecido ocho años después de que arrancara la serie, que en sus veinte salidas ha reunido artistas de muchas nacionalidades y de muy diversos estilos, desde el propio Zorn con Masada String Trio, Masada Quintet y Bar Kobah Sextet, hasta Marc Ribot, David Krakauer, la Cracow Klezmer Band, Erik Friedlander, Uri Caine, Medesky-Martin-Wood y varios más.


Cada uno de estos álbumes comprende un conjunto de miradas musicales sobre la mitología de ángeles y demonios de la tradición hebrea. No son solo las interpretaciones musicales de Zorn respecto a esa compleja mitología, sino la reinterpretación bastante libre de otros músicos para las ideas del autor. La puesta en escena sonora de cada tema en cada álbum corresponde al rescate de uno de los múltiples seres fantásticos angélicos, tanto de los que hacen el bien como de los que están relacionados con el mal. No hay una visión maniquea, como en la tradición cristiana, con unos buenos y otros malos; en la tradición judaica (y musulmana), cada ángel puede comportarse de diversos modos, lo que desentraña su naturaleza humana simbolizada y sublimada.

El volumen 20, Tap, es sin duda uno de los más difundidos. Baste decir que lo encontré en una tienda de discos ¡de Lima! en la que no tenían ni noticia de que existían 19 volúmenes más, y que se encontraba en la lista de los pocos discos de Metheny ofrecidos al consumidor (ni siquiera habían escuchado alguna vez la palabra Zorn). También debo decir que Tap es uno de los más interesantes. Pat Metheny trabajando la obra de Zorn en 2012-2013, se muestra como el monstruo enorme que es. Hay piezas electrónicas, fuertes y tecnológicas ("Mastema"), al lado de ejecuciones acústicas, suaves y con ese dejo medioriental que Zorn ha alcanzado en el proyecto del Libro de los Ángeles ("Albim"), a través de su interpretación de las escalas melódicas del folclor judaico. Hay que añadir que, cosa de disqueras y negocios, el disco salió en dos versiones, la de Tsadik (de Zorn) con una carátula que sigue el diseño de la colección de Book of Angels, y otra en Nonesuch, más comercial, con una carátula alternativa (la que presentamos aquí).

"Mastema" (ángel que persigue el mal, que ejecuta los castigos de dios) incluso recuerda por momentos esa producción experimental extraordinaria que fue Electric Counterpoint de Steve Reich, con drones, faseos y otros recursos post minimalistas, y la batería alucinante de Antonio Sanchez.

"Albim" (ángel guardián de la puerta del Viento Norte) es un tema suave en el que Metheny regresa a la guitarra acústica, acompañado de bajo, sonidos ambientales y una percusión muy discreta, casi solo de platillos, para un tema que va creciendo poco a poco en improvisación, hasta que vuelve al sigiloso tono del inicio.

En "Tharsis" (ángel del agua), la melodía de Medio Oriente vuelve, pero con más energía, ejecutada con guitarra sitar y luego alimentada con los sonidos de la guitarra electrónica que son bien conocidos en el trabajo del guitarrista. El ritmo está dado por campanas: constante, agudo y brillante, mientras que platillos abiertos decoran el espacio sonoro. La dinámica del tema, entre rápida e intensa, es notable por sus cambios extremos.

"Sariel" (ángel encargado de los espíritus de los hombres que pecan, presente también en la mitología del Islam) sigue con instrumentación similar a la anterior, pero en un ritmo más lento, con instrumentos de sonido más cercano a lo folclórico de aquellas tierras, pero listo para hacer un recorrido más profundo: el ángel realizará un viaje, probablemente hacia el interior de las almas pecadoras. El viaje se complica hacia la mitad, desciende y da lugar a una de esas ejecuciones para guitarra acústica que sólo Pat Metheny es capaz de hacer: con gran dulzura, como si no lo hiciera, explora armonías totalmente fuera de lo común y logra introducir una nueva etapa del viaje, que es como si el ángel levantara de nuevo el vuelo, un vuelo cada vez más vertiginoso que cierra con un noise violento y extraordinarias improvisaciones a la batería por Antonio Sanchez, el único otro músico que acompaña a Metheny en esta aventura.

"Phanuel" (arcángel de la penitencia y príncipe de la presencia) es un tema mucho más discreto en su arranque. Despacio, arpegios muy extendidos en tonos menores y ruido electrónico para rodearlos, va dando lugar a un ritmo lento que se rompe continuamente. Por momentos es el ruido lo que destaca, pasando a primer plano y dejando detrás a la guitarra como detalle de base. Es un tema apenas insinuado, introspectivo, interior; deja ver la sabiduría de Metheny, ya acumulada y crecida a lo largo de una extensa carrera. Los punteos de la guitarra van adquiriendo melodías que recuerdan lo desértico, nuevamente el Medio Oriente, sobre armonías menores y con cambios semitonales, hasta que aparecen algunos de los trinos casi blueseros, muy jazzeros, tan característicos de Metheny, que también destilan algo de la armonía guitarrística brasilera que, sabemos, al genio le gusta mucho.

"Hurmiz", el tema final, es interesante no solo en lo musical sino en lo conceptual: es raro que los ángeles del folclor hebreo sean de género femenino; Hurmiz lo es; se trata de una de las hijas de Lilith (es una figura legendaria del folclore judío, de origen mesopotámico. Se le considera la primera esposa de Adán, anterior a Eva). Según la leyenda (que no aparece en la Biblia), abandonó el Edén por propia iniciativa y se instaló junto al mar Rojo, uniéndose allí con Samael, que se convirtió en su amante, y con otros demonios, (según wikipedia). El tema es más alegre, casi divertido, mucho más juguetón e improvisativo, fronterizo con el free jazz, y es, junto con el primero, el que más presente tiene la batería de Sanchez, además de que las improvisaciones de Metheny son al piano.

En síntesis, tenemos aquí 50 minutos extraordinarios de un Metheny (casi) solista, haciendo uso de una enorme diversidad de recursos tanto instrumentales como de improvisación y virtuosa ejecución. En las notas del disco hay un texto de Metheny sobre la relación con Zorn, a quien no conocía personalmente, en las que le cuenta por correo electrónico que ha seguido con atención y sorpresa los lanzamientos del Libro de los Ángeles. De ahí nace la propuesta de Zorn de que Pat haga un nuevo volumen para el libro. También hay un texto de Zorn sobre Pat, agradeciendo su disposición y destacando sus interminables cualidades.

Ignoro si habrá nuevos volúmenes del Libro de los Ángeles, pero en los 20 publicados se incluyen algo más de 200 de las 300 composiciones, por lo que probablemente haya aún mucho por grabar. Los he escuchado todos excepto el volumen 19 (Abraxas, por Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz), y son todos interesantísimos. Quizá los más llamativos son el 10 (Lucifer, Bar Kobah con Zorn), el 7 (Asmodeus, Marc Ribot), los dos grabados con el Masada String Trio de Zorn (Azazel, vol 2; Haborym, vol 16), y el de Masada Quintet con Joe Lovano (Stolas, vol 12). Por desgracia, excepto este volumen 20 de Pat Metheny, que encontré y compré en la versión original de Nonesuch, el resto llegó a mis manos en versiones lossy. Si alguien tuviera lossles de esta extraordinaria colección, ¡móchense!

Nota final: para armar este post investigué sobre los ángeles inspiradores en A Listing of Angels y Queen Of The Angels entre otras fuentes.


Juan Antonio Serrano Cervantes en Zona de Jazz:
En ocasiones estas colaboraciones como la de Zorn y Metheny
no acaban de cuajar y no contentan a nadie, pero en este
caso creo que Metheny ha salido airoso de la prueba, ha
grabado un disco que suena “a Metheny” y que está casi a la
altura de los para mí mejores de la serie: el Vol. 10 (Lucifer) y
el 17 (Caym).
Pat Metheny está acompañado en este Tap por su baterista habitual
desde hace tiempo, Antonio Sánchez, y aparte de su variedad de
guitarras, de todo un arsenal de instrumentos, incluido parte de
su nuevo “juguete”, el Orchestrion. La producción y arreglos
también corren a cargo de Metheny.
El primer tema Mastema comienza con el sonido de la sitar guitar
y un contundente Antonio Sánchez. Casi suena como si
escucháramos al Pat Metheny Group (PMG). Y para los que
acusan a Metheny de “blando” el tema termina con unas
distorsiones, como si nos quisiera recordar que ha grabado
discos como Zero Tolerance For Silence (Geffen 1994).
Albim es una melodía de gran belleza en la que podemos escuchar la
guitarra barítono, otra de las “sospechosas habituales” de Metheny
últimamente, acompañado perfectamente por Antonio Sánchez y
algún instrumento más como el bandoneón.
Tharsis y otro buen ejemplo de música de Zorn vista por Metheny
y recordándonos otra vez al PMG, con un Antonio Sánchez aportando
solidez y un ritmo llevado por las campanitas del Orchestrion.
Sariel comienza de manera sencilla, otro tema de corte oriental que
se vuelve más complejo al irse añadiendo instrumentos y según
pasan los minutos nos encontramos frente a un paisaje sonoro
totalmente distinto, más cercano al jazz rock que Metheny ha
realizado en ocasiones.
Phanuel es un tema etéreo, con algunas voces al comienzo y profusión
de electrónica, y que recuerda en algunos momentos a la BSO de
A Map Of The World (Warner Bros 1999). El disco termina con Hurmiz y
una novedad (que yo sepa no se había grabado antes), Pat Metheny
tocando el piano en un tema bastante free y básicamente un dúo
piano-batería.
Se puede decir que Tap es de notable muy alto, un disco en el que
Pat Metheny ha utilizado las composiciones de John Zorn para
ofrecernos algunas pinceladas de lo que ha sido su música durante
años. Y ahora a esperar a ver qué nos ofrecen estos dos genios,
que -conociéndoles- seguro que no tardan mucho.

Dice Wikipedia:

Tap: Book of Angels Volume 20 is an album by Pat Metheny performing compositions from John Zorn's Masada Book Two. The album was released simultaneously on Zorn's Tzadik Records and Metheny's label, Nonesuch.
The album received generally favorable reviews with Allmusic's Thom Jurek observing "Tap: John Zorn's Book of Angels, Vol. 20 is a special album in both men's catalogs. (It's being released simultaneously on both Nonesuch and Tzadik.) These compositions offer Metheny something that he's seldom been able to take advantage of. While he's regularly performed the works of other composers, he has seldom had the opportunity to so thoroughly orchestrate and arrange them. Ironically, this collaboration has resulted in giving him the freedom to explore his artistic expression as an individual, at a deeper level".
Writing for The Guardian, John Fordham noted "Metheny manages to be true both to Zorn and himself – reflecting the former's respect for traditional Jewish folk music while splintering it with free-improv assaults, but sustaining that creative tension in his own warmer and less abrasive ways. The melodies are wonderful, and variations often inspired". In The Montreal Gazette, Juan Rodriguez stated "Metheny does a lot of overlapping and overdubbing, but there’s a Middle Eastern tinge that’s common to a lot of Zorn’s recent compositions, as well as lilting Metheny-isms that make Tap a bright, glowing outing, almost a primer on how complexity evolves from utter simplicity. Alternating between long journeys and shorter interludes, each tune reveals a beautifully constructed unity while going off in all directions. This is a fascinating meeting of minds". The Independent's Andy Gill said "It's all dazzlingly virtuosic and evocative".
Many online reviewers were also complimentary. The All About Jazz review by Nenad Georgievski stated "Metheny has placed his imprint on Zorn's music in an idiosyncratic way. Full of aggressive, dirty and equally tender vibes and melodies, with immersive textures that give each composition a different kind of depth and character". Des Crowley from Addicted to Noise commented that "Tap is a brilliant reminder, should we need it, of the unfettered openness Zorn and Metheny bring to their individual and collaborative projects. Hopefully, it will be find a wide audience, and encourage first-time listeners to seek out other recordings in Zorn’s on-going Book of Angels series" The Arts Desk's Peter Quinn exclaimed "it's surprising that it's taken quite so long for fellow trailblazers Pat Metheny and John Zorn to work together. It's certainly been worth the wait, as this collection is a real barn-burner".
Elsewhere the critics were less enthusiastic. Troy Dostert was more reserved in his praise stating "it’s not a classic, and it probably won’t end up ranking with Metheny’s best work. But on the whole, his sincerity and respect for Zorn’s music do come through convincingly, and at the very least this should do enough to keep everyone wondering what Metheny might try to tackle next". The List called it "An album which encompasses several facets of Metheny's musical personality but fails to impress" and stated "When Metheny eschews the synth pads and naff guitar effects for a jazzier acoustic approach, Zorn's affecting Sephardic melodies shine through. While there are digressions into tricksy post-bop and abstract sonics, Metheny's glossy makeover is weak sauce next to Zorn’s other group, Masada". In Your Speakers' correspondent Robbie Ritacco complained that "Tap plays out as more of an educational affair than a direct contribution to any particular facet of the music scene. It’s a project of niche interest... the album has little to offer in terms of sustainability or accessibility".

Thom Jurek en Allmusic:

On his own recordings, Pat Metheny has always pushed his artistic envelope. Very occasionally when moving to the outside, it's been to the chagrin of some fans. It happened with Ornette Coleman on the brilliant Song X in 1985; next was on the screaming guitar effort Zero Tolerance for Silence in 1994, and finally on his collaboration with Derek Bailey on The Sign of 4 in 1997. But while his collaboration with another true American original, the prolific composer John Zorn, is outside work for Metheny, it may not alienate longtime fans due to its relative accessibility. The Book of Angels is the composer's second book of compositions based on ancient, often mystical Jewish music; it contains over 300 pieces. These works have set melodies but leave plenty of room for other musicians to interpret and add to them. Other than drums -- played by Antonio Sanchez -- Metheny performs everything: guitars, orchestrion, piano, bass, bandoneon, bells, even flügelhorn. He takes Zorn's mysterious compositions and completely recontextualizes them while remaining true to them. Metheny introduces new musical ideas, myriad textural flights, and rhythmic invention to these works with a wide colorist's palette. "Mastema," with its hypnotic theme, is adorned by rock drumming from Sanchez, who handles the 11/8 signature with ease, while Metheny layers numerous countrapuntal guitars, backmasked, wailing solos, and shifting orchestrion pulses to dynamic result. Likewise, the contemplative acoustic guitars of "Albim" give way to a shimmering swing that adds tinges of tango and Brazilian music -- it wouldn't have been out of place on one of his own albums. The heart of "Tharsis" is a klezmer melody. Acoustic guitars, percussion, guitar synth, and piano display Metheny's signature euphoric interiority and balance with the inherent lyricism in Zorn's tune even as Sanchez forcefully pushes at the tempo. "Sariel" uses tiples, baritone, and high-stringed guitars to shape the melody. It's like a choir of ouds. As the piece develops, chord structures advance the sketch, and eventually Sanchez enters, adding a rock thrust. Metheny piles on electric guitars and basses to go on an extended workout, soaring with harmonic ideas and textural elements that resemble those from Italian film scores of the 1970s and '80s. No matter how unfettered his imagination runs on these pieces, neither he nor Zorn disappear. The set's closer, "Hurmiz," may raise a few eyebrows. Metheny plays piano in a duet with Sanchez that suggests free jazz, though the attention to space, form, and lyricism is inherent. Tap: John Zorn's Book of Angels, Vol. 20 is a special album in both men's catalogs. (It's being released simultaneously on both Nonesuch and Tzadik.) These compositions offer Metheny something that he's seldom been able to take advantage of. While he's regularly performed the works of other composers, he has seldom had the opportunity to so thoroughly orchestrate and arrange them. Ironically, this collaboration has resulted in giving him the freedom to explore his artistic expression as an individual, at a deeper level.

"Lo que dicen los críticos" en la página oficial de Pat Metheny:

“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.”   —NPR
“Audacious...An impressive feat of imagination, and a strikingly clear distillation of both artists’ distinctive languages.”   —New York Times
“Proof positive of Metheny’s ongoing efforts to push personal envelopes of sound and structure, and logic and liberation, on what may be his most diverse album yet.”   —All About Jazz
"I’ll be the first to admit that I was wondering what this pairing would come up with. Well, they came up with my favorite jazz record of the year....."  --Something Else! Reviews
"#1 record of the year.  Metheny takes fragmentary themes from composer John Zorn’s “Book of Angels” series and orchestrates them into expansive, electro-symphonic works.  The fact that it features some of Metheny’s most unbridled and psychedelic guitar playing in years is just a bonus."  -- Echoes (NPR)
"...There would seem to be an unbridgeable divide between the warmly euphonious sound-world of Metheny, and the furiously intense, often surreal creations of Zorn. The surprising thing is how close the meeting of minds is. Metheny captures the stark, unsentimental core of the songs, and enriches them at the same time" ---The Telegraph (UK)

En la página de la discográfica:

Nonesuch Records and Tzadik simultaneously release guitarist Pat Metheny’s recording of John Zorn’s Tap: The Book of Angels, Vol. 20 from Zorn’s Masada Book Two on May 21, 2013. This album is the first collaboration between the two artists, considered among their generation’s most innovative musicians. Besides his frequent collaborator, drummer Antonio Sanchez, Metheny plays all other instruments—guitars, sitar, tiples, bass, keyboards, orchestrionics, electronics, bandoneón, percussion, flugelhorn, and more—himself.
Beginning in the 1990s, Zorn wrote 500 songs inspired by traditional Jewish music; they came to be known as two volumes of the Masada Book. He performed the first 200 songs of Book One with the rotating members of the Masada ensemble for a decade before writing Book Two’s 300 tunes in just three months. Over the past eight years, the songs from Book Two have been recorded as volumes of The Book of Angels by a stellar group of musicians, including the Masada Quintet, Masada String Trio, Medeski Martin & Wood, and Marc Ribot.
Zorn says of Metheny’s recording, “Pat is of course a living legend—one of those rare lights in the universe. His incredible facility and dedication, indefatigable energy and focus, imagination, and never-ending curiosity have distinguished him as truly one of the greatest musicians on the planet.” He continues, “Tap is a showcase for Pat’s remarkable imagination, technique, passion, and love for the world. No matter how many times I listen to this recording I am hit with that same sense of exhilaration that hit me the very first time.”
Metheny, who recently won his 20th Grammy Award, adds, “I have admired John Zorn since the late ’70s and have followed his amazing output every step of the way. A few years ago, after contacting me to write some notes for one of his Arcana publications, John and I began an inspired e-mail connection. (As hard as it is to believe, we had never met in person over the years.) I mentioned that I had followed his Book of Angels series from the start and felt like I might be able to contribute something unique to the collection. With his enthusiastic encouragement, he gave me some suggestions as to which tunes were still unrecorded, and I picked the ones that jumped out and spoke to me. Over the next year, in between breaks from the road, I recorded them one by one in my home studio whenever I got a chance.”

Nenad Georgievski en All About Jazz:

Literary, anything and everything can and will happen in composer John Zorn's constantly evolving musical world. Within that world, surprise and exploration are an important ingredients, as much as the cross-styling or the plethora of approaches for the different kinds of collaborative compositions he has created for the players involved. This surprising crossed paths of Zorn and guitarist Pat Metheny, as one of the performers/interpreters of his Book of Angels series (a subset of Zorn's ongoing Masada saga), is a cause of wonderment of "what's it all about," as in both artists' long and storied careers there were no prior meeting points. Zorn has mostly worked closely with Downtown artists or artists related to his Tzadik label, and his works have never, until now, featured a towering composer/player of Metheny's stature.
But the liner notes reveal that both artists had been following each other's careers with great interest, and had been communicating intensively. Metheny's career is littered with occasional twists and risk- takings that are miles apart from the classic sound he has created and by which he is identified. Recently, he has been defying expectations by challenging and offending the status quo with a string of stylistically and conceptually different records, and Tap: John Zorn's Book of Angels | Vol. 20 is no exception.
Tap is a meeting of two highly individual and original composers, conceptualists and players, but not in that order. One of Zorn's characteristics and strengths is that he always composes works that gives space and emphasis to his artists' identity and character. While his compositions from the Masada series are based on Jewish scales—spiked with influences from the world of jazz or anything at hand—they are used more as a template upon which the artists can build. While Metheny is no stranger to covering compositions by jazz composers or songs from the pop world, as heard on the brilliant What's it All About, (Nonesuch, 2011), Tap is only his second time playing compositions written by an avant-composer, as he did on composer Steve Reich's Electric Counterpoint (Nonesuch, 1987) (which was made even more popular when it was sampled for the '90s ambient house hit "Little Fluffy Clouds," by Britain's The Orb).
But the dynamic and brilliant opener, "Mastema," features precise repetitive patterns and melodies, much in the style of another minimalist composer, Philip Glass, and when Metheny introduces his army of instruments it bursts into an avalanche of sounds. Backed by drummer Antonio Sanchez's intricate and playful 11/8 rhythm, this track introduces different textures and ambiances, with swirling guitars, fuzzy tones, loops—and a certain eeriness that, contrary to the ambient backdrop typical for Metheny's work, is closer to the kind of music found on Tzadik.
"Albim" is a soft and gentle acoustic number, with subtle, folkloric sounds and melodies that are masterfully and almost unnoticeably interwoven into the fabric, the acoustic textures and drums teasing out some tension between the soft and hard edges. "Tharsis" has those serpentine, eastern Jewish melodies more upfront, played repetitively and dynamically with a swirling middle section resembling a Balkan gypsy ensemble in full swing. The music becomes hypnotic while remaining exciting—even breathtaking.
Joyful and celebratory, the acoustic and tender "Sariel" is set in several stages, with Metheny making unexpected breaks when he injects electric guitar madness. The track has enough ideas and surprises to successfully avoid some repetitive lulls. It introduces some alien soundworlds and, especially towards the ending, overloads with layers of electric guitar noise and drums much in the manner of alt-noise rockers Sonic Youth. There is a reckless abandon on the closing "Hurmitz," as it tumbles with an outpouring of sonic flurries and noise, accentuated by Metheny's piano injections, dueling with Sanchez.
From "Mastema" to "Hurmitz," Metheny infuses each composition with a variety of known signposts, but with a prevailing number of points of departure; there are no unsatisfactory tracks to be found, though some may impress or dazzle more than others. That the paths of these two towering figures have crossed is always welcome, but more important is how Metheny has placed his imprint on Zorn's music in an idiosyncratic way. Full of aggressive, dirty and equally tender vibes and melodies, with immersive textures that give each composition a different kind of depth and character, Metheny's production grants this record its own law of gravity, even within his own oeuvre.






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