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50th Birthday Celebration 4

Electric Masada Audio CD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

Price: $15.57 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Amazon Price New from Used from
MP3 Music, 7 Songs, 2004 $8.99  
Audio CD, 2004 $15.57  

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Tekufah14:33Album Only
listen  2. Idalah-abal 6:18$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Hadasha13:48Album Only
listen  4. Hath-arob 4:07$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Yatzar 9:20Album Only
listen  6. Lilin15:41Album Only
listen  7. Kisofim 8:41Album Only

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50th Birthday Celebration 4 + 50th Birthday Celebration 7
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 25, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Tzadik
  • ASIN: B0001XXBD4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,134 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection June 11, 2004
Format:Audio CD
This is one of the best Zorn albums of all time. It's amazing. Electric Masada is a band of eight musicians --- two drummers, a percussion player, electric guitar, keyboards, bass guitar, Ikue Mori playing sound effects, and Zorn on saxophone. On this live set, they play well-known Masada songs, turning up the volume and stretching out the melodies.
This CD is full of beautiful noise and improvisation. The second track is a wild, heavy metal version of klezmer that has to be heard to be believed. Other tracks drift from introspective sounds and gentle playing to high-speed chaos. It never really breaks apart into pure noise, but the threat is always there. Half of the time, the music is so gentle, it fades into the background.
This album is the climax of a long series of klezmer experiments by John Zorn. He started with Masada as a traditional four-piece band, recording ten studio albums. Then he recorded new arrangements of the same songs with other ensembles. Then he put out live albums. Now he's brought it all together with an album of new arrangements of traditional Masada songs, played live. It has the feel of the best game pieces (like Xu Feng) and some of Zorn's explorations of exotica (like The Gift).
I highly recommend this CD. Even if you've never heard Zorn's work before, give it a try. Some of the songs are a little noisy, but you'll love it.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally ... but was it worth the wait? May 25, 2004
Format:Audio CD
Potentially THE holy grail for the Downtown fanbase, John Zorn's "Electric Masada" has finally arrived. A live set, recorded during Zorn's 50th birthday celebration at NYC's premier new music venue; Tonic, merits most of the acclaim it will undoubtably get. Although all the tunes presented on "Electric Masada" have been performed by various aggregations over the years - from solo acoustic guitar renditions to full chamber sextet arrangements, they have never been performed as forcefully and sublimely as they are here.
Zorn's electric version of his now famous acoustic Masada quartet is sort of an unholy cross between his own infamous post-modern super-group: Naked City and Miles Davis' (...) Brew era band, albeit playing their now well know Yiddish klezmer melodies. Stop-start, change on a dime transitions abound as well as long, drawn out groove sections featuring extended solos. Everything from Naked City inspired heavy metal/free jazz skronk to funky electric fusion on down to mellow, atmospheric exotica find their way into this set.
The set list order is generally one of full on rush to slow burn chill out. The edgier tunes appear in the first half of the set, with the last half containing the more mellow and atmospheric pieces. Fans of Zorn's exotica tribute "The Gift", will find much to savor in this albums final moments. Those wishing for a Naked City reunion should pay attention early on, as Zorn's live Cobra-esque direction can be detected in the first half of the set, as well as Marc Ribot's gritty electric guitar work and Zorn's (seemingly) endless squealing alto. Zorn revisits his heavy metal infatuation in some of these pieces, and how much you appreciate this depends on your perspective.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Place to Start August 17, 2005
Format:Audio CD
When I first heard John Zorn, I was a bit turned off by his styles. I use the plural, 'styles,' because he has so many different groups (naked city, masada, string trio, hemophiliac, etc.) that it would be an injustice to put Zorn into one specific category. After giving him another listen months later, I fell in love with much of his music, and this 'Electric Masada Birthday CD' is where I began.

This was recorded live at Tonic during the month of September '03 in celebration of Zorn's 50th birthday. The lineup is a who's-who of the downtown music scene - Zorn (alto sax), Marc Ribot (guitar), Jamie Saft (keys), Ikue Mori (laptop electronics), Trevor Dunn (bass), Joey Baron (drums), Kenny Wolleson (drums), and Cyro Baptista (percussion). Those who attend Zorn shows regularly at places like Tonic or The Stone will definitely recognize some of these names.

After hearing the wide scope of music Zorn is reponsible for, I can say for certain that this album is a perfect place to start for new fans. Some would argue that Naked City is a good place to begin, but I find that music to be a little too commercial, and frankly, not in line with some of Zorn's more recent projects. The music played here is a 'best-of' from the Masada catalogue with an electric spin on it. The most notable additions are Dunn, (from Mr. Bungle and other work with Mike Patton), Ribot (who is best known for his work with Tom Waits), and Ikue Mori who uses some of the craziest samples you will ever hear, such as the 'giggling madman' sound we hear on track 6, 'Lilin'.

This music is not as challenging as some of Zorn's other work in the way that this is not totally improvised. The songs have structure, for the most part, and at times have some extremely 'catchy' parts.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing. April 18, 2005
Format:Audio CD
One of the most highly anticipated bands led by downtown New York luminary John Zorn is the Electric Masada ensemble-- often thought of as Naked City meets Masada, but this sells the concept short-- this is really the culmination of Zorn's career-- the game pieces and conducted systems, the jump cut and genre blending, and the Jewish-tinged jazz. The band's roster is constantly shifting, based I suspect on availability, the lineup on this particular recording is John Zorn (alto sax, conductor), Marc Ribot (guitar), Jamie Saft (keys), Ikue Mori (laptop), Trevor Dunn (bass), Joey Baron and Kenny Wollesen (drums), and Cyro Baptista (percussion), performing as part of the month-long Zorn festival celebrating his 50th birthday at Tonic.

If you haven't seen the Electric Masada band, it may be hard to understand some of what's going on with this recording-- I know my appreciation of it deepened after witnessing this first hand-- Zorn literally conducts the band, bringing musicians in and out, queuing solos, accompaniments, blasts of noise, themes, bass lines, etc. as necessary. Nothing you hear on this, no matter how free and unled it sounds, is out of his control-- the musicians focused intently on him for every sequence-- every free improv is highly structured, every entrance in the midst of chaos is timed by him. It helps that Zorn has an extraordinarily sympathetic group of musicians to work with-- Ribot is perhaps of all the brilliant guitar players to work with Zorn, the best foil for him. The same could be said for any number of musicians on this one-- Baptista, Mori and Baron all have long associations and a real understanding for how Zorn works, or more importantly, how Zorn wants to work.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Spacy and intense!, Intricate yet explosive!
This is possibly the best of the 50th Birthday CD's, possibly the best of the Masada offshoots, possibly the best Zorn Project PERIOD!! Read more
Published on November 26, 2009 by Aaron J. Geddes
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
I've only just gotten into John Zorn and his myriad projects, but so far he seems to be an artist worth really digging into. Read more
Published on August 12, 2007 by Richard B. Kelley
5.0 out of 5 stars quintessential Zorn
Electric Masada is a quintessence of John Zorn portfolio. It contains of almost all sides of his freeform music vision - from brutal metal jazz of Naked City to post-folk... Read more
Published on February 10, 2005 by Oleg Bocharoff
5.0 out of 5 stars white-hot set from a jazz band to die for.
Other than the Hemophiliac disc, the Electric Masada disc from John Zorn's 50th Birthday Celebration series was the one that most excited me. And how could you not be? Read more
Published on October 7, 2004 by Lord Chimp
5.0 out of 5 stars Why I love avant-garde jazz
First of all, where else are you going to find two drummers and a percussionist as part of the band--and not only that, two of the world's greatest drummers (Kenny Wollesen and... Read more
Published on July 22, 2004 by Jan P. Dennis
3.0 out of 5 stars Uh, maybe next time?
I had high hopes for this recording given the line-up. Unfortunately, the recording isn't all that great although the performances aren't bad. Ribot has some great moments... Read more
Published on June 2, 2004 by T. Klaase
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