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Bar Kokhba

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 20, 1996
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$19.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $49. Details Only 7 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 20, 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Tzadik
  • ASIN: B000003YTK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,735 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By J. C. Ebersbaker on February 1, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I never was a "hardcore" Zorn fan. I liked Naked City, I like the Masada albums, I like the Filmworks series, but I was never crazy for everything Zorn put out, nor have I heard everything Zorn's put out. However, the two things that struck me about this album were its beauty (the shimmering, quiet, spacious elegance it displays) and its variety. I know Zorn is in some situations synonymous with variety, but, as opposed to such albums as Locus Solus, the variety here is not so farflung and extreme that it alienates people not into all of the styles represented. The variety here is less stylistic, and more related to the different instrumental combinations. Plus, this was the album that finally convinced me that Marc Ribot is the Man. At any rate, for hardcore Zorn fans there may be better albums, but for me, this was THE best overall Zorn album I've yet heard. The Circle Maker was good too, but since it was pretty much the same group, the textural and instrumental variety was somewhat narrower, and over two disks, I found that a little tiring. But Bar Kokhba made me happy the whole way through, and still does. I would highly recommend this.
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Format: Audio CD
"Bar Kokhba" is one of John Zorn's most tirelessly praised and revered albums-- look no further than the reviews here, all of them give the recording five stars. Likewise, every commercial review sings its praises-- "[t]he album consistently impresses" (All Music Guide), "a double album of painfully beautiful music" (omnology.com), "simply excellent music" (Lord Chimp's review here on amazon).... the praise goes on and on. The album is discussed as the kind of Zorn you could play for your friends and family, I even saw one review mention this as dinner music. Zorn? Dinner music? So what's the truth? Is this piece all those things? "Painfully beautiful"? Arresting and engaging? Human and living? A total masterpiece?

You know, it pretty much is. There's few albums that stretch over two hours as this one does that can really hold my interest, but this does so effortlessly. "Bar Kokhba", for those unfamiliar, is effectively billed as chamber ensembles play the Masada songbook. For those unfamiliar, the Masada book is a series of melodies written by Zorn using the "Jewish scales"-- this lends that Middle East meets Eastern European vibe that you get from traditional Jewish musics. Originally performed by a quartet modelled after Ornette Coleman's famed quarter on his Atlantic recordings (alto sax, trumpet, bass and drums), "Bar Kokbha" was the first recording to explore the music in different lights. Featuring violinest Mark Feldman, cellist Erik Friedlander, bassists Greg Cohen and Mark Dresser, guitarist Marc Ribot, pianist/organists Anthony Coleman and John Medeski, clarinetists David Krakauer and Chris Speed, drummer Kenny Wolleson and trumpeter Dave Douglas in various formations, the music is performed with a depth and sensitivity.
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Format: Audio CD
I agree, this is a very fine record. However, if you buy this and assume all John Zorn's other records are sort of like this, you're in for a big surprise. This is John Zorn you can play with your mom around. Listen to the samples that amazon.com has to get an idea what is on the other records. I am a BIG John Zorn fan but some of his work has left some of my friends cold. There are some Zorn records I listen to a lot and some I don't: I listen to Bar Kokhba a lot, also The Circle Maker (which is very similar) and the Masada records (which are wilder and crazier). I ALSO listen to the Naked City record over and over(the first one with the Weegee cover) but let's just say if you never liked punk music, you should hold off a little bit from that one. Spillane's another good place to start.
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Format: Audio CD
This is quite a set. _Bar Kokhba_ is two hours of small chamber-jazz ensembles playing pieces from John Zorn's Masada songbook. The music stems from traditional Jewish melodies, which are addictive and lovely, but Zorn revisions them as very jazzy and deviously contrapuntal. The instruments used are violin, cello, bass, drums, clarinet, trumpet, piano, organ, and guitar. Certain combinations appear more frequently than others, for instance the Feldman-Friedlander-Cohen string trio and piano trios led by Anthony Coleman or John Medeski. There are also a few piano solo pieces, with one in particular, "Hath-Arob", where Medeski attacks with a 'free' atonal clatter, while still sounding kinda Jewish. Marc Ribot is notably impressive on guitar. No matter what he plays, on this disc or anything else, it is always so compelling. His 13-minute solo piece, "Mochin", is probably the high point of disc 2. This is simply excellent music that will impress many. It would be wise to purchase it.
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By A Customer on March 9, 1999
Format: Audio CD
This has to be one of the most beautiful collections of music I own. John Zorn gathers a collection of New York's finest avant garde musicians--John Medeski, Marc Ribot, Anthony Coleman, etc.--to reintepret several Masada (Zorn's klezmer material) compositions as chamber music. What results is even more engaging then the original material. Highly recommended.
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