Recorded at the Power Station in New York in 1995, Masada, Vol. 6 Vav continues Masada's convincing union of Eastern European and Middle Eastern modalities with the freer, post-bop aspects of jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman. John Zorn's writing is particularly focused and well-informed, full of serpentine lines, mixed meters, and sudden shifts in tempo, while leaving plenty of room for collective and individual improvisation. The ensemble and the individual playing are uniformly superb throughout. Like much of Zorn's work, Vav exists in several simultaneous dimensions.
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John Surman (on baritone and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet, and synthesizers) and Jack DeJohnette (playing drums, electronic percussion, and piano) make for a very intriguing duo on these seven originals taken from a pair of live concerts. Other than "Song for World Forgiveness" (a ballad mostly by DeJohnette), the music is primarily freely improvised yet manages to be melodic, diverse, and logical. The performances are atmospheric, with both players utilizing electronics in spots while retaining their own musical personalities. Surman has long been a very flexible and mostly laid-back player, while DeJohnette also has the ability to fit in almost anywhere. Rather than individual melodies or solos, this CD is most notable for its overall feel and the blend between these two unique musicians.