‘Dalet’ is the fourth volume in John Zorn’s Masada group and songbook collection cycle, and the first not to generate raw excitement but instead pangs of disappointment.
Not that this has much to do with the music, more with the fact that there is very little music here for an alleged full-length album. 18 minutes in total make up what is a effectively a compiling of three pieces recorded for volumes 1, 2 and 3, that could have been added on to the first three volumes, or left in the vault, rather than just being thrown together in a not-even 20 minutes left-overs package.
That complaint aside, the music here is good. As always each of the group play like it’s their last gig on Earth, and their ability to generate musical tension remains peerless, with ‘Midbar’ opening and sounding like a ‘Big Fun’ era 70’s Miles Davis, and then coming over like a Jewish Free Jazz R&B Blues number, with Joey Baron in particular providing some superbly stomping rhythms, before ‘Mahlah’ slows everything down to a sultry prowl that though quite fine goes on too long for its own good, and then ‘Zenan’ comes blasting in with Joey Baron’s finest big thumping drums.
And then it’s over.
It’s over, just as it feels like it’s about to get going – especially when you hear Baron’s fantastic drum solo at the end of ‘Zenan’. Which essentially makes it just one for the completists who already own all the great volumes but need to plug the gap between the genuinely brilliant volumes 3 and 5.