Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Review: Masada - Live In Jerusalem 1994

‘Live In Jerusalem 1994’ is a double-disc set documenting and celebrating Masada’s trip to Israel and highly raved-about appearance at the Jerusalem Festival, having in that year only just appeared on the scene and also laid down material for their first four albums (‘Alef’, ‘Beit’, ‘Gimel’ and ‘Dalet’). The occasion is obviously an important one, to both the band and the audience, and a sense of this is palpable in the atmosphere throughout. So whilst much of this music can be easily found on Masada’s studio albums, the numbers here, and the feeling of each, is powerfully different, and perhaps even more compelling.

As with the best Masada, the key here is the tension in the music, and the way it can build, pushing higher and higher, further and further, with second piece ‘Bith-Aneth’ being a strong example of this. Beginning subtley and quietly, with the rhythm team of Greg Cohen and Joey Baron suitably hushed, before Zorn and Douglas play the main theme, and then start soloing, playing together, and interlocking with each other, and Zorn continuing to egg Douglas on just that little bit more.

‘Live In Jerusalem 1994’ is a superb live recording of a momentous performance that throughout it’s two hour running time sounds like an exhilarating blend of celebration and catharsis. Musically faultless and oozing raw power, you also benefit from a genuine feel of the connection between the band and audience – indeed the reception and response from the crowd is absolutely ecstatic.

If there is too be one complaint made, it is that Greg Cohen’s normally full, deep, rich and rounded bass is just a little too quiet in the mix – something that normally would not be too big an issue with most other groups, but given Cohen’s skill and sound on the instrument, it is slightly disappointing. Barring this however, the album is a fantastic document, perhaps the best live recording from their earlier days, and is a must have. Highly recommended.


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