Masada Volume 9 is at first glance exactly what you’d expect from John Zorn, Dave Douglas, Greg Cohen and Joey Baron, with the Middle Eastern sounding Ornette quartet cooking up a brew and rising to a storm in fine style. It is though surprisingly the first real Masada effort where everyone involved gets to contribute as equal members.
It’s a two-way effect, with Cohen and Baron really pushing forward, but also with Zorn and Douglas being careful to create more space and ease off the accererator a little bit too. The effect created is that there are a significantly greater number of slower more bluesy pieces than expected – the winningly sad‘Kedushah’ being a great example, while ‘Moshav’ benefits both from being yearningly melancholich and possessing a superior opening solo from Cohen that ranks alongside his finest contributions to the quartet.
Baron plays at a new peak too, with his powerful tom-toms making a welcome return, and creating a powerful riot on the excellent ‘Meholalot’, which also gets a great Latinesque bass and drums break down. He cooks up a riot on ‘Leshem’ too, which also gets a new career highlight solo from Douglas’ trumpet.
In fact the most notable contribution here is that of Zorn, in an inverse kind of way, who creates a less dominant presence than usual. Not to say he’s not good here – he is – but the four men here create a distinctly different type of Masada than before. Not necessarily a better or worse group, but perhaps a more unified and cohesive yet moe varied one, that creates arguably one of the most unique entries in the quartets catalogue.