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Published: 2013/07/25
by Ron Hart

Pat Metheny
Tap: John Zorn's Book of Angels, Vol. 20


To the jazz novice, a fellowship between Pat Metheny and John Zorn might seem preposterous, something akin to Lou Reed working with The Killers (oh wait…).

But anyone who has dug deeper into the fusion great’s catalog to find such daring gems as his 1989 Steve Reich collaboration Electric Counterpoint or his masterful free-jazz classic Song X with Ornette Coleman knows full well the guitarist has more than enough experimental edge to keep up with the Demigod of Downtown NYC.

And this excellent effort is a testament to the unlikely duality of the two men while also marking a return of the Zorn name to Nonesuch, who famously released the saxophonist’s essential eponymous 1992 album with his defunct group Naked City.

Though Zorn himself does not appear on record here, Tap is comprised entirely of his material with which Metheny culled from Zorn’s two-volume magnum opus the Masada Book. Working alongside his longtime drummer Antonio Sanchez, the six-string wizard breaks out every trick in his bag—including guitars, sitar, tiples, bass, keyboards, orchestrionics, electronics, bandoneón, percussion and flugelhorn among other instruments—to transform these six compositions into mesmerizing journeys into the expansive middle ground between the two men, yielding results that will surely please fans of both artists.

But for Zorn fans, it is only the hope that this indirect return to Nonesuch will lead to some kind of more tangible release by the maestro himself on his estranged imprint.

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