I went to both Masada shows at Abrons Art Center last weekend. They were both phenomenal. On Fri night, I walked in at 8pm and ended up in the front row center seat. That was great, even though I couldn’t see Ribot that well because of the monitor. Still, it was fun to watch Zorn conducting and I felt it was fitting since that’s my usual seat at The Stone. Of course, this was a lot bigger than The Stone, and the seats were comfier. This is the venue where Tonic is booking some shows until they find a new spot. It’s quite different from Tonic.
Both nights were stellar from start to finish. Fri night, while they were all stellar, I thought that Mark Feldman and Marc Ribot stood out even more. They did a 1 hour set and then a half hour encore so they could try out some of the new stuff for the very first time. Just amazing.
I went to the Living Theatre after that for William Parker and Fred Anderson. That was truly amazing as well. They didn’t want to stop and I think played for about 1.5 hours. It was just awesome improvised avant-garde stuff.
Sat night I got something like the 3rd row and could see everyone well. Marc Ribot was hitting the notes in a way that made me shiver. It was even better than the night before. They only did 1 song for the encore, but Zorn had mentioned how great these musicians are to be able to play this new stuff in a day. I figured what he meant was they only tried out some of it the night before and perhaps did a practice run that day.
Those 2 Masada shows might be the best music I’ve seen all year, or at least up there at the top of the list.
Experience two special and joyous holiday celebrations featuring the most popular band in John Zorn's ever-widening Masada Family. Bar Kokhba is a fabulous sextet for strings and percussion that takes the Jewish tradition into the twenty first century with beautiful, flamboyant music touching on exotica, surf, jazz, klezmer and more. Featuring the virtuosic Masada String Trio of Mark Feldman, Erik Friedlander and Greg Cohen joined by guitar wizard Marc Ribot, the gifted Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista and jazz great Joey Baron on drums, this is delightful and extraordinary music for the whole family. Friday evening's performance includes classic compositions from the best selling CD The Circle Maker (Masada Book One). Saturday evening features the world premiere of new compositions from Zorn's Book of Angels (Masada Book Two).
On Sat, I then ended up at The Stone, since it ended in time, for Vijay Iyer Trio. That was fantastic from start to finish. I sat in the other front row, right behind the piano. It was wonderful and there were a couple more people in my little row moving to the music with me.
Vijay Iyer (piano) Stephan Crump (bass) Marcus Gilmore (drums)
Then it was on to Lion’s Den for Bonerama. I love them, but I find I have to pace myself and not see them too often. It was a lot of fun to see everyone and get down for a bit. I do believe Howie has made a big effort to make that place better and it has improved somewhat. It’s still not one I’m crazy about, though. I had to leave a little early because I just didn’t want to be there any longer. Of course, he’s booking too many must see shows there, so I will be back in the next couple of months and learn how to live with it.
Overall a very enjoyable weekend. I didn’t do music on Sun, but did visit a friend in Brooklyn, and realize it’s pretty close and I have to start getting to Barbes a little more. Hopefully soon.