By Frank Alkyer | Published June 2017
On this album, pianist Brian Marsella interprets music from John Zorn’s Book Of Angels, an incredible collection of 300 klezmer-inspired songs the composer wrote in 2004 that continues to be rolled out 13 years later. Marsalla’s trio, which includes bassist Trevor Dunn and drummer Kenny Wollesen, takes on 16 songs from Zorn’s Masada Book 2, and they simply kill it. These are three musicians with intense chops, style and artistry. Dunn and Wollesen serve as a go-to rhythm section in Zorn’s universe. Marsella is as versatile and talented a pianist as you will find. There’s plenty of room here to enjoy the playing of all three musicians as well as this fantastic collection of compositions. “Palalael” lopes with a sense of sheer klez-matic beauty. “Parymel,” the very next tune, flat-out swings with Marsella’s fingers flying across the keyboard. “Zagin” takes Jewish music themes and stands them on their ear in a way that only Zorn could write … and an artist like Marsella could execute. This is a recording that goes from a moment of sounding completely in the tradition on one tune, like “Jekusiel,” to completely “out,” as in the 35-second romp “Avial.” The entirety of this recording, though, is an uplifting thrill. “Sennoi” breezes by with blistering, toe-tapping glory. “Diniel” conjures visions of beauty and art that are both ancient and new. “Gehuel” closes the program with a swinging ode to jazz and traditional Jewish music. This track is music from the heart, as is the entirety of this beautiful album.