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Rashanim @ 2007 European Tour

many!, Not Applicable, Other

many!, Not Applicable, Other

Rashanim @ Masada Festival

Barcelona, Not Applicable, Spain

Barcelona, Not Applicable, Spain

Rashanim @ Piano's www.pianosnyc.com

New, New York, USA

New, New York, USA

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The best kept secret in music


link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5009271

Weekend Edition Sunday, November 13, 2005

Just over a decade ago, renegade composer and saxophonist John Zorn set out to redefine Jewish music with an ambitious set of pieces he called the "Masada Songbook."

There are now over 200 pieces in the catalog, which take their inspiration from klezmer, Middle Eastern and classical music.

In his original group, John Zorn played saxophone alongside a trumpeter, bass player and drummer. But the catalog was designed to be played by any group of instruments, and Zorn's discography has since expanded to include renditions by klezmer bands, jazz combos and vocalists.

Now, for the 10th anniversary of the songbook, John Zorn's Tzadik label has released Masada Rock featuring the Jewish power trio Rashanim and led by guitarist Jon Madof.

Zorn and Madof recently spoke with host Liane Hansen about their work and the continuing evolution of Jewish music. - National Public Radio

link: http://www.jambands.com/CDReviews/content_2005_11_13.11.phtml

Tzadik Records 8103

John Zorn is a well-documented character. His stint with Nonesuch may have left a bad taste in his mouth, but it must have had something to do with giving him the fame and capital to produce CDs for every step in his musical development, as well as the work of some fortunate friends.

Somewhat confusingly, Zorn receives artist’s credit for Masada Rock, but the group whose playing appears on the disc, which doesn’t include him, is called Rashanim. These are his compositions, though, and apparently the idea is that, although orchestral music aficionados may consider a specific record of Beethoven’s Ninth to be the work of, say, Eugene Ormandy and/or the Philadelphia Orchestra, most listeners will put it on and hear Beethoven.

Okay, that’s two paragraphs without discussing this CD’s music. That’s because it’s one of those CDs which are tricky to discuss because it simply has something it wants to do (exploring Jewish music, with half-steps aplenty, in various modern contexts) and does it well. This disc zigzags a bit between moods and genres as Zorn got famous for doing, but it settles on one genre per track: surf music, jazz/rock, grunge, soundtracky acoustic sullenness. The finale, “Terumah,” finds a 12/8 pulse and hits a long, relaxed groove (not expected on a Zorn project). These varied genres require a lot of guitarist Jon Madof, of course, and he’s the equal of each challenge, while bassist Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz and drummer Mathias Künzli are a strong-armed rhythm section. Zorn regular Marc Ribot also stops in for two cuts, matching thunderous metal with Madof on “Bahir” and lilting acoustics on “Shadrakh.”

This CD documents one more aspect of Zorn’s work. And it establishes that Rashanim can play, as well as planting the idea that it may also be worth checking into them in a live, varied-composer context. - Jambands.com

link: http://www.jambase.com/headsup.asp?storyID=7225

John Zorn is not just a musician, a composer, a conductor, a genre full of genres full of genres, a specific point in downtown which makes the Lower East Side proper seem uptown and west by comparison, and a prickly pear of a presence in camouflage pants and an armful of sheet music. He is also the sun around which planets of musicians revolve. It is not clear to me how or why a musician or a band starts to feel the pull of his gravity, but it is quite clear when this has happened and it has happened to Rashanim. There have been plenty of clues to conjecture they’ve made it into orbit, and the surest sign yet is their new album Masada Rock, released on Zorn’s Tzadik label. Masada is the living, breathing songbook of hundreds of Zorn compositions based on traditional “Jewish scales,” which depending on your mood or the time of day, can be transformed into jazz bops, heavy funk fusion fugues, classical concertos, or exquisitely performed chamber pieces. As the title indicates, Rashanim is bringing a little of the old R&R to the songbook, but their approach is anything but conventional.

It's hard to believe, but a good chunk of these songs exist as nothing more than notes on paper - never recorded, never performed. The songs on Masada Rock are virgin compositions, and so the situation is less one of cover-songs and more one of utter discovery. The results are categorically breathtaking. Rashanim is one of those non-traditional renderings of the traditional form – the power trio. Jon Madof leads the group on (mostly) electric guitar, Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz plays (mostly) bass, and Mathias Kunzli plays (mostly) drums. As the term “rock and roll” can never truly keep dry all the music under its umbrella, Rashanim utterly soaks their Masada selections. Scintillating heavy metal, deep blues-rock, far-out fusion, gentle acoustic folk – each track is a different style, and yet the thread of Masada flowing from one track to another keeps the focus tight and prevents any unraveling. The playing is, in a word, and a juvenile one at that, awesome. As Zorn-orbiters go, these three are young and green, but they play with an abandon and a confidence that would make guys like Marc Ribot and Greg Cohen proud. Actually, Ribot plays guest on two tracks, sparring with Madof on acoustic guitars, bringing a taste of gravitas to the CD as if sent by Zorn to spy on the kids.

For the rest of the way, though, Rashanim has the keys to Zorn’s car, and they’ve souped it up completely and are drag racing all over town with it. All three musicians are a revelation, and together they are tight, focused, and powerful. Madof shows a wide range of skills from blistering speed with wild, metal licks to mature, soft strokes on the acoustic guitar. Blumenkranz brings a perfect balance of holding down the low end while Madof traipses around the melody and then plunging into the songs himself, beefing up the skeleton of the compositions with a boomeranging bass. Perhaps the secret behind the flexibility across the album is Kunzli. He always brings just the right flavor to each arrangement, so they always sound genuine whether they’re hard rockers, jazzier groove numbers, or subtle, quieter poppier songs.

All three musicians branch out beyond the standard power trio. Madof proves to be just as talented and noteoworthy on the acoustic guitar as he is wailing away at the electric. Kunzli does a masterful job of mixing in a range of percussion to bring even more texture to an already large sound. Blumenkranz also opens up beyond the bass, adding the exotic sounds of the oud to Rashanim’s aesthetic. The disc-closer is almost bluegrass, with the plucky oud sounding mandolinesque, Madof’s sliding guitar feeling like a steel guitar, and Kunzli adding a whisper of percussion. The title of the album is slightly unfortunate because while rocking most of the way through, this album is bigger than just rock renditions of Masada songs. Rashanim proves itself to be a band to keep your eyes and ears on, and Masada Rock is one of my “must buys” for 2005. - Jambase.com

link: http://jazztimes.com/reviews/cd_reviews/detail.cfm?article_id=16960

It seems like most jazz musicians come to hate capitalism as a matter of course. That doesn’t seem to be the case with contrarian John Zorn. The Ray Kroc of the New York City experimental set continues to brand like a Madison Avenue executive on speed. The latest franchise in his expanding Masada universe is a line of 10th-anniversary repertory projects. The fifth volume, Masada Rock, features Jon Madof’s guitar trio, Rashanim, rocking out on the Masada songbook.
Masada plus rock it isn’t, really. Madof includes plenty of rock but does go to some lengths to diversify the set. The trio does nothing earth shattering with the material, but apart from the slightly silly “Shadrakh,” a selfconsciously exotic, Spanish-guitar-and-handpercussion number, Masada Rock is listenable and increasingly fun as it goes along. Guitarist Marc Ribot guests on two tunes, somewhat anonymously, but Ribot’s spacious, reverbed take on Zorn’s music clearly influenced a few performances here. Others benefit from Madof’s creative use of slide guitar, oud and greaseball rockabilly twang.

At their best, however, Madof and his trio mates, Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz on bass and Mathias Kunzli on drums, absolutely pulverize Zorn’s melodies with fist-pumping punk rock (“Arad”) and even, believe it or not, menacing sludge metal worthy of OzzFest (“Zemanim”). That’s no small compliment. - Jazztimes


Rashanim on Tzadik Records:
Shalosh (2006)
John Zorn: Filmworks VII (2006)
Masada Rock (2005)
Jacob do Bandolim: Great Jewish Music (2004)
Rashanim (2003)
Voices in the Wilderness (2003)
The Unknown Masada (2003)


Feeling a bit camera shy


"[L]ike you've invited Dick Dale to do the music at your bar mitzvah." NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday with Liane Hansen

"Hebraic motifs abound in [Rashanim’s] interplay…Hendrix and metal are lurking around in there too, and this mix can be electrifying" The Village Voice

"Rashanim is one of the hottest young bands in the New Jewish Renaissance." John Zorn

Rashanim is a trio of guitar, bass and drums/percussion combining the power of rock with the spontaneity of improvisation, deep Middle Eastern grooves, and mystical Jewish melodies. The 'Jewish power trio' is led by Jon Madof on guitar and includes Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz (Yo-Yo Ma, Anthony Braxton) on bass and Mathias Kunzli (Lauryn Hill) on drums and percussion. The band gets its name from the noisemakers used during the raucous Jewish holiday of Purim.

Performances include:
Glatt Und Verkehrt Festival (Vienna, Austria)
Washington DC Jewish Music Festival
Off New York Festival Tour (Germany)
Kset (Zagreb, Croatia)
Brooklyn Academy of Music (NYC)


Youtube video links: