Review of John Zorn’s Midsummer Moods (Gyan Riley, Julian Lage) Tzadik, 2017
There is something simply wonderful in the “pastoral” music of John Zorn. Something intimate, special, enchanting, touching and emotional. In a word: beautiful.
This is not new. Zorn had already shown this musical side with his 2012 Gnostic Preludes, composing for Carol Emanuel, Bill Frisell, and Kenny Wollesen, but these composite duets for Gyan Riley and Julian Lage guitars are really sublime.
Riley is not new at Tzadik, while Julian Lage, one of the best jazz guitarists at our disposal, is a new entry. Both are confirmed as a truly remarkable duo in the performance and interpretation of these new duets composed by Zorn, inspired by Shakespeare’s moon’s visions. I have to say I have found these pieces, all tof them, very inspired and played in a masterly manner. The technical ability of the performers is very high, but this virtuosity is “lost” in the beauty of the music, the melodies and the serenity they transmit. This is an amazing record and I think, and I hope, it will also attract the attention of classical music guitarists.
The design of the cd is very beautiful, with its pictures, fonts and styling, all of Chippy’s great work. If Tzadik would make a vinyl edition I’ll buy it for sure only to be able to appreciate better Heung-Heung Chin’s style.
1. Sliver’d in the Moon’s Eclipse
2. Moonlight Revels
3. The Envious Moon
4. By Moonlight at Her Window Sung
5. This Lanthorn
6. Ill Met by Moonlight
7. Moon Take Thy Flight
8. And the Wolf Behowls the Moon
10. Wand’ring Moon
“For millennia the moon has been a subject of deep fascination— a symbol of love, lust, madness and dreams. More than a passive observer, it is a powerful force whose brilliant luminosity exerts an intoxicating effect upon the winds, the tides, our emotions and more. This dark and moody CD of music inspired by Shakespearian Lunar imagery features ten lyrical compositions evoking the magic of Sister Moon. Stunningly performedby two of the most fabulous new guitarists working today—Julian Lage and Gyan Riley, this is a beautiful and heartfelt program of music for late night contemplation on a romantic midsummer evening. “