Pat Metheny CD

Tap: John Zorn’s Book Of Angels Vol. 20

(Nonesuch/Tzadik/ Birdland)Metheny Tap res

Pat Metheny and John Zorn had never cohabited the same thought bubble, at least in this writer’s mind. But then Metheny has had a way of coming up with mad surprises across the years, and now he’s dropped a bombshell of nuclear proportions. This collaboration comes just as Adelaide Festival has announced the thrilling news that the many musical facets of Zorn as a composer, conceptualist, band-leader and improvising saxophonist will headline in 2014.

The album provides a fresh context for relishing the brilliance and timeless beauty of Zorn’s compositions, especially the 500-odd pieces he has penned in the last 20 years drawing on his Jewish heritage. Metheny has taken six of these and arranged them for a mass of instruments, all of  which he plays himself, other than having his long-term comrade Antonio Sanchez contribute his extraordinary drumming. In addition to an extended array of exotic guitars Metheny employs keyboards, samplers, bass, bandoneon, percussion and even flugelhorn, all carefully layered and superbly produced.

Standing out are the snaking Sariel, with its two wild, raw, soaring guitar solos and the gossamer-winged Phanuel.

The revelation is Metheny’s readiness to throw himself into the murkier depths Zorn’s work, even if that means leaving behind his usual commitment to a lighter, prettier aesthetic – rather as he did when he embraced Ornette Coleman’s music all those years ago.