Alhambra Love Songs CD, Import
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In an easy listening mode, "Alhambra Love Songs" is Zorn's touching and lyrical ode to the San Francisco/Bay Area and the wonderful artists who have made it their home. Including tributes to artists as diverse as: Vince Guaraldi, Clint Eastwood, David Lynch, Mike Patton and Harry Smith, the music is some of the most beautiful and soothing Zorn has ever written. Touching on the jazz/pop/funk trios of Vince Guaraldi and Ramsey Lewis, the music is scored for a remarkable piano trio of Rob Burger (Rufus Wainwright, Marianne Faithfull, Laurie Anderson), Greg Cohen (Ornette Coleman, Masada, Burt Bacharach) and Ben Perowsky (Uri Caine, Steve Bernstein, John Lurie). Evocative and endlessly listenable, this is perhaps the single most charming CD in Zorn's entire catalog.
Sorry for the unsophisticated review, but hey..I call 'em like I hear 'em.
"Alhambra Blues," "Novato," "Miramar," and "Pacifica" sound samples should give you a good impression of the overall feel of this recording. Sure, it's only three instruments. But it's all music. High art. I recommend it.
And one of those things is opener "Mountain View"-- built off a great circular groove by Cohen and Perowsky, Burger's light touch allows the descending theme statement to have a timeless quality to it before giving way to a simply fantastic piano solo, touching off of the rhythm section and exploring outside the melody. Moreover, it sets expectations (largely met) for the rest of the album of great piano trio music, whether hitting a funkier California groove on "Novato" (with a muted electric bassline from Cohen that could have been lifted off a Beach Boys record), gentle and understated as on "Half Moon Bay" (where Cohen steals the show with an almost desperate feel on his solo turn) or the understated melancholy of "Talampais". Admittedly, the record isn't all gems, there's not really a bad cut, but there's a bunch of so-so ones ("Larkspur"), overall it is a satisfying listen.
Six albums worth of "Alhambra" material would get old pretty quick I suspect, but as a record, this one is worth a spin. Recommended for those interested in Zorn's melodic side.