Masada Guitars

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Masada Anniversary Edition Vol. 1: Masada Guitars
Masada Guitars.jpg
Studio album by John Zorn
Released January 2003 (2003-01)
Genre Jazz, klezmer
Length 74:39
Label Tzadik TZ 7171
Producer John Zorn
John Zorn chronology
Talisman: Live in Nagoya
(2002)Talisman: Live in Nagoya2002
Masada Guitars
Voices in the Wilderness
(2003)Voices in the Wilderness2003
Masada Anniversary chronology
Masada Guitars
(2003) Masada Guitars2003
Voices in the Wilderness
(2003) Voices in the Wilderness2003

Masada Anniversary Edition Vol. 1: Masada Guitars is the first album in a series of five releases celebrating the 10th anniversary of John Zorn's Masada songbook project.[1]


Masada Guitars was the first release in 2003 of a series commemorating the tenth anniversary of Zorn's group Masada and the 208-song Masada songbook. Each song is written in accordance with a number of rules, including the maximum number of staves, the modes or scales that are used, and the fact that the songs must be playable by any small group of instruments. The album features 21 Masada songs performed by solo guitar. The tracks are split between three performers: Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell and Tim Sparks.[2]


Professional ratings
Review scores
All About Jazz(not rated)[3]
Allmusic4/5 stars[4]
Pitchfork Media7.7/10 stars [2]

Masada Guitars received mostly favorable reviews. Allmusic music critic Sean Westergaard stated "Those expecting an electric romp through the Masada songbook might be disappointed; Masada Guitars consists entirely of solo, mostly acoustic performances. Preconceptions aside, this is a beautiful album. Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell, and Tim Sparks each bring their own voice to these tunes: Sparks with his rich fingerpicking, Ribot coming from his classical guitar background, and Bill Frisell with his unmistakable ethereal tone."[4]

In his review for All About Jazz, Farrell Lowe writes of the stripped-down nature of the songs revealing their essence, writing: "This recording also reveals how powerful the modern guitar can be. Zorn chose three very distinctive players to interpret these pieces. Each guitarist shapes and cuts his own world of sound out of Zorn's compositions."[3]

Chris Dahlen was less positive about the disc as a whole, considering it too long: "This disc is almost indulgently long, crammed with 21 similar pieces that get dignified, mid-tempo readings. That's a lot of samey acoustic guitar to wade through, and the fact that it's all pretty doesn't justify the length. But the upside is that Zorn knows where he's going, and he knows what he wants from these guitarists; he's just willing to give them a lot of chances to hit it." He calls Sparks' arrangements "rigorous and exciting", Ribot as "plain-spoken" and Frisell the "maverick" of the three.[2]

Acoustic Guitar named Masada Guitars as essential in their article "20 Years of Essential Acoustic Albums".[5]

Track listing[edit]

All compositions by John Zorn. Performer's name in parentheses.

  1. "Abidan" – 3:31 (Frisell)
  2. "Kodashim" – 3:37 (Sparks)
  3. "Kedem" – 3:29 (Ribot)
  4. "Bikkurim" – 3:00 (Frisell)
  5. "Ravayah" – 4:01 (Sparks)
  6. "Hadasha" – 2:45 (Ribot)
  7. "Katzatz" – 3:37 (Frisell)
  8. "Kanah" – 3:27 (Sparks)
  9. "Hodaah" – 3:24 (Ribot)
  10. "Kisofim" – 4:53 (Frisell)
  11. "Sippur" – 2:48 (Sparks)
  12. "Sansanah" – 5:54 (Ribot)
  13. "Galgalim" – 1:45 (Ribot)
  14. "Elilah" – 3:05 (Frisell)
  15. "Kedushah" – 4:32 (Sparks)
  16. "Shevet" – 3:11 (Ribot)
  17. "Kochot" – 3:56 (Frisell)
  18. "Tzalim" – 2:21 (Ribot)
  19. "Kivah" – 2:33 (Ribot)
  20. "Avelut" – 4:05 (Frisell)
  21. "Moshav" – 3:54 (Ribot)



  1. ^ Tzadik catalogue entry for Masada Guitars
  2. ^ a b c Dahlen, Chris (2007). "Review: Masada Guitars". Pitchfork Media.
  3. ^ a b Lowe, Farrell. "Masada Guitars > Review". All About Jazz. Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  4. ^ a b Westergaard, Sean. "Masada Guitars' > Review". Allmusic. Retrieved June 13, 2010.
  5. ^ Acoustic Guitar Magazine. 20 Years of Essential Acoustic Albums. Archived 2010-09-17 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved September 20, 2010.