Sam Eastmond: John Zorn’s Bagatelles Vol 16

London-based composer Eastmond arranged eight pieces by NY avant-gardist Zorn for a British band including Emma Rawicz and Charlotte Keefe

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British composer and trumpeter Sam Eastmond has worked with John Zorn since 2015, releasing four albums on Tzadik. This relationship has helped him develop his identity both as a composer and as a member of the Jewish community, he says.

Zorn’s Book of Bagatelles consists of no less than 300 original tunes, mostly based on three-line melodies open for interpretation. Eastmond’s new album comprises eight of these pieces, with the leader’s arrangements interpreted by a 12-piece British band.

Eastmond describes “immersing myself in Zorn’s new language . . . adding counterpoints and bass lines, testing limits, extrapolating harmony, letting the tunes tell me how they work”. The results are dramatic and focused – each arrangement has quicksilver changes of moods, textures and instrumental forces.

This is characterful big-band music, with impressive solos by trumpeter Charlotte Keeffe, guitarist Moss Freed and others. Bagatelle 198 is particularly impressive, with its hi-energy rock elements. An impressive achievement.


Discography
Bagatelles nos. 256, 78, 143, 63, 2, 198, 74, 101
Collectively, Chris Williams, Asha Parkinson, Emma Rawicz, Mick Foster (s); Noel Langley, Charlotte Keeffe (t); Joel Knee (tb); Tom Briers (tba); Moss Freed (g); Olly Chalk (p); Fergus Quill (b); Alasdair Pennington (d). No date.
Tzadik Records TZ5244