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Jon Madof: Rashanim

On his debut, Rashanim, guitarist Jon Madof flashes his bad side. He rips through the melody of “Chroma” with a hyperactive, punk intensity; he opens “Der Khusid Geyt Tantsn” with fractured distortion that seems to come from several places at once. What may initially seem like a resemblance to, say, Marc Ribot, another player in the John Zorn orbit, turns out to be something entirely different. The aggressive surf-punk gestures thin out quickly and the lasting impression Madof leaves is that of mild-mannered melodicist, a guitar player focused on carefully spun single-line playing only occasionally thickened with polyphony.

Madof’s trio, one of a very small fraternity of guitar trios exploring Jewish and Turkish melodies, turns up here as part of Tzadik’s Radical Jewish Culture series. Most of the tunes are Madof originals, though with a number of traditional Klezmer and folk melodies mixed in. They all keep dancing, occasionally dark melodies in common, which Madof handles confidently, if sometimes without flair. Much of the music’s energy comes from Madof’s perpetual-motion electric bassist, Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz, whose active lines sometimes make a bid for harmolodic balance. The two work so well together, they sometimes leave drummer Mathias Kunzli with little to do.

Originally Published