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Zorn, John

Cerberus: The Book Of Angels Volume 26

Zorn, John: Cerberus: The Book Of Angels Volume 26 (Tzadik)

Led by composers Sam Eastmond and Nikki Franklin, The SPIKE Orchestra is a large ensemble that draws on a wide range of influences including Duke Ellington, Frank Zappa, Carl Stalling, Zorn and more, here performing the 26th "Book of Angels" covering Zorn's Masada book.

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product information:

UPC: 702397833826

Label: Tzadik
Catalog ID: TZA-CD-8338
Squidco Product Code: 21434

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2015
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack
Recorded at Kungar Sound Studios in London, Uk, in July to August 2015 by Ben Greenslade.


Paul Booth-tenor saxophone, clarinet

Erica Clarke-baritone saxophone, bass clarinet

Stewart Curtis-tenor saxophone, clarinet

Sam Eastmond-solo trumpet

Nikki Franklin-voice

Moss Freed-guitar

Ben Greenslade-Stanton-trombone

Mike Guy-accordion

George Hogg-trumpet, Flugelhorn

Noel Langley-trumpet, Flugelhorn

Sam Leak-piano, keyboards

Chris Nickolls-drums

Dave Powell-tuba

Ashley Slater-trombone

Karen Straw-trumpet, Flugelhorn

Mike Wilkins-alto saxophone, clarinet

Otto Willberg-bass

Vasilis Xenopoulos-alto saxophone, flute

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Artist Biographies:

"From his early acclaim as a prize-winning saxophonist, Paul Booth has continually refined and expanded his talents as a solo artist, composer, arranger and bandleader, whilst establishing an elite reputation as a first-call sideman for major contemporary music artists.

Paul was born in the North East of England, and as a young boy started playing music with his father in the clubs and bars of Southern Spain where the family were temporarily residing. On his return home, he discovered the local jazz scene and fell in love with the music and the art of improvisation. As a homeschooled child he was able to fit all his studies around music, enabling him to sit his GCSE and A-Level exams early. He won a place at the Royal Academy of Music in 1993 at the age of 16, becoming their youngest student on a degree course. That year Paul also won the 'Best Modern Jazz Player' category at the televised Young Jazz Player of the Year.

Over the next four years at the Academy, Paul combined his studies with gigs in London and across the UK, that included a long association with Colombian percussionist Roberto Pla and a partnership with pianist Alex Wilson that's still going strong. During his third year, Paul won the prestigious Clifford Brown/Stan Getz Fellowship in Miami USA, and spent a six month exchange in Perth at the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts. Following his graduation in 1997, Paul immersed himself in the world of the professional musician. He eventually joined the European Glenn Miller Orchestra for eight tours, before landing the saxophone chair for the worldwide smash hit show, Riverdance, staying for eighteen months. In 2005 Paul toured the US and Japan with Basia and Matt Bianco, and soon after received the call from Steve Winwood with whom he has been working ever since.

In 2004 Paul released his first solo album 'It's Happening', which was followed by the albums 'No Looking Back' (2007), 'Pathways' (2009) and 'Trilateral' (2011). All of which were extremely well received and are now available through his own Pathways label.

Paul's ability to blend into any musical surrounding coupled with his talents as a multi-instrumentalist has led to him being regularly chosen to perform with many well-known artists. Paul has toured, performed & recorded around the world with Steely Dan, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Van Morrison, The Allman Brothers Band, Bonnie Raitt, Chaka Khan, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Rod Stewart, Kylie Mingoue, Riverdance, Warren Haynes, Marti Pellow, Derek Trucks, Eddie Henderson, Geoffrey Keezer, Clarence Penn and Ingrid Jensen. He has worked with Incognito, Brand New Heavies, The BBC Big Band, Michael Janisch Quintet and the Ryan Quigley Quintet.

Paul currently performs with a number of different groups:

The critically acclaimed Patchwork Project, featuring the singer Jacqui Dankworth, Giorgio Serci (guitar), Rod Youngs (drums), Davide Mantovani (bass) & Satin Singh (percussion). Their first album was released in 2015, with Volume 2 to follow in 2019.

The world music big band Bansangu Orchestra, for whom Paul is co-founder and musical director. Their eponymous debut album was released August 2018.

A newly-formed quartet with Steve Hamilton (keyboards), Dave Whitford (double bass) and Andrew Bain (drums).

And finally, Paul leads an organ trio with Ross Stanley (organ) and Andrew Bain (drums)."

-Paul Booth Website (

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"Sam Eastmond is a composer, arranger, bandleader, trumpet player and producer creating music incorporating a variety of genres including jazz, klezmer, cartoon, rock, surf, world, jewish and Downtown influences and composed and improvised sections into music that he identifies as avant-garde or Radical Jewish Culture.

He co-founded and leads the Spike Orchestra, a large ensemble who have recorded three studio albums since 2014, their debut Ghetto (Spike Records) and two collaborations with New York legend John Zorn as part of his Masada Book on Tzadik Label, Cerberus: The Spike Orchestra Play Masada Book Two and Binah from the forthcoming Masada Book Three series.

Other current projects include TORU a free improvisation group releasing an album a month, and Gulgoleth, a quartet comprised of the Spike Orchestra rhythm section playing a new Book of music composed for this outrageous group of players, album being recorded this year."

-Sam Eastmond Website (

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"Moss Freed is a composer, guitarist and improviser. He studied music at the University of Edinburgh and Berklee College of Music (Boston), before completing a masters in composition at Goldsmiths College. He has received scholarships from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, the Bucher/Fraser Trust and the Berklee World Scholarship Tour. Moss has composed for Aisha Orazbayeva, Joseph Houston, Joshua Hyde, Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, DriftEnsemble, Via Nova and several of his own projects, with broadcasts including BBC Radio 3, Jazz FM and BBC 6Music, and TV credits including BBC 1's The One Show.

Moss founded and runs Let Spin ('an electrifying live band whose grooves could wake the dead' Guardian) and Moss Project ('nothing short of breathtaking' All About Jazz), also performing as a guitarist with Counter's Creek, Arun Ghosh, and the Spike Orchestra, whose albums of John Zorn's music have been released on Tzadik. Performances include HCMF, the Barbican Centre, the Southbank Centre, Ronnie Scott's, Pizza Express Soho, and various European festivals.

Moss works as a teacher, examiner and workshop leader, and presents his research regularly. He is currently researching composition at the Universities of Hull and Huddersfield as a NECAH PhD scholar and lives in London."

-Moss Freed Website (

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"Ben Greenslade-Stanton is a Trombonist, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and composer. Grandson of Arthur Greenslade (Pianist, Conductor, MD, Arranger, Composer), and is also known as BGS, Sven. He is in the groups Pressure75, The Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band, The Beta Club, The Brothers Nylon, The Getup, The Mighty Mocambos, The Snitch, The Spike Orchestra."

-Discogs (

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"Mike Guy is a UK accordionist and keyboardist, a member of Spike Orchestra."

-Squidco 9/22/2021

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"After moving to London in 2005, George Hogg has quickly become a highly in demand lead and jazz trumpet player.

Since graduating from the Royal Academy of Music, he's performed throughout the UK and worldwide with many established artists and ensembles, such as Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, Gloria Estefan, Tito Puente Junior, Kid Creole & the Coconuts, the Stan Sulzmann Big Band and the Ronnie Scott's Jazz Orchestra, and is also a member of the Ronnie Scott's Blues Explosion.

He's also recorded for numerous artists, including Little Mix, Olly Murs and Ella Eyre, been featured on TV soundtracks for Downton Abbey and Mr Selfridge and plays regularly in theatres throughout London's West End.

As well as this, he teaches trumpet at the Purcell School in Watford, one of the UKs leading music schools."

-George Hogg Website (

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"Noel Langley has been at the forefront of the British Music scene for nearly thirty years, enjoying a multi-faceted career as a performer, educator, composer, arranger, producer and bandleader.

Renowned for his ability to cross artistic boundaries, Noel has performed and recorded with many of the world's finest symphony orchestras, big bands and recording artists. He also appears on many film and television sound tracks and has played in over sixty West End productions.

Following in the family tradition, Noel began playing cornet in his local Salvation Army brass band at the age of four. During his school years, his love of music grew to occupy more and more of his time, until it became clear that this would be his chosen path in life.

Identified as an exceptional talent by Leonard Bernstein, whilst completing his studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1986, he quickly went on to establish himself in the profession. Today he is has been described as one of the finest cross-over trumpet players in Europe, equally at home in the recording studio, on the concert platform, as a jazz soloist or leading a horn section for major rock bands.

He has led the trumpet section of every major British big band of the last 20 years including those fronted by Sir John Dankworth, Stan Tracey, Tim Garland, Guy Barker, Julian Joseph and Gwilym Simcock. Noel has also toured with international jazz stars, including Harry Connick Junior, Hermeto Pascoal, Andrew Hill, Billy Cobham and Georgie Fame."

-Noel Langley Website (

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Mike Wilkins is a UK saxophonist known for the Spike Orchestra and the McInroi Wilkins Quartet.

-Squidco 9/22/2021

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Otto Willberg is a professional double bass and bass guitarist, with considerable experience playing both jazz, classical and popular music. He has toured Europe and the US with different groups, and has a strong passion for sharing his skills and knowledge of music. He has worked with Alex Ward, Andrew Cheetham, Colin Webster, Andrew Lisle, Toshimaru Nakamura, Sam Andreae, Ashley Paul, Hannah Marshall, Dirk Serries, Ianncu Dumitrescu, &c. &c.

-Squidco 9/22/2021

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track listing:

1. Pahadron 6:19

2. Raguel 4:46

3. Donel 5:48

4. Shinial 4:42

5. Thronus 6:47

6. Armasa 7:35

7. Lahal 5:20

8. Hananiel 5:09

9. Hakha 5:09

10. Gehegial 5:00
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"This is the Big Band Masada project you've been waiting for. Led by composers Sam Eastmond and Nikki Franklin, The SPIKE Orchestra is a large ensemble that draws on a wide range of influences including Duke Ellington, Frank Zappa, Carl Stalling, Zorn and more. Melding jazz, rock, klezmer, cartoon and the avant-garde into a compelling and cohesive vision, this new Angels installment is one of the most imaginative and manic masterpieces in the whole series. An outrageous and explosive swinger that will thrill even the most hardened skeptic. Essential."-Tzadik

Cerberus is the latest instalment in the Angels series - part of the Masada project orchestrated by John Zorn with the considerable help of the deliriously talented Spike Orchestra. In 2004 John Zorn wrote over 300 tunes for his Masada project and Cerburus is from Masada book 2 - The Book of Angels volume 26.

Cerberus is a surprise on many levels. It combines elements and references to many of the great jazz musicians and bands of the past including Ellington, Zappa, Stalling and Zorn yet has its very distinctive identity, uniquely on it stamped from the start. With a massive big band opening, 'Gehegial' assaults the senses with strong melodic undertones, overdriven by a rollicking tenor sax solo from Paul Booth culminating at one point with a delicious to and fro between brass and wind with a foot-tapping undercurrent as a distinct nod to the big bands sounds of the past. There are many brassy ensemble chords, tempered by interludes of drums and Latin beats. There is a touch of the big, brassy sounds of the sixties orchestras here, tempered with a youthful cheekiness and energy. 'Hakha' is the second track and this works around a repeating chord sequence, taken, used, abused a little bit and worked upon until a guitar solo from Moss Freed guitar introduces a transition section into a marching, thumping beat which the orchestra uses to the full working up to a sax solo from Mike Wilkins, complete with over blowing which is one of the highlights of the album and transcends the 'oompah' beat enforced by the rest of the orchestra. 'Hananiel' starts as a gentle, 60s-esque mood piece and then works its magic until it becomes something so much more - a deep, full orchestral occasion with solos from Stewart Curtis on clarinet and Paul Booth tenor sax.

'Lahal' is fun and includes lots of riffs worked over a counterpoint drum beat. The woodwind section lead with clarinets stating the tune but the back-up from percussion and horns creates a conversation into which the vibraphonic sound of the keys of Sam Leak drops in and out. The track just keeps building until a stonking tenor sax solo from Paul Booth creates a free sounding section before the full orchestra are all in by the end.

'Armasa' is started with brass setting the soft, delicate tones, before the tenor sax of Paul Booth creates a light, comical, almost cartoon-esque riff which is repeated back, over the constancy of the rhythm section, followed by an exquisite alto sax solo from Vasilis Xenopoulos interspersed by big brassy chords. All is brought back to the main riff before the comedic motif is introduced again from the guitar and there is another sax solo before the motif is introduced again by the tenor to finish. A brilliantly developed piece with structure and deep textures.

'Thronus' begins in epic style - developed by the brass section with much fanfare and noise before guitar and drums set up a conversation over which the various soloes enter - notably Sam Eastmond on trumpet, saxes from Stewart Curtis, Paul Booth, Vasilis Xenopoulos, Mike Wilkins and Erica Clarke and Mike guy on accordion.

'Shinial' is an piece schlepped in Eastern promise with a delightful clarinet section underpinned by a Swiss Oompah sounding grind from the brasses before a key section from Sam Leak introduces a whimsical feel, topped by trumpet and later drums. The tuba of Dave Powell delivers a short but enigmatic solo here.

'Donel' is a slightly more laid back event with a wonderful, sleazy, loosely flowing trombone solo from Ashley Slater, then three trumpets of Noel Langley, Karen Straw and George Hogg exchange the tune before an absolute stealer of a solo from, echoing the theme from the alto sax of Mike Wilkins. A great, easy to listen to number. 'Raguel' may prove more of a challenge, starting with a fugue of different instruments at once competing for primacy yet at the same time blending into what develops into an absolute delight. Brass feature heavily but so do wood and guitar, underpinned by a consistent bass beat which keeps everything together. The final track 'Pahadron' is deeper, darker and has a grinding, mesmeric beat set by bass, guitar and sax with solos from Sam Eastmond on trumpet, Nikki franklin on voice, Vasilis Xenopoulos on alto sax.

Cerberus is an album which, with each play you hear more layers, textures and colours. Initially, you hear the structure but with each listen you can hear more going on underneath - little interspersions of keys, brass and quietly thrumming bass, a little riff inserted before a solo, a quick flurry from percussion just to add another layer. Many of the tracks establish a strong theme which works as the spine of the piece with members of the orchestra playing as parts of the whole, connected limbs of sound, working to forge one body, one gigantic structure which makes the benign monster that is Cerberus. It has elements of big bands, improvised sounds and is all about the essence of communication. Cerberus is special, it makes you smile, it makes you laugh out loud at times because from nowhere comes a massive chord set. What makes this very special is the connection between the musicians, the way everything works apart yet is drawn together like there is a connecting chord - Cerberus works, it works!"-Sammy Stein

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
Zorn. John
Large Ensembles
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz

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