Thanks to John Zorn, the idea of Jewish musicians honoring their heritage via genre-splicing avant-garde statements is a familiar trope; Zorn’s Tzadik label even houses an imprint, Radical Jewish Culture, dedicated to the movement. The territory might be well charted, but as demonstrated by Secrets of Secrets—a new RJC release by Bay Area clarinetist-composer Aaron Novik, inspired by a 13th-century kabbalistic text—there are still blank spaces on the map.
What impresses most about Secrets, which Novik interprets at the Stone this week with the help of a stripped-down ensemble, isn’t so much its diverse palette: swooping strings, the leader’s lithe horn and a dancing doumbek drum, complementing a rhythm section versed in metallic prog. It’s the way Novik employs these textures in service of a fully coherent, expertly paced long-form vision that interweaves accessible themes and unsettling abstraction. Radical? Sure, but also as gripping as an Indiana Jones adventure.—Hank Shteamer
|Venue name:||The Stone|
Ave C at 2nd St
|Transport:||Subway: F to Second Ave|