I’d seen Rashanim twice before… sort of. The first time I saw them was five years ago when they participated in a Marc Ribot tribute concert, and they were playing Cubanos Postizos covers. (Historical concert review since I still have some of my notes from 2009: “They did a really fun set of covers from Ribot’s Cubanos Postizos albums. I loved all of the Cubanos cover set, it was really fun and you could tell the band was really enjoying it too, especially the guitarist.”) The other time I saw them was a Christmas Eve concert three years ago, where they were billed as Rashanim with three guests. But, surprise surprise, it turned out to be the first Zion80 concert (before they had a band name). So before this residency I’d never really seen Rashanim playing Rashanim, and I was looking forward to it!
All three of their sets were really high-quality live versions of music I’d previously only enjoyed on CD, which made me very happy. There’s just nothing like the energy and sound you get from a live performance. The electric and acoustic versions were somehow less different from each other than I’d expected – I guess when you think of acoustic guitar and bass vs. electric guitar and bass you have a certain internal stereotype of what kind of music that represents, but in this case both nights were distinctly Rashanim-y. It was cool to see them playing different instruments each night and comparing the sound (and of course the sitting vs. standing debate was played out with an all-seated acoustic set and a standing electric set). The most important part, of course, is that all of the music was great!
(L to R: Jon Madof, still Jon Madof, Shanir Blumenkranz, Mathias Künzli, and Shanir Blumenkranz again.)
I filmed one of the last songs in the electric set, which turned out to be one of my favorites from the whole week:
After the two Rashanim nights, I skipped one night to go to the Masada Marathon, and then they took one night off for the Sabbath (and let me tell you, I needed a day of rest after that 6-hour concert at Nublu). Saturday had a serious rain thing happening, and heading out to the two Zion80 sets was a fine opportunity to discover which pair of my shoes have started leaking (hint: it’s the pair I wore to the Stone that night).
They did two sets, each drawing material from one of their two albums: first set was their eponymous Zion80 album, second set was from their Book of Angels record, Adramelech. As much as I love John Zorn’s Book of Angels series, I think the Zion80 album just edges out Adramelech as my favorite of the two. Barely. I took a video during that first set, and like the previous video, I thought it was one of the best songs I saw all week:
They managed to get a pretty big crowd in spite of the chilly rain that didn’t let up, which was good to see. The last time I’d seen them was at a sold-out Village Vanguard set, but for some reason it is always harder to pull a crowd at the Stone.
I really enjoyed both Zion80 sets – their music is always a lot of fun, and this was no exception. I’m always surprised that more of my friends aren’t into them, it seems like such an obvious musical homerun – top-notch percussion, horns, and guitars… it’s jazz, yet it rocks; it’s interesting, but not difficult. What could be better? Honestly, I’m not sure I’d want to meet a music fan who couldn’t enjoy a Zion80 show. I’m looking forward to future NYC concerts from them, especially since Jon mentioned something about some shows in June which sounded like it might be on or around my birthday, in which case I think I have a great idea for a party… 😉 You can keep an eye on their concert listings right here.