John Zorn’s Bagatelles Vol 16 is an album consisting of eight masterfully arranged pieces by British composer and trumpeter Sam Eastmond, played by a 12-piece ensemble. Eastmond has collaborated with John Zorn since 2015 and has already released four albums on Zorn’s Tzadik label. Eastmond’s work with Zorn has significantly impacted his growth as a composer and as a member of the Jewish community.
Zorn’s Book of Bagatelles
Zorn’s Book of Bagatelles contains 300 original tunes, primarily consisting of 3-line melodies open for interpretation by musicians. Eastmond received the Book in January 2021 and arranged eight of these Bagatelle tunes for a 12-piece ensemble, which he then sent to Zorn in November 2022. Eastmond’s arrangements are incredibly impressive, showcasing dramatic shifts in mood and texture throughout the tracks.
The Ensemble and Tracks
The 12-piece ensemble features a mix of established jazz players and emerging talent. Soloists in the album include:
- Trumpeter Charlotte Keeffe
- Saxophonists Asha Parkinson, Emma Rawicz, and Chris Williams
- Trombonist Joel Knee
- Pianist Olly Chalk
- Guitarist Moss Freed
- Bass player Fergus Quill
The album consists of eight tracks, with seven lasting just under 10 minutes and one slightly above 10 minutes.
Here are three notable tracks from the album, showcasing the ensemble’s versatility and energy:
Bagatelle 78 – Beginning with an enigmatic ensemble passage, this track features a spiky solo by trumpeter Charlotte Keeffe, backed by exciting textures from the ensemble. The mood constantly shifts, with lyrical passages, duo sections, percussive brass, and a climax with tenor saxophonist Emma Rawicz.
Bagatelle 63 – Opening with a trumpet blast, this track features a high-octane, rock-style ensemble passage, a bass solo by Fergus Quill, and a freely improvised piano solo by Olly Chalk. The brass section enters with a more traditional big band sound, culminating in a sudden climax.
Bagatelle 198 – This track starts with a high-energy, rock-style section, followed by a tenor sax solo by Asha Parkinson backed by a bubbling ensemble. A lengthy trombone solo by Joel Knee follows, leading to a duo passage with Moss Freed’s guitar. Atmospheric and mysterious ensemble sections build to a sudden climax.
Album Release and Live Performance
The release date for John Zorn’s Bagatelles Vol 16 is September 8, 2023. The album features an impressive line-up of musicians:
- Saxes: Chris Williams, Asha Parkinson, Emma Rawicz, Mick Foster
- Trumpets: Noel Langley, Charlotte Keeffe
- Trombone: Joel Knee
- Tuba: Tom Briers
- Guitar: Moss Freed
- Piano: Olly Chalk
- Bass: Fergus Quill
- Drums: Alasdair Pennington
The ensemble will perform this material at Cafe Oto in Dalston, London on Thursday, September 19th.