Masada: Alef

Masada: Alef, also known as Masada 1, is a 1994 album by American jazz composer and saxophonist John Zorn featuring the Masada Quartet performing compositions inspired by Zorn's examination of Jewish culture.[1] It was the first album in a project that has included ten studio albums, concerts, and live recordings.

Masada: Alef
Masada Alef.jpg
Studio album by
RecordedFebruary 20, 1994, RPM, NYC
LabelDIW DIW 888
ProducerJohn Zorn and Kazunori Sugiyama
Masada chronology
Masada: Alef
Masada: Beit
John Zorn chronology
Execution Ground
Masada: Alef
Masada: Beit

The album takes its inspiration from the mass suicide of Zealots at Masada in 73 CE, and is dedicated to Asher Ginzberg (1856–1927), the founding father of Cultural Zionism.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic     [2]
Guy's Music Review          [3]

The Allmusic review by Don Snowden awarded the album four stars stating "Alef is full of thrilling, varied music and just may remind some people who are put off by John Zorn's constant stream of conceptual projects how good a musician he is in a straight-ahead jazz context".[2] Guy Peters stated "The quartet churns out an immense variety of tunes, ranging from intensely sad ballads, to enjoyable mid-tempo faux-swing, to hectic freak-outs. One thing’s sure: if these guys step on the gas pedal, you’re in for a busy affair. As is to be expected, this is a very solo-oriented style of jazz, but whereas lots of jazz outfits regard these moments as the opportunity for the soloist to shine and for the rest of band to take it slowly, the tension in this outfit often remains very high, with two or more musicians giving their all simultaneously".[3]

Track listingEdit

  1. "Jair" – 4:53
  2. "Bith Aneth" – 6:24
  3. "Tzofeh" – 5:13
  4. "Ashnah" – 6:20
  5. "Tahah" – 5:40
  6. "Kanah" – 7:26
  7. "Delin" – 1:54
  8. "Janohah" – 9:40
  9. "Zebdi" – 2:45
  10. "Idalah-Abal" – 6:15
  11. "Zelah" – 3:48
All compositions by John Zorn
  • Recorded at RPM in New York City on February 20, 1994



  1. ^ Masada World: Alef, accessed Janur 6, 2020
  2. ^ a b Snowden, D. Allmusic Review accessed July 25, 2011
  3. ^ a b Peters, G. Guy's Music Review Archived 2012-07-19 at the Wayback Machine, accessed October 24, 2013