If you were going to buy Joel Zoss (www.joelzoss.com) in a liquor store, rather than a CD store, you’d obviously be looking for 50 year old malt scotch, likely in the Highland Park or Macallan lines. And what could be finer than a CD adorned with a picture of the stick-wielding rabbit chasing the “Monkey Thief” drawn from the first of four Choju-jinbutsu-giga (“animal-person caricatures”) scrolls housed at the Kozan-ji temple in Kyoto, Japan. And as if that weren’t refinement personified, on track eleven Joel covers Elizabeth Cotten’s “Oh, Babe, It Ain’t No lie.”
LILA, the 2009 CD by Joel Zoss, is an extreme musical experience that is enveloped and infused by both the style and grace of someone who knows how to share the finer points of life’s music. From PUSHING THE RIVER where love is a two way street that only goes one way, to MOTHER WANTED YOU HOME cause you ain’t lived til you have died, Joel expressively masters the art of poetry as song. Combined with the charging Caribbean back-beat of PRETTY FLOWERS, to the low-down grinding of JUNKERS BLUES, Joel could inspire the likes of Sleepy John Estes (1899-1977) to rise up again and sing Drop Down Mama on Beale Street in Memphis.
There is so much style and grace on LILA, that it would be difficult to embrace all the subtleties and nuances that lay within. However, let me mention these. TIS OF THEE is perhaps one of the most distinguished works of contemporary music I have lately heard. Borne from a minstrel medieval heritage, it is a near etude of chansons-de-guest grandeur that any twelfth century bard would have been proud to present before a high court. Contrast this to the Persian arpeggios which are woven into the tapestry behind CANTINA BODEGA and you begin too see the depth of soul that over half a century has adorned on Joel Zoss.
So break the seal, pour a little Joel, then sit back and sip to your heart’s content. You can hear Joel perform regularly at fine acoustic venues throughout south east Florida. For times and locations, check www.JoelZoss.com or the www.GotFolk.com calendar.