― Manny Parsons, Friday, 19 July 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
but if you want a start I suggest 'Harras': a trio w/derek bailey
(guitar) and william parker on bass. Zorn's and all participants
playing on it is pretty phenomenal.
― Julio Desouza, Friday, 19 July 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
― bob snoom, Friday, 19 July 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
― Ernest, Friday, 19 July 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
not sure where else i'd go....his fingers have been in so many pots,
i've lost interest in trying to keep an eye on them...
― msp, Friday, 19 July 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
― o. nate, Friday, 19 July 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
I like it (_Live at the Knitting Factory_), but it's probably not
essential since it greatly overlaps _Naked City_. Since the band
read from sheet music, I expected near carbon copies of the album
tracks. Fortunately, many of the drum fills and guitar licks are
― dleone, Friday, 19 July 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
― brg30, Friday, 19 July 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
That's an interesting hypothesis. I know that Zorn has managed to
acquire some impressive credentials in the classical world (e.g.,
commissions from "Kronos Quartet, the New York Philharmonic, EOS
Orchestra, Netherlands Wind Ensemble, Brooklyn Philharmonic,
Bayerischer Staatsoper, WDR Orchestra Köln and American pianist
Stephen Drury" according to his official bio), and his works are
being performed, so it certainly seems within the realm of
possibility that his classical reputation will continue to grow. On
the other hand, perhaps he's just as likely to go down as a kind of
Gertrude Stein figure, i.e., as the spiritual center, figurehead, and
den mother of a particular artistic "scene" - I'm thinking of his
role in the "downtown" music crowd and the Tzadik label, in
if rock or jazz become classicised that would be
depressing...actually, are you saying that it will all just become a
wing of classical, or just 'respectable' in the way classical music
is. if the latter is the case, the rock and jazz have attained a
level of respectability because it sells millions of recs (that's how
the system works: it's all tied in to how much money it makes i
― Julio desouza, Friday, 19 July 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
I don't! he does mess around with FAR too many forms to really be
categorised. His dabblings (actually more than that) in hardcore
would make sure of that. A large part of his work would alienate rock
fans (there's not enough guitars around anyway). And jazz, well
there's too much hardcore and improv for that. I'd like to think of
him as an 'anti-jazz/anti-classical' composer that is also a great
improviser. So in other words you can't easily categorise him. Thank
goodness for that.
― Douglas, Friday, 19 July 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
I see some evidence of this happening already. Are you familiar with
Bang on a Can? It's a collective formed by three composers - Michael
Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe - that puts on various concerts,
commissions works, and has its own in-house ensemble, the Bang on a
Can All-Stars. The All-Stars have unconventional instrumentation for
a classical ensemble: cello, piano, double-bass, percussion,
clarinet, and electric guitar are the primary instruments. Through
their commissions, they are creating a classical repertoire for this
idiosyncratic ensemble, and many of the pieces that they play blend
the lines between avant-rock and classical. Among the All-Stars
recordings are a re-recording of Brian Eno's "Music for Airports"
arranged by the Gordon, Lang, and Wolfe, as well as pieces such as
Terry Riley's "In C" which come from the more established classical
realm. I think that the day will come when it's no longer surprising
to see an electric guitar on stage with a classical ensemble.
the canon / standard repertoire is vast and immovable. seems like it will take decades, at least, to really put a dent in it, despite bang on a can et al.
― Josh, Friday, 19 July 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
I'm not trying to - honest. It's my particular curse to
instinctively sound like a PR flack.
― bob snoom, Saturday, 20 July 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
and i think musicians' tastes will usualy be at least the equal of
their own work
― george gosset, Saturday, 20 July 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
I second that. But also zorn's duo w/ eugene chadbourne. It's
called 'in memory of nikkin akane' i think. It's on incus as well so
just look at the webpage.
it's wonderful the things that he can do with his instrument to sound
like donald duck!
― Julio Desouza, Saturday, 20 July 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
― dleone, Saturday, 20 July 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
'I'm saying that it's possible one day a classical music concert
might consist of a Haydn violin concerto, Wagner overture and a suite
of pieces by Naked City. Obviously, that kind of assimilation would
I would actually think that classical music with its orchestras (as
it is now) might actually fade w/time (at least i hope so!).
the prolem with naked city is that (only heard the first alb) is that
the melodies he writes for them really doesn't hold very well. That
would be the problem if he was to be assimilated into some sort of
oh no, i think that would be a sad rejection of too much good music,
from both the past and nowdays
what i like about where tzadik is going is that it isn't afraid to
release all sorts of different music, hopefully further loosening the
institutional almost veto style control that has stifled and held
back music that uses orchestras or chamber outfits
hopefully there can be more mix and match band/instrumentalist
combinations, of which zorn has been one of the pioneers with various
of his formats
Thank you for asking that question, indeed John Zorn is a puzzling
and engimatic musician, whose discography is just as puzzling as a
So where do you start?
Well, the best place to start with Zorn is his Masada projects,
especially his band with Dave Douglas.
The best Masada albums are the live recordings either 'Live in
Sevilla 2000' or 'Live at Tonic 2001'
Next is Naked City, the debut album is the best, simply
entitled 'Naked City', the latest album released this year 'Naked
City Live....' is a good illustration of the live experience of Naked
City, the other records are interesting, but a little crazy, (with
aweful cover art).
Of the other discs 'Grand Guigol' is the best, the decapitated head
on the cover however might put you off buying it, it put me off,
although I have most of the album on mp3. The first 6 tacks are
actuallyrather ambient! Naked City cover classical composers Debussy,
Messiaen, Scaribin and others. The other tracks are thrash metal,
torture music starring Y. Eye from The Boredoms on tortured vocal.
On to actual Zorn releases.
My first recommendation is a rather obscure record.
It is John Zorn's 'The Bribe', it's a mafia soundtrack, a follow up
to 'Goddard/Spillane'. Yet it is a very different album, it's
actually very listenable throughout unlike some parts of Spillane.
The music is very intrenched with an almost lounge music atmosphere,
with a spiked edge, that is the John Zorn edge.
My second recommendation is what has become John Zorn's most
celebrated albums. 'The Big Gundown', although I prefer other albums
above this one, it has received much acclaim, and it would be a sin
not to include it in my recommendations list. It is a good album, but
I prefer some others over it.
My third recommendation is a very serious album, that John Zorn
doesn't actually play on, he is only the composer.
It's 'Kristallnacht', 'The night of broken glass', the night in which
the Nazis, vandalised, and assaulted jewish people and their
property. The music mimics this brutal action by the Nazis. The music
perfectly illustrates the night. Hitler's voice is sampled in the
brilliant Jewish folk song 'Shtetl', and tortured strings full the
album, and than there is 'Never Again' 11.41 of pure noice and sound
effects, Zorn warns in the liner notes, that the tune can lead to
permanent deafness, nausua and a varity of other effects, it's best
to skip this song, but it still serves as a reminder of the tradgic
events that occured that fateful night.
The next recommendation is one of Zorn's most melodic albums of all
time. The album is 'News for Lulu' a tribute to the Blue Note Hard
Bop musicians of the 60s. Heavily featured are the compostions of
Sonny Clark, Freddie Redd, Hank Mobley and others, it is an unusual
trio of Zorn - Alto Sax, George Lewis - Trombone, Bill Frisell -
Guitar. The tracks are extremely compact, turning 10 minute hard bop
blow outs, to 2 minute tracks.
However, this is a more of a tribute than 'Spy vs Spy', there isn't
any hardcore playing here, it's very restained.
Finally my last recommendation is 'Spy vs Spy: The Music of Ornette
Coleman'. This album is an extreme hardcore jazz album, turning
Ornette Coleman into thrash metal jazz. With 20 times the punch as
Ornette Coleman's original versions, this is certainly a legendary
and unique tribute album, that is essential for any John Zorn
That's it for now good luck.
― Geoffrey Balasoglou, Saturday, 20 July 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
there is a conservative trend in classical which can be irritating.
There is good music there (as in most places) but i would like more
risks to be taken, that's all.
― Julio Desouza, Sunday, 21 July 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
― dleone, Sunday, 21 July 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
but you said previously that a classical music recital would contain
Zorn w/ say wagner or Haydyn. i don't know abt their melodic sense
but surely cage and stockhausen are on one end of classical, whereas
wagner and haydyn are on another. I think if improvisation goes back
to classical in a big way then maybe we could see Zorn on a bill but
it wouldn't be in either group (hard to see whee exactly he would be
I take note of the other naked city stuff and will try and track it
down over the coming months. cheers.
― dleone, Monday, 22 July 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
Here's a nice excerpt:======mg: I don't know about music, but I do know that in the late forties, early fifties, making paintings was a viable revolutionary concept in the sense that one felt that you could change the world. That's what late Modernism was all about, you felt you were doing something important.jz: You don't feel that anymore?
mg: Well, I think it was Lenin who said that freedom is the recognition of necessity. And I think that we, as artists, have that same kind of thing. We pare down to what's necessary to us. jz: We've made a lot of sacrifices to live the life that we live.
mg: Exactly. jz: And people don't appreciate that. They think we're out here balling, you know? It's not that way. It's hard work, and you get isolated. And you get distracted by the normal human need for companionship and love and understanding and appreciation. Those are distractions from doing the work, I feel. That's why I can't read magazines or newspapers, I don't look at TV. I try to focus on what's important, which is really the work itself. Making sure that you do the best possible thing in the purest possible way with the most imagination and technique and honesty that you can pull together.======
Wow...companionship and love and understanding and appreciation are "distractions from doing the work." Strange, but I think I see where he's coming from.
Anyway, I recently bought Xu Feng, a game piece written in 1985 and performed in 2000 - outstanding. Very dynamic and exciting - 2 drummers, 2 guitarists, and 2 electronics guys. In the liner notes, Zorn says that the piece may be performed with 6 drummers (!!). Are his other game piece releases this good? I heard some of the Knitting Factory Cobra disc, and it didn't really grab me.
― Ernest P., Monday, 16 September 2002 23:16 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
― Jordan (Jordan), Tuesday, 17 September 2002 17:38 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
That was a good interview with Zorn, and probably one of the longer ones available anywhere. He did another great one where he speaks more about his background in a William Duckworth book called Talking Music. That book also features interviews with Philip Glass, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Laurie Anderson, Pauline Oliveros and John Cage. Look for it!
― dleone (dleone), Tuesday, 17 September 2002 17:50 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
I don't know if it's still available, but the online shopping cart lets you select it.
That book sounds interesting - sounds like he hooked up with half of the Nonesuch roster.
I've been debating getting the Big Gundown reissue just for the bonus songs - I heard a clip of "The Sicilian Clan" (not the Naked City version), and it sounded great (there's even a little jew's harp in it). Worth buying again?
― Ernest P., Tuesday, 17 September 2002 19:15 (fifteen years ago) Permalink
Ipos: Book of Angels Volume 14 = blowing my shell right now.
― Damo Suzuki's Parrot, Wednesday, 7 August 2013 23:27 (four years ago) Permalink
The presence of "Volume 14" in the title pretty much sums up why I stopped trying to keep up with Zorn about a decade ago. I mean, I know I'm missing lots of good stuff, but there are only so many hours in the day, days in the year, dollars in the bank ...
― Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 7 August 2013 23:46 (four years ago) Permalink
― j., Thursday, 8 August 2013 00:22 (four years ago) Permalink
i love the Dreamers stuff so much
― yung humas (Whiney G. Weingarten), Thursday, 8 August 2013 00:24 (four years ago) Permalink
The Medeski/Wollesen piano/vibraphone work on Dreamachines is incredible, not another Dreamers recording but the 3rd of part his Burroughs series with that band and some of it is very Dreamers like in style. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cd4LLjepX2I
― Damo Suzuki's Parrot, Friday, 23 August 2013 21:43 (four years ago) Permalink
The Big Gundown still sounds so rad + essential, can never get bored of it!
― calzino, Monday, 7 August 2017 11:52 (six months ago) Permalink