John Zorn

edited February 2010 in Jazz
Anybody want to talk Zorn with me?

I'm just now revisiting him after something like fourteen years. I never cared much for his noisier stuff, but a thread over on the AAJ forum got me to revisit his stuff. Good god, I'm glad I did. His sound has expanded. Zorn is one of the musicians I've dedicated 2010 to buying more of. I picked up two of his albums last week. I'm just gonna copy and paste the post I made in AAJ on the same subject a few minutes ago. If I find some takers to shoot the breeze about Zorn here, then I'll leave the copy/paste routine at home.

So, I purchased my first two Zorn albums in something like fourteen years...
Alhambra Love Songs
O'o

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Both are just beautiful. Alahambra reminds me in some ways of Pharaoh Sanders' "Summun Bukmun Umyun" in that it's music for a lazy Sunday morning, but unlike most other music of that kind in that there's plenty going on in the music (as opposed to an ECM trio album, per se) that gives it a certain drive. I've listened to it once a day since I picked it up last week.

O'o, man, I still don't know what to make of it yet. I've listened to it a handful of times now, and while nothing about it makes some huge statement with me, I find the album quite infectious. It's become something of a bully actually, forcing me to stop other albums mid-stream so I can put O'o in instead. I'm definitely going to be picking up more albums by this combo (I think Dreamers was mentioned somewhere as being part of the same group). I don't expect anyone to agree with me on this point, but something about O'o appeals to me the same way Tom Waits "Raindogs" does. A bouncy tap-your-foot flow with an underlying oddness about the whole scene. The second track on the album was the first tune that struck me with that impression.

They didn't have any of the Book of Angels albums there, and truthfully, I might've had to pass anyway; just from a budget perspective, I'll probably have to limit my total Zorns for 2010 at eight, especially since I'm committed to buying my Zorn as new copy cds and from independent music stores that need the support. I know that sounds weird, but places like Jerry's Record Exchange in Denver inspired and shaped my music listening experience, especially jazz, and right now, this whole Zorn revisit I'm doing, it feels right that I buy new cds this way, so it helps both Zorn and the shops. So, I picked up both these albums at Ear-x-tacy in Louisville, a great independent music shop that is having serious difficulty.

I both apologize and don't apologize that my post has a journal style to them. I hadn't intended it. I think what it is, is that I feel some of that young enthusiasm that I had fifteen years ago when I first really got into jazz and could look at jazz artists like Coltrane and Davis and Mingus and see they had these huge discographies for me to explore and how exciting that was. Now, hundreds and hundreds of albums later, and I haven't felt that for awhile. Zorn gives that to me; this large discography of different albums with different projects and ensembles. I feel like some kid just getting into jazz... again.
Cheers.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much of Zorn on emusic, though with my indie store puchase plan, that's not the obstacle it otherwise might be. Lala has a bunch of these albums to stream (thanks, Karg!), and that's gonna be a big help for me, because there are definitely some recent Zorn out there that I'm not crazy about still (I think Femina was one I lala'd and didn't care for). The word is on Zorn's website that he's releasing a new album a month for the entire year, thus making this a fortunate time to get into his discography. I definitely am looking at picking up some Book of Angels albums next.

Okay, that's it for now.

Comments

  • I'd love to talk John Zorn! I like most of what I hear, but I am only a general fan.

    >Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much of Zorn on emusic,

    I think that Tzadik, his label, withdrew from eMusic quite a long time ago. Personally, I love Masada and the Masada String albums, both of which were on eMusic at one time. I also have the Crakow Klezmer Band (Krakow?), Book of Angels and another album playing Zorn compositions. Naked City is a bit more avant garde than I can usually take.

    Some time ago I "obtained" the complete music for film, maybe 14 volumes? All of it is excellent, although film scores are not for everyone.
  • John Zorn is a prick.
  • I've heard of Zorn's reputation for being a prick especially in concert. What do you expect of someone who did a song named "Jazz Snob Eat Shit"? But he's made some really good music. The problem is that he's overly prolific and hard to keep up with unless you're a major fan and willing to spend big $$$. I gave up trying awhile back especially after I stopped buying CDs and Tzadik pulled from emusic.

    I like the noisy stuff, but he's good at mellow too. Of the ones I know, Bar Kokhba and Circle Maker are good choices for the mellow side. The Gift is also fun.
  • Naked City tends to be my favorite Zorn project. What a great band!
  • That Bar Kokhba stuff is high on my list, up there with various Book of Angels releases. The 50th anniversary album has received some high marks from other Zorn fans.

    Don't know anything about his personality. But I guess when he starts inviting himself over to my home and playing shows in my living room will be when I decide how much I can deal with his personality.

    To this day, I'm still surprised his noisier stuff didn't connect with me, especially considering that I was first introduced to it at a time when about all I listened to was noisy stuff. You'd think it would be a perfect fit, but nope.

    It does appear from my available choices that to pick up a bunch of Zorn requires a financial commitment. It's probably gonna be the main reason why I stick to my indie-store-new-cd approach with him; might as well, y'know? A lot tougher to do if Amie has his albums for two bucks a piece.
  • >John Zorn is a prick.

    Yes, but a creative, talented prick.
  • I think that Tzadik, his label, withdrew from eMusic quite a long time ago. Personally, I love Masada and the Masada String albums, both of which were on eMusic at one time. I also have the Crakow Klezmer Band (Krakow?), Book of Angels and another album playing Zorn compositions. Naked City is a bit more avant garde than I can usually take.

    Sorry to hear that. I could really binge on Zorn if I were able to use my emu dls on them.
    Some time ago I "obtained" the complete music for film, maybe 14 volumes? All of it is excellent, although film scores are not for everyone.

    Which ones do you like? On lala, I've been able to listen to a bunch of them. The ones I really like are "Sholem Alcheim" and "The Treatment". "Invitation to a Suicide" was recommended to me over on AAJ, but I haven't been able to find a place to hear it yet. Others I've heard are perfectly fine, but nothing I would pay a premium for. Do you have a couple favorites?
  • I picked up a couple more John Zorn albums.

    I got Book of Angels: Lucifer and the new Alhambra Trio album called "In Search of the Miraculous".

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    BoA: Lucifer I've only listened to once so far (and you can hear it in full at Lala). It's his Bar Kokhba ensemble, and the music shifts all over the place from World to Jazz to Surf. Very fun album, quite pretty too. There's a few in this vein I really like (the above mentioned Sholem Alcheim is another).

    "In Search of the Miraculous" is wonderful. I enjoy it as much as "Alhambra Love Songs". "In Search..." is livelier than "ALS", they add on a vibes player, but they're make wonderful companion pieces to one another. I love driving around town while listening to "In Search..."
  • It's recently come to my attention that for all my talk about revisiting John Zorn, I think of all the albums I've bought so far this year (O'o, Alhambra Love Songs, In Search..., BoA: Lucifer, and, crap, I think another that I'm forgetting), but none of them actually have John Zorn playing on them. I'll have to re-check O'o, but I'm pretty sure it's all Zorn compositions on his label. Does that qualify as revisiting Zorn? It bothered me at first, but then I came back down to reality when I remembered that I really didn't give a fuck. I have four (or five) fantastic new albums that I wouldn't return under threat of violence.

    But still, it gave me a chuckle to realize just how long it took me to notice that Zorn doesn't play a single note on any of those albums.
  • I recently "obtained" the first 12 Book of Angels albums, the Masada String Quartet is still my favorite. I favor his Klezmer-tinged compositions to the Naked City noise. Not sure why he has been dabbling with Surf Music, though. I have most of the Filmworks volumes as well. Different sound, although the ones I have liked best are Klezmer sounding since they are soundtracks to Jewish themed films.

    If you are on Last.FM, check out the artists tagged Radical Jewish Culture. Many of the Tzadik artists are there since this is Zorn's project to encourage young avant-garde Jewish artists.
  • I also prefer the Klezmer to the noise, though its his Romantic albums that have really been floating my boat. Those Alhambra Trio albums I'm really enjoying. And my wife is picking up Femina, one of his classical albums, at Ear-x-Tacy in Louisville today. I'm not a huge fan of his classical stuff, but I listened to Femina on Lala and liked it enough to pick it up.

    The next ones on my list to buy are the previously mentioned Sholem Alcheim, The Treatment, The Gift, and the newly released BoA: Ipos by the Dreamers Ensemble.
  • Besides Masada (the quartet) of course, a good place to hear Zorn the player is on the newly reissued More News For Lulu, a live trio record (with George Lewis and Bill Frisell) of the material featured on the earlier studio release News For Lulu. It's a project featuring underheard bebop compositions.
  • > but I'm pretty sure it's all Zorn compositions on his label.
    > Does that qualify as revisiting Zorn?

    I listen to Mozart quite a bit, and he never is on the recording. Ok, that is a bit different, but John Zorn has taken on the role of composer and producer as well as performer. I think his whole output is worth the listen. [right now, Xu Feng is playing.]
  • edited November 2010
    So, I've picked up a few more Zorn albums...

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    "Goddess"
    -Goddess continues Zorn's expansion of the original Alhambra Love Songs trio. It has the original three of Rob Burger (piano), Greg Cohen (bass), and Ben Perowsky (drums), as well as Kenny Wolleson on vibes (added for "In Search of the Miraculous"'s quartet), and now adding Carol Emmanuel on harp and Marc Ribot on guitar. It has the same sound as its two predecessors. The album is greatly enhanced with the added textures of Ribot and Emmanuel's strings to the mix. While all three albums share plenty of commonalities in sound, they each, to my ears, have a distinct individuality that separates them from one another. Said differently, this isn't a case of if you own one, you own them all. I like each for different reasons and for listening at different times. With "Goddess", it is currently my favorite driving album. There is something about the way the music seamlessly fits in with the passing countryside that has me playing it nonstop without ever tiring of the album. Highly recommended.

    I also picked up...

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    "Femina"
    -One of his classical pieces. It features personnel of Jennifer Choi (violin), Okkyung Lee (cello), Carol Emanuel (harp), Sylvie Courvoisier (piano), Shayna Dunkelman (percussion) and Ikue Mori (electronics) with special guest Laurie Anderson reading the opening invocation. The album's quality touches on one of my favorite musical effects of shifting from dissonance to serenity, from from uneven rhythmic patterns to buoyant canter. The excerpts on his myspace page do a pretty decent job of representing the sound of this album. Not a bad choice for people who aren't fans of Zorn's more hectic compositions, myself being one of them. I think Femina is engaging both when it's at its noisiest and during the moments of peacefulness.

    I recently borrowed another classical ensemble piece, "Dictee", from a friend. First listen, didn't like it too much. But I'm gonna give it several more tries before deciding whether to buy it or not.
  • Hey ! - we have a Zorn thread . . . :)

    - With thanks to whoever mentioned it in the first place . . .

     
    Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz: Bass
    Sae Hashimoto: Vibes
    Tyshawn Sorey: Drums

    Jack Quartet
    Jay Campbell: Cello
    Stephen Gosling: Piano
    Chris Otto: Violin
    John Pickford Richards: Viola
    Austin Wulliman: Violin
    - More Jack Quartet at Emusers
  • I haven't been really excited about Tzadik's output in 2017, but that Interpretation of Dreams has been floating my boat.

    The Book of Angels series is wrapping up.  I enjoyed this one...

    https://i0.wp.com/www.birdistheworm.com/wp-content/uploads/Brian-Marsella-Buer.jpg?fit=354%2C355&ssl=1

    Brian Marsella Trio - "Buer"
  • jonahpwll said:
    I haven't been really excited about Tzadik's output in 2017, but that Interpretation of Dreams has been floating my boat.

    The Book of Angels series is wrapping up.  I enjoyed this one...

    https://i0.wp.com/www.birdistheworm.com/wp-content/uploads/Brian-Marsella-Buer.jpg?fit=354%2C355&ssl=1

    Brian Marsella Trio - "Buer"
    I bought 20+ Tzadik albums when the label re-appeared on Emusic - strangely none of them were your 2010 recommendations; so guess what I hoovered up yesterday thanks to @Brighternow ; for resurrecting this Zorn thread.

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