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Thread: John Zorn

  1. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by ytserush View Post
    Naked City was my gateway and then I tried really hard for five years to get everything but I've all but given up. I love pretty much anything I've heard, but I'd need another lifetime to comprehend and listen to it all.
    I bought The Big Gundown and Naked City back when they were issued in the 1980s but they never made a whole lot of sense to me and I tuned out on Zorn for the next twenty years, having dismissed him as a bit of a sensationalist. I can remember seeing some of the Tzadik discs at larger CD shops during the 1990s, but they were always prohibitively expensive and it was only during the advent of on-line retailing that they seemed reasonable enough to be worth trying again. I started seriously listening to him in about 2006.

    For the last few years I've been able to keep on top of buying all Zorn's new releases - I've got about 150 of his albums - and anyone who tells you it's all purest gold would be out of their head. Still, a Zorn album has placed in my top five of the year for the last five years, which is a pretty amazing strike rate.

    There are a lot of assumptions that I think people make about Zorn, but his music is not all cutting edge (a great deal of his music is on the easy listening side, and plenty more of it is accessible) and he is not someone who puts out a load of music simply because he has no quality control; his quality control is absolutely extraordinary in terms of composition, recording fidelity and packaging design. When you consider that he runs his own record company and books his own tours (which are typically expensive because he tours with so many musicians) his focus is absolutely intimidating.

  2. #27
    If you like Naked City, try his "Moonchild Trio" stuff, especially the first one - "Songs Without Words", most importantly "Six Litanies for Heliogabalus", and "Templars: In Sacred Blood".

  3. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Sordel View Post
    I bought The Big Gundown and Naked City back when they were issued in the 1980s but they never made a whole lot of sense to me and I tuned out on Zorn for the next twenty years, having dismissed him as a bit of a sensationalist. I can remember seeing some of the Tzadik discs at larger CD shops during the 1990s, but they were always prohibitively expensive and it was only during the advent of on-line retailing that they seemed reasonable enough to be worth trying again. I started seriously listening to him in about 2006.

    For the last few years I've been able to keep on top of buying all Zorn's new releases - I've got about 150 of his albums - and anyone who tells you it's all purest gold would be out of their head. Still, a Zorn album has placed in my top five of the year for the last five years, which is a pretty amazing strike rate.

    There are a lot of assumptions that I think people make about Zorn, but his music is not all cutting edge (a great deal of his music is on the easy listening side, and plenty more of it is accessible) and he is not someone who puts out a load of music simply because he has no quality control; his quality control is absolutely extraordinary in terms of composition, recording fidelity and packaging design. When you consider that he runs his own record company and books his own tours (which are typically expensive because he tours with so many musicians) his focus is absolutely intimidating.
    Don't I know it!

    I can't really afford to do much more than dabble at this point because I'm really intimated to jump back in with both feet. It's good to know he's still cranking out the quality and the quantity.

  4. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Sordel View Post
    There are a lot of assumptions that I think people make about Zorn, but his music is not all cutting edge (a great deal of his music is on the easy listening side, and plenty more of it is accessible) and he is not someone who puts out a load of music simply because he has no quality control; his quality control is absolutely extraordinary in terms of composition, recording fidelity and packaging design. When you consider that he runs his own record company and books his own tours (which are typically expensive because he tours with so many musicians) his focus is absolutely intimidating.
    One of the finest "introductions" (or summarums) to Zorn that I've read here.

    Because his musical policy complies with his musical philosophy, Zorn attains an image of an artist radical whose main view seems to imply that what we use/used to define as "genres" have pretty much led to downfalls in the developments of communication modes between artist, work/chosen medium and receiver/audience. In his mind, what links widely or apparently different expressions together is ALWAYS the essential level of valeur in music - NOT the elements that divide those expressions. Thus his interest in modern classical plus lite soundtrack, traditional and avant-garde jazz, various folk and ethnic musics, easy listening as well as highly challenging contemporary, free improv versus strict composition, schlager and extreme variations on "rock".

    And, as you so eloquently put it yourself, the guy's a certified workaholic.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  5. #30
    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    Just checking out Zorn's 2018 album Salem 1692. Wow, it sounds really great if you're in the mood for those Zorn improv freakouts with some stop-on-a-dime scored passages. Apparently this the second album with this incarnation (Trevor Dunn: Bass , Kenny Grohowski: Drums , Matt Hollenberg: Guitar , Julian Lage: Guitar). I've heard a bit of Lage before - really great player but he always sounded like he has a "smooth" style - but on here it's definitely an "icepick-in-the-forehead" approach, which I love. Possibly my fav setting with him I've heard so far. TBH, I don't get so much of a mysterious, creepy, Witch vibe (maybe a bit in the places where the temperature lowers for a moment) but definitely a prog-avant-jazz-rock freakout that would be home on say Cuneiform or ReR. Anybody heard this yet?
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

  6. #31
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    I haven't heard everything Zorn has done -- has anyone? (including Zorn?) -- but I've never heard a bad record under his name.

  7. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    I haven't heard everything Zorn has done -- has anyone? (including Zorn?) -- but I've never heard a bad record under his name.
    Check that Salem album out....really flippin' fantastic.
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

  8. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    ...definitely a prog-avant-jazz-rock freakout that would be home on say Cuneiform or ReR.
    Good description!

  9. #34
    Member thedunno's Avatar
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    I do not own any John Zorn album. The sheer size of his discography scares me off. What if I like it? Will cost me a fortune.

    I DO have Masada book of Angels by the Mary Halvorson quartet - its awesome.

  10. #35
    I'm here for the moosic NogbadTheBad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thedunno View Post
    I do not own any John Zorn album. The sheer size of his discography scares me off. What if I like it? Will cost me a fortune.

    I DO have Masada book of Angels by the Mary Halvorson quartet - its awesome.
    Electric Masada - Mountains Of Madness is essential for anyone of our predilections.
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  11. #36
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thedunno View Post
    I do not own any John Zorn album. The sheer size of his discography scares me off. What if I like it? Will cost me a fortune.
    Do you have a Pandora account? I created a John Zorn station which has been playing continuously since 2015 without repeating and every song is astounding.

  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Do you have a Pandora account? I created a John Zorn station which has been playing continuously since 2015 without repeating and every song is astounding.
    I have no idea what Pandora is. Count that as a no.

  13. #38
    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thedunno View Post
    I do not own any John Zorn album. The sheer size of his discography scares me off. What if I like it? Will cost me a fortune.

    I DO have Masada book of Angels by the Mary Halvorson quartet - its awesome.
    Check out this newish album Salem 1692 - it's one of the best Zorn albums I've heard in a while personally.
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

  14. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by thedunno View Post
    What if I like it? Will cost me a fortune.
    yes, I am on the same boat. I've listened to some but I just can't keep up with his pace.

    Btw, a lot of my friends - and potential listeners - feel the same way...

  15. #40
    Subterranean Tapir Hobo Chang Ba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    Just checking out Zorn's 2018 album Salem 1692. Wow, it sounds really great if you're in the mood for those Zorn improv freakouts with some stop-on-a-dime scored passages. Apparently this the second album with this incarnation (Trevor Dunn: Bass , Kenny Grohowski: Drums , Matt Hollenberg: Guitar , Julian Lage: Guitar). I've heard a bit of Lage before - really great player but he always sounded like he has a "smooth" style - but on here it's definitely an "icepick-in-the-forehead" approach, which I love. Possibly my fav setting with him I've heard so far. TBH, I don't get so much of a mysterious, creepy, Witch vibe (maybe a bit in the places where the temperature lowers for a moment) but definitely a prog-avant-jazz-rock freakout that would be home on say Cuneiform or ReR. Anybody heard this yet?
    This band (Insurrection) and the Simulacrum band both fall easily into the part of Zorn's discog that would immediately appeal to avant-prog fans. The (somewhat recent and sadly defunct) Moonchild Trio also scratches this itch.
    No humor please, we're skittish.

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  16. #41
    Subterranean Tapir Hobo Chang Ba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thedunno View Post
    I do not own any John Zorn album. The sheer size of his discography scares me off. What if I like it? Will cost me a fortune.

    I DO have Masada book of Angels by the Mary Halvorson quartet - its awesome.
    Several years ago (maybe 2013 or so) I forced myself to explore the discog in depth, at least to the point of knowing what each 'project' was about and getting a general overview of his ethos. This is really the only way I know how to tackle such massive discographies (I did the same with Sun Ra shortly after and Anthony Braxton shortly after that).
    No humor please, we're skittish.

    Never let good music get in the way of making a profit.

  17. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by thedunno View Post
    I do not own any John Zorn album. The sheer size of his discography scares me off. What if I like it? Will cost me a fortune.

    I DO have Masada book of Angels by the Mary Halvorson quartet - its awesome.
    Mary Halvorson is recording a volume for Zorn's forthcoming Bagatelles series, which is more atonal than the Masada series. If you like her Book of Angels album then you're in big trouble because there's so much more in Zorn's catalogue where that came from. Since this thread started we've had the entire Book of Beriah (Masada Book 3) so you probably need to start buying soon if you want to avoid being dragged like a Western stuntman from the horse's stirrups.

  18. #43
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thedunno View Post
    I DO have Masada book of Angels by the Mary Halvorson quartet - its awesome.
    Been listening to my John Zorn Pandora station the past couple days, and it keeps throwing stuff at me that is astoundingly good.

    In particular, the Masada String Trio stuff seems to be all quite wonderful. Who, or what, is this "Masada" entity? There's the string trio, there's Electric Masada, there's Masada Book of Angels by Mary Halvorson, there's Masada Book Two by Erik Friedlander. Are these all linked somehow?

  19. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    yes, I am on the same boat. I've listened to some but I just can't keep up with his pace.

    Btw, a lot of my friends - and potential listeners - feel the same way...
    Iíve no idea how HE keeps it up, let alone us!
    John Kelman
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  20. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Been listening to my John Zorn Pandora station the past couple days, and it keeps throwing stuff at me that is astoundingly good.

    In particular, the Masada String Trio stuff seems to be all quite wonderful. Who, or what, is this "Masada" entity? There's the string trio, there's Electric Masada, there's Masada Book of Angels by Mary Halvorson, there's Masada Book Two by Erik Friedlander. Are these all linked somehow?
    The Masada Book is Zorn's name for the compositions of his that draw heavily from (or adapt) traditional Jewish music (Klezmer and otherwise). His Masada Quartet was the first band of his to present this work (and being an acoustic alto/trumpet/bass viol/drums group, they did so with a healthy dose of improvisation and Ornette Coleman-ish flair) ... all of the other groups bearing the name draw from the same books of compositions with a different emphasis per the stylistic leanings of that specific group.

  21. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by SunshipVoyager1976 View Post
    The Masada Book is Zorn's name for the compositions of his that draw heavily from (or adapt) traditional Jewish music (Klezmer and otherwise). His Masada Quartet was the first band of his to present this work (and being an acoustic alto/trumpet/bass viol/drums group, they did so with a healthy dose of improvisation and Ornette Coleman-ish flair) ... all of the other groups bearing the name draw from the same books of compositions with a different emphasis per the stylistic leanings of that specific group.
    By the by, likely Zorn had the ancient fortress (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masada) in mind with the name Masada, yet I seem to recall he had some more esoteric connection in mind as well- I can't seem to locate any interviews on the subject but I know I read 'em "back in the day".

  22. #47
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Regardless of the inspiration, the series blows me away.



  23. #48
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    What about the "Book of Angels" series? There are, at least, 32 of them -- any recommendations?
    https://www.discogs.com/label/227295-Book-Of-Angels

  24. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    What about the "Book of Angels" series? There are, at least, 32 of them -- any recommendations?
    https://www.discogs.com/label/227295-Book-Of-Angels
    Medeski, Martin & Wood ("Zaebos") and Pat Metheny ("Tap") have entries in the series and those two are personal favorites, but they are all quite lovely and hard to go wrong with any of them, honestly.

  25. #50
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SunshipVoyager1976 View Post
    Medeski, Martin & Wood ("Zaebos") and Pat Metheny ("Tap") have entries in the series and those two are personal favorites, but they are all quite lovely and hard to go wrong with any of them, honestly.
    Have you heard all 32?

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