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Thread: John Zorn

  1. #1

    John Zorn

    Zorn is a name I've heard a lot of times (in relation to both Zappa and SC3) but reading through his wiki article I just get confused due to the amount of recordings that he's been involved in. Therefore, help!!

    Where should I start investigating his vast catalogue? Any guide? Any lossless (legal) download sites for him?

  2. #2
    Member Phlakaton's Avatar
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    With Naked City is where I started - I can say I dont know a lot about all his works but I dig that - and I also really enjoy the Masada stuff too. Maybe Cobra? Ya know... hell - I dont know. He's all over the place!

  3. #3
    Chronic Overspender zombywoof's Avatar
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    Electric Masada at The Mountains of Madness!!

    Check out Colouratura's sophomore release Unfamiliar Skies - out this spring on Melodic Revolution Records!

    colouratura.bandcamp.com

  4. #4
    I started with Naked City too. Although Torture Garden was my way in, I think you'd really love Radio.

  5. #5
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    I second the motion on Electric Masada "Mountains of Madness"
    Views expressed by the author do not necessarily represent those of Sony Music

  6. #6
    Member wideopenears's Avatar
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    Zorn is involved in so many different kinds of music, it's hard to really say where to start, though the Electric Masada rec is as good a place as any (a better place than some, for me, in fact)....

    He does brutal, punk-ish stuff with PainKiller. ADD-insipred, soundtrack type stuff (Naked City), Ornette quartet influenced acoustic Jewish Jazz (Masada), ....just so many irons in the fire.

    My personal favorites are the Electric Masada Rec., and the acoustic Masada recordings.

  7. #7
    Subterranean Tapir Hobo Chang Ba's Avatar
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    Naked City or Electric Masada are the best introductions I'd think. For Naked City, either the S/t or Radio; for Electric Masada, At The Mountains Of Madness.

    If you're a fan of modern avant-garde classical or free jazz there are also good avenues for entrance there...but the two above are good all around catches.
    No humor please, we're skittish.

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  8. #8
    Casanova TCC's Avatar
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    Zorn`s universe!.

    2 really good concerts:

    Check out Marc Ribot! (guitar)
    http://marcribot.com
    -


    - Acoustic Masada:


    Enjoy!.
    Last edited by TCC; 01-08-2015 at 03:39 PM.
    Pura Vida!.

    There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind. ∞
    Duke Ellington.

  9. #9
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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  10. #10
    I've got a few different things from him. Someoen told me once that a lot of the stuff I had was his "most difficult" music, things like Pool or Hockey. But lately, I've got a few of his "less difficult things", like that album of Pat Metheny playing some of the Masada pieces.

    New Tradition In East Asian Bar Bands features one piece which is essentially a 25 minute duet between Fred Frith and Bill Frisell, with a Chinese spoken word thing going on top of it.

    The Bribe is a pretty good album too, featuring Bob Quine on guitar. Another one I liked a lot is Spillane (though why side two of that album, which featured a long track with Albert Collins on guitar, has never been reissued, I'll never know).

  11. #11

  12. #12
    Composed work: Kristallnacht
    Naked City: Radio
    Painkiller: Execution Ground
    Moonchild Trio: Six Litanies for Heliogabalus
    Electric Masada: At the Mountains of Madness
    Bar Kokhba: The Circle Maker

    Welcome to the show! One of the most genuinely progressive musical artists in the world today.
    "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

  13. #13
    Member BrianG's Avatar
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    I just finished listening to Mount Analogue, based on the writings and music of Gurdjieff. So therefore it is non-linear, ambient with Zeuhl chanting moments, lots of middle eastern rhythms and melodies, and all on one track.
    Psychomagia is good with double electric guitars.
    I tried some of the Masada works - some great with small string ensembles, some duds with boring long improved sections. Bar Kochba is very good.
    Better yet is the Book of Angels series, performed by a wide variety of great performers. Xalafan by Secret Chiefs is my favorite, also of course the Pat Metheny on Tap.
    Expect a few very experimental albums, with beautiful covers. Don't get Moonchild unless you love Mike Patton's screaming and shouting in no particular format.
    Luckily his physical CD's are very available these days at all kinds of music stores, including Newberry's near me.
    Have fun!
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  14. #14
    If you need only one Zorn CD, Spillane is it (preferably the original Nonesuch edition, with 'Forbidden Fruit').

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by unclemeat View Post
    If you need only one Zorn CD, Spillane is it (preferably the original Nonesuch edition, with 'Forbidden Fruit').
    Yes, this or The Big Gundown - Zorn's incredibly creative interpretations of Ennio Morricone's music which first gained him major attention in the mid-80s - seems to be the most important introductory works of his. Next to Naked City, of course.
    "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

  16. #16
    Minor coincidence, I've actually got a fairly decent recent Zorn item playing behind me as I type this: Dream Membrane, with Bill Laswell and text/voice by David Smith (not the Guapo one).

    http://www.tzadik.com/index.php?catalog=4004

    Not as intense or wild as Naked City or Heliogabalus but is a pretty damn cool dark ambient piece of work. For those who like the ambient side of things, it'd probably be worth checking out.
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  17. #17
    Boo! walt's Avatar
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    Over the last few years i've culled a number of Zorn cds from my collection,gave them to friends.The three i have and still play from time to time are Asmodeus-Book of Angels Vol 7,O'o,and Masada 2.
    "please do not understand me too quickly"-andre gide

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Yes but he has probably released 20 since then . Just from 2014 I'd recommend Book of Angels, Vol 22 Zion80 plays Adramelech, Psychomagia and Transmigration of the Magus.

    What I did when I first started getting into Zorn is I picked up several used CDs until I narrowed down the sounds I enjoyed the most and picked up more in those paths. I pick up any of the Book of Angels I can find. They are all different and of the highest quality.

    The Electric Masada releases are great.

    I'd even recommend his Christmas release with Mike Patton on vocals

    Mount Analogue is also a favorite of mine.

  19. #19
    Thank you all for your responses, keep them coming!! I've listened to Spillane (track) and enjoyed it (I think). Naked City the album was definitely up my street and found myself laughing at some of the abrupt changes from polite to crazy (always a good thing!). Unfortunately, apart from youtube, it looks like most of their other albums aren't available in the UK apart from import. Does anyone know of any company that stocks them?

    I'm going to try and listed to Mount Analogue later as I'm curious about that piece from what I've read about.

    What else is closest in crazy stylistic shifts to the Naked City album?

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by tallliman View Post
    What else is closest in crazy stylistic shifts to the Naked City album?
    To put it like that, Naked City were a major influence on several solid bands, even to the point of almost forming a bizarre "subgenre" of sorts.

    Start with Prelapse, a group led by an afroamerican priest and initially only playing Naked City covers (!), later protegees of Zorn himself who'd then go on to produce their sole album for his very own Avant Records (one of three labels he administered back then), Prelapse (1999). It contains some new pieces written by Zorn for the band, but most of it is self-penned stuff from Prelapse themselves. Very good, but more "grindy".

    Mr. Bungle. Both Disco Volante and California. Fishbone had some distant resemblance to *some* NCity, as did Estradasphere and French locos Sebkha-Chott (who have at least three releases to their credit).

    There were more than one Japanese band with significant NCity influence, notably Boredoms, Masque and SOH Band. P.O.N. are the very best of the bunch.

    "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

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by unclemeat View Post
    If you need only one Zorn CD, Spillane is it (preferably the original Nonesuch edition, with 'Forbidden Fruit').
    Any sentence beginning 'if you need only one Zorn CD ...' is doomed to failure; everyone needs about ten Zorn CDs, but finding them in the haystack of his work is definitely a challenge. Some suggestions:

    • Mount Analogue: from the soundtrack/easy listening side of his work, very easy to like, lots of variety
    • The Circle Maker: great introduction to the Masada music, featuring the Masada String Trio and Bar Kokhba Sextet
    • Six Litanies For Heliogabalus: wild Prog Rock performed by Moonchild, will be too extreme for many
    • From Leaves Of Grass: Gentle but intense acoustic music by the Nova Quartet (all their albums are great)
    • Sanhedrin: Any of the mainstream acoustic jazz albums by the original Masada Quartet are superb but start here
    • The Big Gundown: Morricone themes performed by Zorn in his postmodern phase, like Naked City but a bit easier
    • Cobra: experimental improvised work; get the reissue on Hat Art because versions vary enormously
    • The Goddess: chamber acoustic album by the Alhambra Trio but prog fans check out 'Beyond The Infinite'
    • Shir HaShirim: unaccompanied choral works, very accessible and 'spiritual'
    • Fragmentations, Prayers and Interjections: if you want a classical album, start here.


    Huh, that's ten and I didn't even get warmed up!

  22. #22

  23. #23
    I'm here for the moosic NogbadTheBad's Avatar
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    Second the Mountains Of Madness, Naked City & Mount Analogue recommendations. Mountains Of Madness always makes me grin like a fool if it comes up on shuffle.
    Ian

    I blame Wynton, what was the question?
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  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    To put it like that, Naked City were a major influence on several solid bands, even to the point of almost forming a bizarre "subgenre" of sorts.

    Start with Prelapse, a group led by an afroamerican priest and initially only playing Naked City covers (!), later protegees of Zorn himself who'd then go on to produce their sole album for his very own Avant Records (one of three labels he administered back then), Prelapse (1999). It contains some new pieces written by Zorn for the band, but most of it is self-penned stuff from Prelapse themselves. Very good, but more "grindy".

    Mr. Bungle. Both Disco Volante and California. Fishbone had some distant resemblance to *some* NCity, as did Estradasphere and French locos Sebkha-Chott (who have at least three releases to their credit).

    There were more than one Japanese band with significant NCity influence, notably Boredoms, Masque and SOH Band. P.O.N. are the very best of the bunch.
    I meant to write what in Zorn's catalogue is most similar but I will check out those bands too! Have heard Estradasphere being mentioned a few times.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Sordel View Post
    Any sentence beginning 'if you need only one Zorn CD ...' is doomed to failure; everyone needs about ten Zorn CDs, but finding them in the haystack of his work is definitely a challenge. Some suggestions:

    • Mount Analogue: from the soundtrack/easy listening side of his work, very easy to like, lots of variety
    • The Circle Maker: great introduction to the Masada music, featuring the Masada String Trio and Bar Kokhba Sextet
    • Six Litanies For Heliogabalus: wild Prog Rock performed by Moonchild, will be too extreme for many
    • From Leaves Of Grass: Gentle but intense acoustic music by the Nova Quartet (all their albums are great)
    • Sanhedrin: Any of the mainstream acoustic jazz albums by the original Masada Quartet are superb but start here
    • The Big Gundown: Morricone themes performed by Zorn in his postmodern phase, like Naked City but a bit easier
    • Cobra: experimental improvised work; get the reissue on Hat Art because versions vary enormously
    • The Goddess: chamber acoustic album by the Alhambra Trio but prog fans check out 'Beyond The Infinite'
    • Shir HaShirim: unaccompanied choral works, very accessible and 'spiritual'
    • Fragmentations, Prayers and Interjections: if you want a classical album, start here.


    Huh, that's ten and I didn't even get warmed up!
    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.

    And it isn't only him, but those in his universe. It's maddening, but in a good way.

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