Tuesday, March 02, 2010

A few notes are worth a thousand words

It is impossible to categorise a track by John Zorn. You're likely to hear fragments of everything from classical masterpieces to thrash metal, from jazz licks to film music soundscapes. This music is the soundtrack of postmodernism, the aural equivalent of surrealist collage. "I've got an incredibly short attention span," Zorn says. "My music is jam-packed with information that is changing very fast."
That quote is from a Tom Service article and it does make John Zorn's music sound rather daunting. Which is a pity, because like many composers a few notes of John Zorn's music is worth a thousand words. You could do a lot worse than start with Uri Caine plays Zorn's Masada Book Two on the composer's own Tzadik label. Lots of music but few words on the CD which is seen below. It comes with the very post-modern documentation of absolutely no explanatory text, a blank label and the most obscure sleeve typography ever. If you insist on a description of the music on the disc I'll assay abbreviated Keith Jarrett meets mellow Conlon Nanacarrow with Kabbalistic undertones.

But don't take my inadequate words. Buy the CD or download, or if you are lucky enough to live in Ireland get along to hear the equally unclassifiable Uri Caine playing John Zorn on March 5 in a concert promoted by the Louth Contemporary Music Society. They are the freethinkers who prompted me to write If I were CEO of a major record label ... Some very different Jewish influenced piano music here.


Louth Contemporary Music Society's nice poster has been reformatted by me to fit the blog. The Uri Caine CD was bought online. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

4 comments:

The Marches Hatter said...

John Zorn, the best documented (in volume of recordings) living composer?

He has led me down dozens of paths since I first bought The Big Gundown on vinyl, on its initial release, some 25 years ago. That album introduced me to Bill Frisell. Then Spy vs Spy which led me, obviously to Ornette Coleman, but also to Tim Berne and Joey Baron. News For Lulu to George Lewis, but also to many, many Blue Note musicians. Then Masada to Dave Douglas, and the list could go on and on(it must also have been a Zorn path that led me initially to Marc Ribot, I guess).

As much as I like Uri Caine's Book of Angels recordings, I don't think there was a Zorn path to him, but the paths were probably getting so interconnected by that point, who can say!

If you don't know Zorn's music, the Book of Angel series on Tzadik is a pretty good place to start. A trip to Dublin sounds quite tempting!

Pliable said...

Bernard Tuyttens writes:

In case you would like to dig into J. Zorn’s Music, there is an Italian blog ( in italian with each time a summary in english) commenting each Zorn release.

http://zornography.blogspot.com/

In case you would like to limit yourself to the Zorn MASADA project :
http://barkokhba.chez.com/masada.htm?sess=62cdb8090a5e145462a366ea47812b04

In case you prefer a more relaxed approach, go to the Book of Angels, it’s about only 316 compositions.

And for a rare interview : http://www.rowan.edu/open/philosop/clowney/Aesthetics/Zorn.htm

Pliable said...

and ...

Rehearsing for recording aleatoric music , Cobra.

The director “ provides the musicians with signals & signs”.

On You Tube : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXkAr4w4cjY

Pliable said...

Email received from BT:

The only non Jew in the original Masada quartet was Dave Douglas ( trumpet).

Zorn , Baron & Friedlander are all Jews.

What is Dave doing?

Have a look:

http://greenleafmusic.com/blog/


In other Masada news, Dave will be conducting a seminar on May 10th at The Stone celebrating the Masada book. Details below. Further info at The Stone’s website.

DAVE DOUGLAS—The Music of Masada
7PM to 10PM—THIRTY DOLLARS: Open to musicians on any instrument.
Trumpeter in various MASADA ensembles since 1993, Douglas talks about and demonstrates some of the unique performance issues raised in this celebrated book of compositions by John Zorn. The group will work on several pieces from the book in differing ensemble formations, illuminating ideas about performance practice and limning the knowns and unknowns in the pages of the MASADA book. For those interested in an inside look at this music, this will be a challenging and fun hands-on experience. Please arrive on time and bring your instrument.

“ Bring your instrument”… Good to see that.

Meanwhile there is :

- Electric Masada

- Masada string trio,

Etc etc