With The Urmuz Epigrams Zorn returns to his roots, using the recording studio as instrument to create an intensely personal suite of compositions in the style of his legendary File Card compositions and Zoetropes. Dedicated to the visionary Romanian writer Urmuz whose small, scattered body of work predated Dadaism by decades, The Urmuz Epigrams is a suite of surrealistic miniatures more akin to philosophical aphorisms than actual music. The pieces are presented here in two iterations, as a set of “rare 78rpm records” complete with surface scratches and limited dynamic range, and as a modern reconstruction of same with the full blown studio sound presented in all its perplexing glory. Some of the craziest music in the Zorn catalog!
Drawing upon traditions as varied as Messiaen, Xenakis, Ligeti, Bach, Tournemire, Ives, Korla Pandit and The Phantom of the Opera, Zorn’s organ improvisations are transcendent, inspiring, ecstatic experiences, offering a direct line to the workings of his rich compositional imagination. Recorded at midnight on the eve of Halloween on the largest organ in New York City, Zorn approaches this performance as ritual, creating a mysterious mood of contrasts, colors, bells, drones, counterpoint and simultaneity. This fourth volume documenting Zorn’s legendary organ recitals presents organ improvisation at its most surprising, extreme and sublime.
After over 40 years there is still no one who plays the sax quite like John Zorn. Using the instrument as sound maker, he commands a saxophone language of unmatched versatility. Collected under the enigmatic title of “The Classic Guide to Strategy,” five volumes were planned—“Volume 1” (1983), “Volume 2’ (1986), “Volume 3’ (2003) and now the penultimate “Volume 4” is finally made available on Tzadik. Filled with wit, drama, playfulness and intensity, the composer’s legendary virtuosity and powerful improvisational logic is on full display in this astonishing release recorded at EMPAC in early 2013. You have to hear it to believe it!
The fourth CD in a 12-month period by Zorn’s most powerful new ensemble presents nine genre-busting compositions mixing jazz, metal, classical, world music and more. This time their trademark sound is augmented by the ringing tones of Kenny Wollesen’s vibraphone to create their wildest, most insane CD to date. Juxtaposing complex atonal lines, driving vamps, heavy metal riffs, improvisational madness, shredding solos and moments of profound lyricism, The Painted Bird is a surreal and expressive new world in sound. Moonchild meets Nova Express!
Featuring the magical sonorities of Bill Frisell’s guitar in a heavenly tapestry of harp and vibraphone, the Gnostic Trio is one of the most sublime ensembles in Zorn’s ever-expanding universe. Their sixth CD is their best yet, and presents gorgeous and intimate chamber music touching upon themes of innocence, adventure, childhood and longing that unfold like an exotic flower. Inspired by the charming character Scout from the American classic “To Kill A Mockingbird” and tempered by a folk-like simplicity, Zorn and company spins a hypnotic web of melodic beauty to soothe the restless spirit.
“The True Discoveries of Witches and Demons” is the second release by Zorn’s heavy new organ trio of John Medeski, Matt Hollenberg and Kenny Grohowski. Described as Tony Williams’ Lifetime on steroids, here they are joined by special guests Marc Ribot and Trevor Dunn to make the music even heavier and more intense. This is white hot, mind bending music filled with heavy riffs, fiery solos and improvisational madness. Three generations of musical explorers come together to rip your mind to shreds in the second installment from Zorn’s heaviest new ensemble Simulacrum.
The Classic Guide to Strategy is a compilation album by John Zorn featuring his two early solo records The Classic Guide to Strategy Volume One (1983), (tracks 1-2) and the Classic Guide to Strategy Volume Two (1985), (tracks 3-8). The albums were first released on vinyl on Lumina Records in and later re-released on Tzadik Records in 1996 as a single CD.