One of the most talked about and well attended shows of Zorn’s 50th Birthday month was his much anticipated duo concert with Boredoms mastermind, Yamataka Eye. Close friends and musical associates since 1985, their love, respect and telepathic interplay was augmented on this occasion by electronic technician Sawai Taeji, who responded to Eye’s sensor movements via powerbook. Jewish Alchemy meets Japanese Shamanism in this ritual performance of music and magic from two of the world’s most unusual and unclassifiable adepts. Included as a bonus is a Quicktime video of the performance accessible on your computer.
In the late ’70s and early ’80s Zorn presented yearly retrospectives of his game pieces at various Downtown venues. He called these events his Olympiads. This long awaited CD presents three of his classic pre-Cobra game pieces in multiple versions by the fabulous Brooklyn-based guitar quartet Dither. Here you will find the building blocks of Zorn’s trademark musical language—virtuosic extended techniques, surprising contrasts, fast group interaction and razor sharp changes. Featuring the first recording of Zorn’s legendary compositions Fencing and Curling, these fabulous realizations will keep you on the edge of your seat from first note to last!
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!
The second disc of Bill Laswell and Buckethead's project Praxis is much less of a band effort and much heavier in tone. Laswell calls in some of his associates for various tracks, which makes this more a revolving-door project. Many tracks are speed/thrash metal at their noisiest; most notable of these is "Rivet," which combines Buckethead's ultra-heavy guitar riffs and shredding solos with sounds of shattered glass for an unbelievably aggressive experience. There's also a short dub interlude ("Iron Dub") and a hip-hop freakout with lots of scratching and high-pitched shrieks ("The Hook"). P-Funkers Bootsy Collins and Bernie Worrell (both also featured on the first disc, Transmutation) each contribute one lengthy track: "Deathstar," with Bootsy's free-form bass explorations, and "Crossing," featuring Bernie's psychedelic improvisation on a distorted Hammond organ.
Inspired by the spiritual mythology of William Blake, A Vision in Blakelight is the latest in Zorn’s continuing series of 21st century mystical works. With a cinematic sweep reminiscent of his best film scores the music is alternately romantic, ominous, ecstatic, driving and meditative. Featuring the Nova quartet augmented by harp and percussion—and the charismatic Jack Huston reciting from Blake’s Jerusalem on one mysterious track—this suite of ten instrumental miniatures references jazz, classical, easy listening, film music and minimalism. A lovely and varied suite reflecting the humanistic philosophy of the immortal visionary William Blake with a dramatic and brilliant lyricism.
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!