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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Zorn: Nosferatu

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The idea of saxophonist/composer John Zorn writing music to accompany a production about vampires has exciting implications. After all, it would seem logical that a man who has, over the past 40 years, helped expand the scope of sounds that can be considered music should be able to craft something truly mind-bending when dealing with such a spooky subject. Surprisingly, however, Zorn has produced a relatively tame score that translates into an accessible album when confronted with the task of writing music for a Polish stage production of Bram Stoker's Dracula.Zorn's Nosferatu is a generally haunting album, but ...

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John Zorn: Gnostic Preludes

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John ZornGnostic PreludesTzadik2012 Composer John Zorn is a man of many projects, genres and styles. When once asked about styles, in Option, he replied “I'm not afraid of styles; I like them all." He also has a short attention span and because of that his music is a unique aural crosscut of styles--be it avant jazz, classical, cartoon cutups, free improv, computer music--continuously plunging himself into less expected musical territories. Being an intrepid explorer and musical sponge, his wide-ranging interests are so vast and ever-changing that is futile to place him ...

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John Zorn: In Search of the Miraculous

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John ZornIn Search of the MiraculousTzadik2010 John Zorn's compositions revel in a rare blend of allusion and mystery. His albums often exist both on a self-contained level as individual works of art, yet are simultaneously layered with tokens and tributes to the many artists who have shaped his unusually eclectic aesthetic. While the first album of his Alhambra Legacy compositional project consisted of a collection of light and airy melodies for piano trio, the second, In Search of the Miraculous, draws overtly for inspiration on Georges Gurdjieff, the 1920s Greek-Armenian mystic and ...

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John Zorn: Dictee / Liber Novus

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John ZornDictée / Liber NovusTzadik2010 If the ever-productive multi-instrumentalist John Zorn's compositional oeuvre yields one simple theme, it is the sheer variety of his interests and vision. Perhaps none of his personal oeuvres better encapsulate this than his file card compositions. These are usually extended pieces that consist of a vast number of diverse musical ideas, written down on file cards, which Zorn then cuts between in the studio, often at a rapid pace. Some of these “scenes" last only a few seconds, while others develop slightly longer. Between the high-speed cuts ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Zorn / George Lewis / Bill Frisell: More News For Lulu

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More News For Lulu was this trio's second album and, despite being recorded in 1989 and originally released on hatOLOGY Records (the father label to HatHut Records) in 1992, its crisp attack and buoyant execution holds up rather immaculately with this overdue reissue. A hybrid studio/live program, the artists effortlessly work through bop, and swing motifs with slight nods to abstract expressionism in choice spots. And the overall dynamic is abetted by the record label's pristine audio processing.

The musicians perform compositions by pianist Sonny Clark, saxophonist Hank Mobley, trumpeter Kenny Dorham and pianist Freddie Redd. Guitarist Bill ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Zorn: Femina

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There are two notable elements to this album, before even listening to its contents. One is that composer John Zorn has created a work that pays tribute to female creators (his name checks include Yoko Ono, Agatha Christie and Joan Of Arc). The other is that he's making a return to his fabled file-card system of composition. The Cobra piece was the most notorious, notable and potent manifestation of this technique, where Zorn would prepare musical strategies to be spontaneously displayed in front of his playing cast, prompting immediate action and exacerbated resourcefulness. In keeping with both ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Zorn: O'o

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When John Zorn released The Dreamers (Tzadik) in 2008, it might have seemed like a temporary aberration: Zorn the master of the arbitrary (Cobra), the cutting edge (Torture Garden) and the anarchic (too many projects to mention) had embraced the genres of lounge and 1950s exotica to produce music that, perhaps ironically, approached easy listening, building on the more tuneful elements in his Electric Masada and Morricone projects. It seems the aberration wasn't temporary. On O'o Zorn returns to the same blend of genre elements and the same ensemble, with guitarist Marc Ribot, keyboardist Jamie Saft and vibraphonist Kenny Wollesen ...



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