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“Downtown Lullaby” is a collective of NYC Downtown jazz icons which is: John Zorn (sax); Bobby Previte (drums); Wayne Horvitz (kbrds) and Elliot Sharp (guitar). All compositions are credited to the band; however, most of these cuts serve as launching pads for expansive improvisational exercises.
All the tracks bare the names of New York City streets, specifically in the Greenwich Village area of Manhattan. Recorded live in the studio without additional overdubs the message here is straight up and in your face. “500 W 52st” is a mid-tempo, “swing” inspired romp featuring some zealous “free style” articulations by Zorn. Horvitz and Sharp merely tinker throughout and Previte’s drums are at times, washed out in the mix. Perhaps the lack of a bassist lessens the impact. The recording itself is ok; however, Zorn’s high register alto sax screeching along with Sharp’s metallic distortions on guitar detract from any semblance of structure or cohesiveness. This date seems to suggest a fairly routine live free-for-all studio jam session. “Downtown Lullaby” represents an assemblage of remarkably inventive musicians who radiate sentiments of lethargic compromise. There are interesting moments but the overall experience is less than gratifying. Listeners would reap more benefits by listening to the latest Horvitz, Previte and Sharp solo/group outings not to mention Zorn’s incredible Masada string and jazz group.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.