324

John Zorn: Femina

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
John Zorn: Femina
John Zorn returns to his famous "file card" technique of composing with Femina, a disc he wrote and conducts with an all-woman lineup, dedicated to women in the arts. Among those honored here are Meredith Monk, Simone de Beauvoir, Frida Kahlo, Madame Blavatsky, Isadora Duncan, Hélène Cixous, Gertrude Stein, Abe Sada, Sylvia Plath, Louise Bourgeois, Margaret Mead, Loie Fuller, Dorothy Parker, Yoko Ono and the moon goddess En Hedu'Anna.

Zorn first released Spillane (Elektra, 1988), a tribute to detective pulp fiction writer Mickey Spillane, composed with his technique of writing sound blocks on note cards that could be sorted and resorted into a musical score. These file cards were arranged with themes and various musicians in mind. Here, the theme is carried out by a cast of stellar downtown musicians and longtime Zorn collaborators.

Written in four parts, the disc opens with Laurie Anderson's narrative cutting to pianist Sylvie Courvoisier, played over Ikue Mori's electronic doodles. The next card is some bang-up percussion from Shayna Dunkelman that washes out into Carol Emanuel, Jennifer Choi, and Okkyung Lee's strings. Zorn's score reveals his choice to place certain sound blocks next to another. Sometimes the transitions are abrupt, noisy, and feverish, other sections meld into gently flowing sequences. As with the original Spillane and his Naked City band, the astonishing revelation is that this music and its segues are not post-production studio creations, but live performance by these talented artists.

Like many other works by Zorn, sheer beauty is often juxtaposed against noise, and scary themes jostle the passages of tranquility. But, then, fans of his music must always expect his music to abruptly awaken.

Although the disc is a mere 37 minutes in length, Tzadik Records makes a strong argument for the CD over download, with exceptional packaging that includes a 52-page booklet of Kiki Smith's photography.

Track Listing

Femina-part one; Femina-part two; Femina-part three; Femina-end titles.

Personnel

Jennifer Choi: violin; Okkyung Lee: cello; Carol Emanuel: harp; Sylvie Courvoisier: piano; Shayna Dunkelman: percussion; Ikue Mori: electronics; Laurie Anderson: opening narration.

Album information

Title: Femina | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Tzadik

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Live in Hawaii
Doug MacDonald
Lost in a Dream
Kristin Callahan
The Painter
Tobias Meinhart
Strollin'
Monaco, Meurkens, Hoyson, Lucas
Aufbruch
J. Peter Schwalm / Markus Reuter
Cool With That
East Axis

Popular

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.