Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

161

John Zorn: Femina

Martin Longley By

Sign in to view read count
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 title and concept, all six Zorn-pawns are female: Jennifer Choi (violin), Okkyung Lee (cello), Carol Emanuel (harp), Sylvie Courvoisier (piano), Shayna Dunkelman (percussion) and Ikue Mori (electronics). Laurie Anderson makes a brief appearance, providing a short opening narration. The lavish disc packaging is suitably female (whatever that is) and includes a substantial booklet of Kiki Smith's images, although many of these veer towards bland postcard art.

In describing the music, it's impossible to avoid visions of the filmic, as Zorn's card-prompts cause a sequence of episodic and contrasting incidents to parade themselves. The suite is divided into four parts, the first three hovering around 10 minutes apiece while the fourth is a mere three, concluding with a vaguely Japanese melody. The presence of so many chamber instruments leads to an unavoidably diaphanous nature, but Mori's fierce laptop emissions act as a frequent disruptor. In typically shape-changing fashion, Zorn stage-manages a multiple personality mashup, alternating silken abstraction with cluttered aggression. Presumably, this was all recorded in real-time, with no overdubs. That would be a more noticeable achievement on the live stage, but is particularly impressive in view of some of the percussive density and suddenly compacted laptop activities.

A pulsating chamber ensemble regularity develops, is banished several times, returning, broken asunder by blurts of electro-barrage. Tonally-singing cello and violin fly over cantering piano and percussion, then a rending, hyper-martial ritual explodes into ceremonial angst. Mori is going beyond her accustomed sonically processed abstraction, featuring actual recognizably real-world sounds. Transitions are frequently made with microscopic detail and Emanuel's harp is often the most distinctive sonic ingredient, along with Mori's samples.

Femina is a procession of beguilingly atmospheric events, less savagely jump-cutting than most of Zorn's previous card-pieces. It's dramatic, but not always linear. This is its strength.

Track Listing: Femina.

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

Title: Femina | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Tzadik

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Live Reviews
In Pictures
General Articles
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
General Articles
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
 

Psychomagia

Challenge Jazz
2014

buy
 

The Hermetic Organ...

Challenge Jazz
2014

buy
 

Dreamachines

Challenge Jazz
2013

buy
 

The Mysteries

Challenge Jazz
2013

buy
Date Detail Price
Mar23Sat
8:30 pm
John Zorn
Centre For Fine Arts - Bozar
Brussels, Belgium

Related Articles

Read World Gardens CD/LP/Track Review
World Gardens
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 14, 2018
Read Henry II CD/LP/Track Review
Henry II
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 14, 2018
Read Conference Of The Mat/ts CD/LP/Track Review
Conference Of The Mat/ts
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2018
Read Hidden Treasures Vol. 1, Monday Nights CD/LP/Track Review
Hidden Treasures Vol. 1, Monday Nights
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 14, 2018
Read Âme Sèche CD/LP/Track Review
Âme Sèche
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 14, 2018
Read Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review
Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard
by Doug Collette
Published: December 13, 2018
Read "One Night in Indy" CD/LP/Track Review One Night in Indy
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 15, 2018
Read "Awase" CD/LP/Track Review Awase
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: May 7, 2018
Read "Bluer Than Velvet: The Prysock Project" CD/LP/Track Review Bluer Than Velvet: The Prysock Project
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 29, 2018
Read "Blued Dharma" CD/LP/Track Review Blued Dharma
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: June 14, 2018
Read "Changed Beings" CD/LP/Track Review Changed Beings
by Chris May
Published: November 16, 2018
Read "ANDINA: The Sound of the Peruvian Andes" CD/LP/Track Review ANDINA: The Sound of the Peruvian Andes
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: January 6, 2018