John Zorn and The Downtown Scene (1983 - 1995)

Russell Perry By

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Never far from the pulse of jazz innovation, New York in the 1980s incubated what has become known as the "downtown scene." Radically multi-stylistic, the resulting music was unabashedly eclectic, celebrating influences from bebop to punk rock to cartoon music and eventually klezmer and Balkan music "From the shrill, colorful legacy of noise music and new wave, integrating and further developing these sounds, at the end of the eighties a dynamic experimental music scene arose on Manhattan's Lower East Side—the New York "downtown scene." "What's coming out of this scene is undoubtedly hybrid music," said alto saxophonist and composer John Zorn "It's the result of people who grew up in the sixties and seventies and for most of their conscious life have heard and experienced music from all over the world." One of the most important statements of the downtown scene was: unity no longer exists. Instead, there's plurality. The impertinent, exuberant playing with quotation in this music marked an aesthetic of musical disintegration that, paradoxically, sought cohesion. A characteristic of the downtown scene was its unbridled polystylism" -Joachim-Ernst Berendt


  • Host Intro 0:00
  • Microscopic Septet "A Strange Thought Entered My Head" from Take The ZTrain (Press Records) 2:40
  • Host speaks 7:44
  • Herb Robertson Brass Ensemble "Un Poco Loco" from Shades of Bud Powell. (Winter & Winter) 8:42
  • Host speaks 14:14
  • Tim Berne Sextet "Now Then" from Fractured Fairy Tales (JMT) 15:16
  • Host speaks 18:26
  • Either/Orchestra "Ecaroh" from The Calculus of Pleasure (Accurate Records) 19:10
  • Host speaks 26:00
  • Don Byron Quintet "Tears" from Tuskegee Experiments (Elektra Nonesuch) 28:11
  • Host speaks 36:16
  • John Zorn Trio "Blue Minor II"from News for Lulu (hat ART) 38:10
  • Naked City "Lonely Woman" from Naked City (Nonesuch) 41:36
  • Host speaks44:15
  • Masada "Zelah" from Masada, Vol. 1: Alef (DIW) 46:55
  • Dave Douglas & Tiny Bell Trio "Taking Sides" fromConstellations (hat ART) 50:43
  • Host Outro 56:48

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