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John Zorn - O'o CD (album) cover

O'O

John Zorn

RIO/Avant-Prog


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snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I am not sure how many Progressive Rock lovers know about John Zorn at all. It is not very strange, because he came from free-jazz background, so he's well-known in avant-jazz circles.

Whenever he is represented in PA site, I would like to say, that he is a GREAT figure in modern music. In fact ,I think he is in modern avant-garde jazz and rock music the same, what was Frank Zappa in seventies and eighties.

The problem with John Zorn is the same, as was with Zappa music: he released enormous amount of albums with different teams of musicians, and all albums are very different musically. I don't want to speak now about Zorn's main projects, but just want to say, that if some albums are very strange and heavily accessible, another are very pleasant to listen.

There we have the album from John Zorn so called "soundtrack" series. For any newcomer I strongly recommend to start from these series of albums as most accessible for listening. Generally all the albums from these series contains jazz-fusion/rock/easy listening mix heavy influenced by soundtracks to Zorn beloved films from 50-60 ss.

In "O 'o'" album you can find some pretty tunes from jazz from 60-s, early fusion and many jazz-rock and blues-rock (!) songs. Please note, that Zorn by itself isn't presented as musician on that album ( it's not rare example in Zorn's discography).So, no sax at all, but perfect mix of piano/organ, electric ( rock) guitar, vibraphone, bass and drums/percussion. The music isn't too much complex, but sound absolutely beautiful, very melodic. All the sound is almost acoustic and are perfectly recorded and mixed.

You don't need to be a jazz lover, or avant-garde lover at all just to find this album excellent! Very highly recommended for every prog fan as excellent entrance to magic world of John Zorn!

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#247938)
Posted Tuesday, November 03, 2009 | Review Permalink
Starhammer
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Jazz in an elevator...

If you enjoy listening to the musician that is John Zorn and approach this release by John Zorn expecting to hear John Zorn, then you might be a little disappointed as John Zorn doesn't actually perform on this album. In addition, if you enjoy listening to the sub-genres that are RIO/Avant-Prog and approach this release in the RIO/Avant-Prog section expecting to hear some RIO/Avant-Prog, then you may be further disappointed as this is anything but.

The Good: Some really nice hotel lobby jazz and a really nice title, to go with the really nice album artwork.

The Bad: Doesn't hold my interest for more than 15 minutes unless I leave it as background music.

The Verdict: Pleasant enough.

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Send comments to Starhammer (BETA) | Report this review (#438951)
Posted Monday, April 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
Anthony H.
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars John Zorn: O'o [2009]

Rating: 8/10

Recent years have shown John Zorn becoming more and more acquainted with the melodic side of his musical persona. Zorn has been on the vanguard of avant-garde music for more than thirty years now, exploring countless styles throughout his gargantuan discography. The vast majority of these albums consist of absolutely brutal music with little regard for standard musical convention. Zorn released a few melodic jazz albums during the early 2000s, but the latter half of the decade has been largely dedicated to this style. O'o is certainly one of the finest examples of Zorn's mellow side, if not the finest. This is an absolutely superb piece of melodic jazz performed by some of the finest musicians in the business. Marc Ribot proves his guitar prowess yet again, and Jamie Saft performs some of the best piano lines I have ever heard in this style. Kenny Wollesen's vibraphone may be the most omnipresent instrument here, and his performance certainly does not disappoint.

"Miller's Crake" is an instant jazz classic. The piano lines are brilliant and unforgettable. "Akialoa" is a hypnotic piece of surf-music with gorgeous vibes. The surf music continues on "Po'o'uli." This is a pleasant piece, but it's a bit too needlessly repetitive. "Little Bittern", another highlight, is a groovy track with amazing guitar work from Ribot. "Mysterious Starling" features yet another beautiful piano performance. "Laughing Owl" continues with the infectious grooves and the stunning piano. "Archaeopteryx" is a subdued semi-ambient piece with haunting guitar/vibe interplay. "Solitaire" is a short samba piece. Cryo Baptista's percussion sounds fantastic here. Saft breaks out the electric organ on "Piopio", and it sounds enormous. "Zapata Rail" features more excellent organ, and the cymbal-heavy drum work is irresistible. "Kakawahie" is another quiet surf piece. It doesn't bring anything new to the table, but it is still a joy to listen to. "Magdalena" concludes the album with more great grooves and a flurry of excellent electronic instrumentation.

O'o is undoubtedly one of the strongest albums that Zorn has ever created. Each of these pieces is brilliantly composed and beautifully performed. The quality is made even more impressive by the fact that this isn't Zorn's normal style. However, I do feel like this album can occasionally become a bit too melodic. Some of the repetition is unnecessary. Regardless, the "evaluator music" criticism that this album sometimes receives is entirely unjustified. This is a complex and multilayered release that happens to also be subdued and melodic. Even the most moderate jazz fans should be sure to familiarize themselves with O'o. It is one of the most rewarding releases from one of music's most creative minds.

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Send comments to Anthony H. (BETA) | Report this review (#589469)
Posted Friday, December 16, 2011 | Review Permalink

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