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John Zorn The Big Gundown: John Zorn Plays the Music of Ennio Morricone album cover
3.18 | 30 ratings | 3 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1986

Songs / Tracks Listing

LP/CD release:
1. The Big Gundown (7:17)
2. Peur Sur La Ville (4:08)
3. Poverty (Once upon a Time in America) (3:42)
4. Milano Odea (2:57)
5. Erotico (The Burglars) (4:17)
6. Battle of Algiers (3:43)
7. Gił La Testa (Duck, You Sucker) (5:59)
8. Metamorfosi (La Classe Operaia Va in Paradiso) (4:25)
9. Tre Nel 5000 (4:32)
10. Once upon a Time in the West (8:27)

Total Time 49:27

Bonus tracks on 2000 Tzadik CD release:
11. The Sicilian Clan (3:20)
12. Macchie Solari (3:29)
13. The Ballad of Hank McCain (5:27)
14. Suegliatti e Uccidi (3:03)
15. Chi Mai (3:06)
16. The Ballad of Hank McCain (instrumental) (5:25)

Line-up / Musicians

- Luli Shioi (1) / vocals
- Jim Staley (1,9) / trombone, bass trombone
- Bill Frisell (1,5) / guitar
- Anthony Coleman (1) / piano, harpsichord, organ, vocals
- David Weinstein (1,9) / Mirage, microcomputer
- Bobby Previte (1,2,5,9) / percussion, timpani, vocals, drums
- Jorge Silva (1) / surdo
- Claudio Silva (1) / pandeiro
- Cyro Baptista (1) / cuica
- Duduca Fonseca (1) / caixa
- Reinaldo Fernades (1) / repique
- Arto Lindsay (1,2,4,7) / batucada contractor, guitar, vocals
- John Zorn (1,2,4,7,8,9) / alto, saw, vocals, harpsichord, game calls, piano
- Orvin Aquart (2,10) / harmonicas
- Tim Berne (2) / alto
- Wayne Horvitz (2,6,7,8,9) / piano, organ, celesta, electronic keyboards
- Bob James (2,7,8,9) / tapes
- Anton Fier (2,4,6) / drums
- Toots Thielmans (3) / whistling, harmonica
- Guy Klucevsek (3) / accordion
- Carol Emanuel (3) / harp
- Fred Frith (4,7,9) / guitar, acoustic guitar
- Jody Harris (4,10) / guitar
- Melvin Gibbs (4,10) / bass
- Big John Patton (5) / organ
- Shelley Hirsch (5) / vocals
- Laura Biscotto (5) / sexy Italian vocals
- Vicki Bodner (6,7) / oboe, English horn
- Christian Marclay (6,9) / turntables
- Ned Rothenberg (7) / shakuhachi, ocarina, Jew's harp
- Michihiro Sato (7) / Tsugaru shamisen
- Diamanda Galas (8) / vocals
- Vernon Reid (8) / guitar
- Polly Bradfield (8) / violin
- Mark Miller (8) / drums, timpani
- Robert Quine (10) / guitar

Bonus track 11:
- Greg Cohen / bass
- Erik Friedlander / cello
- Joey Baron / drums
- Marc Ribot / guitar
- Cyro Baptista / percussion
- Mark Feldman / violin

Bonus track 12:
- Jamie Saft / keyboards
- Miho Hatori / voice

Bonus track 13:
- Jamie Saft / keyboards
- Cyro Baptista / percussion
- Mike Patton / voice

Bonus track 14:
- Trevor Dunn / bass
- Joey Baron / drums
- Derek Bailey, Marc Ribot / guitar

Bonus track 15:
- Greg Cohen / bass
- Erik Friedlander / cello
- Joey Baron / drums
- Marc Ribot / guitar
- Cyro Baptista / percussion
- Mark Feldman / violin

Bonus track 16:
- Jamie Saft / keyboards
- Cyro Baptista / percussion

Releases information

LP: Nonesuch 979 139-1 (US), Nonesuch/Icon 7559-79139-2 (Germany)
CD: Nonesuch 7559-79139-2 (US)

Recorded at Radio City Music Hall Studio Sept. 1984-Sept. 1985.
Additional recording at BC Studios and at Evergreen Studios.

CD re-release: Tzadik TZ 7328 (US,2000)

Thanks to Joren for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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JOHN ZORN The Big Gundown: John Zorn Plays the Music of Ennio Morricone ratings distribution

(30 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(27%)
Good, but non-essential (37%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (7%)

JOHN ZORN The Big Gundown: John Zorn Plays the Music of Ennio Morricone reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Alucard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 'The Big Gundown' was released in 1986. In the beginning John Zorn didn't wanted to accept the project,that was suggested to him by producer Yale Evelev, because he thought that Morricone's music was already too perfect in itself. But fortunately, as Morricone was one of Zorn's major influences he couldn't resist the temptation.

Now, John Zorn takes Morricone's music, strips it down to the bone, keeps only the essential and builds it up again, not so much a record of covers as re-incarnations. Zorn appropriates Morricone's music to himself.

The most important factor for Zorn in preparing the project was the choice of musicians: which musician was best to play the sound(s) that Zorn had in mind for each chosen Morricone composition on the record. Each track contains a carefully crafted combination of musicians (from completely different fields of music : Jazz, Blues, Rock, Avant-Garde, Classics) to produce the desired effect. Instead of taking one group and give the whole record an unique sound, Zorn assembles the musicians like a puzzle, not twice the same combination of musicians and not two tracks with the same athmosphere, exactly like Morricone choose different types of music for different films.

The musical width on 'The Big Gundown' ranges from Free Jazz influenced nervrecking guitar sawing like in 'The Big Gundown',' Metamorfosi', 'Once Upon a Time' to erotic soul :'Erotico' with Big John Patton's great organ playing, the Japonese Music influenced 'Giu La Testa', to the delicate 'Poverty' with Toots Thielmans on whistling and harmonica playing. On the Bonus Tracks there is even a possible 'hit single': 'The Ballad of Hank Mc Cain' with Mike Patton on vocals.

A brillant re-interpretation of Morricone classics.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars John Zorn is great experimentalist, his music varies from beautiful to interesting to inaccessible. But he is almost never boring. The Big Gundown is his first great album, and the successful basic for all the range of future "movie" serie works.

As it is stated in album name, Zorn recorded his tribute to great music soundtracks by Ennio Morricone. It means, that quite often you will be able to catch, what movie's soundtrack was taken as raw material for one or another composition.

But it is John Zorn, so all pieces are heavily reworked. Zorn uses different teams of musicians for each track, Bill Frisell and Fred Frith are between them. The music is very eclectic mix of some original movie sound from 60-70-ss, neoclassic minimalism, free jazz techniques, avant-noise inclusions, heavy-rock and blues moments as well. Some songs have vocals ( Tre Nel 5000 contains Diamanda Galas singing, and you will feel it at the very first moment!).

All in all album is a hot dish: some pieces are excellent, some noises are terrible, some sounds are out of place, and nothing is in balance, but just chaotically mixed. But all this build very strange and in it's own manner beautiful atmosphere, when you don't need to see movie to listen this soundtracks. They are kind of art by itself.

I agree, that this album is still raw in many places, but it is first really successful result of Zorn's "movie" eclectics, and it gave the roots to big green three of Zorn's most successful experimentations in future.

Review by Starhammer
1 stars The Spaghetti Western Incident...

John Zorn plays the music of Ennio Morricone.

The Good: It's Ennio Morricone.

The Bad: It's John Zorn playing the music of Ennio Morricone. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy listening to John Zorn almost as much I enjoy listening to 'The Godfather' of film score, so this should've been a match made in heaven. However, after multiple listens the only way I can describe this is: the original works but with the addition of monkey noises, random screaming, and the occasional dissonant twiddling. Call it artistic interpretation if you will, I call it a waste of time.

The Verdict: Stick to the archetypes.

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