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JOHN ZORN

RIO/Avant-Prog • United States


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John Zorn biography
Although very few people would think of John Zorn as a progressive rock artist, his close relation to the genre can't be denied. Not only has he repeatedly joined forces with Fred Frith (Henry Cow, Art Bears), he has also collaborated on several occasions with Mike Patton (Mr. Bungle, Fantômas) and Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle). Maybe just as important is the fact that Zorn's side project Naked City is generally regarded as an important avant-rock/jazz outfit, and his Painkiller project takes things to even greater extremes with a mix of grindcore and free jazz. On top of that, there are several prog bands that mention him as a source of inspiration, and his Tzadik label has helped keeping avant-garde music alive by releasing albums of such prolific artists as Mike Patton, Maudlin Of The Well-offshoot Kayo Dot, Toby Driver, Buckethead, Fred Frith, Ruins, and many others. So, although not a "progrock" artist per se, Zorn's connection to the RIO/avant-prog scene is obvious and his discography is a valuable addition to the ever-increasing Prog Archives website.

Born in New York at September 2, 1953, John Zorn initially studied piano, flute, and guitar and learned contemporary art music through a program of self-study. He took up the alto saxophone (which was to become his major instrument) and began to study jazz at age twenty. Zorn has always been interested in many kinds of music, including such 20th-century composers as Igor Stravinsky, Anton Webern, Charles Ives, Edgard Varèse, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Harry Partch, John Cage, and Mauricio Kagel, but he is also very fond of free jazz musicians such as Ornette Coleman, film music composer Ennio Morricone, and Carl Stallings, who wrote music for cartoons. In addition, Zorn's influences include doo-wop and other pop music, including thrash metal/grindcore band Napalm Death. As a teenager, Zorn was already writing contemporary art music in the vein of the composers mentioned above, and the influence of two of them figures strongly in Zorn's later works (in which he experimented with aspects of chance, after Cage, and 'game pieces', after Kagel). His liking of extreme metal led to the founding (around 1990) of the groups Naked City and Painkiller. In addition to the aforementioned 'game pieces' (including "Lacrosse", "Pool", "Hockey" and "Archery") and avant-metal (including "Naked City" and Painkiller's "Guts Of A Virgin"), Zorn has released recordings of chamber music (including "Cartoon/S&M"), solo music fo...
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Pellucidar-: A Dreamers FantabulaPellucidar-: A Dreamers Fantabula
Tzadik 2015
Audio CD$16.05
$15.69 (used)
DreamersDreamers
Tzadik 2008
Audio CD$11.75
$8.85 (used)
O'oO'o
Tzadik 2009
Audio CD$14.52
$11.00 (used)
Spy Vs Spy: Music of Ornette ColemanSpy Vs Spy: Music of Ornette Coleman
Import
Imports 2017
Vinyl$21.04
$116.00 (used)
There Is No FirmamentThere Is No Firmament
Tzadik 2017
Audio CD$19.98
Naked CityNaked City
Nonesuch / Elektra 1992
Audio CD$4.50
$2.47 (used)
Flaga: The Book of Angels Volume 27Flaga: The Book of Angels Volume 27
Tzadik 2016
Audio CD$10.73
$10.72 (used)
Garden of Earthly DelightsGarden of Earthly Delights
Tzadik 2017
Audio CD$17.09
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
JOHN ZORN-SPILLANE-JAPAN ONLY SHM-CD ttt USD $31.19 [0 bids]
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John Zorn - Dreamers Christmas [Vinyl New] USD $33.27 Buy It Now 40m 30s
Dreamers Christmas - John Zorn (Vinyl Used Very Good) USD $31.27 Buy It Now 1h 43m
The Big Gundown: John Zorn Plays the Music of Ennio Morricone (15th Anniversary USD $15.37 Buy It Now 2h 16m
Cerberus: The Book Of Angels Volume 26 - John Zorn (2015, CD New) USD $18.34 Buy It Now 2h 49m
JOHN ZORN Film Works 1986-1990 JAPAN CD issue USD $21.25 Buy It Now 3h
JOHN ZORN NAKED CITY Complete Studio Recordings PLUS 2 cd set TORTURE GARDEN USD $99.66 Buy It Now 4h 27m
The Bribe - John Zorn Compact Disc USD $16.33 Buy It Now 6h 3m
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John Zorn - Gift [CD New] USD $15.46 Buy It Now 8h 40m
The Gift by John Zorn (Composer) (CD, Mar-2001, Tzadik Records) USD $10.78 Buy It Now 9h 5m
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Gift - John Zorn (2001, CD New) USD $14.30 Buy It Now 9h 23m
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FilmWorks XIII - 2002, Vol. 3: Invitation to a Suicide by John Zorn. USD $20.38 Buy It Now 17h 12m
The Best of Film Works: 20 Years of Soundtrack Music by John Zorn. USD $20.30 Buy It Now 17h 12m
John Zorn: What Thou Wilt. USD $20.30 Buy It Now 17h 12m
Cartoon S&M by John Zorn. USD $26.58 Buy It Now 17h 12m
FilmWorks XIV: Hiding and Seeking by John Zorn. USD $22.52 Buy It Now 17h 12m
FilmWorks XV: Protocols of Zion by John Zorn. USD $20.30 Buy It Now 17h 12m
John Zorn & Naked City Heretic Soundtrack CD Japan Import OBI AVANT-001 NEW USD $29.00 Buy It Now 22h 55m
JOHN ZORN Stolas CD European Tzadik 2009 9 Track (Tz7375) USD $11.05 Buy It Now 22h 58m
The Hermetic Organ John Zorn Audio CD USD $24.95 Buy It Now 23h 54m
A Vision In Blakelight John Zorn Audio CD USD $30.81 Buy It Now 23h 54m
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The Song Project Live At Lpr John Zorn Audio CD USD $30.72 Buy It Now 23h 54m
Filmworks 23: El General - John Zorn Compact Disc USD $16.63 Buy It Now 1 day
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Flaga: The Book Of Angels Volume 28 - John Zorn (2016, CD New) USD $14.50 Buy It Now 1 day
John Zorn - Flaga: The Book Of Angels Volume 28 [CD New] USD $14.93 Buy It Now 1 day
John Zorn - Zorn: Nova Express [CD New] USD $15.10 Buy It Now 1 day
The Bribe John Zorn Audio CD USD $25.00 Buy It Now 1 day
John Zorn - Masada Guitars [CD New] USD $14.79 Buy It Now 1 day
John Zorn - Vol. 11-50th Birthday Celebration [CD New] USD $21.66 Buy It Now 1 day
Vol. 11-50th Birthday Celebration - 3 DISC SET - John Zorn (2005, CD New) USD $21.49 Buy It Now 1 day
Masada Guitars - John Zorn (2003, CD New) USD $15.98 Buy It Now 1 day
Zorn: Nova Express - John Zorn (2011, CD New) USD $19.26 Buy It Now 1 day
Songs from the Hermetic Theater by John Zorn (CD, 2001, Tzadik Records) USD $4.99 Buy It Now 1 day
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John Zorn, George Lewis, Bill Frisell: News for Lulu. Original 1st cd release USD $38.32 Buy It Now 1 day
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1 day
JOHN ZORN: JAMES MOORE PLAYS THE BOOK OF HEADS [CD & DVD [USED CD] USD $27.16 Buy It Now 1 day
Filmworks Xxii-The Last Supper - John Zorn (2008, CD New) USD $24.26 Buy It Now 1 day
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David Shea The Poem Of Nuestra Signora CD modern classical electronic John Zorn USD $12.93 Buy It Now 1 day
John Zorn - Elegy [CD New] USD $15.31 Buy It Now 1 day
John Zorn - The Mockingbird (NEW CD) USD $21.28 Buy It Now 1 day
Lee Hyla: In Double Light (CD, Oct-1997, Avant (Japan)) JOHN ZORN PRODUCER USD $7.50 Buy It Now 2 days
JOHN ZORN - LOCUS SOLUS [1991] (JAPAN IMPORT CD WWCX 2035) NO OBI STRIP USD $12.50 Buy It Now 2 days
John Zorn I.A.O. Music In Sacred Light Good Used CD USD $10.00 Buy It Now 2 days
Mike Patton John Zorn Autographed Hemophiliac Cd Rare OOP USD $120.00 [0 bids]
2 days
JOHN ZORN Spy VS Spy - Ornette Coleman Original LP Naked City Vinyl ~ Tim Berne USD $25.00 [0 bids]
2 days
NEW The Circle Maker by John Zorn Composer CD, Mar-1998, 2 Discs, Tzadik Records USD $18.95 Buy It Now 2 days
The Classic Guide to Strategy, Vol. 4 * by John Zorn. USD $23.49 Buy It Now 2 days
Dreamers Christmas [VINYL] John Zorn Vinyl USD $48.17 Buy It Now 2 days
Locus Solus by John Zorn (Composer) (CD, Sep-1995, Tzadik Records) USD $10.00 Buy It Now 2 days
Masada Live in Tapei 1995 John Zorn Audio CD USD $34.20 Buy It Now 2 days
Big Gundown John Zorn Audio CD USD $24.34 Buy It Now 2 days
John Zorn - Unknown Masada (CD, 2003, Tzadik Records) USA USD $13.72 Buy It Now 2 days
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John Zorn - Naked City [CD New] USD $12.18 Buy It Now 2 days
Naked City by John Zorn (Composer)/Naked City (Jazz) (CD, Feb-1990, Nonesuch... USD $10.30 Buy It Now 2 days
News for Lulu by John Zorn (Composer) (CD, Aug-2008, Hat Hut Records) USD $36.99 Buy It Now 2 days
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Flauros: The Book of Angels, Vol. 29 [Blister] * by Autoryno/John Zorn. USD $20.93 Buy It Now 2 days
John Zorn - Madrigals (NEW CD) USD $21.28 Buy It Now 2 days
John Zorn - Pellucidar/A Dreamers Fantabula (NEW CD) USD $34.56 Buy It Now 2 days
John Zorn - James Moore Plays The Book Of Heads (NEW CD & DVD) USD $40.25 Buy It Now 2 days
John Zorn - The Hermetic Organ Vol. 4 St. Barts (NEW CD) USD $21.28 Buy It Now 2 days
JOHN ZORN-KRISTALNACHT-TZADIK ARCHIVAL SERIES-AVANTGARDE JAZZ-1995-NEW-SEALED USD $19.00 Buy It Now 2 days
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JOHN ZORN-FILMWORKS 1986-1990-AVANTGARDE JAZZ-2000-NEW-SEALED-TZADIK USD $15.00 Buy It Now 2 days
John Zorn - Naked City 1990 GERMANY CD Avantgarde, Free Jazz, Art Rock #27-1 USD $8.99 Buy It Now 2 days
DRIVE TO HEAVEN, WELCOME TO CHAOS: Henry Kaiser, Fred Frith, Der Plan, John Zorn USD $37.77 Buy It Now 3 days
Concealed - John Zorn Compact Disc USD $18.56 Buy It Now 3 days
The Gift - John Zorn Compact Disc USD $16.63 Buy It Now 3 days
Classic Guide to Strategy - John Zorn Compact Disc USD $17.98 Buy It Now 3 days
John Zorn - Hiding And Seeking - Film Works XIV - CD (TZADIK TZ7343 2003) USD $15.32 Buy It Now 3 days
Transmigration Of The Magus - John Zorn (2014, CD New) USD $17.36 Buy It Now 3 days
The Big Gundown: John Zorn Plays the Music of Ennio Morricone, 15th Anniversary USD $16.69 Buy It Now 3 days
Lacrosse: Usa [IMPORT] John Zorn Audio CD USD $34.20 Buy It Now 3 days
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RUINS - S/T (1990 RARE John Zorn CD, Shimmy Disc Records) USD $24.99 Buy It Now 3 days
RASHANIM JOHN ZORN MASADA ROCK 10th ANNIVERSARY EDITION CD MARC RIBOT Tzadik USD $8.26 Buy It Now 3 days

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JOHN ZORN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

JOHN ZORN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

1.33 | 3 ratings
School (With Eugene Chadbourne)
1978
1.33 | 3 ratings
Environment For Sextet (with Andrea Centazzo, Eugene Chadbourne, Tom Cora, Toshinori Kondo, Polly Bradfield )
1979
3.40 | 5 ratings
Pool
1980
1.41 | 10 ratings
Archery
1981
1.33 | 3 ratings
Yankees (with Derek Bailey & George Lewis)
1982
2.39 | 14 ratings
Locus Solus
1983
2.57 | 7 ratings
The Classic Guide To Strategy, Volume One
1983
3.59 | 8 ratings
Ganryu Island (Michihiro Sato / John Zorn)
1985
1.83 | 6 ratings
The Classic Guide To Strategy, Volume Two
1985
3.14 | 22 ratings
The Big Gundown: John Zorn Plays The Music Of Ennio Morricone
1986
3.92 | 24 ratings
Spillane
1987
3.19 | 17 ratings
Spy Vs. Spy: The Music Of Ornette Coleman
1988
3.08 | 6 ratings
News for Lulu (with George Lewis / Bill Frisell)
1988
2.67 | 3 ratings
Cynical Hysterie Hour (Film Works VII)
1989
3.25 | 11 ratings
Elegy
1992
2.62 | 16 ratings
Kristallnacht
1993
3.73 | 7 ratings
The Art Of Memory (John Zorn / Fred Frith)
1995
2.25 | 4 ratings
First Recordings 1973
1995
3.65 | 11 ratings
Redbird
1995
2.50 | 4 ratings
Nani Nani (Dekoboko Hajime / Yamantaka Eye)
1995
2.00 | 8 ratings
The Book Of Heads
1995
1.60 | 5 ratings
Film Works II: Music For An Untitled Film By Walter Hill
1995
3.00 | 6 ratings
Film Works III: 1990-1995
1995
2.50 | 4 ratings
Film Works V: Tears Of Ecstasy
1996
2.50 | 4 ratings
Film Works VI: 1996
1996
3.20 | 5 ratings
Hockey
1997
3.33 | 3 ratings
Lacrosse
1997
3.00 | 8 ratings
New Traditions In East Asian Bar Bands
1997
2.00 | 3 ratings
Film Works IV: S/M + More
1997
3.43 | 7 ratings
Duras: Duchamp
1997
2.00 | 2 ratings
Euclid's Nightmare (John Zorn / Bobby Previte)
1997
3.14 | 7 ratings
Angelus Novus
1998
2.00 | 2 ratings
Film Works VIII:1997
1998
3.00 | 6 ratings
Aporias: Requia For Piano And Orchestra
1998
3.53 | 7 ratings
The Bribe - Variations And Extensions On Spillane
1998
3.00 | 7 ratings
Music For Children
1998
3.80 | 10 ratings
Taboo & Exile
1999
3.44 | 9 ratings
The String Quartets
1999
2.50 | 4 ratings
Xu Feng
2000
4.00 | 4 ratings
Cartoon S/M
2000
3.25 | 4 ratings
Film Works IX: Trembling Before G-d
2000
2.33 | 3 ratings
Film Works X: In The Mirror Of Maya Deren
2001
3.84 | 12 ratings
The Gift
2001
3.92 | 9 ratings
Madness, Love And Mysticism
2001
3.33 | 6 ratings
Songs From The Hermetic Theater
2001
3.93 | 9 ratings
IAO
2002
3.91 | 3 ratings
Film Works XI: 2002 Volume One - Under The Wing
2002
3.33 | 3 ratings
Film Works XII: 2002 Volume Two - Three Documentaries
2002
3.50 | 6 ratings
Film Works XIII: 2002 Volume Three - Invitation To A Suicide
2002
3.83 | 3 ratings
Film Works XIV: Hiding And Seeking
2003
3.11 | 8 ratings
Chimeras
2003
3.52 | 11 ratings
Magick
2004
2.00 | 2 ratings
Naninani II (Yamataka Eye / John Zorn)
2004
2.91 | 3 ratings
Film Works XV: Protocols Of Zion
2005
3.83 | 6 ratings
Rituals
2005
3.00 | 3 ratings
Film Works XVI: Working Man's Death
2005
4.20 | 5 ratings
Sanatorium Under The Sign Of The Hourglass
2005
3.04 | 10 ratings
Mysterium
2005
3.67 | 3 ratings
Film Works XVII: Notes On Marie Menken / Ray Bandar: A Life With Skulls
2006
2.00 | 2 ratings
Film Works XVIII: The Treatment
2006
2.28 | 6 ratings
From Silence to Sorcery
2007
4.26 | 12 ratings
Film Works XIX: The Rain Horse
2008
3.61 | 14 ratings
The Dreamers
2008
3.50 | 4 ratings
Filmworks XX: Sholem Aleichem
2008
4.00 | 2 ratings
Filmworks XXI: Belle de Nature/The New Rijksmuseum
2008
4.00 | 3 ratings
Filmworks XXII: The Last Supper
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Art Of Memory II (John Zorn / Fred Frith)
2008
3.40 | 5 ratings
Filmworks XXIII: El General
2009
4.00 | 10 ratings
Alhambra Love Songs
2009
3.75 | 29 ratings
O'o
2009
4.31 | 11 ratings
Femina
2009
3.87 | 26 ratings
In Search Of The Miraculous
2010
0.00 | 0 ratings
a child's adventures in the realms of the unreal
2010
4.04 | 6 ratings
Ipsissimus
2010
3.00 | 6 ratings
Late Works (with Fred Frith)
2010
4.25 | 4 ratings
Dictée/Liber Novus
2010
4.06 | 13 ratings
The Goddess - Music for the Ancient of Days
2010
4.00 | 4 ratings
Filmworks XXIV: The Nobel Prizewinner
2010
3.80 | 5 ratings
What Thou Wilt
2010
4.80 | 11 ratings
Interzone
2010
3.24 | 6 ratings
Nova Express
2011
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Satyr's Play - Cerberus
2011
5.00 | 1 ratings
Enigmata
2011
4.33 | 3 ratings
At the Gates of Paradise
2011
3.50 | 4 ratings
A Dreamers Christmas
2011
4.28 | 9 ratings
Mount Analogue
2012
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Gnostic Preludes
2012
3.85 | 12 ratings
Nosferatu
2012
4.50 | 9 ratings
Templars-In Sacred Blood
2012
4.00 | 2 ratings
The Hermetic Organ
2012
3.00 | 2 ratings
Rimbaud
2012
4.00 | 4 ratings
A Vision In Blakelight
2012
0.00 | 0 ratings
Music And Its Double
2012
4.33 | 6 ratings
The Concealed
2012
4.00 | 2 ratings
Filmworks XXV-City Of Slaughter/Schmatta/Beyond The Infinite
2013
0.00 | 0 ratings
Lemma
2013
4.25 | 4 ratings
The Mysteries
2013
4.00 | 3 ratings
On The Torment Of Saints, The Casting Of Spells And The Evocation Of Spirits
2013
4.00 | 5 ratings
Dreamachines
2013
4.05 | 3 ratings
In Lambeth - Visions From The Walled Garden Of William Blake
2013
0.00 | 0 ratings
Shir Hashirim
2013
0.00 | 0 ratings
In The Hall Of Mirrors
2014
1.00 | 1 ratings
Myth And Mythopoeia
2014
0.00 | 0 ratings
On Leaves of Grass
2014
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Testament of Solomon
2014
0.00 | 0 ratings
Valentine's Day
2014
3.91 | 3 ratings
Transmigration of the Magus
2014
4.00 | 2 ratings
The Dream Membrane (with David Chaim Smith & Bill Laswell)
2014
3.43 | 7 ratings
Psychomagia
2014
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Alchemist
2014
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Hermetic Organ vol. 2-St. Paul's Chapel
2014
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Hermetic Organ Vol. 3-St. Paul's Hall, Huddersfield
2015
3.09 | 3 ratings
Hen to Pan
2015
3.50 | 4 ratings
Simulacrum
2015
3.04 | 5 ratings
Pellucidar / A Dreamers Fantabula
2015
0.00 | 0 ratings
The True Discoveries Of Witches And Demons
2015
0.00 | 0 ratings
Inferno
2015
0.00 | 0 ratings
Cerberus: The Book of Angels Volume 26
2015
0.00 | 0 ratings
Madrigals
2016
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Hermetic Organ vol. 4 St. Bart's
2016
0.00 | 0 ratings
Flaga: The Book Of Angels Volume 27
2016
3.98 | 4 ratings
The Painted Bird
2016
0.00 | 0 ratings
49 Acts of Unspeakable Depravity in the Abominable Life and Times of Gilles de Rais
2016
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Mockingbird
2016
2.00 | 1 ratings
Sacred Visions
2016

JOHN ZORN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.25 | 4 ratings
More News For Lulu (with George Lewis / Bill Frisell)
1992
5.00 | 1 ratings
Downtown Lullaby (John Zorn / Wayne Horvitz / Elliott Sharp / Bobby Previte)
1998
4.86 | 2 ratings
50th Birthday Celebration Volume 2: Milford Graves / John Zorn
2004
4.33 | 3 ratings
50th Birthday Celebration Volume 3: Locus Solus
2004
4.00 | 4 ratings
50th Birthday Celebration Volume 8: Wadada Leo Smith / Susie Ibarra / John Zorn
2004
3.50 | 2 ratings
50th Birthday Celebration Volume 9: The Classic Guide To Strategy Volume Three
2004
2.17 | 4 ratings
50th Birthday Celebration Volume 10: Yamataka Eye / John Zorn
2005
2.00 | 1 ratings
The Stone: Issue Three (with Lou Reed/Laurie Anderson)
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Song Project Live at Le Poisson Rouge
2015

JOHN ZORN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.67 | 3 ratings
A Bookshelf On Top Of The Sky: 12 Stories About John Zorn (Claudia Heuermann)
2004

JOHN ZORN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.95 | 3 ratings
Film Works 1986-1990
1990
0.00 | 0 ratings
The John Zorn Radio Hour
1990
3.60 | 5 ratings
The Classic Guide To Strategy, Volumes One & Two
1996
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Parachute Years, 1977-1980
1997
3.36 | 5 ratings
Godard/Spillane
1999
5.00 | 1 ratings
Film Works Anthology - 20 Years Of Soundtrack Music
2005
5.00 | 2 ratings
The Dreamers-The Gentle Side
2010

JOHN ZORN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Earache (split with Napalm Death)
1990

JOHN ZORN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Nosferatu by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.85 | 12 ratings

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Nosferatu
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Lewa

3 stars Works perhaps better as a soundtrack than as an album.

As one can deduce from the subject matter this is one of John Zorn's dark jazz albums and in my opinion also one of his better ones. Parts of it are insanely dark and aggressive and all are mesmorizing. Consistent rhythm or melodies are not very present on the album. Interestingly, the metal influence that's often part of his darker works, mostly takes the form of industrial metal here. That's new and took me by surprise, especially considering that this is a work celebrating a 100th anniversary.

While there is light there is also some shadow in my opinion. The vast majority of the songs are very short and it is my impression that musical ideas are seldomly really explored. The changes from song to song are pretty aprupt and there is not much gradual evolution. In the end, I find that this hearts the album as a whole. It works quite good as a soundtrack or soundscape, though.

The stalking is the one track that stands out on this album. It is the only longer composition and follows a more traditional song structure. In this case a dub bass line that really grooves is repeated ad infinitum and the other instruments scream or wail over it. It is quite recommended as a song, though seven something minutes are enough of that bass line.

In the end this is recommeded to proggers who like dark jazz and appreciate soundscapes. A fondness for lots of variety and left turns also helps.

 The Gift by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.84 | 12 ratings

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The Gift
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Browsing through John Zorn's mammoth catalogue is like being a kid with a sweet tooth in the world's largest candy store: it's hard to know what to sample next. Not all the merchandise will be to your liking (coconut! ugh...) but there's something for every taste, and this 2001 release is one of the composer's more mouth-watering confections.

It's easily the most accessible and purely enjoyable album I've yet heard from such an otherwise provocative artist: fifty-one minutes of sunshine, sea breezes, and tropical exotica circa 1960. Zorn has of course sailed these occasional temperate zones elsewhere in his varied career, typically cued by the jangling roots-rock guitar of Marc Ribot, and by Cyro Baptista's esoteric percussion accents.

But there's a sinister undertow to the surf music here, as heard in the nervous repetition of "Cutting Stone", or the aptly named "Bridge to the Beyond", the latter an eerie subconscious night gaunt featuring Zorn himself on theremin and piano. Immediately after that last mysterious digression is a welcome reprise of the album opener "Makahaa": upbeat musical bookends suitable for your next luau, with optional grass skirt.

The album marked the third and final entry in Zorn's 'Music Romance Series', but judging from the subtext (made explicit in the somewhat disturbing inner sleeve art) his idea of romance can be a little kinky at times. It's meant to be subversive of course: Exotica was always an ersatz style of music, expressing a Post-War suburban daydream of South Seas enchantment. Zorn simply exploited that counterfeit innocence in the underhanded manner of CAN and their Krautrock 'ethnological forgeries', in effect redeeming a bogus musical trend with a harsh sense of self-awareness.

The same insight applies to the album's obvious sore thumb: "Mao's Moon": an incongruous film-noir score not so out of place in this collection as you might think. The world-weary late-night trumpet, the tinkling lounge piano, and the lush orchestral undercurrents are all reflections of another Post-War fantasy, populated by cynical gumshoes and sultry femme fatales.

The entire package is easy on the ears, but hardly easy listening. And the title itself was certainly appropriate. But of course John Zorn's entire, vast discography is like an endless series of artfully packaged gifts, and you never know what to expect until the wrapping comes off.

 The Painted Bird by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 4 ratings

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The Painted Bird
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The music of John Zorn's umpteenth 2016 album (that's only a slight exaggeration) describes the point of impact where Jazz and Rock not only intersect, but totally obliterate each other in a matter/anti-matter annihilation of sound. If you're looking for one of his more polite neo-classical fusions, be warned: this ain't it.

The album instead presents a near-literal instrumental holocaust, and I don't choose that loaded word lightly. Zorn was (possibly) inspired by the notorious 1965 Jerzy Kosinski novel of the same name, which follows a Jewish orphan in the early days of World War II across "a Bosch-like world of harrowing excess", according to one source. Zorn extends the simile to his album cover illustration, likewise borrowed from Hieronymus Bosch: a detail from his sprawling triptych "The Last Judgement" (center panel, lower right).

Look at the canvas, listen to the music, and you'll discover parallel worlds of metaphysical chaos. The album mixes jazzy vibraphones (by Kenny Wollesen, as usual), grinding Hammond organ (from old pal John Medeski) and distorted electric guitars, with a crazed rhythm section adding drums, more drums, and a battery of congas...no bass guitar, because it wasn't necessary. And if you can't imagine the acoustic vibraphone as an essential tool of Heavy Metal, you obviously aren't familiar with the music of John Zorn.

Even the composer's own Tzadik record label describes it as "insane". Which would of course make it a perfect musical analogue of European history, circa 1940.

This was one of maybe a dozen albums released by Zorn in 2016, each in a different musical idiom (and with different sets of musicians), and none requiring the composer to wear a bucket on his head to get our attention. Over his decades-long career Zorn has done everything from classical chamber music to straight jazz to soundtracks and surf music. But sometimes he apparently just has to let all his demons off their collective tether, and crank up the volume.

 Film Works XIX: The Rain Horse by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.26 | 12 ratings

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Film Works XIX: The Rain Horse
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars No appreciation of John Zorn would be complete without a study of his many film scores, all of them for movies unlikely to ever open at your local multiplex: indie art projects, obscure documentaries, and so forth. Number nineteen in his Filmworks catalogue, released in 2008, was commissioned for an austere but often stunning piece of alt-animation by Russian artist Dimitri Geller: a wordless dream-parable of death and rebirth in the natural world.

Geller originally approached Zorn to borrow songs from his Book of Angels archive for the film. But Zorn, as always an incredibly prolific composer (scroll down his page in these Archives for proof), offered instead to write an original score, and in typical fashion recorded and mixed the entire album in a single day.

It's a thing of beauty too, and one of the few soundtrack albums able to stand apart from its parent film as a totally unique and equally worthwhile experience. Hardly surprising, since Geller's 15-minute movie used only a fraction of the music cues collected here, each one a miniature instrumental objet d'art all by itself.

The music couldn't be simpler: graceful yet haunting melodies, drawn from eastern European traditions and arranged for an uncluttered acoustic trio of cello, upright bass and piano, the latter sometimes gently muted by an application of (!) Silly Putty. Is it Jazz? Classical? Gypsy Folk-Art? Whatever the answer, the full album is a joy to hear, and in its own modest way remains one of the highlights of John Zorn's immense musical library.

 Film Works XV: Protocols Of Zion by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2005
2.91 | 3 ratings

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Film Works XV: Protocols Of Zion
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Volume fifteen of John Zorn's ongoing Filmworks project was the soundtrack to a documentary by Marc Levin, about the spike in anti-Semitism after the 2001 Al-Qaeda suicide attacks. The film's title is of course a reference to the notorious (and totally bogus) early 20th century manifesto outlining a secret Jewish conspiracy to control the world, still in print today and - more amazingly - still regarded as gospel by undereducated bigots hoping to validate their own stupidity.

(A quick side note...I haven't seen the film yet, but the synopsis on the user-edited IMDB web site consists of a single word: "Propaganda", which only serves to underline the director's point.)

Musically it's a very simple album, with Zorn himself playing electric piano (a rare performance credit for the renowned composer and conductor), accompanied by discreet percussion accents and the occasional oud. Like many film scores it offers several variations of the same few themes, in this case a nervous little melody teased by Zorn from his oscillating piano and set to some understated, serpentine World Music grooves.

The mood is tense, appropriate to the subject, but at the same time surprisingly light on its toes, thanks to all the supple rhythms (Latin American, Middle Eastern) provided by longtime collaborator Cyro Baptista. Zorn is not above using a plastic Whirly Tube for seriocomic effect, or adding ironic subtext to the music with a twanging Jew's Harp, in effect providing unspoken commentary to Levin's screen thesis.

I'm awarding the effort three stars only because of its limited scope: the entire session might have been realized in a single afternoon, performed in real time while the movie was playing. But in truth the album is one of Zorn's more compelling accomplishments.

 Hen to Pan by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.09 | 3 ratings

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Hen to Pan
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Another of John Zorn's classical chamber exercises - the real deal, not the ersatz Chamber Rock of bands like Univers Zéro (who I love, but let's face it: the music of UZ is kid stuff next to a composer of Zorn's range and education). He's been down this road before, of course: writing difficult music for small string ensembles, often easier to appreciate than to enjoy. But what elevates this disc above his many other classical detours is the urgency of the music, thanks in part to the addition of a frantic drummer, and some equally percussive piano.

The album's bookend versions of "Ouroboros" were arranged for twin cellos and percussion, all playing in absolutely furious agitation: not Rock or Fusion, but close enough to challenge the expectations of visitors to this site. (A separate, almost identical duo rendition, minus the drums, is also featured.)

"Occam's Razor", subtitled "Canons, Interludes and Fantasies for Cello and Piano", is equally dynamic, again highlighting the demonic virtuosity of cellist Jay Campbell, matched to the sympathetic brilliance of Stephen Gosling on the keyboard. Rounding out the program is "The Aristos (Ten Metaphysical Ambiguities for Violin, Cello and Piano)", a longer piece following the same obscure formula, with interesting refinements, although I have to wonder how tongue-in-cheek that fanciful sub-heading is.

The album was strong enough to earn a spot on the New York Times list of the Best Classical Music Recordings of 2015, not exactly a high recommendation for doctrinaire Progheads, but a convincing endorsement of Zorn's high(brow) standing in a much larger musical context. This effort isn't aimed at casual bystanders or the musically faint of heart, but students of edgy avant-garde notation will find much to excite them here.

 Sacred Visions by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2016
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Sacred Visions
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
2 stars John Zorn followed one of his most accessible albums ("The Mockingbird") with one of his more difficult efforts, juxtaposing a pair of similar but contrary pieces of music too short for separate release. One is entirely vocal, the other is completely instrumental; both are challenging modern-classical studies forced to share the same esoteric package.

First up is "The Holy Visions" (2013), a 23-minute canticle described in the album notes as "a mystery play in eleven strophes concerning the life, work and philosophy of Hildegard von Bingen". A little homework might be needed here: von Bingen was a 12th century Benedictine sibyl, musically portrayed by Zorn through a gorgeous (female) a capella quintet, transported from some distant medieval cloister to a modern art gallery. Soaring harmonies alternate with abstract, more dissonant movements in a fascinating but sometimes too academic manner: a short written test will follow the performance.

Next is "The Remedy of Fortune" (2014), presenting a string quartet arrangement of (again, from the CD booklet) "six tableaux depicting the changing fortunes of romantic love: pain, devotion, hope, beauty, longing, ecstasy, intoxication, frustration, anger, despair" ...all familiar reactions to the music of John Zorn, even from established fans. The music here isn't exactly atonal, but the tuning is definitely irregular, in a suitably avant-garde sort of way.

When Zorn is in a scholarly mood his music can often sound cold and sterile, at least on disc: trigonometry functions played on strings, easy to admire from a distance but hard to wrap your ears around. Each of these two orphaned selections is short enough to not tax the well-developed patience of Progheads used to hour-long concept albums, but outside of a museum recital the album will likely find a home only in the most refined music collections.

 The Mockingbird by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 1 ratings

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The Mockingbird
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars These Archives would be a pitiful thing without the music of John Zorn, author of several hundred albums scattered throughout the site, under his own name and on the pages of other, auxiliary bands. His fourth release of at least seven albums in 2016 (or more, if you include additional volumes in his ongoing Book of Angels project) is one of the composer's most beguiling creations yet: 43-minutes of undiluted instrumental bliss, brilliant in its melodic simplicity.

This is music of disarming warmth and beauty, arranged in eight gentle lullabies evoking all the uncomplicated joy of childhood. You can see it in the track titles: "Porch Swing'; "Child's Play"; "Riverrun" and so forth. And the rose-colored past is even more present in the music itself, rendered by Zorn's aptly-named Gnostic Trio: Bill Frisell, Kenny Wollesen and Carol Emanuel, playing (respectively) light electric guitar, lovely vibraphones, and a solo harp aglow in its own supernatural aura.

Zorn's adolescent reverie isn't all sunshine and smiles, however. "A Mystery", at seven-plus minutes one of the album's longer tracks, presents an ominous (but still innocent) minor-key daydream: the score to an imaginary Hardy Boys adventure, with Frank and Joe investigating a cobwebbed haunted mansion hiding dark secrets.

I only learned in retrospect that the music was actually inspired by Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" (Zorn can be seen on the CD insert holding a copy of Elmer Bernstein's movie soundtrack). Familiarity with the book (or the film) might give the album extra resonance, but it isn't a requirement. As usual with John Zorn there's more here than what first meets the ear: a subtle roots-rock vibe (in "Riverrun"); strains of ancient folk music ("Innocence"); and occasional hints of the deeply ingrained Judaica that informs so much of his work, albeit far less explicitly in an album influenced by a Southern Gothic novel set in backwater Alabama.

Don't be fooled by the delicate nature of the music. In its own fragile way this may be one of Zorn's more durable achievements.

 The Painted Bird by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 4 ratings

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The Painted Bird
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars John Zorn's discography either as solo artist, band member, composer, performer/collaborator, director or producer is huge. It will take a life time effort to keep up with it, less write about each release under his blessing. This being the fourth CD in a 12-month period by Zorn's new ensemble (including long time accomplice John Medeski).

So, I do consider myself lucky of having acquired this 2016 "The Painted Bird" release in which traditional Jazz structures and modern Jazz improvisations are reconstructed via the heavy metal way. A clash of 3 musical worlds balanced throughly and to experimental perfection without any kind of condescending attitude towards neither of the styles.

A daring and flawless performance full of extremely well crafted details true to the nature of their roots yet always on the look out for unsuspected detours or musical expression options, as usual with the non-mainstream soul of this musician's projects.

Music composition wise its creative proposals go beyond the mere blending of styles, opposite to that it explores deeply into its own "crossover" encounters but never losing its balanced focus or becoming indulgent. It is extremely experimental yet at the same time friendly, in John Zorn's terms of course.

Anyway, serious fun to call it somehow.

****4 PA stars.

 Transmigration of the Magus by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.91 | 3 ratings

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Transmigration of the Magus
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This year 2014 project from the tireless John Zorn shares an obvious bond with his "In Lambeth" album, released a mere ten months earlier. Both efforts were brought to illuminated fruition by the aptly-named Gnostic Trio, employing the same evocative combination of harp, guitar, and vibraphones, augmented here by even more vibes and a second harpist, plus organist John Medeski of MMW fame: an obvious kindred spirit.

The music is thus equally dreamlike and haunted, and with the expanded line-up presents an even richer experience. The absence of a rhythm section lends the album an almost childlike simplicity at times, but also invests it with a profound sense of rediscovered innocence, like something Fred Rogers might have embraced after forsaking his Neighborhood of Make Believe to become the High Mage of some benign irreligious cult.

The album was actually intended as a tribute to the late Lou Reed, created to aid his passage into the afterlife, through "a musical evocation of the mystical journey of the soul through the bardo" (quoting the CD notes). Despite my natural skepticism, I would like to imagine the shade of the man who authored the notorious "Metal Machine Music" album finding solace in the gentle encouragement of this collection.

Zorn has often been attracted to themes of esoteric magic, and here he found the perfect alchemy of soothing musical ingredients and deeper metaphysical inspiration. His friend and mentor (and fellow New Yorker) Lewis Allan Reed may have been the magus named in the album's title, but it's Zorn himself who weaves a binding musical spell, conjuring 44-blissful minutes of instrumental enchantment.

Irrelevant postscript... This album marked the final lap of a weeklong dash across the unfamiliar terrain (to me at least) of John Zorn's immense discography: seven albums chosen completely by chance, and considered in chronological order. If active listening is a prerequisite to knowledge, music by itself can be an education. And what I learned from this seven-day adventure is that the lesson never ends. Much like the work of his doppelgänger FRANK ZAPPA (another multi-faceted composer, performer, conductor and arranger), any single John Zorn album is only the visible ridge of a larger, living mountain of sounds.

Thanks to Joren for the artist addition. and to updated by Snobb for the last updates

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