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Where to start with John Zorn

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PabstRibbon View Drop Down
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    Posted: June 16 2011 at 18:17
Hi

Due to the size of Zorn's discography, I would like to know what is the best way to discover his fantastic universe. I heard 4-5 songs and I was amazed. I'm very open minded so any genre will do. Thanks
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CCVP Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 16 2011 at 18:50
this is also relevant to my intrests.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zappaholic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 16 2011 at 19:01
His most accessible piece is probably the first Naked City album.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Triceratopsoil Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 16 2011 at 20:26
I disagree with the post above me, and counter with O'o.

I would also like to add that I like his album Magick.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Padraic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 16 2011 at 21:08
Masada - Live in Middleheim
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TheGazzardian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2011 at 12:24
Originally posted by zappaholic zappaholic wrote:

His most accessible piece is probably the first Naked City album.



I wasn't very huge on that one. 

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Originally posted by Triceratopsoil Triceratopsoil wrote:

I disagree with the post above me, and counter with O'o.

I would also like to add that I like his album Magick.

I wasn't very huge on O'o either. LOL

Actually those are the only Zorn albums I've heard, and while I don't hate either, maybe Zorn just isn't for me.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Man With Hat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 17 2011 at 13:37
Naked City certainly isn't that accessible. However, it is pretty damn amazing and I think is a good introduction to the Zorn universe. All of their records have their charm, but the first one is more or less a grand slam IMO.
 
The Masada group is good if you like jazz, or klezmer, or both. Don't know too much from this entity, but I have Live In Sevilla 2000 and its pretty nice, although not something I'd listen to everyday.
 
One of my favorite Zorn groups is what is often called the Moonchild Trio (which has been aumented over their discog so I don't like to call them a trio) with Mike Patton, Trevor Dunn, and Joey Baron. I think they've released five albums, all of which is pretty great, but Six Litanies For Heliogabalus is still the top for me.
 
Something similar to Naked City (but more hardcore/metal in the beginning and more dub/ambient towards the end) is Painkiller. Their album Execution Ground is widely considered to be a masterpiece, and it is quite a listen. (They also have a box set of the studio stuff, if your willing to take such a plunge.)
 
For a bit of a different take there is his Filmwork's series, which is as it sounds, soundtracks to various films. I'm no expert on this series, having only heard one of the near 20, but this is generally more relaxed (and accessible) than most of his most famous stuff.
 
Also, I'd recommend two recent releases, which I don't think connect to any group/stream/branch/etc of the Zorn tree. Interzone and Nova Express. Both classic Zorn in taste and style, but still fresh and exciting, and not too out there (at least compared to NC and Painkiller).
Dig me...But don't...Bury me
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Warning: Listening to jazz excessively can cause a laxative effect.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Neck Romancer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 18 2011 at 08:29
Electric Masada's At the Mountains of Madness is a great place to start.

Originally posted by Man With Hat Man With Hat wrote:

Naked City certainly isn't that accessible. However, it is pretty damn amazing and I think is a good introduction to the Zorn universe. All of their records have their charm, but the first one is more or less a grand slam IMO.

[...]

Also, I'd recommend two recent releases, which I don't think connect to any group/stream/branch/etc of the Zorn tree. Interzone and Nova Express. Both classic Zorn in taste and style, but still fresh and exciting, and not too out there (at least compared to NC and Painkiller).

A huge +1 on this.


Edited by Polo - June 18 2011 at 08:31
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Equality 7-2521 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 18 2011 at 08:52
1st Naked City
Filmworks: The Rain Horse
The Circle Maker
Cobra

Some of my favorites there.
"One had to be a Newton to notice that the moon is falling, when everyone sees that it doesn't fall. "
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vompatti Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 18 2011 at 10:00
Originally posted by Padraic Padraic wrote:

Masada - Live in Middleheim
Heart
Aria ariari isa, vena amiria asaria



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Anthony H. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 18 2011 at 10:05
Well, what are your tastes? He does many different styles, so knowing what kind of music you like will help you figure out where to start.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Anthony H. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 18 2011 at 10:06
At the Mountains of Madness by Electric Masada is by far the best thing Zorn has done, in my opinion.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote frippism Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 18 2011 at 10:28
There is so much to tackle with Zorn- but I'd start with Naked City. I still see it as an absolute masterpiece
There be dragons
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Slartibartfast Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 11 2011 at 21:01

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote darkshade Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 12 2011 at 13:44
I started with Naked City, and I enjoy it. I also have The Electric Massada: 50 Birthday Celebration album. Both are quite good.

Eventually I'd like to get more Zorn albums, and based on this thread, I think "O'o" or "At The Mountains of Madness" are the ones to get. Anyone disagree?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Truth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 12 2011 at 13:50
I'm a big fan of Naked City's Grand Guignol and Leng Tch'e but many find those rough. The samples from O'o sound a little easier on the ears and still good but I don't actually own the album.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Semperet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 24 2011 at 15:52
Ooh, first post. Be kind.
Zorn has several hats: the Naked City stuff turns on a sixpence and is loud and fun; the eponymous first one is great stuff.

Masada is an incredibly tight quartet, based on a songbook of a hundred-odd tunes based on Jewish scales: try one of the (rare) studio albums or the Electric Masada iteration, with some laptops and noise, or the String Trio, which is chamber music versions of the heat. Live, they're superb: if you can get the DVD where they play together, do. Otherwise, a great entry point is the 50th Anniversary collection. Over the course of a month or so, twelve different versions of Zorn played live and were recorded. Start with the Masada live, then Electric Masada, then spend some money on the three-disc Bar Kohkba ensemble (acoustic, but with a larger number of participants).

If you get further in, the Hemophiliac disc of the 50th celebration is epic, with Mike Patton and Eye going crazy along with the man. Not for everyone, though.

If you like Masada but also crave a bit of noise, that's where At The Mountains of Madness and the Live In... series of Masada albums come in. Live in Middlhelm and Seville are moderate compared to Live in Jerusalem and Tonic, which go a bit mental. It's all expertly played, but can get a bit skronky (not necessarily a bad thing).

If you prefer the mellower stuff, then go for the Bar Kohkba double. It's a little rarer (I think) but is adorable and sweet. It's nice sometimes to play one of the Masada songs by three of the collectives: try the Masada Guitars album for Marc Ribot's interpretation of something Zorn and his mates have annihilated on an Electric Masada live disc.
Much more tuneful is the soundtrack stuff--Zorn's take on Morricone is lovely, or his Ornette Coleman tribute, if you like something a little wilder. But if there's a lullaby required, look no further than The Gift. It's a safe but pretty collection. Same goes for Taboo and Exile. Finally on this, Alhambra Love Songs is pretty fine stuff.

Not for the newbie: Anything named after a sport--the so-called Game pieces--are difficult conceptual pieces, and Cobra and Locus Solus are rather indulgent. There are a couple of discs modelled on opera, beginning with Moonchild, which I found difficult, and Painkiller can get too hectic for the music to peep through (IMHO).

So the first ten:
Masada: Masada Guitars
Masada: Live in Middlehelm
Masada: 50th Birthday vol 7.
Electric Masada: 50th Birthday vol. 4
Electric Masada: In the Mountains of Madness
Naked City: s/t
Zorn: The Gift
Zorn: Bar Kohkba/Masada String Ensembles (double)
Hemophiliac (if you can get it; if not get the Birthday vol. 6.)
Something by Painkiller (be careful).

Don't fear apparent repitition of titles, as Zorn brings something new to the fire every time. It's hugely rewarding stuff.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote darkshade Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 24 2011 at 15:57
Do also check out Mr. Bungle. I believe Zorn produced their albums, and played sax. Their music is somewhat related to his more zany music.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote topographicbroadways Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 24 2011 at 16:28
Spillane

Naked City - Radio

and Electric Masada - 50th Birthday Celebration Vol.4 were the albums that I fell in love with instantly.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Prog Geo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 24 2011 at 16:30
I recommend Naked city, Painkiller, Masada's first 9 albums, Magick, O'o, Mysterium, Rituals, Invitation to a suicide, Secret lives, Lucifer (Bar Kokhba), Azazel (Masada string trio), At the mountains of madness (Electric masada) and Moonchild's albums.
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