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John Zorn - The Big Gundown: John Zorn Plays The Music Of Ennio Morricone CD (album) cover


John Zorn


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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.

Report this review (#68771)
Posted Wednesday, February 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#259205)
Posted Monday, January 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#439639)
Posted Wednesday, April 27, 2011 | Review Permalink

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