Reviews that mention John Zorn

February 3, 2017

In Print

Jazzing: New York City's Unseen Scene
By Tom Greenland University of Illinois Press

By Ken Waxman

Compared to Jazzing, Margaret Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa was the equivalent of transcribing a Bunk Johnson solo as opposed to studying one by Bill Dixon. Anthropologist Mead followed the culture of the peaceful Samoan Islanders in the ‘20s, whereas Jazzing’s author Tom Greenland researched the mores and folkways of a more fractious group: fans of New York’s jazz scene. Greenland conducted more than 100 interviews with enthusiasts, club owners, musicians and critics to produce this unique portrait of those “active listeners”. Non-musicians who attend upwards of four jazz performances a week [!], this small group prefers its music live and its practitioners experimental proponents of free jazz and free music. These fans often communicate non-verbally with the players and sometimes become their friends. They’re continuously searching for new and unpredictable sounds, plus the “perfect set”, that Irving Stone, one veteran follower, said produces figurative “blood” from the musicians. MORE

March 22, 2016

Microgroove: Forays into Other Music

John Corbett
Duke University Press

By Ken Waxman

Searching for the equivalent of a travel guide to the often uncharted territories of turn-of-the-century, so-called other music should lead to this volume. A collection of essays, interviews and reviews written between 1990 and 2014, Microgroove outlines the achievements of many of the progenitors and disseminators of non-mainstream music during that epoch. A Chicago-based music writer, concert promoter, art curator and record producer, John Corbett has been intimately involved with variants of what he describes as “music that demands a different mode of listening” for decades. Like an embedded anthropologist studying the culture of particular tribes Corbett is also able to place these sonic advances in a global context. MORE

January 6, 2016

On The Cover

Rova: Still Creative After All These Years
By Ken Waxman

Someone once described Rova as the Grateful Dead of Jazz. A comparison to the Rolling Stones would be more accurate. For more than 38 years, with only one change in personnel 27 years ago, the Bay area-based saxophone quartet has created high quality music. However unlike the venerable British rockers whose music hasn’t been cutting edge for decades, Rova continues to evolve and experiment.

Case in point: this month’s series of NYC concerts. From the 19th to the 24th, the band’s residency at The Stone offers a retrospective of classic Rova material as well as new works. Some sets will feature Rova and guest musicians, some of whom have never played with the band before. Before that, on January 17th at Le Poisson Rouge, an expanded Rove ensemble will perform Electric Ascension, a 21st Century re-imagining of John Coltrane’s classic work. Concurrently, RogueArt will release Channeling Coltrane, containing a live performance of Electric Ascension from the 2012 Guelph Jazz Festival on DVD and Blue-ray; a CD of the music itself; plus Cleaning the Mirror, a documentary that mixes the story of Rova’s Ascension adaptation with a history of the creation of Coltrane’s seminal session. MORE

November 3, 2013

Arrivals/Departures-New Horizons in Jazz

Stuart Broomer, Brain Morton & Bill Shoemaker
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Book shelf: By Ken Waxman

Distinguished as much for its scholarship as the artful, mostly color photos and illustrations which make it an attractive souvenir, this 240-page volume is published by Lisbon’s annual Jazz em Agosto (JeA) Festival to mark its 30th anniversary of innovative programming. It says a lot about the individuals who program JeA that rather than commissioning a vainglorious run-down of the festival’s greatest hits, they turned to three respected jazz critics to profile 50 of the most important musicians, living or dead, who performed at the festival. MORE

April 6, 2012

Andrea Centazzo

The New York City Jazz Record Interview
By Ken Waxman

Founder in the late ‘70s of ICTUS, one of the first European artist-run labels that recorded free music, Italian-American percussionist, composer and multi-media artist Andrea Centazzo is celebrating the label 35th anniversary at The Stone this month. The festival showcases the many genres of experimental music Udine, Italy-born Centazzo, 64, has been involved with over the years. On hand will be many of his collaborators from the US and Italy. Centazzo’s musical scope is so large that some of his other musical ventures, such as composing for film, theatre and large non-jazz ensembles, could barely be mentioned in the conversation below. MORE

September 3, 2010

John Zorn/George Lewis/Bill Frisell

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Guelph Jazz Festival Highlights

Extended Play

By Ken Waxman

Characteristically adventurous, the 17th annual Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF) September 8 to 12 presents respected sound explorers in novel musical situations. MORE

August 8, 2009

John Zorn Tradition and Transgression

By John Brackett
Indiana University Press

Analytical and selective, rather than critical or narrative, this volume attempts to map connective themes in John Zorn’s collective works. John Brackett, a University of Utah music professor, describes Zorn’s oeuvre as alternatively relating to tradition, transgression, or the tradition of transgression.

Some of Brackett’s insights are both accurate and provocative. All the same, this volume has several limitations. Tradition and Transgression focuses on only four works: the brutal graphic imagery which illustrates Naked City’s Torture Garden and Leng Tch’e; the currents of so-called “magick” and mysticism expressed in “Necronomicon” and IAO: Music in Sacred Light; Zorn’s musical homage to artists, such as “In the Very Eye of Night” (for film-maker Maya Deren) and “Untitled” (for sculptor Joseph Cornell); and his links to so-called serious music in scores such as Aporias. MORE

October 8, 2008

Variations on a Theme

Guelph Jazz Festival Musicians On Their Own
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Barry Guy/Mats Gustafsson/Raymond Strid


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John Zorn

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February 28, 2005


Last Set: Live at the 1369 Jazz Club
Boxholder BXH 042

Berlin Djungle
Atavistic Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP 246CD

Getting an understanding of the situation for committed free improvisers in Europe as opposed to the United States in the mid-1980s is pretty obvious when listening to these two live CDs, recorded about two months apart, both of which happen to have William Parker in the bass chair.

In early November 1984, German reedist Peter Brötzmann put together an international, all-star, 11-piece “Clarinet Project” for a special concert in a Berlin theatre as part of that city’s Jazzfest. Beside himself the clarinetists were Tony Coe from England, Louis Sclavis from France, East German Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky and J. D. Parran and John Zorn from the U.S. But that’s not all. The ensemble also included Japanese trumpeter Toshinori Kondo, East German Johannes Bauer and Briton Alan Tomlinson on trombones, with British drummer Tony Oxley supplying the bottom along with Parker. By all accounts the one lengthy piece was welcomed by the audience. MORE