My 3rd column was a look at Zorn's 50th birthday month recording series. His label, Tzadik, was formed in 1995 and has been crunching out massive amounts of stuff since. It has all the right parts for a good jazz label, intriguing series titles, awesome album covers, and a swath of music wide enough to have cult favorites, timeless jazz works, and unknowns waiting to be rediscovered.

Southwestern style guitars and bass combined with endless loopings of people talking about ordinary things: John Somebody. Scott Johnson's 1986 album was officially inducted into and remastered by the Tzadik catalog in 2004. Directions:
You know who's in New York?
You remember that guy... J-John somebody?
He was a-- he was sort of a--...

Raz Mesinai's 2001 Before the Law combines electro-acoustics with sharp, fast changes all occuring in 1 - 2 minute packages. Plus, each movement is named after a Franz Kafka and seems to invite that unnerving terror of his novels.

At times, minimalism can seem boring until you look at the big picture. Amidst Tzadik's furthest reaches into the experimental, Jacques Coursil's trumpet fanfares on Minimal Brass record strips it all down. This record is very much like George Lewis' Solo Trombone record, taking instruments which are usually brought to the forefront to make loud statements, and press them all into the background with one another.

When one first begins listening to Zorn, it may be hard to adjust to the klezmer feel which is the rank and file among many of his recordings. Two Voices in a Desert is essentially a Tzadik gateway drug. The Perry Robinson Four, are backed by composer-pianist Burton Greene and two voices brings in equal parts of swing, klezmer, and free-form composition styles to create sophisticated musics.

Obviously I wouldn't get away without mentioning a Zorn release. One of my favorites of his chamber music is Cartoon S & M. Its a double disc performed by the Mondriaan Quartet. Disc 1 is a homage to Carl Stalling, it is light and drawn out with sharp changes and coordinated snaps and pops which visualize running, sneaking, and peering like in an animated short. The second disc is filled with shorter attacks of darker visuals. Any one of the Dead Man's 13 movements would be right at home in a thriller, they sound Hitchcockian, peppered with the usual klezmer we know from Zorn.


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