Sunday, September 24, 2006

John Zorn - Spillane

John Zorn, "Two Lane Highway Part 1"

In honor of John Zorn being named a MacArthur Genius fellow, it seemed like a good time to take a look at one of his many brilliant albums over the years. Quite possibly one of the most important artists of the 80s to today, a huge influence over the way I hear music. I first came to Zorn's music through his more straightahead jazz projects like Masada and the Sonny Clark tribute band. While those are still amazing works to my ears, it was projects like Locus Solus, Naked City and the Big Gundown that just blew my mind.

Spillane is quintessential Zorn, a tightly composed work that incorporates all of his myriad of influences: hardcore, jazz, Morricone film scores, surf rock, film noir, you name it. Obviously, the main work, "Spillane," is a homage to the great noir author, but I didn't want to give away the whole album. It's one of Zorn's greatest works and reason enough to buy the album. However, I've given you a piece of the middle part of the album, Part 1 of "Two Lane Highway." It isn't really the best way to get into Zorn, as you miss the sax and duck calls, a lot of the madness that defines the man's sound. However, you do get a beautiful song performed amazingly on guitar by Mr. Marc Ribot.

I think that there has always been a strange tendency to dismiss Zorn, the downtown scene, even the No Wave of DNA and Sonic Youth as pretentious and arty. I don't know, I've never gotten that. In fact, Zorn was the first major figure before DJs took over that embraced pop and avant-garde music, celebrated the unheralded like Burt Bacharach, Carl Stalling, Napalm Death and on and on. Yes, the music sounds crazy and weird, but so what? Give it a listen, I promise that it is worth the time and effort. Before you know it, you will be a Zorn junkie and diving into one of the most massive catalogues around.

-Stephen Colbert had a great segment (Click on Who's Not Honoring Me Now) making fun of Zorn and his music, including an amazing look back at Colbert's documentary with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hip-Hopketball: A Jazzabration. The good folks from WFMU have the clip and some link fun.

-I was in Zorn's neck of the woods today, as I headed up to NYC this afternoon. Not too bad, although I did get stuck in the bathroom seat on the bus heading up and trust me, it's hard to get that urine smell out of your nostrils. Shout out to the F and N/R (I was N/R virgin, she was slow and gentle, like I like it), my girl LM, the crazy, fucked-up relationships I got gossip on that actually made me feel way better about myself, Ozzie's on 5th Ave for the iced tea and chance to read (Brooklyn, step your fucking cafe game ASAP, this place was not legit either) and as always my McDonald's on Delancey. Not sure about the places I saw today, but I feel like we (that's the royal we) are getting closer. I'm also beginning to feel like NYC will be mine and there will be no ghosts haunting me.

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