World of Jazz Podcast #11 – Zorn in 2012

A look at the albums John Zorn released in 2012 with a key focus on his “mystical” cycle (with a quick hop back to 2011 on one tune) ….listen here

  1. Persepolis – The Concealed (Esoteric Secrets And Hidden Traditions Of The East) – one of Zorn’s “mystical” albums but this time with a slightly different line-up of the Nova Quartet (John Medeski, piano; Kenny Wollesen, vibes; Trevor Dunn, bass; Joey Barron, drums) with cellist Erik Friedlander and violinist Mark Feldman. Klezmer and Sephardic folk, Spanish music, modern jazz, Zorn’s own brand of exotica and modern classical music all merge into a delightfully compelling sound.
  2. Song of Innocence – At The Gates of Paradise – OK this is from 2011 but I couldn’t really leave it out given the focus of the show. Another in the series of “mystical” recordings that began in 2010 with In Search of the Miraculous, continued with Goddess: Music for the Ancient of Days, and continued with this recording. The William Blake influence is high in respect of the naming of the pieces and the music is best described as  post-bop jazz with classical minimalism. The players are in this instance the Nova Quartet.
  3. Illuminations – Rimbaud – A collection of four stylistically diverse, wildly imaginative, mostly manic pieces by Zorn, all inspired by the 19th century French Symbolist poet. This is the jazz trio piece with Stephen Gosling – piano,Trevor Dunn -bass and Kenny Wollesen – drums …. avant garde jazz set in a contradictory reflective style.
  4. Jerusalem – A Vision In Blakelight – John Medeski, Kenny Wollesen, Carol Emanuel, Trevor Dunn, Joey Baron, and Cyro Baptista perform on this, another of the “mystical works”
  5. Mount Analogue (Edit) – Mount Analogue – The sole piece on this album references the unfinished novel by surrealist writer René Daumal — who was  a disciple of G.I. Gurdjieff (who in turn inspired Zorn’s vast Masada catalogue). The album ties in with his mystical works but is not part of the series. A single piece, just over 38 minutes long,  it was performed by Cyro Baptista’s Banquet of the Spirits quartet: Shanir Blumenkranz, Tim Keiper, and Brian Marsella, with Kenny Wollesen on vibes and chimes. However I am only playing about half of the piece to encourage you to go out and buy the whole thing!
  6. Prelude 5 Music Of The Spheres – The Gnostic Preludes : Music Of Splendour – another in the “mystical” series (the fourth in terms of order of release) Kenny Wolleson remains as the constant on the vibes and he is joined by Carol Emmanuel on harp and the great Bill Frisell on guitar. The sleeve notes name check early music, early minimalism, and Claude Debussy, however they merely infer inspiration, rather than appear overtly in the music, which is relaxed, and echoes serial music and surf guitar.
  7. A Second Sanctuary – Templars – In Sacred Blood – The sixth instalment in Zorn’s Moonchild series focuses on the  monastic cult of warriors known as the Knights Templar, who were established and recognized by the Catholic Church in the 12th century and were excommunicated by Pope Clement V in 1312 for heresy. The Moonchild trio has been constant over the six albums– vocalist Mike Patton, drummer Joey Baron, and bassist Trevor Dunn — they are augmented in this instance with John Medeski’s organ. The music for this album, is full of dynamic bursts of rock, jazz, and avant garde power music, it also touches on Roman Catholic liturgical music. Probably the most accessible of the Moonchild pieces, but still pretty out there.
  8. The Stalking – Nosferatu –  a commissioned work for a Polish theatre group’s dramatic production based on  Bram Stoker’s novel. Zorn uses Rob Burger (piano and organ), Kevin Gordon (xylophone, drums, bells, and Tibetan prayer bowls), and bassist Bill Laswell for this project. Zorn plays alto saxophone on this track.
  9. Stalker Dub – Nosferatu – the Laswell influence comes to the fore with a trademark dub version of the preceding track.


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