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REVIEW: John Zorn at 60 @ Walker Art Center & St. Mark’s (Minneapolis, MN – 4/6/13)

12th Apr 13 (Fri) Leave a comment

John Zorn - only pulled out his horn at the very end

John Zorn turns 60 this coming September, and Minneapolis’ Walker Art Center wanted to throw a Zorn Fest of sorts.  Since Zorn doesn’t like to travel, he wanted to keep it to a minimum: not a 3+ day fest, but hey, let’s do it all on one day!  And thus “Zorn @ 60” at Walker Art Center was born!

Check out what 60 of Zorn’s contemporaries have said about him… Part 1 & Part 2.

There have already been a  few great reviews already posted (Jazz Police / Walker Art / City Pages); so I’ll keep my write-up to my own personal reflections, and not as in-depth, per se.  Here’s who Zorn had with him for this fest, in different assemblies… Cyro Baptista, percussion; Joey Baron, drums; Greg Cohen, bass; Chris Cunningham, guitar; Marc Feldman, violin; Eric Friedlander, cello; Michelle Kinney, cello; John Medeski, piano, Hammond B3; Ikue Mori, electronics; Marc Ribot, guitar; Joey Schad, electric keyboards; Kenny Wollesen, vibraphone, percussion, and drums.

Well, first off, due to documentaries, I know what Zorn sounds like… and I was getting off the elevator at my hotel and I heard a familiar voice.  Then I looked up, and “whoa, John Zorn is getting on the elevator that I’m getting off of.”  I almost wanted to act like I forgot something in my room and ride up with him.  Alas, I wussed out.  Then in the lobby, Marc Ribot was futzing around on his phone, and Greg Cohen’s massive upright bass case was blocking the front desk.  It all added to my overall giddiness for the day…

John Zorn discussion w/ Philip Bither

The full day of Zorn @ 60 started at 3pm with a sit down with fest curator Philip Bither.  Zorn is a lively, humorous, acerbic character.  I kinda love him.  Probably more f-bombs and frivolity than most Q&A sessions, the near hourlong session was highly interesting.

The first part of the discussion talked about Zorn’s age… as the fest was all about his experience and what got him to where he is now in the scene at 60.  Zorn talked a little bit about other “60” celebrations he’s doing this year (of all things MySpace has the best list), and one that he’s doing at The Met (NYC) completely intrigued me… ten performances every hour on the hour in different galleries throughout the museum on September 1st (Facebook link).  if I can swing a way to be in NYC for most of September, I’d be happy.  Unlikely, though.

Some of the best quotes from the interview and Q&A (paraphrased from my scribbles):

[about turning 60]“You don’t have any more doubts.”

“They’ve been saying I’ve been playing ironically for decades… that’s bullshit. But they don’t believe me when I say that’s bullshit.”

“Ribot plays guitar like a mutha’fucka!”

“I live in a library [of books, LPs, CDs, DVDs]… I didn’t have a kitchen for over a decade, but I didn’t have cockroaches either!”

[on creativity] “There were probably Bach-types banging on logs [in the earliest times]. Creativity is mystical, spiritual, ineffable.”

[on his schedule for the day] “Eating is a drag… it’ll only slow you down.”

[on critics] “The secret to longevity is to stay away from negative people… all reviews are bad. We don’t need that bullshit.”

And while I write reviews (and perhaps this is one), I understand his take on the industry of critique.

Marc Ribot plays selections from The Book of Heads
(about 20 minutes)

Mark Ribot performs with Doveman at The Studio in Sydney Opera House for Vivid Live 5th June 2010. (photo by Daniel Boud)

John Zorn / Marc Ribot - The Book of HeadsFirst music of the day… Marc Ribot by himself with a guitar, some pedals, a violin bow, some balloons, and an intenseness in his eyes.  The Book of Heads, an album of solo Etudes composed by Zorn, is a very difficult listen.  It screeches, it hurtles into many different directions.  It’s hard to follow, it’s hard to even want to listen to at some times.  Seeing it live, though, was quite fascinating.  It’s highly composed, but seemingly improvised.  Just seeing Marc’s stern look at the sheet music showed the composition.  He was intently following the haphazard that was on the page.  When one of the greatest guitarists is using balloons as a key part of the music making process, you know things are weird.  Weird but gripping.

Ribot played the following Etudes (not necessarily in this order): 13, 23, 9, 24, 22, 27, 7, 2.

Game Piece: Hockey with Kenny Wollesen & Erik Friedlander
(about 10 minutes)

John Zorn - Hockey

John Zorn - HockeyThe next piece was a trio game piece first created in 1978.  Zorn’s game pieces are a strict set of rules and is a structured, improvisational collaboration between the artists.  Hockey on record is OK to listen to, but like The Book of Heads and Cobra (below), it’s far more interesting in the live setting.

A game piece is…

As well as a sports game, a game piece may also be considered analogous to language: The performance is directed by a well defined set of rules (a grammar) but by no means fixed or predetermined (just as all sentences generated by the same grammar are not the same). The length of a piece may be arbitrary, just as a sentence can be of any imaginable length while still conforming to a strictly defined syntax.

This time is was Zorn on birdcalls, Kenny Wollesen on bird calls and percussion, and Erik Friedlander on cello.  With Kenny and Erik looking intently at Zorn for his verbal and hand motion directions.  The level of musicianship of these three players is amazing, and the game pieces are basically a way to stretch their creative musical muscles while making sounds that you’d never expect.  It’s not for the casual listener.

Game Piece: Cobra (for 11 players)
(3 games; about 30 minutes total)

John Zorn - holding up cue card during the Northsea Jazz Fest

John Zorn heard off stage before Cobra started: “Just don’t make any mistakes!”

John Zorn - CobraCobra takes the game piece concept to whole new levels.  The rules are more complex, and John Zorn doesn’t play but directs at the front.  Based on the card he holds up and his verbal and non-verbal cues, the musicians go off on an adventure – never the same in any repeat performance.

With eleven players on stage (all listed at the top of this post), they played three games of Cobra.  This was my first time seeing Cobra.  It’s very interactive, starting with Zorn’s lead, but the players get room to lead things too.  It’s improv, but still with a structure.  Here’s a glimpse at the cue card structure:

John Zorn - Cobra cue cardsHighlight for me: Joey Baron’s smile.  I get such a kick out of watching him play.  He’s probably the musician having the most fun ever on stage every time I see him.

Cobra was the end of the first program, and the fest broke for a couple hours.

Erik Friedlander plays selections from Masada Book Two: Volac
Masada String Trio, and
Bar Kokhba Sextet
(a little over an hour – total)

The second program was the chamber music segment (and also the part of the day where my notes have now gone missing).

Erik Friedlander plays Volac (John Zorn's Masada Book Two: Book of Angels)I’d seen Erik Friedlander before (both solo with his own stuff and playing Volac), and it was a great warm up for the increasingly larger groups playing music from John Zorn’s Masada Book Two set of music.  He played a gorgeous 20 minute selections from Volac.

Masada String TrioUp next was the Masada String Trio made up of the aforementioned Erik Friedlander on cello, Mark Feldman on violin, and Greg Cohen on upright bass.  While the music they played was composed (same with Bar Kokhba Sextet), John Zorn sat on the floor in front of them, conducting.  They played about 20 minutes from their Masada Book Two set.  Gorgeous players, gorgeous music!

Bar Kokhba SextetContinuing in the chamber music written & conducted by Zorn, the Bar Kokhba Sextet found the Masada String Trio joined by Joey Baron on drums, Cyro Baptista on percussion, and Marc Ribot on guitar.  This was probably the best part of the night for me – outside of the experience of seeing Cobra played for the first time.  The group effortlessly brought Zorn’s Masada tunes some groove, and seeing both Baron and Baptista work together percussively was a delight.

John Zorn’s Nova Express & The Concealed
encore:

John Zorn playing to Wallace Berman’s film Aleph
with Kenny Wollesen & Greg Cohen
(about 75 minutes total)

At the beginning of the third program, someone yelled out from the audience, “where’s your horn!?” to which John Zorn yelled back, “at home mother fucker!”  Irreverent and hilarious.  Even though he was lying (he brought out his alto sax for the final piece).John Zorn in Minneapolis 2013  Photo by Bryan Aaker.

Nova Express and The Concealed songs were played by Joey Baron on drums, show-stealer Kenny Wollesen on vibes, Erik Friedlander on cello, Mark Feldman on violin, Greg Cohen on upright bass, and John Medeski on piano.  These are two of Zorn’s better albums in the recent three years’ output (of ~36 albums!!!!).  Partly classical takes on Masada tunes (Nova Express), and partly mystical (The Concealed).

Zorn Zorn - Nova Express John Zorn - The Concealed

As mentioned, the only time John Zorn brought out his sax was for the visual installation piece Aleph – set to Wallace Bergman’s short cut-up film of the same name. Iit was a ripping, avant-garde piece in the dark, backlit by the film, with Zorn wailing on sax, Kenny Wollesen moving off of vibes on to the drums, and Greg Cohen on bass.  Stellar!

John Zorn’s The Hermetic Organ (midnight) @ St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral

John Zorn - hermetic organ

John Zorn - The Hermetic OrganA special free midnight performance of John Zorn’s The Hermetic Organ was across the street after the final third program of Zorn @ 60.  Most of the crowd piled over to St. Mark’s Cathedral to watch the contrasting and turgid organ piece.  I stayed for about half of the 30+ minute set and then slowly started my 2 mile, midnight walk back to my hotel – content at the day’s musical gifts.

A brilliant, music-packed day!  If you want to check out some videos of what went down, the French Zorn website le zornographe has linked to some performances posted from the Walker Art Center “Zorn @ 60” fest on YouTube:

Bar Kokhba Sextet “Sother”

Masada String Trio “Bethor”

John Zorn’s Cobra (piece 2)

Erik Friedlander ” Sannul”

The Concealed “Towards Kafiristan”

Nova Express “Between Two Worlds”

The Appropriate Linkage:

Next show for me… Soul’d Out Festival’s Charlie Hunter with Booker T. Jones & Carlton Jackson (first time as a trio) @ Dante’s (Portland 4/14)..

~Dan – np: ElleryLying Awake
Ellery - Lying Awake

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000WDSRVY/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000WDSRVY&linkCode=as2&tag=essentialmusi-20

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John Zorn @ 60 in Minneapolis (soon)

9th Apr 13 (Tue) Leave a comment

John Zorn @ 60 in Minneapolis was awesome… I’m still decompressing, but I should have a write-up posted this week sometime…

John Zorn

John Zorn @ 60 – McGuire Theater @ Walker Art Center :: Minneapolis, MN
John Zorn discussion w/ Philip Bither
Marc Ribot plays selections from Book of Heads
Game Piece: Hockey with Kenny Wollesen & Erik Friedlander
Game Piece: Cobra (for 11 players)
Erik Friedlander plays selections from Masada Book Two: Volac
Masada String Trio
Bar Kokhba Sextet
John Zorn’s Nova Express & The Concealed
John Zorn’s playing to Wallace Berman’s film Aleph with Kenny Wollesen & Greg Cohen
John Zorn’s The Hermetic Organ (midnight) @ St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral

new music from Nellie McKay & My Brightest Diamond

22nd Mar 12 (Thu) Leave a comment

Jazzy, piano-pop songstress Nellie McKay just got done with a stint of tour dates for her death-row musical review I Want To Live! (double Oregon show review here).

Now she’s off with a new show entitled SILENT SPRING – It’s Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature, a tribute to trailblazing environmentalist, Rachel Carson (Nellie made up as Rachel to the right).

She is currently amidst her Silent Spring residency at Feinstein’s in NYC.  The show runs March 20 to 31, 2012.  No word on if Silent Spring will make it out of NYC for a tour, but this seems similar to the path that I Want To Live! took… so, who knows, maybe we’ll see Silent Spring out West in late 2012/early 2013?

Listen to Nellie’s version of the song “Rio de Lua (Moon River)” below:

Shara Worden / My Brightest Diamond has recorded a guitar-based version of “I Have Never Loved Someone” for a limited release (1000 hand-numbered copies) as a 7″ through Holland-based Nowhere Fast Records.  For the B-side, Shara has sung Leonard Cohen’sBird On A Wire” with guitar accompaniment by Marc Ribot.  The album is set for release on Record Store Day (21 April 2012), and it will be available in Europe, the UK and the US markets.

~Dan – np: Boards of CanadaMusic Has the Right to Children

John Zorn – The Dreamers’ Christmas (Tzadik 2011)

10th Jul 11 (Sun) 2 comments

Update 10/7: go back HERE for CD/vinyl/45 rpm/mp3 download ordering info.

Posted on (Tzadik designer) Chippy’s Facebook page earlier this weekend…

The biggest surprise of the year is John Zorn’s beautiful Christmas CD. Zorn has hand picked seven of his favorite Christmas songs, penned two lovely originals and they are performed here in classic Dreamers style with plenty of exciting solos, exotic colors and catchy lyricism. Filled with a joyful holiday spirit, innocence, a touch of nostalgia and a charming lyricism, this is music for all ages that will make you smile with delight from the very first notes. As a special treat, vocalist Mike Patton delivers an intimate and heartfelt rendition of “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” making A Dreamers Christmas an instant classic, and an essential CD for any contemporary Christmas celebration.

This album will also feature The Dreamers band: Marc Ribot, Jamie Saft, Kenny Wollesen, Trevor Dunn, Joey Baron, and Cyro Baptista. It will be out in CD and vinyl LP.

My guess is it’ll hit in October or November as Tzadik tends to not release anything in December.  I’m looking forward to it.  I mean, I tend to not like Christmas music that much (there are only a few).  I find it funny that a record label entrenched in Jewish music and jazz would put out a Christmas album with Santa on it… but, well, that’s John Zorn for you.  Not following the protocol.

And that’s why we love him!

Update 7/28, the cover for the 45rpm vinyl single…

~Dan – np: SilverchairFrogstomp

REVIEW: Madeleine Peyroux @ the Shedd (Eugene, OR – 4/5/11)

7th Apr 11 (Thu) Leave a comment

FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOW at the BOTTOM

Madeleine Peyroux has a new album coming out called Standin’ On the Rooftop.  The album, coming out June 7th on Decca, features Marc Ribot on guitar/banjo along with Me’shell Ndegeocello on bass.  No word on tracklist for the full-length, but she just released a preview EP called The Things I’ve Seen Today, which features the title track co-written by violinist Jenny Scheinman and a delightful cover of The Beatles’ “Martha, My Dear” (click picture to the right for samples).

This show in Eugene was her second time through in as many years.  I don’t recall if the band members were the same as last time, but regardless, they were all fantastic musicians.  While Ribot/Ndegeocello/Scheinman were not in the live band, all four band members created a vibe conducive to taking in Madeleine’s golden vocal chords.

They played a fairly jazzy set, and Madeleine’s lush vocals bounced around in more of a jazzy singer-songwriter feel than I remembered her from before.  As you’ll be able to see from the setlist below, she played a lot of the new material from the forthcoming album – much of it I was unable to unidentify.  If you have any assistance on the setlist, let me know in the comments.

Setlist: over 90 minutes

  • unknown
  • The Things I’ve Seen Today
  • Martha, My Dear [The Beatles]
  • “Muddy Mississippi”
  • You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go [Bob Dylan]
  • “seen my reflection underneath the moon”
  • “here we are… I’m only human”
  • Don’t Wait Too Long
  • Don’t Pick a Fight With a Poet
  • “Meet me in Rio”
  • “involuntary pass/past(?)”
  • Dance Me to the End of Love [Leonard Cohen]
  • unknown love song
  • Instead [with band introductions & solos]
  • Encore: J’Ai Deux Amours
  • “I hear music” [with band solos]

Fantastic show.  Madeleine was fairly chatty and in a great mood.  The Eugene crowd was fairly subdued, except for a particular “amateur comedian” named George who interacted a bit with Madeleine – which at one point said she should have him open for her. :)

Be on the lookout for her new album in June.  She’s hitting a few more West Coast & Canada dates (as well as a NYC date) between now and the end of June.  Check out more tour dates below.

more photos below

The Appropriate Linkage:

Next show for me… quite possibly Ani DiFranco at McDonald Theatre in Eugene (4/12).

~Dan – np: PlatypusWhen Pus Comes to Shove

MADELEINE PEYROUX PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2011 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

Madeleine Peyroux Spring/Summer 2011 Tour Dates:
3/31-4/02 – Seattle, WA @ Jazz Alley
4/03 – Portland, OR @ Aladdin Theater
4/05 – Eugene, OR @ Shedd Institute for Arts
4/06 – Santa Rosa, CA @ Wells Fargo Center
4/08 – San Francisco, CA @ Palace of Fine Arts
4/09 – Los Angeles, CA @ Luckman Theater
4/11 – Santa Barbara, CA @ Lobero Theatre
4/13 – Boulder, CO @ Boulder Theater
6/17-19 – New York, NY @ Highline Ballroom
6/22 – Toronto, Ontario, Canada @ Queen Elizabeth Theatre
6/24 – Victoria, British Columbia, Canada @ Royal Theatre (Victoria
International Jazzfest)
6/25 – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada @ Centre for the Performing Arts
(Vancouver International Jazz Festival))
6/26 – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada @ Winspear Centre for Music (Edmonton Int’l
Jazz Festival)
6/28 – Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada @ Theatre Granada
6/29 – Montreal, Quebec, Canada @ Theatre Maisonneuve (Fest Int’l De Jazz De
Montreal)
6/30 – Quebec, Canada @ Raoul-Jobin Hall (Palais Montcalm)

Zorn @ Marciac (Aug 2010)

11th Dec 10 (Sat) Leave a comment

If you have 54 minutes to kill… and, well, maybe you should clear your schedule… John Zorn & Co @ Marciac Jazz Fest 2010

August 11, 2010

1. Little Bittern
2. Anulikwutsayl
3. Exodus
4. Karaim
5. Lilin

JOHN ZORN – direction, saxophone
MARC RIBOT – guitar
JAMIE SAFT – piano, orgue
TREVOR DUNN – bass
KENNY WOLLESEN – vibraphone
JOEY BARON – drums
CYRO BAPTISTA – percussion

~Dan – np: AutorYnoPastrami Bagel Social Club

Radical Jewish Culture in Paris

18th Mar 10 (Thu) Leave a comment

If you’re going to be in Paris, France, between the 9th of April and the 18th of July, 2010, check out this Radical Jewish Culture exhibit at the Museum of Jewish History.  It features John Zorn, Ben Goldberg, Marc Ribot, David Krakauer, Frank London, Anthony Coleman, Mark Feldman, Sylvie Courvoisier, and more.

Info about the exhibit (in French) is below…

~Dan – np: CopelandYou Are My Sunshine

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

More info at http://www.mahj.org/

Le MAHJ présente la première exposition consacrée à la Radical Jewish Culture, mouvance musicale issue de la scène underground newyorkaise des années 1980 et 1990.

En parallèle à l’exposition est organisé un programme de concerts exceptionnel : John Zorn, Anthony Coleman, Mark Feldman et Sylvie Courvoisier, David Krakauer, Frank London, le Ben Goldberg Trio (ex-New Klezmer Trio)… Les plus grands noms de cette scène. joueront dans des dispositifs pour la plupart inédits en Europe.

En 1992 se tient à Munich un événement au titre manifeste : Festival for Radical New Jewish Music. Le programme du festival est imaginé par le compositeur et saxophoniste new-yorkais John Zorn, qui s’entoure pour l’occasion de figures majeures de l’underground new-yorkais : Lou Reed, John Lurie, Tim Berne, mais aussi Marc Ribot, Frank London, David Krakauer, Roy Nathanson, Elliott Sharp ou encore Shelley Hirsch. John Zorn choisit d’y présenter une pièce intitulée Kristallnacht en remémoration de la Nuit de Cristal du 9 novembre 1938 : une pièce puissante qui transgresse les normes d’écoute, en mêlant improvisations free-jazz et klezmer, discours d’Hitler et bruits de bris de vitres.

L’événement fait date : des musiciens juifs américains jouent en Allemagne et tentent, pour la première fois, de retracer la genèse des musiques de la scène underground newyorkaise à travers des sources juives. Dans le sillage de ce moment fondateur, des tournées sont organisées en Europe, tandis que des clubs de Manhattan, telle la Knitting Factory, accueillent des festivals de Radical Jewish Music associant performances, lectures et débats, et soulevant des questions essentielles à leurs yeux : qu’est-ce que la musique juive d’aujourd’hui ? que dit la musique que l’on joue de nos origines et de notre expérience de vie ?

Dès les années 1970 et 1980, des musiciens juifs new-yorkais, très présents sur les scènes alternatives du rock, du punk, de l’avant-garde jazz et de la musique contemporaine, (re)découvrent le répertoire des musiques juives populaires, notamment celui des musiques juives d’Europe orientale, le klezmer. Ces acteurs clés de l’avant-garde musicale et de la world music y puisent – non sans un certain degré de contestation – un nouvel engagement artistique qui souligne la force du lien qui les rattache à leur culture juive, vécue comme source d’inspiration et de questionnements constants.

New York est leur foyer de création, en particulier le sud de Manhattan. Les quartiers longtemps populaires de l’East Village et du Lower East Side ont accueilli, au début du XXe siècle, les populations juives immigrées d’Europe de l’Est. Dans les années 1950, ils deviennent le refuge des avant-gardes esthétiques, depuis la Beat Generation ( Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg ,William Burroughs) jusqu’à John Cage et Andy Warhol. Espace de contestation intellectuelle, esthétique et politique, ce New York radical a longtemps gardé les traces de la culture yiddish, qui y a connu une véritable renaissance. Cette atmosphère culturelle très spécifique imprègne encore fortement les lieux, lorsque les musiciens de ce qui deviendra la Radical Jewish Culture s’affirment artistiquement, au cours des années 1980.

Dans le prolongement de cet héritage, John Zorn crée en 1995 la collection « Radical Jewish Culture » (plus de 120 titres parus à l’heure actuelle) sous le label Tzadik, devenu depuis une référence incontournable des musiques alternatives. Les albums édités dans cette collection s’inscrivent comme autant de réponses aux questions qui s’imposent aux musiciens confrontés à la tradition protéiforme dont ils sont issus.

Le parcours de l’exposition est thématique ; à travers une approche essentiellement sonore et visuelle, il revient sur les temps forts de la création musicale, depuis la scène du Klezmer Revival jusqu’aux explosions sonores du groupe phare de John Zorn, Masada, en passant par le festival de Munich de 1992.
À partir de l’écoute se déploie le contexte historique, musical et artistique dans lequel la musique a été créée. Il met en lumière le réseau d’influences des musiciens, parmi lesquelles : la Beat Generation, présentée notamment à travers la démarche de deux icônes de ce mouvement, le plasticien Wallace Berman et le poète Allen Ginsberg ; les artistes juifs révolutionnaires du début du XXe siècle, comme El Lissitzky ; ou encore la scène du rock alternatif des années 1970. Grâce à l’implication des acteurs clés de cette scène, de nombreux documents d’archives (interviews, prises de concerts et textes largement inédits) ont pu être rassemblés.

Comme le dit John Zorn, la Radical Jewish Culture est tout à la fois une mouvance musicale, un mouvement aux résonances politiques diverses affirmées et assumées, une communauté de musiciens et, plus largement, une communauté esthétique.

Commissariat de l’exposition : Mathias Dreyfuss, Gabriel Siancas et Raphaël Sigal

Avec le soutien exceptionnel du label Tzadik
Avec le soutien de l’Ambassade des États-Unis d’Amérique en France

Tzadik Ambassade des États-Unis d'Amérique en France
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