If you imagine New York’s vast musical community as a wheel, then John Zorn is one of its central spokes. The sax player, composer, producer, and record label founder is a musical provocateur, a loyal supporter of less commercial artists, and a certifiable genius. (After all, he did win a MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called “genius award.”) Zorn – and much of New York, it seems – is celebrating his 60th birthday this year, and it doesn’t seem like his relentless creativity has slowed any. The prolific, wide-ranging, and sometimes difficult nature of his output speaks to a musical shape-shifter, not content with categories, eternally curious, and gleefully offending those who are not. Zorn freely combines all kinds of jazz, rock, folk, classical, experimental, thrash-metal, klezmer, and world traditions, all the while maintaining his DIY-ness. Here are a few of the New York Public Radio celebrations on offer so far in this, his 60th birthday year.
All day today, Q2 Music marks the 60th birthday year of composer-performer John Zorn with 24-hour marathon. The composer himself presents his music and that which has influenced him.
Composer, producer, performer, conductor, record label founder, and musical ringleader John Zorn (add “genius” in there too – he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship) joins us for this New Sounds program to present selections from his massive Masada Project, Book 2: Book of Angels. Comprised of over 300 tunes, the Book of Angels is inspired by traditional Jewish music and at various points combines jazz with elements of psych-rock, many world music traditions, brass band parades, and thrash metal. On the occasion of his 60th birthday, Zorn came by the studio to present music from just some of the recordings of The Book of Angels. Listen to selections by Secret Chiefs (members of Mr. Bungle), pianist Uri Caine, Pat Metheny, the Masada Quintet featuring Joe Lovano, Mycale (a vocal quartet), cellist Erik Friedlander, and many others. The rest of the music, which was too much to fit into one New Sounds show is part of this Bonus Podcast.
Since the 1990’s, Zorn has written over 500 songs inspired by traditional Jewish music. This Masada collection, as it’s known, is divided into two books, both using Jewish scales as a springboard for improvisation. He performed the first 200 songs of Book One with the rotating members of the Masada ensemble for a decade. Then, in late 2004, he wrote 316 new pieces in the form, in just three months. He refers to this second part of Masada as “The Book of Angels,” with each piece given the name of a Biblical angel. Rather then gearing this project towards a particular band as the first Masada songbook did, Zorn instead decided this time around to invite many different collaborators to have at the book, folks as wide-ranging as Joe Lovano to Medeski, Martin & Wood, Basya Schechter to Cyro Baptista, and Pat Metheny to Marc Ribot.
Maverick force of nature and New York new music fixture John Zorn turned 60 last week and the whole city is celebrating. This week on Hammered! we explore his tremendously varied keyboard output alongside the music of other modern musical mavericks.
At 60, New York City composer John Zorn is wiser, sure, but no less prolific, thoughtful and antagonistic than before. He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that, at his age, "there are no more doubts."
The celebrations are already beginning for composer John Zorn's upcoming 60th birthday on September 2nd. During the next few months there will be concerts of Zorn's music in the museums and concert halls of New York City, as well as elsewhere in the world. Zorn has been David Garland's most frequent guest on Spinning On Air over the years, and now he returns to the show again, to share some new music that will be featured in two concerts that are part of the Lincoln Center Festival this month.
On June 14, as part of Le Poisson Rouge's five year anniversary, violinist Jennifer Koh and Ensemble LPR presented an eclectic program of music by John Zorn, Charles Wuorinen and Ludwig van Beethoven.
Radical composer John Zorn reveals to David Garland that Zorn’s Jewish family celebrated Christmas throughout his childhood, and he continues to love those memories and the holiday music that evokes and celebrates them. Zorn presents selections from his new album “A Dreamers Christmas,” an unexpectedly sweet collection of his arrangements of Christmas classics..
Composer John Zorn presents recordings of his Masada project, and talks with host David Garland about Masada and the upcoming Masada Marathon at New York City Opera, plus NYC Opera's staged performance of Zorn's monodrama "La Machine de l’être."