John Zorn

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John Zorn_table_infobox_0

John ZornJohn Zorn_header_cell_0_0_0
Background informationJohn Zorn_header_cell_0_1_0
BornJohn Zorn_header_cell_0_2_0 (1953-09-02) September 2, 1953 (age 67)

New York City, New York, U.S.John Zorn_cell_0_2_1

GenresJohn Zorn_header_cell_0_3_0 Avant-garde, experimental, avant-rock, jazz, grindcore, avant-garde metalJohn Zorn_cell_0_3_1
Occupation(s)John Zorn_header_cell_0_4_0 Musician, composer, producerJohn Zorn_cell_0_4_1
InstrumentsJohn Zorn_header_cell_0_5_0 Alto saxophone, pipe organ, clarinet, flute, keyboards, vocals, guitar, double bass, drums, percussion, theremin, wind machineJohn Zorn_cell_0_5_1
Years activeJohn Zorn_header_cell_0_6_0 1973–presentJohn Zorn_cell_0_6_1
LabelsJohn Zorn_header_cell_0_7_0 Tzadik, Avant, DIW, Elektra Nonesuch, Earache, Hathut, Shimmy-Disc, Eva, Toy's Factory, Nato, Lumina, Black Saint, Subharmonic, Parachute, Yukon, RiftJohn Zorn_cell_0_7_1
Associated actsJohn Zorn_header_cell_0_8_0 Naked City, Painkiller, Masada, Masada String Trio, Bar Kokhba, Hemophiliac, Moonchild, Violent FemmesJohn Zorn_cell_0_8_1
WebsiteJohn Zorn_header_cell_0_9_0 John Zorn_cell_0_9_1

John Zorn (born September 2, 1953) is an American composer, arranger, record producer, saxophonist, and multi-instrumentalist. John Zorn_sentence_0

He has composed, performed, and produced music across genres that include, but are not limited to, jazz, rock, hardcore, classical, surf, metal, soundtrack, ambient, and improvised music. John Zorn_sentence_1

Zorn incorporates diverse styles and compositional methods in his works, which he identifies as avant-garde or experimental. John Zorn_sentence_2

In 2013, Down Beat described Zorn as "one of our most important composers". John Zorn_sentence_3

Zorn established himself within the New York City downtown music movement in the mid-1970s, collaborating with musicians and developing new methods of composing experimental music. John Zorn_sentence_4

After releasing albums on several independent US and European labels, Zorn signed with Elektra Nonesuch; in 1986, he earned exposure and acclaim with The Big Gundown, an album reworking the compositions of Ennio Morricone. John Zorn_sentence_5

Spillane in 1987, Spy vs Spy in 1989, and Naked City in 1990 demonstrated Zorn's ability to merge disparate styles through new compositional methods. John Zorn_sentence_6

After living between Japan and the US for several years, he returned to Manhattan permanently and established his own record label, Tzadik, in 1995. John Zorn_sentence_7

Tzadik enabled Zorn to maintain independence from the mainstream music industry and ensured the continued availability of his growing catalog of recordings. John Zorn_sentence_8

He prolifically recorded and released new material for the label, issuing several new albums each year, in addition to releasing recordings by many other musicians. John Zorn_sentence_9

Zorn has performed with diverse groups like Naked City, News for Lulu, Painkiller, and Masada. John Zorn_sentence_10

He has composed concert music for classical ensembles and orchestras, and produced music for opera, sound installations, film and documentary. John Zorn_sentence_11

He has toured Europe, Asia, and the Middle East extensively, often featuring at festivals with musicians and ensembles that perform his diverse repertoire. John Zorn_sentence_12

Early life and career John Zorn_section_0

Early life John Zorn_section_1

John Zorn was born in New York City, attended the United Nations International School, and studied piano, guitar and flute from an early age. John Zorn_sentence_13

Zorn's family had diverse musical tastes: his mother, Vera (née Studenski; 1918–1999), listened to classical and world music; his father, Henry Zorn (1913–1992), was interested in jazz, French chansons, and country music; and his older brother collected doo-wop and 1950s rock and roll records. John Zorn_sentence_14

Zorn spent his teenage years exploring classical music, film music, "listening to The Doors and playing bass in a surf band." John Zorn_sentence_15

He also acquired an interest in experimental and avant-garde music after buying a record by Mauricio Kagel in 1968, at the age of fifteen. John Zorn_sentence_16

He taught himself orchestration and counterpoint by transcribing scores and studied composition under Leonardo Balada. John Zorn_sentence_17

Zorn began playing saxophone after discovering Anthony Braxton's album For Alto (1969) when he was studying composition at Webster College (now Webster University) in St. John Zorn_sentence_18 Louis, Missouri, where he attended classes taught by Oliver Lake. John Zorn_sentence_19

While at Webster, he incorporated elements of free jazz, avant-garde and experimental music, film scores, performance art and the cartoon scores of Carl Stalling into his first recordings, which were later released as First Recordings 1973 (1995). John Zorn_sentence_20

Zorn dropped out of college and, following a stint on the West Coast, moved to Manhattan where he gave concerts in his apartment and other small NY venues, playing saxophone and a variety of reeds, duck calls, tapes, and other instruments. John Zorn_sentence_21

Zorn immersed himself in the underground art scene, assisting Jack Smith with his performances and attending plays by Richard Foreman. John Zorn_sentence_22

In 1975, he founded a performance art project called the Theatre of Musical Optics and became a major participant in the downtown music scene as a composer, performer, and producer of music that challenged the confines of any single musical genre. John Zorn_sentence_23

Early composition John Zorn_section_2

Zorn's early major compositions included several game pieces described as "complex systems harnessing improvisers in flexible compositional formats". John Zorn_sentence_24

These compositions "involved strict rules, role playing, prompters with flashcards, all in the name of melding structure and improvisation in a seamless fashion". John Zorn_sentence_25

Zorn's game pieces were often titled after sports, and include Track & Field (1974), Baseball (1976), Lacrosse (1976), Dominoes (1977), Curling (1977), Golf (1977), Hockey (1978), Cricket (1978), Fencing (1978), Pool (1979), and Archery (1979), several of which were recorded and originally released on Eugene Chadbourne's Parachute label, becoming the first albums under Zorn's leadership. John Zorn_sentence_26

His most enduring game piece is Cobra, composed in 1984 and first released on album in 1987 and in subsequent versions in 1992, 1994 and 2002, and revisited in performance many times. John Zorn_sentence_27

In the early 1980s, Zorn was heavily engaged in improvised performance which included "blowing duck calls in buckets of water at fringe venues" as both a solo performer and with other like-minded artists. John Zorn_sentence_28

Zorn's first solo saxophone (and duck call) recordings were originally released in two volumes as The Classic Guide to Strategy in 1983 and 1986 on the Lumina label. John Zorn_sentence_29

Zorn's early small group improvisations are documented on Locus Solus (1983) which featured Zorn with various combinations of other improvisers including Christian Marclay, Arto Lindsay, Wayne Horvitz, Ikue Mori, and Anton Fier. John Zorn_sentence_30

Ganryu Island featured a series of duets by Zorn with Michihiro Sato on shamisen, which received limited release on the Yukon label in 1984. John Zorn_sentence_31

Zorn has subsequently released these recordings as CDs on Tzadik making them more widely available than the original vinyl pressings. John Zorn_sentence_32

Breakthrough recordings John Zorn_section_3

Zorn's breakthrough recording was 1985's widely acclaimed The Big Gundown: John Zorn Plays the Music of Ennio Morricone, where Zorn offered radical arrangements of music from Ennio Morricone soundtracks, that incorporated elements of traditional Japanese music, soul jazz, and other genres. John Zorn_sentence_33

The Big Gundown was endorsed by Morricone himself, who said: "This is a record that has fresh, good and intelligent ideas. John Zorn_sentence_34

It is realization on a high level, a work done by a maestro with great science-fantasy and creativity ... John Zorn_sentence_35

Many people have done versions of my pieces, but no one has done them like this". John Zorn_sentence_36

Zorn followed this with his second major-label release Spillane in 1987, which included performances by Albert Collins and the Kronos Quartet, and the extended title track, one of Zorn's file-card compositions, which featured text by Arto Lindsay over a film noir inspired collage. John Zorn_sentence_37

This method of combining composition and improvisation involved Zorn writing descriptions or ideas on file-cards and arranging them to form the piece. John Zorn_sentence_38

Zorn described the process in 2003: John Zorn_sentence_39

Zorn's file-card method of organizing sound blocks into an overall structure largely depended on the musicians he chose, the way they interpreted what was written on the file cards, and their relationship with Zorn. John Zorn_sentence_40

"I'm not going to sit in some ivory tower and pass my scores down to the players." John Zorn_sentence_41

said Zorn, John Zorn_sentence_42

Two other critically acclaimed releases on Nonesuch followed; Spy vs Spy in 1989, and Naked City in 1990, before Zorn broke with the label. John Zorn_sentence_43

Music John Zorn_section_4

Jazz John Zorn_section_5

Beginning in 1986, Zorn participated in several projects focused on the compositions of modern jazz musicians which highlighted his unique saxophone style including Voodoo (1986) by the Sonny Clark Memorial Quartet, and Spy vs Spy (1989) featuring hardcore punk-informed interpretations of Ornette Coleman's music with Tim Berne. John Zorn_sentence_44

News for Lulu (1988) and More News for Lulu (1992) featured Zorn, Bill Frisell and George Lewis performing compositions by Kenny Dorham, Sonny Clark, Freddie Redd, and Hank Mobley. John Zorn_sentence_45

He performed on two recordings by organist Big John Patton and recorded alongside Lee Konitz, who Zorn has described as "one of my all-time heroes". John Zorn_sentence_46

Film music John Zorn_section_6

Zorn stated that "After my record The Big Gundown came out I was convinced that a lot of soundtrack work was going to be coming my way". John Zorn_sentence_47

While interest from Hollywood was not forthcoming he attracted the attention of many independent filmmakers. John Zorn_sentence_48

The first director to commission him was Rob Schwebber for the 1986 short White and Lazy followed by his work for Sheila McLaughlin's film, She Must Be Seeing Things (1986) and in 1990, he composed the soundtrack for the Raúl Ruiz film The Golden Boat. John Zorn_sentence_49

Zorn did attract the interest of filmmaker Walter Hill who contracted him to compose music for a film to be called Looters. John Zorn_sentence_50

The film was finally released in 1992 as Trespass (1992) featuring a score by Ry Cooder. John Zorn_sentence_51

Although Zorn's score was not used in the final release he used the commission he received for composing to establish his own record label, Tzadik, and released Filmworks II: Music for an Untitled Film by Walter Hill in 1995. John Zorn_sentence_52

Zorn produced a series of commercial soundtracks for the advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy, including one directed by Jean-Luc Godard, a long-term Zorn inspiration. John Zorn_sentence_53

Filmworks VII: Cynical Hysterie Hour re-released the themes that Zorn produced for a Japanese cartoon which had only been previously available in limited release in Japan. John Zorn_sentence_54

Zorn regained the rights to these recordings by trading a booking at the Knitting Factory to Sony executives. John Zorn_sentence_55

Zorn often used his film work to introduce new groups or experiment with new compositional methods; Filmworks 1986–1990 (1991) featured a sixty-four second interpretation of the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly which links his Morricone tribute to the musicians who would become Naked City; Filmworks III: 1990–1995 (1997) featured the first recordings by the Masada lineup produced for Joe Chappelle's independent feature Thieves Quartet; Filmworks XI: Secret Lives featured the Masada String Trio; and Filmworks XXII: The Last Supper highlighted Zorn's growing interest in composing for vocal groups. John Zorn_sentence_56

From the mid-1990s, Zorn composed film music only for projects which he found personally interesting or of artistic merit. John Zorn_sentence_57

These included underground films dealing with BDSM and LGBT culture, documentaries exploring the Jewish experience, and films about outsider artists. John Zorn_sentence_58

On occasion, Zorn would produce soundtracks for productions with more mainstream appeal such as 2002's Filmworks XIII: Invitation to a Suicide for a black comedy about a man selling tickets to his own suicide to save his father's life, Filmworks XVI: Workingman's Death (2005) for a documentary portraying hazardous employment undertaken in developing countries, Filmworks XVIII: The Treatment (2006) for Oren Rudavsky's romantic comedy based on the tango music of Astor Piazzolla, and Filmworks XIX: The Rain Horse (2008) for a Russian animated short film. John Zorn_sentence_59

In 2013, after releasing 25 volumes in his Filmworks Series, Zorn announced that he would no longer be releasing music for film. John Zorn_sentence_60

Hardcore John Zorn_section_7

Naked City John Zorn_section_8

Zorn established his band, Naked City, in 1988 as a "compositional workshop" to test the limitations of a rock band format. John Zorn_sentence_61

Featuring Zorn (saxophone), Bill Frisell (guitars), Fred Frith (bass), Wayne Horvitz (keyboards), Joey Baron (drums), and occasional vocals from Yamatsuka Eye (and later Mike Patton), Naked City incorporated Zorn's appreciation of hardcore bands like Agnostic Front and grindcore bands like Napalm Death along with influences like film music, country or jazz into compositional experiment. John Zorn_sentence_62

Named after a 1945 book of graphic black and white photographs by Weegee, the band performed an aggressive mix of "soundtrack themes, bluesy hard bop, speedy hardcore rock, squealing free jazz [and] metallic funk". John Zorn_sentence_63

Zorn stated that "Naked City started with rhythm and blues/Spillane type things then went into this hard-core thing ... because I was living in Japan and experiencing a lot of alienation and rejection ... My interest in hard-core also spurred the urge to write shorter and shorter pieces." John Zorn_sentence_64

This approach culminated in a string of "hardcore miniatures", intense brief compositions often lasting less than a minute, 42 of which were featured on the EP, Torture Garden (1989). John Zorn_sentence_65

Some of these tracks had also featured on the band's debut Naked City and others would resurface on the band's next full-length release, Grand Guignol (1992), which also included performances of works by Claude Debussy, Alexander Scriabin, Orlande de Lassus, Charles Ives, and Olivier Messiaen. John Zorn_sentence_66

The band's third album, Heretic (1992), featured more of these short improvisations produced for the soundtrack of an underground S/M film Jeux des Dames Cruelles. John Zorn_sentence_67

The band released a second EP, Leng Tch'e, in 1992 featuring a single composition which lasted just over half an hour. John Zorn_sentence_68

Radio, released in 1993, was the first Naked City album composed solely by Zorn, and featured tracks crediting a wide range of musical influences. John Zorn_sentence_69

The final recording from the band, Absinthe (1993) featured a blend of ambient noise-styled compositions with tracks titled after the works of Paul Verlaine, Charles Baudelaire and other figures in the fin de siècle Decadent movement, and a dedication to Olivier Messiaen. John Zorn_sentence_70

Zorn disbanded Naked City after this release but briefly reformed the band for a European tour in 2003. John Zorn_sentence_71

Painkiller John Zorn_section_9

In 1991, Zorn formed his band, Painkiller, with Bill Laswell on bass and Mick Harris on drums. John Zorn_sentence_72

Painkiller's first two releases, Guts of a Virgin (1991) and Buried Secrets (1992), also featured short grindcore and free jazz-inspired compositions. John Zorn_sentence_73

They released their first live album, Rituals: Live in Japan, in 1993, followed by the double-CD Execution Ground (1994), which featured longer dub and ambient-styled pieces. John Zorn_sentence_74

A second live album, Talisman: Live in Nagoya, was released in 2002 and the band was featured on Zorn's 50th Birthday Celebration Volume 12 (2005) with Hamid Drake replacing Harris on drums and guest vocalist Mike Patton. John Zorn_sentence_75

Both bands attracted worldwide interest, particularly in Japan, where Zorn had relocated following a three-month residency in Tokyo. John Zorn_sentence_76

Other John Zorn_section_10

Zorn continued his interest in hardcore improvisations with the release of Hemophiliac in 2002, with Mike Patton and Ikue Mori. John Zorn_sentence_77

The trio also released a live recording as part of Zorn's 50th Birthday Celebration Series. John Zorn_sentence_78

In 2006, Zorn formed the hardcore voice/bass/drums trio of Mike Patton, Trevor Dunn, and Joey Baron which became known as the Moonchild Trio. John Zorn_sentence_79

That year, two albums of Zorn's compositions performed by the trio were released: Moonchild: Songs Without Words and Astronome. John Zorn_sentence_80

A third album with the trio, but also featuring Zorn, Ikue Mori, Jamie Saft and chorus, Six Litanies for Heliogabalus, was released in 2007. John Zorn_sentence_81

Their fourth release, The Crucible, appeared in 2008 followed by Ipsissimus, both of which featured Marc Ribot, in 2010 and Templars: In Sacred Blood, which added John Medeski in 2012. John Zorn_sentence_82

Concert music John Zorn_section_11

John Zorn has established a diverse repertoire of music written for chamber music and orchestral settings. John Zorn_sentence_83

As Zorn's interest in Naked City waned, he "started hearing classical music in [his] head again." John Zorn_sentence_84

Zorn started working on compositions that drew on chamber music arrangements of strings, percussion and electronic instruments. John Zorn_sentence_85

Elegy, a suite dedicated to Jean Genet, was released in 1992. John Zorn_sentence_86

This was followed by the piece Kristallnacht recorded in November 1992, his premiere work of radical Jewish culture, featuring seven compositions reflecting the Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass") in late 1938 where Jews were targets of violence and destruction in Germany and Austria. John Zorn_sentence_87

The establishment of Tzadik allowed him to release many compositions which he had written over the previous two decades for classical ensembles. John Zorn_sentence_88

Zorn's earliest released classical composition, Christabel (1972) for five flutes, first appeared on Angelus Novus in 1998. John Zorn_sentence_89

Zorn credits the composition of his 1988 string quartet Cat O' Nine Tails (commissioned and released by the Kronos Quartet on Short Stories) to awakening him to the possibilities of writing for classical musicians. John Zorn_sentence_90

This composition also appeared on The String Quartets (1999) and Cartoon S/M (2000) along with variations on "Kol Nidre", inspired by the Jewish prayer of atonement which was written at the same time as the first Masada Book. John Zorn_sentence_91

Aporias: Requia for Piano and Orchestra (1998) was Zorn's first full-scale orchestral release featuring pianist Stephen Drury, the Hungarian Radio Children's Choir and the American Composers Orchestra conducted by Dennis Russell Davies. John Zorn_sentence_92

Much of Zorn's classical work is dedicated or inspired by artists who have influenced him: John Zorn_sentence_93

John Zorn_unordered_list_0

Several of Zorn's later concert works drew inspiration from mysticism and the works of Aleister Crowley in particular; Magick (2004) featured a group called the Crowley Quartet. John Zorn_sentence_94

A 2009 performance of the album's centerpiece Necronomicon was described as "... frenetic vortexes of violent, abrasive motion, separated by eerily becalmed, suspenseful sections with moody, even prayerful melodies. John Zorn_sentence_95

The music is sensational and evocative, but never arbitrary; you always sense a guiding hand behind the mayhem". John Zorn_sentence_96

Later works expanded to include vocal and operatic works; Mysterium released in 2005 featured Frammenti del Sappho for female chorus; Rituals (2005) featured Zorn's opera composed for the Bayreuth Opera Festival in 1998; and La Machine de l'Être composed in 2000, premiered at the New York City Opera in 2011, and recorded for the 2012 album Music and Its Double. John Zorn_sentence_97

Zorn's concert works have been performed all over the world and he has received commissions from the New York Philharmonic, Brooklyn Philharmonic and BBC Radio 3. John Zorn_sentence_98

Masada books John Zorn_section_12

Book One John Zorn_section_13

The experience of composing Kristallnacht prompted Zorn to explore his Jewish heritage and examine methods of composing using the Phrygian dominant scale. John Zorn_sentence_99

Zorn set himself the task of writing 100 compositions within a year. John Zorn_sentence_100

Within three years, the number of compositions had grown to 205 and became known as the first Masada Book. John Zorn_sentence_101

Zorn explained: John Zorn_sentence_102

The initial fruits of this compositional approach were ten albums by Masada appearing on the Japanese DIW label from 1994. John Zorn_sentence_103

Masada (later referred to as "acoustic" Masada) was an Ornette Coleman-inspired quartet with Zorn (alto saxophone), Dave Douglas (trumpet), Greg Cohen (bass), and Joey Baron (drums) that performed jazz-styled compositions based on Sephardic scales and rhythms. John Zorn_sentence_104

The original Masada albums were named after the first ten letters of the Hebrew alphabet and contained compositions with Hebrew titles. John Zorn_sentence_105

Further releases by Masada consisted of live performances of the band recorded in Jerusalem, Taipei, Middleheim, Seville and in New York at the Knitting Factory and at Tonic (2001) and as a DVD (1999), and a double-CD of unreleased studio recordings, Sanhedrin 1994–1997 (2005). John Zorn_sentence_106

The quartet released a live recording as part of Zorn's 50th Birthday Celebration Series. John Zorn_sentence_107

In 1996, Zorn released Bar Kokhba featuring Masada compositions recorded by a rotating group of musicians. John Zorn_sentence_108

Two ensembles arose from this album; the Masada String Trio, composed of Greg Cohen (bass), Mark Feldman (violin), and Erik Friedlander (cello); and the Bar Kokhba Sextet which added Marc Ribot (guitar), Cyro Baptista (percussion), and Joey Baron (drums), both of which were featured on 1998's The Circle Maker. John Zorn_sentence_109

The Masada String Trio were also featured on Zorn's Filmworks series, as part of his 50th Birthday Celebration, and released two albums as part of the Book of Angels project, Azazal and Haborym. John Zorn_sentence_110

In 2003, Zorn formed Electric Masada, a band featuring Zorn, Baptista, Baron, and Ribot, along with Trevor Dunn (bass), Ikue Mori (electronics), Jamie Saft (keyboards), and Kenny Wollesen (drums) releasing their debut live album from Zorn's 50th Birthday Concert series and a double live CD recorded in 2004. John Zorn_sentence_111

A Tenth Anniversary Series of Masada recordings was released by Zorn beginning in 2003. John Zorn_sentence_112

The series featured five albums of Masada themes including Masada Guitars by Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell, and Tim Sparks; Masada Recital by Mark Feldman and Sylvie Courvoisier; Masada Rock by Rashanim; and two albums featuring various artists, Voices in the Wilderness and The Unknown Masada. John Zorn_sentence_113

Book Two John Zorn_section_14

In 2004, Zorn began composing the second Masada Book, The Book of Angels, resulting in an additional 316 compositions. John Zorn_sentence_114

Zorn explained: John Zorn_sentence_115

He has released twenty volumes of Masada Book Two compositions all performed by other artists. John Zorn_sentence_116

The titles of many Masada Book Two compositions are derived from demonology and Judeo-Christian mythology. John Zorn_sentence_117

The Masada quartet performed at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in March 2007 for what were billed as their final concerts. John Zorn_sentence_118

Zorn reformed the band as a sextet with Uri Caine and Cyro Baptista in 2009 saying: John Zorn_sentence_119

Zorn's Masada compositions and associated ensembles have become a central focus of many concerts and festivals and he has established regular 'Masada Marathons' that feature various bands and musicians performing music from the Masada Books. John Zorn_sentence_120

Book Three John Zorn_section_15

Zorn completed the third Masada book, titled The Book Beriah, in 2014. John Zorn_sentence_121

The Dreamers John Zorn_section_16

Zorn released one of his most popular albums, The Gift, in 2001, which surprised many with its relaxed blend of surf, exotica and world music. John Zorn_sentence_122

On February 29, 2008, at St Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, Zorn premiered The Dreamers which saw a return to the gentle compositions first featured on The Gift and established the band of the same name. John Zorn_sentence_123

The Dreamers released their second album O'o in 2009, an album of Zorn's Book of Angels compositions in 2010 and a Christmas album in 2011. John Zorn_sentence_124

Other work John Zorn_section_17

Tzadik Records John Zorn_section_18

In 1992, John Zorn curated the Avant subsidiary of the DIW label and released several Naked City recordings on the label as well as many other albums featuring Zorn affiliated musicians including Derek Bailey, Buckethead, Eugene Chadbourne, Dave Douglas, Erik Friedlander, Wayne Horvitz, Ikue Mori, Bobby Previte, Zeena Parkins and Marc Ribot. John Zorn_sentence_125

In 1995, in co-operation with jazz producer Kazunori Sugiyama, Zorn established the Tzadik record label to ensure the availability of his catalogue and promote other musicians. John Zorn_sentence_126

The label's releases are divided into series: John Zorn_sentence_127

John Zorn_unordered_list_1

  • The Archival Series features Zorn's recordings exclusively, including re-releases of several albums that appeared on other labels, Zorn's film work, and recordings from 1973 onwards;John Zorn_item_1_4
  • The 50th Birthday Celebration Series is 11 live albums recorded in September 2003 at Tonic as part of the month-long concert retrospective of Zorn's work;John Zorn_item_1_5
  • The Composer Series features Zorn's music for "classical" ensembles along with work by many other contemporary composers;John Zorn_item_1_6
  • The Radical Jewish Culture Series features contemporary Jewish musicians;John Zorn_item_1_7
  • The New Japan Series covers Japanese underground music;John Zorn_item_1_8
  • The Film Music Series features soundtracks by other musicians (Zorn's Filmworks recordings are featured in the Archival Series);John Zorn_item_1_9
  • The Oracle Series promotes women in experimental music;John Zorn_item_1_10
  • The Key Series presents notable avant-garde musicians and projects;John Zorn_item_1_11
  • The Lunatic Fringe Series releases music and musicians operating outside of the broad categories offered by other series; andJohn Zorn_item_1_12
  • The Spotlight Series promotes new bands and musical projects of young musicians;John Zorn_item_1_13

Tzadik also releases special edition CDs, DVDs, books and T-shirts. John Zorn_sentence_128

Since 1998, the designs of Tzadik releases have been created by graphic artist Heung-Heung "Chippy" Chin. John Zorn_sentence_129

The Stone (music venue) John Zorn_section_19

Zorn's earliest New York performances occurred at small artist-run performance spaces including his own apartment. John Zorn_sentence_130

As his profile grew, he became associated with several Lower East Side alternative venues such as the Knitting Factory and Tonic. John Zorn_sentence_131

On Friday April 13, 2007, Zorn played the final night at Tonic before it closed due to financial pressures. John Zorn_sentence_132

Zorn was the principal force in establishing The Stone in 2005, an avant-garde performance space in New York's Alphabet City which supports itself solely on donations and the sale of limited edition CDs, giving all door revenues directly to the performers. John Zorn_sentence_133

Zorn holds the title of artistic director and regularly performs 'Improvisation Nights'. John Zorn_sentence_134

Zorn feels that "The Stone is a unique space and is different from Tonic, the Knitting Factory, and most of the other venues we have played at as there is no bar ... so there is NO pressure to pack the house with an audience that drinks, and what night you perform has nothing to do with your power to draw a crowd or what kind of music you might play". John Zorn_sentence_135

On January 10, 2008, Zorn performed with Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson at a special benefit night at The Stone which was also released on The Stone: Issue Three on CD. John Zorn_sentence_136

In December 2016 Zorn announced that The Stone would close in February 2018 but that he was hopeful that a new location could be found, stating "Venues come and go, but the music continues on forever!" John Zorn_sentence_137

By March 2017 Zorn had negotiated with The New School to move The Stone to Greenwich Village. John Zorn_sentence_138

On February 25, 2018 the last performance was held at the original venue and Zorn moved operations to The New School's The Glass Box Theatre on the basis of a handshake deal. John Zorn_sentence_139

50th and 60th birthday concert series John Zorn_section_20

In September 2003, Zorn celebrated his 50th birthday with a month-long series of performances at Tonic in New York, repeating an event he had begun a decade earlier at the Knitting Factory. John Zorn_sentence_140

He conceptualized the month into several different aspects of his musical output. John Zorn_sentence_141

Zorn's bands performed on the weekends, classical ensembles were featured on Sundays, Zorn performed improvisations with other musicians on Mondays, featured his extended compositions on Tuesdays and a retrospective of game pieces on Wednesdays. John Zorn_sentence_142

A total of 12 live albums were released on his 50th Birthday Celebration Series. John Zorn_sentence_143

Zorn's 60th birthday celebrations encompassed concerts across the globe from festival appearances to unique events in art galleries and unusual venues across 2013 and into 2014. John Zorn_sentence_144

The first concerts under the Zorn@60 banner were performed at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in April 2013. John Zorn_sentence_145

This was followed by performances at the Museum of Modern Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. John Zorn_sentence_146

The European leg of Zorn@60 commenced at the Barbican Theatre in London in July 2013. John Zorn_sentence_147

Festival appearances in Belgium, Poland, Spain and Germany followed soon after. John Zorn_sentence_148

These were followed by concerts in Victoriaville, Canada. John Zorn_sentence_149

Returning to New York City other concert appearances occurred at Alice Tully Hall and Lincoln Centre. John Zorn_sentence_150

Zorn undertook another of his celebrated Masada Marathons at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in August. John Zorn_sentence_151

Further New York City concerts in September included performances of music for film at the Anthology Film Archives, classical works and Cobra at the Miller Theatre, a day-long concert at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a performance of improvised duets with Ryuichi Sakamoto. John Zorn_sentence_152

In October, the International Contemporary Ensemble performed a retrospective of Zorn's classical music at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. John Zorn_sentence_153

The final Zorn@60 concerts were performed as part of the Adelaide Festival in Australia in March 2014 featuring a four concerts covering the breadth of his compositional and improvisational range. John Zorn_sentence_154

Arcana (book series) John Zorn_section_21

In 2000, Zorn edited the book Arcana: Musicians on Music featuring interviews, essays, and commentaries by musicians including Anthony Coleman, Peter Garland, David Mahler, Bill Frisell, Gerry Hemingway, George Lewis, Fred Frith, Eyvind Kang, Mike Patton and Elliott Sharp, on the compositional process. John Zorn_sentence_155

Zorn released the second volume of Arcana: Musicians on Music in the summer of 2007. John Zorn_sentence_156

According to the preface by Zorn, "This second installment of what will be a continuing series of books presenting radical, cutting-edge ideas about music is made, like the initial volume, out of necessity." John Zorn_sentence_157

New volumes have since been released; the eighth volume was published in September 2017. John Zorn_sentence_158

Awards John Zorn_section_22

In 2001, John Zorn received the Jewish Cultural Award in Performing Arts from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. John Zorn_sentence_159

In 2006, Zorn was named a MacArthur Fellow. John Zorn_sentence_160

In 2007, he was the recipient of Columbia University's School of the Arts William Schuman Award, an honor given "to recognize the lifetime achievement of an American composer whose works have been widely performed and generally acknowledged to be of lasting significance." John Zorn_sentence_161

In 2011, Zorn was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame by Lou Reed, and was awarded the Magister Artium Gandensis, an honorary degree from the University of Ghent. John Zorn_sentence_162

In 2014, he received honorary doctorates from The State University of New York and the New England Conservatory of Music. John Zorn_sentence_163

Discography John Zorn_section_23

Main article: John Zorn discography John Zorn_sentence_164

Filmography John Zorn_section_24

John Zorn_unordered_list_2

  • Money (1985), a "manic collage film" by Henry Hills on "the early days of "language poetry" and the downtown improvised music scene."John Zorn_item_2_14
  • Put More Blood Into the Music (1987), documentary by George Atlas on New York avant garde music, aired Sunday March 12, 1989 as episode 292 of The South Bank Show.John Zorn_item_2_15
  • Step Across the Border (1990), documentary on Fred Frith.John Zorn_item_2_16
  • A Bookshelf on Top of the Sky: 12 Stories About John Zorn (Tzadik, 2004), film portrait by Claudia Heuermann.John Zorn_item_2_17
  • Masada Live at Tonic 1999 (2004), concert film.John Zorn_item_2_18
  • Celestial Subway Lines / Salvaging Noise (2005), experimental documentary by Ken Jacobs with soundtrack by Zorn and Ikue Mori.John Zorn_item_2_19
  • Sabbath in Paradise (Tzadik, 2007), documentary by Claudia Heuermann on Jewish musical culture in New York's avant garde Jazz scene in the 1990s.John Zorn_item_2_20
  • Astronome: A Night at the Opera (2010), an opera by Richard Foreman, music by John Zorn.John Zorn_item_2_21


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John Zorn.