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Famous Like Me > Composer > Z > John Zorn

Profile of John Zorn on Famous Like Me

Name: John Zorn  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 2nd September 1953
Place of Birth: New York, New York, USA
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

John Zorn (born September 2, 1953 in New York City) is a American composer and saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist. He owns the Tzadik record label and has worked with a large number of experimental musicians, particularly in improvised music, incorporating modern classical music, jazz and even death metal and grindcore as well as having produced music to include most styles.

As a child, he played piano, guitar and flute. He went to college in St. Louis at Webster College (now Webster University) where he discovered free jazz, before dropping out and moving to Manhattan. There he gave concerts in his small apartment, playing a variety of reeds, duck calls, tapes, etc; almost anything. In the mid 1980s he signed to the Elektra-Nonesuch label. Since then, Zorn has been quite prolific, usually putting out several new records each year. His breakthrough recording was perhaps 1985's The Big Gundown: John Zorn Plays the Music of Ennio Morricone, wherein Zorn offered a number of often radical arrangements of Morricone's famed songs from various movies. The Big Gundown was endorsed by Morricone, and incorporated elements of traditional japanese music, soul jazz, and other diverse musical genres.

Zorn is perhaps best known for his work with Masada, (an Ornette Coleman-influenced jazz band playing a set of compositions based on Jewish scales), Painkiller (a mix of grindcore and free jazz in which he is joined by Mick Harris of Napalm Death) and Naked City (an often aggressive mix of jazz, rock and thrash metal). He has also worked with musicians like Bill Frisell, Wayne Horvitz, Derek Bailey, Fred Frith, Keiji Haino, Bill Laswell and Mike Patton. He has written music for television and film, which has been collected in the ongoing Filmworks series of records on his Tzadik label. Some of these are jazz-based, others are classical.

He has also written several "game pieces", in which performers are allowed to improvise while following certain structural rules. These works are in the main named after sports, and include Pool, Archery and Lacrosse, as well as Cobra. He is also often noted for his postmodern, sometimes extreme, use of formal blocks, units which he combines and contrasts in various ways. Zorn discusses his history and the musical philosophy behind his early works in the book Talking Musicby William Duckworth.

Most recently, he has become the principal force behind the opening of The Stone, an avant-garde performance space in NY's Alphabet City that supports itself solely on donations, giving all door revenues directly to the performers.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article John Zorn