Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter

Source: Downtown Music Gallery.

Tomorrow will be John Zorn’s 67th birthday so DMG is raising a toast to our Main Man! I met Mr. Zorn in December of 1979, more than forty years ago when both of us were around 25. It took me a while to figure out what he was doing on saxes & bird calls, that he was a fine bebop saxist and a completely original composer. It was his Game Pieces that really inspired a new generation of Downtown Musicians to improvise/compose in a new way. Thanks to Irving & Stephanie Stone (an old couple I met at his early shows) and Fred Frith for helping me to take Mr. Zorn unique playing, compositions & directing more seriously. Recently a newer friend of mine, Matt Vernon (famed Dead Archiver, that I met at The Stone), has been helping to archive my 3,000 cassettes of live concerts from 1976-2005. Over the past few months, I have listened to several dozen early John Zorn gigs, as well as many other early Downtown concerts. I am checking out every Game Piece in chronological order and this is helping me to understand the great jigsaw puzzle-like mysteries of Mr. Zorn’s vast music career/journey.

I still attend as many Zorn concerts as is possible and those of us at DMG still listen to each and every Zorn release as they come out practically every month. We are still listening to last month’s Zorn CD, “Les Maudits’, over and over. It is one of the weirdest and most intense recent efforts from Mr. Zorn but one of his many great discs. Starting tomorrow, Friday, we will be playing a great deal of Zorn’s vast catalogue over the next week: Acoustic Masada, Electric Masada, Naked City, symphonic & chamber works, string quartets, solo organ recitals, solo sax (The Classic Guide to Strategy), the Dreamers (post-surf, exotica…), the Book of Beriah, choral music, filmworks series, tributes to Morricone and many other composers, poets, philosophers and artists of all sorts. John Zorn’s label, Tzadik Records passed the 850 mark this year and no other label has captured/documented so much engaging music. Another great thing that Mr. Zorn has achieved is building a community of Creative Musicians through his performance space, The Stone, his record label and composing several books of songs (Masada Songbook – 650 songs! & the Bagatelles Series, as yet unrecorded), which have been recorded & performed live by many different musicians & bands. I asked Mr. Zorn earlier this year how he does so much and he said, “I never sleep”. He seems to live to create. He is an ongoing inspiration to many of us so let’s drink a toast and help him celebrate his birthday and hope he has many more. We love you bubbie! – Bruce Lee, Frank M & John M from DMG