With Kenny Grohowski, Matt Hollenberg & John Medeski
The saxophonist John Zorn is “the most prolific and polarizing figure in New York’s downtown scene” and “a major American composer whose work crosses just about every stylistic boundary imaginable” (The New York Times). In four decades, Zorn has released dozens of albums on his own label, Tzadik; their contents are famously varied, ranging from riotous jazz interpretations of Ennio Morricone and hardcore punk versions of Ornette Coleman to orchestral and choral music. As the uncontested icon of the American avant-garde, Zorn’s only conventions are collaboration, curiosity, and an unquenchable conviction that the story of music is still unfolding. An all-star cast performs eight different programs of his work at Big Ears.
On the recent album Chaos Magick, Zorn took the organ trio he concocted for Simulacrum in 2015—avant-metal guitarist Matt Hollenberg, jazz-funk drummer Kenny Grohowski, and Medeski Martin & Wood’s John Medeski—and added the virtuosic yet soulful electric pianist Brian Marsella. The result is “even crazier than Electric Masada,” according to Tzadik, and that’s saying something. Based on the contemporary magical practices derived from the ideas of the artist Austin Osman Spare, the album displays Zorn’s music at its most occult, in fleet improvisations crossing from classical and jazz to metal and funk.