News for Zorn
- MacArthur Fellowship 2006 for John Zorn
[posted 20 September 2006]
One of the MacArthur Fellowships for 2006 was awarded to composer and saxophonist John Zorn. The fellowships are give to support outstanding and innovative work in several fields of arts, sciences and health care. Each fellow receives $500,000.- over five years to be able to devote this time to his or her work, without having to worry about money. The MacArthur Fellowship is also known as the "genius award".
Spillane, Godard, Forbidden Fruit, Dark River, Redbird, Cycle du nord, Le Momo, Untitled, Amour Fou, American Magus, In the very Eye of Night, The Nerve Key, Beuysblock, Christabel, Dead Ringer, The Book of Heads, Road Runner, Cat O’Nine Tails, For your Eyes only, The Dead Man, Carny, Memento Mori, Angelus Novus, Aporias: Requia for piano and orchestra, Kol Nidre, Forbidden Fruit, Music for Children, Orchestra Variations, Shibboleth, Rituals, Contes de Fees, La Machine de l’etre, Gris Gris, Chimeras.
It is possible to call John Zorn a "jazz" musician, but that would be much too limiting a description. While jazz feeling is present in a good deal of his work, and the idea of improvisation is vitally important to him, Zorn doesn’t operate within any idiom’s framework, drawing from just about any musical, cultural or noise source that a fellow who grew up in the TV and LP eras could experience. This eclecticism gone haywire can result in such wildly jump-cutting works as Spillane, whose plethora of diverse and incompatible styles makes for a listening experience akin to constantly punching the station buttons on a car radio. Zorn believes that the age of the composer as an "autonomous musical mind" had come to an end in the late 20th century; hence the collaborative nature of much of his work, both with active musicians and music and styles of the past. Like Mel Brooks, the zany film director, many of Zorn’s works are tributes to certain musical touchstones of his - such as Ennio Morricone, Sonny Clark and Ornette Coleman - all filtered through his unpredictable hall of mirrors.
Zorn started playing the piano as a child before taking up the guitar and flute at age ten. By the time he was 14, Zorn had discovered contemporary classical music and began composing; his college years in St. Louis brought about his introduction to avant-garde jazz, particularly that of Anthony Braxton. He dropped out of college, settled in lower Manhattan, and began working with free improvisers, rock bands, and tape. After releasing a few of his so called ‘game pieces’, he finally broke trough with ‘Big Gundown’, an album comprised of Morricone covers. At the end of the 80’s he formed the supergroup ‘Naked City’, where Zorn combined as much musical influences as possible. After disbanding this group he formed Masada, a fusion of avant-jazz with traditional Jewish melodies. Besides all this he also found time to write numerous classical pieces which include four string quartets, electronic music, minimal music, orchestral and chamber music.