John Zorn is perhaps best known for his avant-garde group Naked City, which played a jarring fusion of free jazz, punk rock, and movie themes. But this is only one of John’s many diverse creative outlets. The multiplicity of his body of work really exposes the futility of lumping music into “genres”. John writes what I would prefer to call “chamber music”, a label that encompasses a wide variety of instrumentations and settings.
Today’s tune comes from John’s group Masada, specifically the Live in Jerusalem album. The quartet (Zorn, Dave Douglas, Greg Cohen and Joey Baron) sort of reminds me of Ornette Coleman’s quartet work; the melodies are often frenetic and the soloists have freedom to overlap and complement or contradict each other. The difference is that with Masada, there is much more structure. The themes predominantly feature the harmonic minor scale and the bass mostly sticks to a simple ostinato rather than reacting to the others’ input. This is basically a 6-bar blues with digressions.