Wednesday, January 25, 2017

John Zorn - Spillane

Composer: John Zorn
Title: Spillane
Year: 1987
For those unacquainted with composer/saxophonist John Zorn's work, Spillane is likely to be a challenging introduction, but will be a rewarding one.  In a prolific and varied career that is still unfolding,  Zorn's Spillane is a unique and definitive work unlikely to be buried no matter how much compelling work he continues to churn out.

Spillane draws much of its strength from an unusual musical technique: file-card composition.  A file-card composition is one in which the sequence of musical events is dictated by a shuffled or ordered set of cards, each of which communicates a distinct block of sound to the performers.  Though this method is employed on three out of the four tracks, its use is most clearly heard in the title track which explores the gritty and violent world of mystery writer Mickey Spillane's hard-boiled detective character, Mike Hammer.

In typical fashion, Zorn draws on a cast of immensely talented musicians, including some of the best of the New York Downtown Scene (Anthony Coleman, Bill Frisell, Carol Emanuel, et al.), the Kronos Quartet, Christian Marclay on turntable and John Lurie (of the Lounge Lizards) as the voice of Mike Hammer.  It is a magnificent and imaginative, if challenging, journey to take, so leave a patient space for it.

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