Spy Vs. Spy: The Music Of Ornette ColemanJohn Zorn
Hey, reader! If you can't find the full album anywhere, email me at email@example.com and I'll send a zipped file of the songs. John Zorn. Hmmm.....let's talk about John Zorn. He's a jazz artist (saxophone) who specializes in avant-garde jazz. This alone will turn away quite a few people, and I can't blame them: avant-garde art is inherently pretentious with it's "ooo, look at how I deconstruct certain pervasive elements in art and rearrange them for new experiences". It's pretty anarchist, and anarchists SUCK! Given this, I'm pretty surprised that Zorn is even on this list. I would've went with his much more popular "Naked City", but maybe that was too "jazz-rock" for 1001. Regardless, most people are going to walk away not enjoying John Zorn's work. So, what is he doing with this album? Well, he's got a 5-piece band built of two alto-saxophones, a bass, and TWO DRUMMERS! Neat. Double drummers is always risky but it's avant-garde so we'll let it slide. Cool production note: each saxophone is playing in a different channel (Zorn is in the right; listen for his licks!). Also of note is that everyone playing is improvising, giving a sort of full sound that surrounds the listener like a chaotic hug. Can you feel it? Zorn's compositions are interesting, as he opts to do these much shorter tracks that don't stick around for long before moving on the the next one. Zorn is heavily inspired by the hardcore punk scene in New York, London, and Tokyo at the time, particularly the rise in grindcore (see: Scum by Napalm Death). That sort of quick-and-dirty, attack on the ears is something that was very much inspired from grindcore and can be seen crossing over in jazz through Zorn. Again, most people will not like this, but for what it's worth I think it's a cool approach to jazz. By the 80's, Jazz had pretty well split; smooth jazz was on the rise with the likes of Kenny G, producing the most accessible, commercial music possible. Meanwhile, Jazz was being used more as a prop for other genres, such as acid jazz in the UK being a combination of electronic beats with jazz (great for clubs), or hip-hop producers incorporating jazz samples in their beats, leading to the rise of jazz rap in the late 80's and early 90's. This comes AFTER the prominence of avant-garde jazz actually, so Zorn is late to the party and very much on his own. Regardless, his approach to jazz with the mindset of hardcore punk makes for a fresh and thrilling listening experience. Overall, I think there's a lot one can take from this album, but they'll need to be open to the weirdness of it all. Do not expect structure, melodies, and rhythms that ground most songs. Instead, listen for how each instrument is playing off the others while also being totally independent from the song. There are times in this record where the stars align and you can hear the purposefulness of Zorn's band coming together in creating some really rad shit. But you gotta be open to it, or you'll just walk away thinking it's a total stinker. If you liked this record, consider listening to Ornette Coleman's stuff! I recommend "The Shape of Jazz to Come" and "Free Jazz", both records that did NOT make this list because Coleman ISN'T ANYWHERE ON THE LIST, DESPITE HIS NAME BEING HONORED BY THIS ALBUM. FUCK YOUUUUUUU 1001 ALBUMS!!!!