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Zorn, John: The Mockingbird (Tzadik)

John Zorn's Gnostic Trio of Bill Frisell on guitar, Carol Emanuel on harp and Kenny Wollesen on vibes and chimes, perform Zorn's compositions inspired by the classic novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" in lyrical chamber jazz of great depth and nuance.

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product information:

UPC: 702397834427

Label: Tzadik
Catalog ID: TZA-CD-8344
Squidco Product Code: 22309

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2016
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack
Recorded at EastSide Sound, in New York City, New York on December 8th - 10th, 2015, by Marc Urselli.


John Zorn-composer

Bill Frisell-guitar

Carol Emanuel-harp

Kenny Wollesen-vibraphone, chimes

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track listing:

1. Scout 4:14

2. Riverrun 4:37

3. Child's Play 5:07

4. Porch Swing 4:55

5. Innocence 7:14

6. Pegasus 4:18

7. A Mystery 7:04

8. The Mockingbird 5:46
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descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Featuring the magical sonorities of Bill Frisell's guitar in a heavenly tapestry of harp and vibraphone, the Gnostic Trio is one of the most sublime ensembles in Zorn's ever-expanding universe. Their sixth CD is their best yet, and presents gorgeous and intimate chamber music touching upon themes of innocence, adventure, childhood and longing that unfold like an exotic flower. Inspired by the charming character Scout from the American classic "To Kill A Mockingbird" and tempered by a folk-like simplicity, Zorn and company spins a hypnotic web of melodic beauty to soothe the restless spirit."-Tzadik

"This album was inspired by the character Scout from the classic novel To Kill A Mockingbird and shows John Zorn's compositions at their most subtle and graceful, floating across the divide between literature and music. The trio has become a regular group that Zorn has convened to interpret some of his more understated compositions, featuring Carol Emanuel on harp, Bill Frisell on guitar and Kenny Wollesen on vibraphone and chimes.

"Scout" opens the album with shimmering vibes which are met with some snarling guitar sounds (Zorn always brings out the best in Frisell) and there is a near chamber sound to some of the music, like on "Riverrun" where the harp glistens and the chimes twinkle, before things take a darker turn, hammering sounds and then pulling back to show their dynamic muscle. The milder "Child's Play" builds through Wollesen's melodious ringing sounds, which take center stage as guitar and harp hold back. He develops an interesting rhythm his own for this entire piece. Gentle guitar that sounds like it may come from an old time ballad opens "Porch Swing" and that deep emotional feeling that Frisell is able to conjure deepens the emotional resonance of the music as the harpist gently orbits around with gentle strums and the vibes further frame the music. Wollesen makes his mallets spritely dance as the trio joins together for the conclusion.

There is a sweet and haunting melody to "Innocence" that the trio builds louder chiming together, then like a fairy tale gone wrong, the music turns progressively darker and spectral, as the heavy handed vibes become more urgent in their tone. "A Mystery" is a great track and really lives up to its title by having a quiet unsettled aura before Wollesen comes in with heavy clangs and lashes of metallic vibes sounding like the cry for help of a lost soul that deepens the mystery even further. His excellent playing allows the music to cover a range of emotion, and the wailing sound of the vibes and electric guitar is head filling and unforgettable.

There is a lighter and defter movement to the music on "The Mockingbird" and while the vibes stay urgent to give the music a propulsive forward movement, the harp and guitar are in fine mettle. As the hard vibes ring out, taut guitar moves in with glistening harp to develop fine concluding textures. This is their sixth album and one of their best, presenting quiet and subtle music touching upon themes of hope and fear, sadness and courage with great tact and dignity."-Tim Niland, Music and More

Get additional information at Music and More

Artist Biographies:

"John Zorn (born September 2, 1953) is an American composer, arranger, producer, saxophonist, and multi-instrumentalist with hundreds of album credits as performer, composer, and producer across a variety of genres including jazz, rock, hardcore, classical, surf, metal, klezmer, soundtrack, ambient, and improvised music. He incorporates diverse styles in his compositions which he identifies as avant-garde or experimental. Zorn was described by Down Beat as "one of our most important composers".

Zorn established himself within the New York City downtown music movement in the mid-1970s performing with musicians across the sonic spectrum and developing experimental methods of composing new music. After releasing albums on several independent US and European labels, Zorn signed with Elektra Nonesuch and received wide acclaim with the release of The Big Gundown, an album reworking the compositions of Ennio Morricone. He attracted further attention worldwide with the release of Spillane in 1987, and Naked City in 1989. After spending almost a decade travelling between Japan and the US he made New York his permanent base and established his own record label, Tzadik, in the mid-1990s.

Tzadik enabled Zorn to maintain independence from the mainstream music industry and ensured the continued availability of his growing catalog of recordings, allowing him to prolifically record and release new material, issuing several new albums each year, as well as promoting the work of many other musicians. Zorn has led the hardcore bands Naked City and Painkiller, the klezmer/free jazz-influenced quartet Masada, composed over 600 pieces as part of the Masada Songbooks that have been performed by an array of groups, composed concert music for classical ensembles and orchestras, and produced music for opera, sound installations, film and documentary. Zorn has undertaken many tours of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, often performing at festivals with many other musicians and ensembles that perform his diverse output.

Zorn's compositions cross many genres and he has stated "All the various styles are organically connected to one another. I'm an additive person-the entire storehouse of my knowledge informs everything I do. People are so obsessed with the surface that they can't see the connections, but they are there." For Zorn "Composing is more than just imagining music-it's knowing how to communicate it to musicians. And you don't give an improviser music that's completely written out, or ask a classical musician to improvise. I'm interested in speaking to musicians in their own languages, on their own terms, and in bringing out the best in what they do. To challenge them and excite them." "

-Wikipedia (

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"Born in Baltimore, Bill Frisell played clarinet throughout his childhood in Denver, Colorado. His interest in guitar began with his exposure to pop music on the radio. Soon, the Chicago Blues became a passion through the work of Otis Rush, B.B. King, Paul Butterfield and Buddy Guy. In high school, he played in bands covering pop and soul classics, James Brown and other dance material. Later, Bill studied music at the University of Northern Colorado before attending Berklee College of Music in Boston where he studied with John Damian, Herb Pomeroy and Michael Gibbs. In 1978, Frisell moved for a year to Belgium where he concentrated on writing music. In this period, he toured with Michael Gibbs and first recorded with German bassist Eberhard Weber. Bill moved to the New York City area in 1979 and stayed until 1989. He now lives in Seattle.

"When I was 16, I was listening to a lot of surfing music, a lot of English rock. Then I saw Wes Montgomery and somehow that kind of turned me around. Later, Jim Hall made a big impression on me and I took some lessons with him. I suppose I play the kind of harmonic things Jim would play but with a sound that comes from Jimi Hendrix", Frisell told Wire. Bill also lists Paul Motian, Thelonious Monk, Aaron Copland, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis and his teacher, Dale Bruning, as musical influences.

Bill recorded his first two albums as a leader on ECM, both produced by Manfred Eicher. Subdued and lyrical in nature, In Line, the first of the ECM recordings, employed both electric and acoustic guitars in a series of solos (including some overdubbing) and duets with bassist Arild Andersen. Second was Rambler, featuring Kenny Wheeler, Bob Stewart, Jerome Harris and Paul Motian. About Rambler, Fanfare said: "Bill Frisell has built a little masterpiece here - not just a showcase for his own instrumental creativity (of which there is much in evidence), but a clever and poetic whole."

Frisell's third album and last for ECM, Lookout For Hope, marked the recording debut of The Bill Frisell Band featuring Hank Roberts, Kermit Driscoll and Joey Baron. Produced by Lee Townsend, the album's diverse material - ranging from country swing to reggae, quasi-heavy metal and backbeat rock with a twist to Monk's "Hackensack" - nevertheless possessed the cohesive and unmistakable personality of a working band on to a sound of its own. High Fidelity called it "the fullest showing of Frisell's ability to date, especially his compositional range." The Chicago Tribune said, "Lookout For Hope offers one of the most hopeful signs that contemporary jazz can evolve with dignity, wit and charm."

Before We Were Born, Frisell's debut recording for Nonesuch, featured three musical settings: Peter Scherer and Arto Lindsay produced, co-arranged and performed on three Frisell compositions. "Some Song and Dance", produced by Lee Townsend, is a suite of four pieces performed by Frisell's Band with a saxophone section featuring Julius Hemphill, Billy Drewes and Doug Wieselman. Frisell's "Hard Plains Drifter" is an extended work shaped, produced and arranged by John Zorn and played by the Frisell Band. The New York Times observed: "By following through on the implications of his unfettered sounds, Mr. Frisell has made his best album."

Frisell's second Nonesuch album, Is That You?, features nine original Frisell compositions, one by producer Wayne Horvitz and two cover tunes - "Chain of Fools" and "Days of Wine and Roses". With Frisell playing guitars, bass, banjo, ukulele and even clarinet, Is That You? demonstrated with great clarity his pan-stylistic, yet strangely unified musical world. Musician called the album "a very personal vision, tearing down stylistic barriers with delicacy and sudden bursts of emotion."

Frisell's third album for Nonesuch, Where in the World?, also produced by Wayne Horvitz, was the band's final recording with cellist Hank Roberts. The Philadelphia Inquirer said: "There is nothing standard about Where in the World?...Frisell is not only a master of an unusual guitar-based sonic tapestry, he's one of the few composers capable of writing for an interactive ensemble."

Have a Little Faith, Frisell's 1992 Nonesuch recording, was something of a tribute album. Here, he interpreted the music of a number of American composers whose music had inspired him - Aaron Copland, Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan, John Hiatt, Sonny Rollins, Stephen Foster, Charles Ives, Victor Young, Madonna and John Philip Sousa. The extent to which Bill has made this music his own demonstrates the completeness of its link to his own compositional approach. For this recording Frisell's Band was augmented by Don Byron (clarinet, bass clarinet) and Guy Klucevsek (accordion) and produced by Wayne Horvitz. The San Francisco Bay Guardian said, "Frisell treats each piece with typical earnestness and lyricism, breaking into wrenching distortion and stormy group improv only after breathing the original full of a softly glowing life."

This Land, Frisell's fifth Nonesuch recording, consists of all original material with the band and a horn section of Don Byron (clarinets), Billy Drewes (alto saxophone) and Curtis Fowlkes (trombone). Produced by Lee Townsend, the album readily displays the connection between Frisell's own writing and the composers' work to whom he pays tribute on his previous Have a Little Faith. From the standpoint of synthesizing his celebrated composing and arranging talents with exuberant improvising and spirited band interaction, it is a landmark recording, which prompted this description in Rolling Stone: "Strange meetings of the mysterious and the earthy, the melancholy and the giddy, make perfect sense by Frisell's deliciously warped way of thinking. The warpage is catching on and not a moment too soon."

In 1994, Frisell recorded a pair of recordings of music that he composed for three silent Buster Keaton films - The High Sign, One Week and Go West. The band premiered this music along with the films to a spirited and sold-out audience at St. Ann's in Brooklyn in May '93. The pairing displayed a natural affinity between work of both artists. Their works together possess an undeniable sense of adventure and penchant for the unexpected that only enhances the warmth and humanity of both the musical elements and the films themselves. It has proven to be the rare case where the whole truly transcends the sum of its parts. Of the "Go West" recording , Billboard noted: "With this set of music for the classic Buster Keaton film, "Go West," Bill Frisell has crafted one of his finest, most evocative albums. Evincing his best qualities as both guitarist and composer, he harvests melancholy Americana from deceptively modest, episodic themes. Coloring the scenes with acoustic as well as his trademark electric, Frisell produces strangely cinematic motifs on guitar, and his rhythm cohorts - longtime bassist Kermit Driscoll and drummer Joey Baron - provide abundant narrative drive." Both albums were produced by Lee Townsend.

Frisell's success with the Keaton films has led him to other film-related projects. He scored the music for Gary Larson's "Tales From the Far Side" animated television special and Daniele Luchetti's Italian feature film, "La Scuola." Some of the music from these projects has been adapted and recorded by Frisell on Quartet, Frisell's Nonesuch recording released in April '96.

The formation of the Quartet, with Ron Miles (trumpet), Eyvind Kang (violin) and Curtis Fowlkes (trombone), was a new working band for Frisell, who had worked with the telepathic rhythm combination of Kermit Driscoll and Joey Baron for nearly ten years. Frisell told Down Beat: "It's so different from the traditional guitar-bass-drum thing, even though Joey Baron, Kermit Driscoll and I never played like a typical jazz trio. This group, with violin and brass, can play an orchestral range of sounds. It's gigantic. It's given me a chance to write and arrange in an even bigger way." Quartet, was quickly hailed by critics. The New York Times declared: "Quartet may be his masterpiece."

Nonesuch released Nashville in April of 1997. Recorded in Nashville and produced by Wayne Horvitz with members of Allison Krauss' Union Station band - mandolin player Adam Steffey and banjo player Ron Block - the project also features her brother and Lyle Lovett's bass player Viktor Krauss, dobro great Jerry Douglas, vocalist Robin Holcomb and Pat Bergeson on harmonica. "Comprising acoustic instrumental folk tunes with unpredictable stylistic accents, Nashville boasts a dreamy, seductive grandeur. The backing mandolin/dobro/bass interplay simmers - Frisell himself picks and strings and most of all floats, laying out liquid tones that settle over the melodies like heat haze on a swampy, swimmerless lake." wrote the LA Weekly. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution summed it up simply as, "Frisell's nod to Nashville is Americana at its best."

In January of 1998 Frisell's next project Gone, Just Like A Train came out. On this exceptionally melodic and rhythmically vital instrumental collection of original compositions, Frisell is joined by Viktor Krauss and by Jim Keltner, all star drummer of choice for Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder, T-Bone Burnett, George Harrison, John Lennon and The Traveling Wilburys. The Rocket in Seattle wrote that "Frisell has managed to pull together an ad hoc super trio of musicians from drastically different pasts, and they manage to assemble a machine of colossal proportions: part skewered jazz, part roadside folk blues, part gritty rock..Gone presents Frisell at a creative apex. He's integrated a thoroughly unique understanding of so much American Music. And it's all gift-wrapped in a lean, unimposing trio framework that conveys sheer genius in a million directions. It flies with shining power." Produced by Lee Townsend, the album proved to be one of Frisell's most celebrated and popular to date.

Good Dog, Happy Man, brims full of Frisell's shimmering original compositions. Here he is reunited with the Gone Just Like a Train rhythm section of Viktor Krauss on bass and Jim Keltner on drums and joined by Wayne Horvitz on Hammond B3 organ, multi-instrumentalist/slide guitarist Greg Leisz (known for his work with Joni Mitchell, K.D. Lang, Emmy Lou Harris, Beck and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, among others) plus special guest Ry Cooder on the traditional folk song "Shenendoah". Produced by Lee Townsend, Good Dog, Happy Man celebrates Frisell's emergence as a composer who has created a genre unto himself. The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote: "The 12 breathtakingly beautiful originals on Good Dog, Happy Man resist every obvious classification. Frisell's been doing the undefinable for years - creating revelatory music from threadbare accompaniment; finding vital contexts for jazz improvisation that are worlds away from bebop; burying shiny nuggets of melody beneath a gauzy lace-like surface. Frisell manages to evoke big worlds with stark single notes and foreboding sustained tones, conjuring a richly textured atmosphere that is both understated and undeniable. No matter what you call it." "

-Bill Frisell Website (

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"Kenny Wollesen (born 1966) is an American drummer and percussionist.

Wollesen lives in New York City. He has recorded and toured with Tom Waits, Sean Lennon, Ron Sexsmith, Bill Frisell, Norah Jones, John Lurie, Myra Melford, Steven Bernstein, and John Zorn. He is a founding member of the New Klezmer Trio and a member of the Sex Mob and Himalayas groups. He also performs on the soundtrack to the popular children's show The Backyardigans.

Kenny grew up in Capitola, CA, studying at Aptos HS and spent many teenage years jamming with Donny McCaslin. He spent quality classroom time with flugelhornist and arranger Ray Brown at Cabrillo College. Kenny also arranges and studied vibraphone at Cabrillo."

-Wikipedia (

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Other Releases With These Artists:
Zorn, John
The Urmuz Epigrams
Kramer (Feat Bill Frisell)
The Brill Building, Book Two
Zorn, John / Eugene Chadbourne
1977-1981 [VINYL LP + BOOK]
(Song Cycle)
Zorn, John
The Hermetic Organ Vol. 5 _Philharmonie De Paris
Halvorson, Mary Quartet (w/ Gress / Fujiwara / Okazaki)
Paimon: The Book Of Angels Volume 32
Zorn, John
Midsummer Moons
Marsella, Brian
Buer: The Book of Angels Volume 31
Zorn, John
There Is No More Firmament
Zorn, John / Garth Knox and the Saltarello Trio
Leonard: The Book of Angels Volume 30
Zorn, John
The Classic Guide To Strategy Vol. 4
Chadbourne, Eugene
There'll Be No Tears Tonight
(Corbett vs. Dempsey)
Zorn, John
Commedia Della Arte
Chadbourne, Eugene
Boogie With The Hook
Zorn, John
Sacred Visions
Nova Express Quintet
Andras: The Book Of Angels Volume 28
Flaga - John Zorn
Flaga: The Book Of Angels Volume 27
IST: New York (Davies / Fell / Wastell / Zorn)
Featuring John Zorn
Zorn, John
Transmigration Of The Magus
Zorn, John
The Testament Of Solomon
Adramelech: The Book Of Angels Volume 22
Smith, Wadada Leo / Lewis, George / Zorn, John
Sonic Rivers
Chadbourne, Eugene / John Zorn
Great Duo Live, 1977-'80 Volume II
Zorn, John
Shir Hashirim
Cohen, Greg
Golden State
(Relative Pitch)
Baron, Joey / Bill Frisell
Just Listen
(Relative Pitch)
Zorn, John
Zorn, John
A Dreamers Christmas
Koller, Hans with Bill Frisell
Cry, Want
Knuffke / Wollesen / Ellis
Chew Your Food [VINYL]
The Dreamers - Zorn, John
Ipos: The Book Of Angels Vol. 14
Zorn, John
In Search Of The Miraculous
Knuffke, Kirk Trio
Amnesia Brown
(Clean Feed)
Zorn / Lewis / Frisell
More News For Lulu
O'Leary / Wollesen / Saft
The Synth Show
Masada Quintet Featuring Joe Lovano
Stolas: The Book Of Angels Volume 12
Various Artists (Zorn / Johansson / Johnson / de Vroe / Schleirmacher)
Enfants Terribles
(Hat [now] ART)
Zorn, John
The Dreamers
Smith, Wadada Leo, Ibarra, Susie & Zorn, John
50Th Birthday Celebration - Volume 8
Ribot, Marc
Asmodeus - The Book Of Angels Volume 7
Caine, Uri
Moloch - The Book Of Angels Volume 6
Chadbourne, Eugene
Feldman, Mark & Courvoisier, Sylvie
Masada Book Ii - The Book Of Angels Volume 3
Zorn, John
50Th Birthday Celebration - Volume 11 - Bar Kokhba Sextet
Naked City
Naked City Box Set
Chadbourne, Eugene
The English Channel
Zorn, John
Masada Live In Sevilla 2000
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