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Clark, Sonny Memorial Quartet (feat. John Zorn): Voodoo [VINYL] (Black Saint Vinyl)

Pianist Sonny Clark passed in 1963, leaving a legacy of compositions that the Downtown NY trio of saxophonist John Zorn, drummer Bobby Previte, and pianist Wayne Horvitz seized upon in 1985, enlisting legendary bassist Ray Drummond to record these seven Clark compositions, blurring hard bop history with emerging improv technique, an apt reissue of a fitting memorial quartet.

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product information:

UPC: 8056099003325

Label: Black Saint Vinyl
Catalog ID: BSR 109LP
Squidco Product Code: 28364

Format: LP
Condition: New
Released: 2019
Country: Italy
Packaging: LP
Recorded at Classic Sound in New York City, New York, on November 25th and 26th, 1985, by Jon Rosenberg.


John Zorn-alto saxophone

Ray Drummond-bass

Bobby Previte-drums

Wayne Horvitz-piano

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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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"Ray Drummond (born November 23, 1946 in Brookline, Massachusetts) is a jazz bassist and teacher. He also has an MBA from Stanford University, hence his linkage to the Stanford Jazz Workshop. He can be heard on hundreds of albums and co-leads The Drummonds with Renee Rosnes and (not related) Billy Drummond.

Drummond has been a resident of Teaneck, New Jersey, since 1980 with his wife, Susan, and his daughter, Maya.

He is the elder brother of David Drummond, senior vice president, corporate development and chief legal officer of Google Inc."

-Wikipedia (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Bobby Previte's first stage appearance came in 1956 at the Niagara Falls Talent Show, where, guitar in hand, and adorned in an over-sized suit, he belted out a solo rendition of Elvis Presley's 'Hound Dog.'

Eight years later, thinking drumming might be a good way to get girls, he fashioned a bass drum from a rusted garbage can, a kick pedal from a wire coat hanger wedged between two pieces of linoleum and a rubber ball stuck on top, tom toms from upside-down trash bins, cymbals from aluminum pie plates suspended on plungers, and a box of loose junk for a snare - then practiced for a year in his dark basement with a lone spotlight shining on him before eventually starting a band, the "Devil's Disciples." But when they finally got a job at the church he was fired for not having 'real' drums. Seeking revenge, he took a job as a paperboy, saved every penny, and a year later bought the drum kit he still uses today in concerts all over the world.

Strolling in the East Village one bright afternoon, he peered inside a limo stuck in traffic (crosstown) and suddenly found himself face to face with Jimi Hendrix. Thinking fast, he unfurled the poster of Jimi he had fortunately just acquired, then looked on in astonishment as Hendrix smiled and flashed him the peace sign.

HISTORY: BA, SUNY Buffalo. Moved to New York City in 1979. Has worked for/with an unlikely array of leading lights including John Adams, Terry Adams, Robert Altman, Johnny Copeland, Lejaren Hiller, Charlie Hunter, Lenny Kaye, John Lurie, Sonny Sharrock, Michael Tilson-Thomas, Tom Waits, Victoria Williams, and, the internet swears Iggy Pop, although he can't seem to remember that, exactly.

AWARDS: Guggenheim Fellowship, NEA, NYSCA, NYFA, Franklin Furnace, The American Music Center, MCAF, Mid Atlantic Arts, NY State Music Fund, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, The Jerome Foundation.

EVENTS: TERMINALS PART 1, WNYC New Sounds Live/Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Hall, 2011, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, 2011, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, 2013-2014; DIORAMA, Groundswell/Wave Farm/Olana State Historic Site, 2013; Franklin Furnace/Chashama, 2012, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, 2010; THE 23 CONSTELLATIONS OF JOAN MIRÓ, Winter Garden, New York, 2008; THE SEPARATION, Walker Art Center, 2007; DIALED IN (with Benton-C Bainbridge), Lincoln Center, EMPAC, Eyebeam, 2007; Touring various other bands and projects since 1985 at festivals and clubs worldwide.

RECORDINGS: Sony, Nonesuch, Palmetto, Gramavision, Enja, Thirsty Ear, New World, Ropeadope, Veal, Spacebone, Rare Noise.

MASTER CLASSES: Eastman School of Music, Walker Art Center, Art and Music Omi, Merano Jazz Festival and Academy, So Percussion Summer Institute/Princeton University, Cornish University, Purchase College, Bard College, The New School.

RESIDENCIES: The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, Civitella Ranieri, Montalvo Art Center, eleven MacDowell Colony fellowships.

THEATER/DANCE/PERFORMANCE/ART: The Moscow Circus on Broadway, Theodora Skipitares, Andrea Kleine, Clarinda Mac Low, Aynsley Vandenbroucke, Benton-c Bainbridge, e-team.

FILM SCORES: Chain Letters (dir. Mark Rappoport), Maze (dir. Rob Morrow).

ODDITIES: actor, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, "The Mute Marine," w/ William Shatner, 1984; as "The Drummer" in SHORT CUTS - Robert Altman, 1993."

-Bobby Previte Website (

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"Wayne Horvitz is a composer, pianist and electronic musician who has performed extensively throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America. He is the leader of the Gravitas Quartet, Sweeter Than the Day, Zony Mash, The Four plus One Ensemble and co-founder of the New York Composers Orchestra. He has performed and collaborated with Bill Frisell, Butch Morris, John Zorn, George Lewis, Robin Holcomb, Fred Frith, Julian Priester, Michael Shrieve and Carla Bley, among others. Commissioners include the NEA, Meet the Composer, Kronos String Quartet, Seattle Chamber Players, BAM, and Earshot Jazz. Collaborators include Paul Taylor, Liz Lerman, Bill Irwin and Gus Van Sant. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including two MAP grants and the NEA American Masterpiece award. Recent compositions include The Heartsong of Charging Elk based on the novel by James Welch and 55: Music and Dance in Concrete: a site-specific collaboration with dancer Yukio Suzuki and video artist Yohei Saito. He is the music programmer for The Royal Room, a performance venue in Seattle, Washington, and a professor of composition at the Cornish College of the Arts."

-Wayne Horvitz Website (

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track listing:


1. Cool Struttin' 5:27

2. Minor Meeting 4:36

3. Nicely 5:34

4. Something Special 4:45


1. Voodoo 10:57

2. Sonia 4:02

3. Sonny's Crib 7:40
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"A reissue of Sonny Clark Memorial Quartet's Voodoo, originally released in 1986. Voodoo shows the Sonny Clarke soulful hard bop conception as seen through the oblique perspective of a NY Downtown all-star quartet featuring John Zorn (alto sax), Wayne Horvitz (piano), Bobby Previte (drums), and legendary bassman Bill Drummond.

This unique and iconic album stands as one of Zorn's first declared tributes to the art of an influential musician and composer. All compositions are by Sonny Clark including such hits as "Cool Struttin'" and "Something Special" both from his classic late '50s/early '60s Blue Note sessions. A full catalog of opened-up hard bop structures and advanced jazz modes."-Black Saint

"ON Voodoo (Black Saint/ Polygram), the Sonny Clark Memorial Quartet has something original to say about Sonny Clark, the modern jazz pianist and composer who died in 1963 at the age of 31. A cult following has build up around Sonny Clark's recorded work, much of it among fans of be-bop and the hard-bop sessions associated with Blue Note Records, the label that recorded Mr. Clark most frequently. But the Sonny Clark Memorial Quartet was assembled by Wayne Horvitz, a downtown keyboard player known for his partly-electronic solo albums and his work with "deconstructionist" ensembles like Curlew and John Zorn's performing groups. Mr. Zorn himself is on alto saxophone, and the drummer, Bobby Previte, is also associated with the downtown avant-garde. Only the bassist, Ray Drummond, has "jazz credentials" in the conventional sense.

There haven't been many clues in the music of Mr. Horvitz and Mr. Zorn that music like Sonny Clark's would hold some special meaning for them. But it's hard to forget running into Mr. Zorn a few years ago in a record store and witnessing the look of sheer, elated triumph on his face when he found an out-of-print Blue Note album by the tenor saxophonist Don Wilkerson, with Mr. Clark on piano. Mr. Horvitz said that he and Mr. Zorn had been playing Sonny Clark tunes since the late 70's and that "all John Zorn ever practices is be-bop."

Voodoo reflects the musicians' respect for Mr. Clark's music and their determination to play it their own way, but without atomizing its structures or simply using it as a jumping-off pad for unstructured explorations. One couldn't really call the album bop in a conventional sense, but the question that older jazz fans always ask about avant-gardists - can they play be-bop? - must nevertheless be answered yes. They keep to the structures of the tunes, have excellent time, and unlike some of the more virtuosic young would-be boppers, they contribute improvisations appropriate to the shape and mood of each composition, rather than plunging in to show how fast they can play the changes. The group's thoughtful combination of affection for sources and stubborn individuality gives "Voodoo," which includes interpretations of seven Clark compositions, a distinctive flavor of its own.

The album's qualities may be a reflection of the particular special aura that hovers around Mr. Clark's music, an aura that musicians recognize but that critics have found difficult to define. In the standard jazz histories, Mr. Clark is generally lumped in with "the Bud Powell school," when he is mentioned at all. But then jazz has never been well served by the sort of sloppy categorizing that subordinates players as individual as a Sonny Clark or an Elmo Hope to a more widely influential figure such as Bud Powell.

A former associate of Mr. Clark's, Johnny Griffin, a tenor saxophonist, came closer to defining the pianist's identity in an interview published in a European discography: "Sonny was a little different. He used Bud's basis for power and attack on the piano, but he had another finesse and an exceptional technique, too. He was quite himself." The pianist himself was even more succinct: "Your soul is your conception, and you begin to have it in your playing when the way you strike a note, the sound you get and your phrasing come out of you yourself, and no one else."

Two rewarding albums by the fully mature Mr. Clark are "Sonny Clark Trio," with George Duvivier and Max Roach, available on the Bainbridge label, and "Leapin' and Lopin'," an excellent quintet session and his last as a leader, on Blue Note. Many of the tunes on "Voodoo," however, are drawn from out-of-print Blue Note albums. All of them are well worth searching for, particularly two splendid sextet sessions - "Dial 'S' for Sonny" (with Art Farmer) and "Sonny's Crib" (with John Coltrane) - and the enduring hard-bop classic "Cool Struttin'," with Mr. Farmer and Jackie McLean. This music lives on, and Wayne Horvitz, John Zorn and company have offered a timely reminder of how special it is. Breaking Circus Returns With 'The Ice Machine'

"The Ice Machine," the new Homestead album by Breaking Circus, has been eagerly awaited wherever the group's 1985 EP, "The Very Long Fuse," became a turntable favorite. Since the release of that first record, with its metallic guitar grandeur and unforgettable songs about uncommon subjects, the only thing that's been heard from Breaking Circus was one terrific song, "Driving the Dynamite Truck," on the Twin/Tone Records sampler album "Big Hits From Mid-America Volume Four."

It turns out that Breaking Circus used to be mostly a studio project, but "The Ice Machine" and a series of recent New York appearances introduced the new, slimmed-down, three-piece Breaking Circus lineup: the songwriter, singer and guitarist Steve Bjorklund, plus the drummer Todd Trainer and the bassist Pete Conway, who do double duty with Circus and the band Rifle Sport. Any fears that Mr. Bjorkland on his own wouldn't be able to match the wide-screen wall-of-guitars sound of the earlier records were groundless. "The Ice Machine" comes whizzing in on a relentless attack and as much soaring, squalling guitar damage as one could wish for. And the songs are as thoughtful as ever, with a plain-spoken honesty and incisive approach to existential dilemmas that give even the most thunderous songs some real depth. This is a band that deserves a hearing; hopefully it won't take them two years to record the follow-up album."-Robert Palmer, the NY Times

Get additional information at New York Times
Related Categories of Interest:

Vinyl Recordings
Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Quartet Recordings
Jazz Reissues
Zorn. John

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