The Squid's Ear Magazine


Zorn, John / Bill Laswell: Memoria (Tzadik)

A heartfelt tribute to three significant jazz innovators associated with the 1960's free jazz scene--Pharoah Sanders, Wayne Shorter, and Milford Graves--in one improvisation each from the long-running collaboration of alto saxophonist John Zorn and bassist Bill Laswell, contrasting Laswell's fx-expanded bass underpinnings with Zorn's emphatic and expressive playing.
 

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UPC: 702397404224

Label: Tzadik
Catalog ID: CD-TZA-4042
Squidco Product Code: 33216

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2023
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack - 3 panel
Recorded at Orange Music, In Orange, New Jersey, on January 16th, 2023, by James Dellatacoma.


Personnel:



John Zorn-alto saxophone

Bill Laswell-bass


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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Towering figures of New York's Downtown scene, Zorn and Laswell have been working together since the late 1970s. Following up on their acclaimed 2022 duo project The Cleansing, this new volume presents musical Memorials to three artistic visionaries whose powerful legacies remain touchstones of creativity and artistic integrity. Here the music takes on more of an ambient edge, and is distinguished by telepathic improvisational interplay and a unique virtuosity. Three heartfelt tributes from one generation of mavericks to another, Memoria is a beautiful collection of modern improvisation at its best."-Tzadik



"John Zorn and Bill Laswell, two towering figures of the New York Downtown scene, have once again joined forces to deliver a captivating musical experience, entitled Memoria. Following the success of their previous collaboration, The Cleansing, (Tzadik, 2021) this new release pays tribute to three artistic visionaries whose legacies continue to inspire and shape the realms of creativity and artistic integrity.

The album title, Memoria, serves as a heartfelt tribute to three influential figures who have passed away: saxophonists Pharoah Sanders and Wayne Shorter, and percussionist Milford Graves. The three compositions on the album reflect the spirit and essence of these musical heroes and mavericks who left indelible marks on the artistic world. Zorn and Laswell's intention was to pay homage to these friends and legends, capturing their personal feelings of loss and reverence through their music.

With a collaboration spanning over four and a half decades, Zorn and Laswell have continually pushed the boundaries of contemporary music. From their work on various studio recordings to their performances together in Painkiller, alongside legendary drummers, their partnership has been marked by intensity, exploration, and a desire to pioneer new musical territories.

Throughout the album, the duo explores a more ambient edge, creating a musical landscape characterized by telepathic improvisational interplay and unique virtuosity. Both artists demonstrate a profound musical understanding and an intuitive connection which are manifest in their expressive performances. The album opens with "Pharoah Sanders," where Zorn channels the spirit of the renowned saxophonist. The atmosphere is tranquil and introspective, and their instruments intertwine in a delicate dance, creating a sonic landscape in which their deep understanding and connection are evident in their interplay.

The interplay between Zorn's saxophone and Laswell's bass is captivating, culminating in a startling shriek from Zorn, met with Laswell's sympathetic scrapes and harmonics. As the track progresses, Laswell's recognizable bass takes over, contributing echoing dub elements which further enhance the ethereal ambiance.

Throughout the album, Zorn and Laswell venture into unconventional territories, using their instruments in unexpected ways, resulting in raw and unrefined beauty. Laswell's bass provides a deep, colorful foundation, flowing like a current, while Zorn's saxophone floats with intensity, showcasing his mastery of phonics. The improvisations unfold naturally, with the duo responding to each other's cues and pushing the boundaries of their instruments. The improvisations, recorded live in real-time, capture the raw essence of their musical dialogue. The duo's deep understanding and connection are evident in their interplay, as they navigate the sonic terrain with precision and sensitivity.

"Milford Graves" begins with an arresting soundscape reminiscent of an air raid, setting a dramatic tone for the composition. Zorn and Laswell explore the depths of their instruments, pushing boundaries and venturing into unconventional sonic territories. The result is an intense and immersive experience which captures the spirit of Graves' adventurous approach to music. In "Wayne Shorter," the duo embraces more melodic improvisational lines, paying tribute to the influential saxophonist's lyrical style. Zorn's saxophone weaves intricate melodies, while Laswell's bass provides a solid foundation, grounding the composition with its fluidity and depth.

Memoria is an album which thrives on its free-flowing nature, allowing the artists' creativity to take center stage. The intensity and sincerity of their performances are palpable, making for an immersive and engaging listening experience. As a whole, it stands as a testament to the artistic prowess of Zorn and Laswell. Their ability to navigate the realms of improvisation with such grace and purpose is truly remarkable. This album not only pays homage to the artistic legends who have influenced them but also serves as a testament to the timeless power of modern improvisation. It is a beautiful collection which showcases the best of Zorn and Laswell's musical synergy, leaving a deep appreciation for their artistry and the legacies they honor."-Nenad Georgievski, All About Jazz


Get additional information at All About Jazz

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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Zorn)
9/27/2023

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

"Over the course of some three decades, visionary bassist-producer Bill Laswell has been one of the most prolific and restlessly creative forces in contemporary music. A sound conceptualist who has always been a step ahead of the curve, he has put his inimitable stamp on nearly 3,000 recording projects by such artists as Mick Jagger, Yoko Ono, Iggy Pop, Laurie Anderson, Brian Eno, Bootsy Collins, Nine Inch Nails, Motorhead, Peter Gabriel, Blur, The Ramones, George Clinton, Pharaoh Sanders, The Dalai Lama, Matisyahu, Angelique Kidjo, DJ Krush, RAMM:ΣLL:ZΣΣ, Sting, The Last Poets, Afrika Bambaataa, Julian Schnabel, Whitney Houston, Manu Dibango, Fela Kuti and most notably Herbie Hancock, who collaborated with Laswell for the pivotal 1983 smash-hit single "Rock-It" which introduced scratching to the mainstream, inspired a generation of turntablists and gave the great jazz pianist instant street credibility among the burgeoning hip-hop cognoscenti.

Laswell's sense of creative daring as a producer was further demonstrated on several recordings that have kept him on the cutting edge, including Afrika Bambaataa's collaboration with John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten of Sex Pistols fame) on World Destruction and PiL's Album (which brought together an unlikely pairing of drumming greats Ginger Baker and Tony Williams, synth-pop pioneer Ryuichi Sakamoto of Yellow Magic Orchestra fame and rising guitar star Steve Vai). His spoken word collaborations with William S. Burroughs and expatriate writer-composer Paul Bowles have gone against the grain of music industry trends while his radical remixes (or re-constructions) of landmark recordings by Miles Davis (Panthalassa), Carlos Santana (Divine Light), Bob Marley (Dreams of Freedom) and a vast scan of dub-related and atmospheric ambient projects have gone on to further defined Laswell's presence as a revolutionary ikonoklast.

Bill Laswell has helped in generating several innovative recording labels such as Celluloid, Subharmonic, Black Arc, and Innerhythmic. Along with Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records (Bob Marley and U2), he established the AXIOM label in 1989. M.O.D. Technologies, his most recent imprint is releasing projects by Method Of Defiance, Lee "Scratch" Perry, PRAXIS, Garrison Hawk with Sly & Robbie, Bernie Worrell, The Process (with Red Hot Chili Peppers' drummer Chad Smith and pianist Jon Baptiste) and progressive/futuristic music from Ethiopia (CDs/DVDs).

As a player, Laswell's bass lines resound with rare authority on groundbreaking projects by Tabla Beat Science (with Zakir Hussain and Ustad Sultan Khan), his avant-funk band Material, the apocalyptic assault of Last Exit (with Sonny Sharrock), his progressive dub effected Method of Defiance and the throbbingly intense power trios, Massacre (with Fred Frith and Charles Hayward), Painkiller (with John Zorn and Mick Harris), Praxis (with Buckethead and Brain), Blixt (with Raoul Bjorkenheim and Morgan Agren) and the latest (2014) Bladerunner (with John Zorna and Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo).

Laswell's artistic reach has consistently extended to the continent of Africa, creating ground-breaking, evolutionary snd controversial recording projects in Morocco, Senegal, Mali, Gambia and most recently, Ethiopia where he has established a base for developing new as well as legendary artists, just as he did in the South Bronx some 30 years ago.

A veteran of 300 plus journeys to Japan, where he has worked with everyone from The Gagaku Orchestra (Japan's ancient music, only played for emperors for 1500 years), to avant-jazz, rock, hip-hop and DJ culture. An eternal musical renegade, Bill Laswell has always played by his own rules."

-Bill Laswell Website (http://www.billlaswell.net/biography.html)
9/27/2023

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


Track Listing:



1. Pharoah Sanders 14:36

2. Milford Graves 13:08

3. Wayne Shorter 9:40

Related Categories of Interest:


Tzadik
Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Jazz
Recordings by or featuring Reed & Wind Players
Stringed Instruments
Duo Recordings
New in Improvised Music
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