News

New LImited release

The Song of Songs

This very special CD BOOK presents John Zorn’s evocative musical setting of the Biblical love poem 
The Song of Songs, with singer/conductor Barbara Hannigan and film director/actor Mathieu Amalric narrating. 
Featuring extensive notes, the full text of Jeremy Fogel’s passionate new translation (commissioned expressly for 
this project), and 35 illustrations by Zorn himself, this limited edition one-of-a-kind CD BOOK is an absolute treasure.

“It was a true labour of love to record this sensual and newly translated text within John’s music, 
merging and intertwining sound and word with the extraordinary vocal ensemble.” —Barbara Hannigan, 2022

FROM THE INTRODUCTION

Combining plainchant, mediaeval ars nova, Renaissance madrigals, 20th century vocal techniques, jazz and minimalism, Shir Hashirim (written in 2007) was in many ways a culmination of the vocal language I had been developing since Frammenti del Sappho in 2004. Originally conceived as an acappella setting of the Song of Songs with male and female narrators reading the poetry, it was performed in that version by Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson in English, Mathieu Amalric and Clothide Hesme in French and by Jeremy Fogel and Ayelet Rose Gottlieb in the original Hebrew. The plan to perform at the Lincoln Center Festival in 2013 with Lou and Laurie became difficult with Lou’s health issues, and rather than search for a replacement, my decision at the time was to perform a version of the music without narration. It was sublime, and we recorded the music soon after. The CD of Shir Hashirim was released in December 2013, just two months after Lou had passed, and it is a beautiful document of the version sans narration—but deep down I knew an opportunity to record the version with narration would eventually appear. That opportunity came early in 2020, during the pandemic lockdown.

Barbara Hannigan and I met in the summer of 2015 and we bonded immediately. She had begun a close relationship with my dear friend Mathieu Amalric (it is still going strong) and he very much wanted us to meet, so arranged the rendezvous. Our first conversation went deep and we continued to correspond, slowly moving toward a project we could work on together. Our first adventure was my song cycle for voice and piano Jumalattaret. It proved to be a revelatory experience for both of us, and she performed it in Lisbon, Den Bosch, at the Armory in NYC, and at the Ojai festival in California. For our next project she took on the challenging vocal part in Pandora’s Box (my take on the Lulu legend). It was a natural for her and she brought the piece to a new level with her exhilarating virtuosity and powerfully sensual stage presence. We began to discuss future projects. In 2020, when the pandemic derailed our summer plans to record Jumalattaret, and she found herself locked down with Mathieu in his country house in Brittany. The idea came to me that this two dear friends—two incredible actors with a huge and passionate expressive range—would be the perfect loving couple to narrate Shir Hashirim. They loved the idea and we began to discuss various translations.

On revisiting the best of them (King James, Robert Alter, Marcia Falk) none really resonated. None seemed to capture the intense sensuality of the Hebrew original. Realizing that a brand new translation might be the best path ahead, I immediately thought of vocalist/musician/philosopher/poet/author/bon vivant Jeremy Fogel, who had narrated the work in Hebrew at the Guggenheim in 2008. Fogel is a close friend and brilliant scholar whose integrity, imagination, non-compromising attitude and unique vision is sure to become more known in the next decade. On presenting the Shir Hashirim project to him he was immediately inspired and put everything aside to focus in on the translation. After a quick back and forth we both agreed that rather than laboring over the words for months (it could easily turn into years) that the best strategy would be to work in the Rimbaud tradition—fast and loose. He completed it in a week and the results are remarkable. Fogel has achieved nothing less than a miracle. He has captured the poetic sensuality of the original like no other, creating perhaps the best contemporary translation of this profound and influential Biblical poetry yet achieved. His attention to detail and adherence to the spirit and poetry of the original gave Barbara and Mathieu added inspiration, lifting their reading to an even more intense, poignant and meaningful level. 

Some projects are finished in a matter of days, some in months, and sometimes it takes years. It took 13 years to finally record the “original version” of Shir Hashirim with narration, the one created in 2007 at my work desk at home. It was well worth the wait. One could not have asked for a more perfect text, nor two more perfect narrators. Fogel’s translation is heavenly. Barbara and Mathieu are transcendent. The results are truly blessings from the Angels. —John Zorn September 2020

John Zorn 
Song of Songs Shir Hashirim (31’03)

featuring 
Barbara Hannigan narration 
Mathieu Amalric narration

and a new translation from the 
Hebrew by Jeremy Fogel 
THE DAUGHTERS OF JERUSALEM 
Martha Cluver, Lisa Bielawa 
Abigail Fischer, Kathryn Mulvehill 
Kirsten Sollek voices 
Composed by John Zorn

APRIL 2022 release announced

Spinoza is Zorn’s latest creation for the searing jazz-metal trio Simulacrum—perhaps the most extreme organ trio ever.

Inspired by the life and thought of one of the world’s greatest philosophers he has composed two extended concerti: one for guitar genius Bill Frisell, and another featuring himself on saxophone.

The musical mosaic flows seamlessly from one world to another, touching upon heavy metal, jazz, minimalism, atonality, noise, ambient moods, funk, and so much more.

A musical vision as radical as the philosophy of Spinoza himself, this is one of Zorn’s greatest recent works—an essential and exhilarating project as powerful as it is sensitive. Cinema for the ears!

march 2022 release announced

A beautiful suite of music for late night listening, spiritual and evocative, performed by an all-star unit of four members of Zorn’s inner circle.

Structured like a religious mass, these seven lovely nocturnes take you to an otherworldly space of beauty and tenderness, unlike any other Zorn compositions you have ever heard.

Gorgeous and restful music from a compositional seeker who continues to defy categorization, Perchance to Dream… is one of the most unusual and haunting collections in his catalog.

FEBRUARY 2022 RELEASE ANNOUNCED

This is the fifth CD of new music written expressly for the all-star guitar trio of Bill Frisell, Julian Lage and Gyan Riley.

Here Zorn draws inspiration from the enigmatic short stories of Argentine philosopher/writer Jorge Luis Borges. Like a collection of short stories, each composition is a miniature world in itself and touches on philosophy and mysticism as well as music. Blending folk, classical, jazz, bluegrass, world music and more, this is truly music of the 21st century—unclassifiable and unique.

Filled with telepathic interplay and surprising compositional twists and turns, the music is achingly beautiful and intensely evocative. Another gorgeous creation from downtown alchemist John Zorn and this incredible trio of musical masters!

JANUARY 2022 NEW RELEASE ANNOUNCED

Zorn and Laswell have been friends and musical compatriots since they first met in 1978, and have been responsible for some of the most intense and memorable music in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Recorded in early 2021, near the end of the year’s pandemic lockdown, it marks the first time Zorn had touched the saxophone in over fifteen months. Laswell had spent most of the year locked in his apartment. Something special was happening that day—and after the session Laswell felt rejuvenated—as if all the toxins and poisons had left his body.

Soulful and essential, The Cleansing is an historic meeting—and the first recorded duo project by these two Downtown magicians.

December 2021 release announced

The long awaited first recording by John Zorn’s newest and most exciting ensemble, the New Masada Quartet.

Performing eight classic compositions from the Masada songbooks, NMQ is a tight unit of like-minded virtuosi and one of the best groups Zorn has ever had.

Bristling hot guitar master Julian Lage, bass wizard Jorge Roeder and 30-year Zorn veteran Kenny Wollesen perform with a crackling live energy that brings the Masada music to life like never before! Led by Zorn’s versatile sax and stop and start conducting, the music is filled with burning solos, telepathic group interaction, heartfelt lyricism and hypnotic grooves.

Beautifully recorded at Bill Laswell’s studio in New Jersey this is an absolute masterpiece. Essential!

JOHN ZORN’S BAGATELLES (VOL. 5 - 8)

Available to pre-order.

From March to May 2015, John Zorn composed 300 new tunes that were eventually collected into a book of music he called The Bagatelles. After 5 years of performances around the world in venues large and small, the choicest ensembles have gone into the studio and the recordings are finally being made available in a series of limited edition 4-CD BOX sets. Each set will present four ensembles performing a unique program of Zorn’s Bagatelles. 

This SECOND Box-set focuses on keyboards and includes: 

—Kris Davis Quartet  
—Brian Marsella Trio  
—Brian Marsella  
—John Medeski Trio 

SET TWO 

VOL 5  
KRIS DAVIS QUARTET Kris Davis piano  
Mary Halvorson guitar Drew Gress bass 
Kenny Wollesen drums 

VOL 6  
BRIAN MARSELLA TRIO Brian Marsella piano Trevor Dunn bass 
Kenny Wollesen drums 

VOL 7  
BRIAN MARSELLA Brian Marsella piano 

VOL 8  
JOHN MEDESKI  
Ikue Mori laptop electronics Miles Okazaki guitar Drew Gress bass

Designed by the brilliant Tzadik artist Heung-Heung Chin this beautiful collector’s edition is now available online

NOVEMBER 2021 RELEASE ANNOUNCED (Now 12/3)

The latest recording by Zorn’s newest ensemble Chaos Magick is a suite inspired by the ancient Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. Combining contemporary classical with jazz, funk, rock, blues, film soundtrack, noise improvisation and so much more this is a wild and evocative trip thru Hell and back.

Tight conductions, complex melodies, burning solos, telepathic group interaction and all the wit, humor, joy and mystery that one has come to expect from Zorn’s dedicated and passionate crew of virtuosi are in abundant display in this beautiful and unique rendering of the classic Orpheus legend.

October 2021 Release Announced

Brian Marsella’s dynamic trio steps out for another exciting outing performing a new collection of Zorn compositions inspired by the mysterious and occult cards of the Tarot.

This beautiful and varied followup to the popular and critically acclaimed 2019 CD The Hierophant features the remaining thirteen Tarot cards in tight arrangements, highlighting the incredible versatility and virtuosity of this powerhouse all-star jazz trio.

A classic reading of occult jazz from our favorite Downtown alchemist! 

 

AUGUST 2021 Release announced

YES THERE IS LIFE AFTER BAPHOMET!

Nostradamus: The Death of Satan, the ninth release by Zorn’s most intense 21st century ensemble, is a triumph.

In this wildly varied program ranging from the softest sacred whisper to the most heretical hysteria, Zorn brings his unique compositional blending of classical, jazz and rock to new heights.

The Simulacrum band is tighter than ever and the recording is richer and more powerful. With a stunning clarity of sound, brilliance of performance and towering compositional vision, Nostradamus is Zorn at his very best. Essential.