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Rimbaud

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Album Review

Rimbaud is a fascinating collection of four stylistically diverse, wildly imaginative, mostly manic pieces by John Zorn, all inspired by the 19th century French Symbolist poet. Zorn takes the meaning of eclectic to a new dimension, but his individual albums are generally more stylistically consistent, so it's intriguing to hear such a wide aesthetic spectrum on one release, a testimony to the breadth of his compositional vision and mastery. "Bateau Ivre," for a standard "Pierrot ensemble" plus percussion, might almost be mistaken for a product of the modernist academic scene of the 1960s, but Zorn's quirky, madcap imagination keeps it constantly engaging. It's a virtuoso tour de force for its seven players and the Talea Ensemble, led by Brad Lubman, play it with a wit and dazzling lightness that capture its soaring, spiraling momentum. "A Season in Hell" features the composer and Ikue Mori using laptop, samples, and electronics to colorfully evoke the dark, hallucinogenic chaos of the poem in an idiom characteristic of Zorn's noise-related pieces. "Illuminations" for jazz trio (Stephen Gosling, piano; Trevor Dunn, bass; Kenny Wollesen, drums) is a high-energy example of the composer's manic avant-garde jazz. "Conneries," a piece whose structure is derived from the shuffling file cards of musical ideas, features actor and director Mathieu Amalric reciting, howling, and shrieking a Rimbaud text, underlaid by Zorn's collage-like accompaniment on alto sax, piano, organ, guitar, drums, and Foley effects. The album is a non-negotiable must-have for the composer's fans and offers a suggestion of his terrific versatility for anyone interested in sampling his work.

Biography

Born: September 02, 1953 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The one word virtually everyone can agree on in any discussion of the work of composer John Zorn is "prolific," in the strictest sense of the definition. Though he didn't begin making records until 1980, the recordings under his own name number well over 100, and the sheer number of works he has performed on, composed, or produced easily doubles that number. Though now an internationally renowned musician and the founder and owner of the wildly successful and equally prolific Tzadik imprint, Zorn...
Full bio