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Film Works XIII - Invitation to a Suicide

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Album Review

While history will decide the ultimate truth of the matter, John Zorn's soundtrack for Loren Marsh's black comedy, Invitation to a Suicide, is easily the most profound, musically complex, and emotionally compelling of all of Zorn's soundtrack world. Regular Zorn cohorts Marc Ribot, Erik Freidlander, Kenny Wollesen, and Trevor Dunn make up four-fifths of the band, but it is accordionist Rob Burger, from the Tin Hat Trio, who makes the ensemble gel. His technical virtuosity and emotional dexterity add the depth and dimension necessary to turn this piece of music into its own aural chimera. The 18 seamless cues here suggest the makings of a work linked not only by scenic changes, but more complex cinematic elements such as the often difficult-to-place psychological ambiguities that are offered as turning points in a narrative and are signified by an actor's change in facial expression, the placement of an object, or the change in a time of day. Zorn seems particularly keyed in here, watching for that wink, the quick movement of a hand, the slight grimace or smile, or the difference in lighting from one scene to the next to send his musical segments reeling into one another, but as dovetailed hints rather than as jarring juxtapositions. Only once, on "Bugsy's Jazztet," where a certain TV theme is (mis)quoted, do we hear Zorn writing as if he is composing for the Lounge Lizards rather than for this band, and the humor is welcome. In this way, elements of Astor Piazzolla's tangos, Morricone's westerns and gangster films, Rota's intimate celebrations of quirkiness and geography, and a funky swing that blends blues, jazz, rock, and kitsch get woven into a signature that is particularly Zorn's. Film Works, Vol. 13: Invitation to a Suicide is at once Zorn's most mysterious and, paradoxically, most accessible soundtrack. In fact, many who have debated purchasing into the Film Works library but are intimidated as to where to start would do well to make this their first purchase. It stands as one of his masterworks in and out of the series, and will hopefully endure as a shining star in his already vast compositional catalog.


Born: 02 September 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...
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