Saturday, December 8, 2007

John Zorn - The Big Gun Down -- Ennio Morricone Tribute

As if John Zorn's super-creative take on film composer Ennio Morricone weren't essential in its first iteration on Nonesuch Records, Zorn is celebrating the album's 15th anniversary with an updated, remastered version. The darker lows and brighter highs make this Gundown clearly superior--with its original cast of characters sounding alternately darker, sultrier, and more cinematic than ever. Zorn's reticence to record the original album's 10 pieces looks altogether unreasonable, as his genius for adding color and dimension to Morricone's tunes shows profusely. To make this an even better deal, there are six new bonus tracks that feature Marc Ribot as part of an ad hoc string quartet on "The Sicilian Clan" and "Chi Mai," and as sparring partner with British avant guitar god Derek Bailey on the roaring "Svegliatti and Uccidi." This one's magnificently important. --Andrew Bartlett

On this intriguing concept album, altoist John Zorn (who also "sings" and plays harpsichord, game calls, piano, and musical saw) utilizes an odd assortment of open-minded avant-garde players (with a couple of ringers) on nine themes originally written for Italian films by Ennio Morricone, plus his own "Tre Nel 5000." These often-radical interpretations (which Morricone endorsed) keep the melodies in mind while getting very adventurous. Among the musicians heard on the colorful and very eccentric set (which utilizes different personnel and instrumentation on each track) are guitarists Bill Frisell and Vernon Reid, percussionist Bobby Previte, keyboardist Anthony Coleman, altoist Tim Berne, pianist Wayne Horvitz, organist Big John Patton, and even Toots Thielemans on harmonica and whistling among many others. There are certainly no dull moments on this often-riotous program. Morricone fans, you should give this a try! This will challenge your ears and your notions of one of your favorites, and that's a good thing. Zorn is always true both to the themes from the movies and the context of those movies, which is the most remarkable thing. But for those only used to straight renditions of the music, this CD will shock, because the music is put through a cut-and-paste technique that owes much to cartoon music, and a recontextualization that owes is all to a free-improvisation aesthetic. Don't let those ears and minds get limp, folks!

· La Resa dei conti (The Big Gundown), film score Excerpt · Peur sur la ville, film score Excerpt · Once Upon a Time in America, film score Poverty · Milano Odea, film score Excerpt · Gli Scassinatori (The Burglars), film score Erotico · La Battaglia Di Algeri (Battle Of Algiers), film score Excerpt · Giù la testa, film score Excerpt · La Classe operaia va in paradiso, film score Metamorfosi · Tre Nel 5000 · Once Upon a Time in the West, film score Excerpt · Le Clan des Siciliens (The Sicilian Clan), film score Excerpt · Macchie Solari, film score Excerpt · Gli Intoccabili (Machine Gun McCain), film score The Ballad of Hank McCain (vocal) · Svegliati e uccidi, film score Excerpt · Maddalena, film score Chi Mai · Gli Intoccabili (Machine Gun McCain), film score The Ballad of Hank McCain (instrumental)



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