remember all of the details of the occasion when you heard or saw something for the first time?  i can recall where, what i was doing, and with whom i was doing it when i first heard certain artists.  i was downstairs in our rental on 'old western' (a name that my youngest kept using for our place on the corner of 13th and northwestern) when i heard first heard radiohead, blasting from the upstairs bedroom.  i was sitting on the plastic-wrapped couch at safal's house when i first heard rakim, back in high school.  i was in my parent's garage when the neighborhood troublemaker brought over a cassette tape of purple rain, introducing me to prince.

my three friends/bandmates all lived in the same house in college, a dumpy mustard stucco crib on the corner lot of a couple roads in iowa city.  they called it the yellow ghetto. johnathan (drums) told me about this cd he had just picked up. anton (bass) chimed in on our conversation, telling us he just bought the latest masada album for $21.  i told him that i thought that was a big chunk of change to spend on a cd, but he assured me that, for masada, it was totally worth it.  he put on the music, and the three of us sat and listened to dave douglas, joey baron, greg cohen, and john zorn get down.  zorn was insane.  he has a pyrotechnic language on the saxophone, and i have been smitten ever since.  

zorn is a leader, a composer, an improviser, a saxophonist, a pioneer, a genius (literally), an entrepreneur, and a force of nature.  his body of work is unparalleled, his sound immmediately identifiable, his energy seemingly boundless, his passion tireless, his mystique unfathomable.  listen to him shred with electric masada, bounce with big john patton, combust with painkiller.  watch him incite riots with naked city, call the shots in cobra, beam while chamber groups play his commissioned works.  read about his tributes to ornette & hard bop heroes, his approach in the volumes of arcana, his life's mission in various biographies. go see him in person, like i did when i booked a flight from denver to mpls (and back) friday night -to- sunday morning, just so i could catch masada live in the u.s.  good decision by me.

don't know where to start?  some of my favorites are..  

masada chamber ensemble - bar kokhba
my friend john ritz turned me on to this side, and i stole it from this girl who was moving out of my girlfriend's apartment (sorry about that, mom).  this mid-90s double disc features a large group of improvisers expounding upon contemporary classical compositions.  it's gorgeous.

john zorn & bobby previte - euclid's nightmare
i picked up this record in the used bin at some shop in madison, while i was there visiting my saxophone teacher. this album has 25 clips of duets with zorn and percussionist previte.  talk about textures & timbres!  most tracks are under two minutes, fitting nicely into my attention span.

masada - live in middleheim
i bought this album up at cheapo records in uptown.  the interplay is outstanding, the recording quality superb for a live record, and the introduction of the guys is priceless. this band may hold the most influence on my playing.  

john zorn, ikue morie, mike patton - hemophiliac
the free improvising that takes place on this record, in my opinion, ties that album by evan/paul/barre for the best i've ever.  ikue is ridiculous with her laptop work, zorn peaks with ferocity, and somehow mike patton's vocals fill in the gaps.  the creativity is reckless and absurdly aware.  

take the plunge, folks.  zorn is amazing.  just ask colbert.

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