This is a shock to the system the first time you hear it, then at some point the humor in the music becomes more evident. Zorn has an interesting mind, and unlike the jazz dullards who exhibit technique for its own sake, has something to say and a unique, powerful way of saying it. I think that this album is hilarious and bracing, the way that having an avalanche fall on you is bracing. Not for your elderly maiden aunt as background music–this one demands your full attention, and jazz needs more music like that these days.
It’s hard to find a contemporary musician more eclectic than alto saxophonist John Zorn. Whether investigating the affinity between traditional Jewish music and jazz with his band Masada, or performing soundtrack music for Japanese porno films, Zorn has consistently proven himself a fearless seeker of new frontiers. On Naked City, Zorn combines covers of such movie themes as Ennio Morricone’s ”The Sicilian Clan,” Jerry Goldsmith’s ”Chinatown,” John Barry’s ”James Bond Theme,” and Johnny Mandel’s ”I Want to Live” with his own noir-inflected originals, and a ”Peter Gunn”-like cover of Ornette Coleman’s ”Lonely Woman” is thrown in for good measure. The results are like a trip to the drive-in for a bad double-feature–if the drive-in is on Mars. The band, which features Zorn stalwarts Bill Frisell on guitar, Wayne Horvitz on keyboards, Fred Frith on bass, and Joey Baron on drums, is remarkably confident and wide-ranging. –Fred Goodman
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Well, at least my view of music. A genre-busting album that doesn’t sit still, showing the influences of hardcore punk, jazz, free improvisation, country and the cartoon music of Carl Stalling. Maybe the kitchen sink as well. What other CD boasts covers of both Ornette Coleman’s Lonely Woman and the James Bond theme? I must have seen this currently defunct band 20 times and they never disappointed, always playing something new. Like music from the film “The List of Adrian Messenger. Who else but Zorn would find this stuff? It’s time for a reunion tour. I’m going through withdrawal.
John Zorn hails from New York and has been one of the most interesting and exciting figures in contemporary music for years. He appears to be of limitless talent, acquiring quite a reputation for his wild eclecticism. That eclecticism is wildly abundant on this fine, fine album, as Zorn and Company rage thru the music of Ornette Coleman, Henry Mancini, Ennio Morricone, John Barry, and of course Mr. Zorn himself. They blaze through jazz, swing, blues, free jazz, noise, rock, thrash, and surf- often in the same song. This is great music for today’s attention-span addled human. In fact, I think this would actually be a great album for youngsters with an interest in jazz to listen to. It is fast moving, often changing, and definitely never boring. I haven’t listened to this CD for awhile (until today), and I forgot how enthralling it is.
`Naked City’ was my first John Zorn album and it remains my favorite (along with his Occult masterpiece I.A.O.). This wonderful disc starts out with `Batman’; Zorn’s uptempo envisioning of what Batman’s theme should sound like- and it totally kicks ass. This is followed by Morricone’s `The Sicilian Clan’. Zorn’s saxophone sounds great on this track (and I usually HATE the saxophone). Next up is `You Will Be Shot’, a nifty Zorn original that changes just about every ten seconds; touching on rock, noise/thrash, and blues/swing. I could go on and on; fruitlessly attempting to describe track after track. That however is beginning to seem increasingly pointless as I listen to this spectacular album. It sounds so cliché, but one must truly listen to this album for themselves to have any kind of understanding for how much ass it kicks.
One of the things that Mr. Zorn seems to have a knack for, is assembling the right band for the right project (much in the same way Miles Davis did). The band that he put together for `Naked City’ was absolutely perfect, and up to the task of tackling these diverse, high energy arrangements. Bill Frisell on guitar, Wayne Horvitz on keys, Fred Firth on bass, and Joey Baron on skins were the perfect partners in crime for this wicked creation. I would’ve loved to catch this amazing band live.
This is a hell of an album. I own LOTS of music, and this is by far one of the most diverse releases I have. Not many bands could pull off the ridiculous changes present here. On paper, this should be a mess. However thanks to John Zorn’s vision and skill (and that of his band mates) this works wonderfully- way better than it should. If you are interested in Zorn and have yet to delve into his intimidating and massive catalogue, this is a great place to start. If you are a fan of Zorn, you undoubtedly have this excellent and timeless release.
I took a chance on buying this CD, as I only heard about it from a friend, and had heard no music from it. It ended up being truly one of the most worthwhile CD purchases I’ve made. My idea of music was so much more limited before this CD. I liked only a few of the tracks, and really didn’t appreciate the grindcore tracks except for their over the top quality. But after a lot of listening it redefined music for me. It is truly refreshing and unlike anything I’ve heard. GREAT STEPPING STONE IF YOU WANT TO GET INTO SOMETHING DIFFERENT! I highly recommend.-Chris
this is the album that really got me seriously into jazz. I’ll wait a minute to let you gasp….Now, let me explain myself. I bought Naked City in the summer before my freshman year in High School. My father, a former professional, now part-time jazz trombonist played jazz around the house 24/7 and I enjoyed it but didn’t really listen to it that much myself. I went to several summer camps focused on jazz improv and I tended to be pretty decent without really listening to the music. The music that I did listen to was hardcore punk rock. The kind where the more bands you know that no one else did, the cooler you are (ever heard of Demon System 13, INDK…yeah thats right). I was a lot more open-minded than others who listen to that music but I still didn’t care too much about other music. Then I listened to Naked City and I was blown away. Someone had bridged the gap between jazz in all of its forms and hardcore. This was some scary s—! All of a sudden I started buying jazz cds like crazy and I have never looked back since. Thanks John for making me an open-minded listener and allowing me to be an individual!