John Zorn

Euclid's Nightmare

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This 1997 duet recording between drumming ace Bobby Previte and saxophonist John Zorn is indicative -- pretty much -- of what Zorn's music was like at the time: There are plenty of hard bop linguistics mixed in with film noir themes and screeching, burning skronk. There are also short, lucid moments of melodic tranquility that prefigure much of Zorn's work from 1999 on. But mostly, this series of duets reveals something else, that two players from similar backgrounds, who have played in the same bands together and can understand each other on an almost symbiotic level, can still approach the same musical problem from two different sides and come up with the same answer. Nowhere is this clearer than on sections ten through 14 (there are 27 sections in all), which total about seven of the CD's 41 minutes. Here, Previte hears Zorn insistently and responds with short, crisp rim shots, rolling tom-toms, and scattershot cymbal runs that tend to stretch out the time, turn it loose from its constraints inside the work, and move forward into whatever frame Zorn chooses next. For his part, Zorn hears the thrumming of the cymbals and decides to speed up the piece in order to match Previte's double time. They both arrive in the pocket at the same time and kick the energy into an overdriven state of chaotic -- yet jubilant -- free improv, where there are no ties to gravity at all until Previte introduces a tom-tom and Zorn responds with a gorgeous angular legato. This is only one of dozens of surprises on Euclid's Nightmare. Zorn fans will be familiar with the level of histrionics employed here, while followers of Previte's more refined work may be put off by the constant atonality of the work.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
1:07
2
1:05
3
1:09
4
1:06
5
2:02
6
1:06
7
1:03
8
2:00
9
1:01
10
1:41
11
1:05
12
0:59
13
1:07
14
2:02
15
2:06
16
2:04
17
1:01
18
1:03
19
3:43
20
1:13
21
2:06
22
2:38
23
1:13
24
1:07
25
1:02
26
1:19
27
4:01
blue highlight denotes track pick