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.