John Zorn was born September 2nd, 1953 in New York City. Zorn was trained from an early age in classical music composition. When as a boy he attended a concert held by his French instructor, Jacques Coursil, he became interested in jazz music. His musical influences are wildly numerous and diverse, but the first jazz musicians to have an impact on him include Anthony Braxton, Ornette Coleman, Jimmy Giuffre and Roscoe Mitchell. Since 1974 he has had a huge influence on the music scene in New York, being especially active in the Lower East Side, where he is still a frontrunner of the "downtown avant garde". He applies what he calls "game theory" to largely improvisational music. Even as a young man, Zorn's piercingly distinct screaming alto saxophone technique garnered him respect from established jazz musicians.

One of his first major accomplishments was to arrange several pieces for Hal Willner's tribute to Thelonious Monk, dubbed That's The Way I Feel Now. In 1985 he played sessions on Kurt Weill's album Lost In The Stars and broke into the jazz market with The Big Gundown, for which he included several unlikely numbers and musicians (including "Big" John Patton and Toots Thielemans). In 1987, he released News For Lulu with Lewis and Bill Frisell. This album is a series of classic hard bop tunes from the 60s, twisted with Zorn's easily recognizable sax-shrieks.

He has long been a supporter of hardcore and thrash-style metal, which he holds has at least as much intensity as the free jazz of the 1960's. He has supported and recorded with members of Nottingham and England's death metal favorites Napalm Death, such as several terrifyingly graceful versions of Ornette Coleman's tunes on the album Spy Vs Spy, released in 1989. Naked City, which includes Bill Frisell and drummer Joey Baron, was formed soon after this, and the band's unique blend of "sleaze-jazz" (almost like lounge music, but not), surf rock and hardcore became well-known in New York's underground music circles. They made a self-titled album for Elektra Records in 1990, and continued to record untouchable music throughout the 90s, often including Yamatsuka Eye of the Boredoms.

In 1991 Zorn founded a band called Pain Killer with bass player/producer Bill Laswell and Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris. They released The Guts Of A Virgin on the Earache Records hardcore label. Over the next several years he formed Masada, a group whose lineup changes from album to album, but typically includes Zorn, trumpeter Dave Douglas, bassist Greg Cohen and his old friend Joey Baron on the kit. Zorn's ability to blend almost insoluble genres of music into graceful, beautiful, earsplitting musical works is unmatched. He recently formed his own label, Tzadik.
massive discog at:

thanks to sighmoan for the monk fix!

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