NOTICE: Unless you are at least somewhat familiar with John Zorn and his music, you may find it helpful to refer to his bio node first, simply to get an idea of what the guy is all about. If you either already know who he is, or are not interested in who he is, the quick bio goes a little like this: Zorn is a heavymetal-sleaze/loungejazz-surfrock-orchestral-beebop-thrashpunk sax player from New York. The most listener-friendly intro to his work is probably the Naked City self-titled album, but even that is an acquired taste. On to the Game Pieces:
Beginning in 1974, Zorn began writing sets of rules or "games" for whoever he happened to be playing/jamming/recording with at the time. Each game has its own set of rules and playing style, some of which include cards, hats, hand signals, body language, and even props. The only rule common to every game is that improv is essential.

The idea is to bring a small group of musicians (usually between four and twenty) with wildly differring backgrounds into a room and give them just enough structure to come up with something not only musically sound (forgive the pun), but entirely new- every time. In my opinion, he's had varying degrees of success. For each set of rules, Zorn released an album, with the exception of the "Cobra" game, for which he has released several albums. Every album is different, and almost every album sounds like a living, thrashing, chaotic soup of music, niose, and occasionally some pretty bizarre vocal sounds. Most of the time it makes no sense at all, but sometimes... sometimes...

The Game Piece Albums:
The "sport" albums (so called because the sets of rules in the album are based... somehow... on the rules of these sports):

In 1984, he composed the most popular and accessable of his Game Pieces, Cobra. After Cobra, he started using Asian monikers for his albums (I have no idea what any of these mean).

  • Xu Feng (1985)
  • Hu Die (1986)
  • Ruan Lingyu (1987)
  • Hwang Chin-ee (1988)
  • Bezique (1989)
  • Que Tran (1990)

Zorn and company have recorded several others (including a whole bunch following the "cobra" rules), but as of yet, they still haven't been released.

I was wrong! Although they were written quite a while ago, Baseball, Dominoes, Golf, and Hockey were not released until 2000, making them the most recent Game Piece releases.
discog at:

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