Search - John Zorn :: Kristallnacht

John Zorn
Genres: Folk, World Music, Jazz, Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: John Zorn
Title: Kristallnacht
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 0
Label: Tzadik
Release Date: 9/19/1995
Genres: Folk, World Music, Jazz, Pop, Classical
Styles: Jewish & Yiddish, Avant Garde & Free Jazz, Historical Periods, Modern, 20th, & 21st Century
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 702397730125, 4013079330035

CD Reviews

John zorn is trying....
S. Flask | the Pequod | 09/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"he really tries to do something different - to create an experience for the listener unlike any other - and here he does it.i give this album 5 stars because i have to pick something. some days it's 0 stars and some days it's 11. you can't really judge this - it'll mean different things to everybody involved.first, as most will know, this music is supposed to represent Kristallnacht, so as you may guess it's not a very nice experience. don't come into this looking for a good jazz record or the like. buy this if a musical representation of the events of Kristallnacht sounds interesting to you. obviously this is very personal and important subject matter, and some people will feel differently about what zorn has done than, the music. the first track starts off beautifully. it's slow and sad, but beautiful. as time progresses, clips of nazi speeches are worked into the music, setting up a much darker feel. it can't prepare you for the second, absolutly bone chilling track. the sound of broken glass is obviously whats being represented, and it's so loud it's painful. and every now and then it stops - to hear voices, or footsteps in the dark, to make you feel scared - and it just stops you in your tracks. this goes on for over 11 minutes, and by the end you've taken quite an aural beating (note zorn's warning to the listener about the high frequency noise in the track) then comes the third track - the calm after the storm. and after that it's kind of a free for all. now, free for all is a bad way to describe it.... picture yourself in a situation where you fear for your life and the situation can go from safe to severe at the drop of a hat. this is what zorn does. the music will give you a false sense of security and suddenly scare you. it works really well, and when all is said and done, zorn has given the listener an experience, not just an album.forewarned is forearmed. if you want something you can sing along to (even naked city) this isn't it. buy this if you want the experience & see what this disc means to you. a very interesting and difficult undertaking."
November 1938
S. Flask | 03/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Listening to "Kristallnacht" gave me the same feeling that I got when I read about those horrible nights on November 9 and 10th 1938. The album opens up with the powerful "Shtetl(Ghetto Life)", in which beautiful klezmer music is played over the sounds of a Nazi rally. The second track, "Never Again" is so harsh that Zorn actually warns against prolonged and repeated listens, stating that "it may result in temporary or permanent ear damage." And believe me, he's not kidding. "Never Again" is the sound of thousands of layers of breaking glass being played over and over again. The next song, "Gahelet(Embers)" is the exact opposite of "Never Again", with its barely audible violins, trumpets and clarinets. It is so silent it's disturbing. There are points throughout the rest of "Kristallnacht" when you think the worst is over but then you realize its just begun. So if you are looking for a musical experience unlike any other then "Kristallnacht" may be for you."
Uncomfortable masterpiece.
Michael Stack | North Chelmsford, MA USA | 11/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In 1992, John Zorn, then best known for his Game Pieces, tribute albums and the more recent genre-defying triumph of Naked City, entered the studio to record his first real exploration of his Jewish Heritage-- a musical tapestry to represent "Kristallnacht", or the Night of Broken Glass. For those unaware of the incident-- Nazi Germany planned a coordinated attack on the evening of November 9, 1938 on Jewish businesses and synagogues-- destroying everything they could-- 7500 business were destroyed, over 250 synagogues were burned, and nearly a hundred Jews murdered. This is the subject for which "Kristaalnacht" was written.

In the studio, Zorn assembled a small ensemble-- Mark Feldman (violin), Marc Ribot (guitar), Anthony Coleman (keyboards), Mark Dresser (bass) and William Winant (percussion), along with David Krakauer (clarinet and bass clarinet) and Frank London (trumpet) on a pair of tracks-- to record the seven movement piece. It is, in all senses, a modern masterpiece, one of the most beautiful and horrible statements of music ever made, and it may well be the most powerful recording in the catalog of John Zorn.

"Kristaalnacht" contains a bit of everything-- opening with a loping klezmer piece ("Shtetl"), ominous and dark, with the brief, melancholy lines over accordian interspersed with recordings of Adolf Hitler. This gives way into the justifiably noteworth "Never Again"-- twelve minutes of the sound of glass breaking punctuated by the sound of running and brief musical interludes-- Zorn warns against repeated listens, but after the moody openers, it's a thing of tortorous emotion. Most importantly, it accomplishes what it sets out to do.

When it does finally end, the piece moves in dozens of different directions-- "Tikkun" feels like after the storm, where the air is still electric but somehow stil, "Tzfia" finds Zorn's cartoon influence and the Naked City soiund coming forth, brief interludes and seemingly random swaps of sounds and instrumentation dominate the piece, no one sound stays present for more than 20 or 30 seconds. When the piece does settle (in the track "Barzel"), it is frantic, angry and uncomfortable, and certainly hard to process and understand. The album closes on a frantic note-- the genre defying, guitar driven "Gariin" is something totally unique, over frantic percussion and a walking bass line, Ribot manages some of the most astonishing guitar playing you've ever heard.

When it's over, it's an experience. While I think Zorn has done better work than "Kristaalnacht", I don't think anything in his catalog quite matches its power. Highly recommended."