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John Zorn: Music for Children
John Zorn, Julie Steinberg, Cyro Baptista
John Zorn: Music for Children
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: John Zorn, Julie Steinberg, Cyro Baptista
Title: John Zorn: Music for Children
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Tzadik
Release Date: 10/20/1998
Album Type: Original recording remastered
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Pop, Classical
Styles: Avant Garde & Free Jazz, Chamber Music, Historical Periods, Modern, 20th, & 21st Century
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 702397732129

CD Reviews

Childhood through the eyes of Zorn.
Lord Chimp | Monkey World | 05/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Fils des Etoiles" is an evocative wonder with Cyro Baptista's percussion and wordless vocals supplementing Anthony Coleman on celeste. The celeste is a keyboard instrument with soft hammers that hit metal plates for bell-esque sounds."This Way Out", "Bikini Atoll", and "Bone Crusher" are previously unrecorded Naked City songs performed by the band Prelapse. These would have fit well on _Torture Garden_ -- basically, these "hardcore miniatures" jam as much as possibly into its limited timeframe, from grindcore rushes to twinkling jazz piano. All three are short (the longest is only one minute and ten seconds), genre-hopping, flesh-tearing blasts. John Zorn guests on alto sax on "Bone Crusher". "Music for Children" is a frightening composition for violin (David Abel), piano (Julie Steinberg), and percussion (William Winant). Unpredictably shifting between playful piano dances, screeching violins, haunting silences, jarring crashes, and flailing combinations that evoke nightmares from an evil void. Very dark and disturbing."Dreamer of Dreams" is a subdued beauty where Marc Ribot (guitar) is backed by Erik Friedlander (cello) and Greg Cohen (bass). An elemental, swaying rhythmic study of Zorn's ability to weave beauty and subtlety. "Cycles du Nord" is something some (read: most) people will find unlistenable, while others may find it interesting. The instrumentation consists of three wind machines and two acoustic feedback systems. Basically, it sounds like a hurricane with ear-shredding frequencies from pitch to buzz. It mellows out towards the end but it mostly abrasive and scary. Perhaps it symbolizes an innocence in exploration or something. I find it very musical...if you REALLY listen to it, you can hear that it is communicating very dynamic moods. Zorn sculpts the sounds and achieves intense contrasts and varieties within this atypical sonic framework. This piece is dedicated to Edgard Varese, an obscure avant-garde composer who influenced Zorn and was also highly regarded by Frank Zappa."SooKi's Lullaby" is a short, lovely song played on music box (again Anthony Coleman). Enchanting, delicate, and probably the most appropriate song for a child you'll find on this album.How do such disparate styles hang together? Remarkably well, although the connection is mostly thematic rather than musical. To get a partial sense of the purpose behind this album, I will share with you an excerpt from the liner notes:"Rich ground for love and enthusiasm, innocence is delight in the natural charm of being and the unconscious experience of contradictions which no longer have a tragic character. To attain the virginal joy of innocence, one must not little contradictions consciously, or know tragedy and thoughts of death, because such knowledge is baffling, complex, and requires disjunction. Innocence resists tragedy but welcomes love, because the innocent, never troubled by inner contradictions, have generous impulses."Other passages in the booklet elaborate on different ideas, and there are images inside of creepy dolls reflecting myriad attributes of childhood. Ultimately I think the album's musical entirety is an unusual contemplation on childhood's nature. A very interesting album, though perhaps oit should come with a disclaimer, since actually exposing children to these songs would equate to child abuse and turn them into serial killers. Ranging from soft music box themes to wind machines to Naked City-style pieces, _Music for Children_ is a diverse work of dissimilar moods encapsulated by a striking theme."
Varied collection.
Michael Stack | North Chelmsford, MA USA | 12/20/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"An album of unnerving variation, "Music For Children" is a collection of compositions by John Zorn that seem unrelated but somehow fit together. The album consists of two extended works, three hardcore miniatures left over from Naked City's "Torture Garden", and three mid-length compositions.

The extended compositions end up being the most difficult, the title track, "Music For Children", is a scored for violin (David Abel), piano (Julie Steinberg) and percussion (William Winant). It's one of the more difficult of Zorn's classical pieces, scored in small, seemingly unrelated blocks (of what someone else referred to as cartoon music, though I don't her it), playing silence and the instruments off of each other. It's a thoroughly enjoyable listen, but it hasn't sunk in with me yet just what's going on. But as odd as "Music For Children" is, it's nothing compared to "Cycles du Nord". A tribute to Edgard Varese (an early pioneer of electronic music), Zorn performs on "three wind machines and two acoustic feedback systems", and sonically it sounds like standing in a staggeringly windy city street for twenty minutes-- there's an occasional noise beneath the wind that's hard to make out, and sometimes feedback swells, but by and large it's all about wind. Remarkably, although on my first listen I found it downright irritating (I was in my car), when I played it at work, I found it intriguing.

The Naked City hardcore pieces are performed by a band called Prelapse, with Zorn guesting on two tracks. The total length of the three pieces is just about two and a half minutes, and they're about what you'd expect-- frantic, cross genre blasts. When Zorn doesn't play, there seems to be a distinct lack of personality on the material that leaves me wondering how much Naked City was the sum of its parts and how much Naked City was purely a reflection of Zorn (I suspect somewhere in between is the case).

The remaining three pieces are pretty diverse-- opener "Fils des Etoiles", performed by Anthony Coleman on celeste and Cyro Baptista on percussion and vocal is kind of hard to describe-- it's certainly interesting enough, Baptista sort of half chants over a lovely celeste performance and hand percussion. The remaining two pieces are far easier to digest-- "Dreamer of Dreams", performed by a trio of Marc Ribot (guitar), Erik Friedlander (cello), and Greg Cohen (bass) sounds like an extra piece from "Bar Kokhba". Ribot is smokey and bluesy, and unusually sensitive and his performance is the highlight here, and this also seems to point the way to "The Gift". Closer "Sooki's Lullaby", performed on "celeste music box" by Coleman, is a pretty music box melody that is delicate an quiet, and a nice reprieve after the twenty minutes of rushing wind on "Cycles du Nord".

overall, "Music For Children" is a fine record, it lacks that certain something that Zorn's best work has, but its well worth a listen."
MPD Zorn
Mr. Richard K. Weems | Fair Lawn, NJ USA | 02/24/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This CD nicely compacts the range of John Zorn. With pieces like "Bikini Atoll" and "Bone Crusher," Zorn shows his thrash side, also giving Prelapse, a sharp little band who would bill themselves as performers of "John Zorn's unrecorded music," a little nod with their first recorded outing. (It may be out of print, but if possible, score yourself Prelapse's Avant release.) "Cycles du Nord" exemplifies the Morton Feldman-esque Zorn, as he manipulates wind machines and acoustic feedback systems for over 20 minutes. There's "Dreamer of Dreams," which brings out the jazzy Zorn, the one that let Naked City jam and not just thrash, and then there is, of course, the quick-change Zorn with the title track. All this mixed in with the creepy element of Zorn, as "Fils des Etoiles," "This Way Out" and "SooKi's Lullaby," juxtaposed with the rather horrific and at least somewhat sexualized images of young bodies in the insert artwork, make simple-sounding tunes, as though for children, make one want to hide the little ones.

Of course, one could say that this is all the culmination of the vast musical intellect of John Zorn and that there really IS no distinction from one piece to another (and this may be supported by the title, which suggests that this is all just a single volume of Music Romance), and while Prelapse is certainly the second coming of Naked City (and perhaps a little more enthusiastic), and classic names like William Winant and Anthony Coleman and Marc Ribot bring depth to the playing on this disc, there is something ultimately disjointed about this collection. Perhaps I am just not seeing the ultimate connection, and maybe that is my own failing, but this disc fails to deliver its final commonality in the end.