John Zorn (born September 2, 1953) is an American composer, conductor, saxophonist, arranger and producer who "deliberately resists category". His avant-garde and experimental approaches to composition and improvisation are inclusive of jazz, rock, hardcore, classical, contemporary, surf, metal, soundtrack, ambient, and world music. In 2013, Down Beat described Zorn as "one of our most important composers" and in 2020 Rolling Stone noted that "hough Zorn has operated almost entirely outside the mainstream, he's gradually asserted himself as one of the most influential musicians of our time".
Zorn entered New York City's downtown music scene in the mid-1970s, collaborating with improvising artists while developing new methods of composing experimental music. Over the next decade he performed throughout Europe and Japan and recorded on independent US and European labels. In 1986, he received acclaim with the release of his radical reworking of the film scores of Ennio Morricone, The Big Gundown, followed by Spillane, an album featuring his collage-like experimental compositions. Spy vs Spy (1989) and Naked City (1990) both demonstrated Zorn's ability to merge and blend musical styles in new and challenging formats.
Zorn spent time in Japan in the late 1980s and early '90s but returned to Lower East Side Manhattan to establish the Tzadik record label in 1995. Tzadik enabled Zorn to establish independence, maintain creative control, and ensure the availability of his growing catalog of recordings. He prolifically recorded and released new material for the label, issuing several new albums each year, along with recordings by many other artists.
Zorn performs on saxophone with Naked City, Painkiller, and Masada, conducts Moonchild, Simulacrum, and several Masada-related ensembles or encourages musicians toward their own interpretations of his work. He has composed concert music for classical ensembles and orchestras, and produced music for opera, sound installations, film and documentary. Tours of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East have been extensive, usually at festivals with musicians and ensembles that perform his repertoire.
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