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Night Lights Classic Jazz

John Zorn: Hardboiled Bop

Saxophonist John Zorn is a modern avant-garde icon, but in the late 1980s he recorded several tributes to heroes of the 1950s and 60s hardbop era.

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  • Zorn Lulu

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    Photo: Album cover

    "News For Lulu"

  • Zorn Lulu 2

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    Photo: Album cover

    "News For Lulu" (alternate image)

  • voodoo

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    Photo: Album cover

    Voodoo: the Sonny Clark Memorial Quartet

Saxophonist John Zorn is a modern avant-garde icon. In the late 1980s, however, with several tributes to heroes of the 1950s and 60s hardbop era like Hank Mobley and Sonny Clark, he honored the musicians who came before him with an edgy passion that also revealed Zorn’s skills in a straightahead jazz setting.

Writing about the first News for Lulu album, critic Art Lange writes, “It reminds us that the ranks of post-bop players produced a number of great blowing tunes with witty or lyrical turns of phrase; it rescues these tunes from oblivion while communicating the joy and exhilaration at their essence, and shows that a fresh, imaginative and fearless attitude can revitalize such material without mimicking older performance styles.”

Our show John Zorn’s Hardboiled Bop features music from:

  • both News for Lulu releases
  • Voodoo: the Sonny Clark Memorial Quartet
  • other Zorn appearances with organist Big John Patton and saxophonist Lee Konitz, with sidemen including guitarist Bill Frisell and trombonist George Lewis
  • some of Zorn’s late-1980s noir-influenced jazz

For More John Zorn:

Music Heard On This Episode

Somethin' Special
Sonny Clark Memorial Quartet — Voodoo (Black Saint, 1986)
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Somethin' Special
Sonny Clark Memorial Quartet — Voodoo (Black Saint, 1986)
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Minor Meeting
Sonny Clark Memorial Quartet — Voodoo (Black Saint, 1986)
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Melody for C
John Zorn/Bill Frisell/George Lewis — News For Lulu (hatART, 1987)
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Hank's Other Tune
John Zorn/Bill Frisell/George Lewis — News For Lulu (hatART, 1987)
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Lotus Blossom
John Zorn/Bill Frisell/George Lewis — More News For Lulu (Hat Hut, 1989)
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Peckin' Time
John Zorn/Bill Frisell/George Lewis — More News For Lulu (Hat Hut, 1989)
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Sonny's Crib
Sonny Clark Memorial Quartet — Voodoo (Black Saint, 2009)

Notes: Midpoint music bed.

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The Way I Feel
Big John Patton — Minor Swing (Disk Union, 1995)
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Devil's Island
Lee Konitz/John Zorn — The Colossal Saxophone Sessions (Evidence, 1995)
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Spillane (excerpt)
John Zorn — Spillane (Nonesuch, 1987)
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Chinatown
Naked City — Naked City (Nonesuch, 1990)
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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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