Archive | September, 2012

John Zorn: Zhakor

28 Sep

Zhakor means to remember, and John Zorn’s song of the same name is one — of the many pieces he has composed and/or played — to remember him by. The link above is a hauntingly beautiful guitar and voice piece.

Otherwise, Zorn, who’s done a lot of interviews for someone who has the reputation of not liking to do interviews, might best be remembered for Stephen Colbert’s reaction to Zorn’s winning a MacArthur Foundation grant in 2006.

Colbert, in his Who’s Not Honoring Me Now segment, noted Zorn’s grant, and derisvely read from a paper: “John Zorn . . . an avant garde jazz musician.” Then Colbert, with top hat and cane, mocked the muted sounds of Zorn’s saxophone and said, “I wonder how your little genius came up with that toe-tapper.”

“Genius grant, please.”

Of course, Zorn isn’t Barry Manilow; don’t expect him to come on Colbert’s show and make nice — either by sounds or music. But not because Zorn holds a grudge.

Zorn’s reaction was a lot mellower to Colbert than it often is to interviewers (“Mr. Zorn said that every time he had opened the door to the press, his words had been used to hurt him,” said Jazziz editor Larry Blumenfeld in a 1999 letter to the New York Times).

“Yeah, that was hilarious,” Zorn said of Colbert in an interview with

Would Zorn go on The Colbert Report the interviewer followed up?

“I have no idea.,” Zorn said. “I don’t know the man. It was a hilarious spot. I don’t know what his commitments are to this kind of music or what would happen. TV is not something I’m really interested in. I don’t own one, I don’t look at it. I don’t want to have anything to do with it. I’m not going to put myself in the position of ridicule on some comedy show. I wouldn’t even go on any of these late-night talk shows. That’s not what I’m doing here. It really has nothing to do . . . in fact, it’s almost antithetical. So I’d rather stay where I am, keep plugging away bit by bit. If someone’s interested, that’s great.”



Wes Montgomery: Here’s that rainy day

11 Sep
Wes Montgomery: A Day in the Life

Wes Montgomery’s 1967 album A Day In The Life

Guitarist Wes Montgomery’s given first name wasn’t Wes, but John. And his given middle name wasn’t Wes, either, but Leslie, the same name of the tropical storm expected to impact the eastern end of Canada today. Better they should get a day full of John Leslie Montgomery than TS Leslie.

Wes, born in 1923, came from Leslie, according to, “apparently a childhood abbreviation.”  Who’s to say if John Leslie would have been the guitar player Wes was, but all four Montgomery brothers of Indianapolis had given first names and musical first names.

According to an NPR documentary, the oldest, Thomas Junior, was nicknamed June, played the drums and died of pneumonia. The youngest, Charles, was born in 1930 and nicknamed Buddy, played the piano and vibes and performed with Miles Davis. And William, nicknamed Monk, was born in 1921 and played the electric bass guitar.

The surviving Montgomerys put out several albums together as The Montgomery Brothers from 1955-1969, including one with pianist George Shearing.  Wes died at 45 in 1968 of a heart attack.

A link below to Here’s That Rainy Day (here’s, not there’s), played by Wes (and pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Arthur Harper and drummer Jimmy Lovelace ) and brought to us today by TS Leslie.


Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny: Our Spanish Love Song

10 Sep
Charlie Haden/Pat Metheny's Beyond the Missouri Sky

Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny’s 1997 album Beyond the Missouri Sky

Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny both grew up in Missouri, Metheny in the city of Lee’s Summit (2000 population: 91,364; Money Magazine’s 2010 best places to live ranking: 27th); Haden almost a generation earlier in the town of Forsyth (2000 population: 1,686).

Thus their 1997 album was named Beyond the Missouri Sky after the Show Me State.

Perhaps it should be the Hear Me state, because Beyond the Missouri Sky deserves an attentive audience. Listen quietly — even moreso if it’s the early a.m. — to a good and gentle album, which includes original pieces by both artists, Haden’s son Josh and covers of what Haden called in the liner notes “beautiful melodies and chords that inspired us.” (Their playing on Roy Acuff’s The Precious Jewel especially inspired this listener).

Haden on Metheny, from the album’s liner notes: “His musical presentation is always beyond category, and his sense of the sound in music that comes from the feeling of this country is uncanny. Of course, he is from Missouri, as I am, which surely has something to do with it. I call his sound, contemporary impressionistic americana.”

Metheny on Haden, from the same: “. . . I do know that we share a lot of the same aspirations about what music can be, and especially the open attitude and curiosity that I believe we’ve both retained from growing up as musicians who filled the hours of our formative years dreaming about music out there in the heartland of America.”

The only thing wrong with Beyond the Missouri Sky? It’s still, 15 years later, the only exclusive recording the two have done.

Below is a link to a 2003 live performance the two did of Haden’s composition Our Spanish Love Song.

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