:::Jazz Movie #4:::

Posted: Tuesday, 22 March 2011 by jazzlover in Etykiety: , , , , , , ,

Claudia Heuermann's "A Bookshelf on Top of the Sky: Twelve Stories About John Zorn" is not quite what it seems. Expectations ran high, a documentary about John Zorn, the man who rarely grants interviews and when he does, seems to say everything and not say anything at all, whose music jumps genre to genre in a matter of seconds, captivates some, horrifies others, and has a strange sway over its fan.
What Heuermann did though was quite a bit different-- she told the story about her trying to make the movie, about her relationship with Zorn, from the moment she first discovered him (a friend playing her Naked City's "Torture Garden") to her meeting him for the first time, travelling to New York and deciding to make a movie about Zorn. It's really a piece about self-discovery, about learning to be one's "own parent".
Along the way, we get snippets of interviews with Zorn, brilliant statements, footage of rehearsals, recording sessions, remastering of "The Big Gundown" and live performances from Naked City, Painkiller, Masada, Bar Kokhba, Emergency, and "Rituals". We also get a brief explanation of game pieces and a picture of a frustrated artist who can't stop looking, who views music as problem solving, and who does it not for listeners, but for himself and the musicians.
This is the second time I've watched this-- the first time was when it first came out, and I was still in the process of discovering Zorn's work through a chance encounter at an independent movie theater (Naked City was the house music before the show, and somehow I knew who it was). Three months and a dozen or so Zorn CDs later and this came out to guide my way, to help put the pieces together.
A year after that and my Zorn collection is bordering on obscene and the piece still holds weight. It still is entertaining, and yeah, its not a lot of revelatory stuff, but it's a worthwhile viewing. Truth to be told, in many ways, the piece gave validity to my own view on my choice of career and my great passions. And I keep thinking that maybe when my coworkers ask why I'm making the four hour trip to New York City yet again to see some obscure musician who they've never heard of (and who if they did hear, they'd probably dislike), maybe in those situations I should let them borrow this and certainly Heuermann's experience isn't really that much different from mine. Isn't that powerful enough to merit a recommendation to someone else?
If you're just learning about Zorn, get this, it's critical. If you're already initiated, you probably already have it. It's got its flaw, but invariably, it's a deeply personal expression, how could it not? Either way, it's a fun film to watch. Recommended.
:::Review from amazon.com:::

John Zorn - A Bookshelf on Top of the Sky: 12 Stories about John Zorn, DVD (2004)

- Cyro Baptista
- Joey Baron
- Stefan Blum
- Anna Carewe
- Jennifer Choi
- Greg Cohen
- Anthony Coleman
- Ariadne Daskalakis
- Uwe Dierksen
- Dave Douglas
- Mark Dresser
- Yamataka Eye
- Mark Feldman
- Erik Friedlander
- Bill Frisell
- Fred Frith
- Mihoko Fujimura
- Joyce Hammann
- Wayne Horvitz
- Susie Ibarra
- Matthias Kaul
- Otis Klöber
- Briggan Krauss
- Bill Laswell
- Hartmut Leistritz
- Dave Lombardo
- John Medeski
- Ikue Mori
- Nele B. Nelle
- Mike Patton
- Jim Pugliese
- Marc Ribot
- Roberto Rodriguez
- Josh Roseman
- Jamie Saft
- Astrid Schmeling
- Michael Schröder
- Stefan Schäfer
- David Shea
- Chris Speed
- Jim Staley
- Mason Wendell
- William Winant
- Kenny Wollesen
- John Zorn

Releases information
DVD Tzadik (TZ 3001), Mar 2004

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