While working on an essay recently I found myself writing this sentence: Friendships have formed the spine of jazz history.
The one between saxophonist John Zorn and trumpeter Dave Douglas counts among the more fruitful during the past couple decades. Zorn recently celebrated his 60th birthday with a flurry of concerts in New York, including an all-day marathon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Douglas marked his 50th with a new boxed set and a tour that aimed to hit all 50 states.
Aside from aesthetics, the two share a common impulse to essentially create their own worlds—Zorn with his Tzadik label and Manhattan club, The Stone, and Douglas through his Greenleaf Music. Douglas’s Greenleaf is more than a platform for his and other fine players’ music: It’s the sort of all-purpose portal an enlightened musician can create in these digital days, but that few get right. (Pianist Ethan Iverson‘s Do The Math blog is another good iteration.) One of my favorite features of Greenleaf site is “A Noise from the Deep,” Douglas’s series of podcast interviews with other musicians. He kicked things off with a great conversation with saxophonist Henry Threadgill.
Now, he’s invited in his old friend John. Part One of the interview with Zorn is up now. In it, Zorn recalls the origins of his “Cobra” pieces, at the original Roulette, in Manhattan, and says the following:
In a way, I think of composition now as a catalyst. To get musicians to do their thing. To feel connected. To feel that their work is appreciated. To feel challenged. Just to feel… When I put things on a piece of paper—and ultimately, that’s one way composition can go, it can also be an oral tradion— musicians should be able to look at it and, just from looking at it, they should go “Whoa!”
And, oh yeah, there’s some implication of the leadership strategies of Gen. George S. Patton, too.
Check it out. Look for Part 2, soon. Comment on it here. Or better yet, rate or review it at iTunes.
Photo: Courtesy of Greenleaf Music