FILMWORKS III: 1990-1995

 Thieves Quartet (1993), directed by Joe Chappelle
  1/  Main Title                                 (Zorn)                        1.00
  2/  The Caper                                  (Zorn)                        0.57
  3/  Cadence                                    (Zorn)                        0.15
  4/  Kidnapping                                 (Zorn)                        2.15
  5/  Doubt                                      (Zorn)                        0.19
  6/  Nocturne 1                                 (Zorn)                        0.26
  7/  Nocturne 2                                 (Zorn)                        0.55
  8/  Bag Man                                    (Zorn)                        2.00
  9/  The Cop                                    (Zorn)                        0.27
  10/ Nocturne 3                                 (Zorn)                        0.55
  11/ Juke Box                                   (Zorn)                        2.45
  12/ End Titles                                 (Zorn)                        4.28

 Music For Tsunta (1988), directed by Kiriko Kubo
  13/ Music For Tsunta (nine cues)               (Zorn)                        3.31

 Hollywood Hotel (1994), directed by Mei-Juin Chen
  14/ Main Titles                                (Zorn)                        1.36
  15/ Washing Machine a                          (Zorn)                        0.26
  16/ Washing Machine b                          (Zorn)                        0.39
  17/ Night Hotel                                (Zorn)                        1.17
  18/ Japanese Tourists                          (Zorn)                        1.54
  19/ Night Hotel 2                              (Zorn)                        1.18
  20/ Objects                                    (Zorn)                        3.16
  21/ Night Hotel 3                              (Zorn)                        1.00
  22/ Rooftop Death Rattle                       (Zorn)                        0.59
  23/ Taiwan                                     (Zorn)                        3.48
  24/ End Titles                                 (Zorn)                        1.50

 Music For Weiden and Kennedy (1990-1995)
  25/ Holland                                    (Zorn)                        0.16
  26/ Canada                                     (Zorn)                        0.31
  27/ France                                     (Zorn)                        0.16
  28/ Germany                                    (Zorn)                        0.33
  29/ Sweden                                     (Zorn)                        0.30
  30/ USA                                        (Zorn)                        0.28
  31/ Canada 2                                   (Zorn)                        0.15
  32/ Sweden 2                                   (Zorn)                        0.15
  33/ Italy                                      (Zorn)                        0.14
  34/ Great Lobby                                (Zorn)                        0.33
  35/ Wheelchair Races                           (Zorn)                        0.42
  36/ Logo                                       (Zorn)                        0.14
  37/ Secret Code                                (Zorn)                        0.34
  38/ Secret Code 2                              (Zorn)                        1.04
  39/ Don't Break                                (Zorn)                        0.40
  40/ Don't Break 2                              (Zorn)                        1.09
  41/ Footnotes                                  (Zorn)                        0.35
  42/ Footnotes 2                                (Zorn)                        1.10
  43/ Retraction                                 (Zorn)                        0.41
  44/ Retraction 2                               (Zorn)                        1.15
  45/ Protest                                    (Zorn)                        0.39
  46/ Protest 2                                  (Zorn)                        1.13
  47/ Launch                                     (Zorn)                        0.42
  48/ Launch 2                                   (Zorn)                        1.14
  49/ Elevator                                   (Zorn)                        0.40
  50/ Elevator 2                                 (Zorn)                        1.09
  51/ Fiance                                     (Zorn)                        0.39
  52/ Fiance 2                                   (Zorn)                        1.13
  53/ Around the World                           (Zorn)                        1.06
  54/ Batman                                     (Zorn)                        0.32
  55/ Abstract Woman                             (Zorn)                        0.35
  56/ Mystic Woman                               (Zorn)                        0.39

          Tracks 1-12 recorded at Shelley Palmer Studio, New York City, July 1993
          Track 13 recorded at Shelley Palmer Studio, New York City, February 1988
          Tracks 14-24 recorded at Harmonic Ranch, New York City, April 21, 1994
          Tracks 25-56 recorded at Shelley Palmer Studio, New York City
          Engineered by Jason Baker
          Tracks 14-24 engineered by Brooks Williams
          Produced by John Zorn
          Mastered by Allan Tucker at Foothill Digital, New York City
(1-12) John Zorn: alto, piano (12); Dave Douglas: trumpet; Greg Cohen: bass; Joey Baron: drums; Robert Quine (11): guitar; (13) Bill Frisell: guitar, banjo; Peter Scherer: keyboards; Carol Emanuel: harp; Christian Marclay: turntables; David Hofstra: bass, tuba; Ciro Baptista: percussion, vocals; Bobby Previte: drums, percussion; (14-24) John Zorn: alto; Marc Ribot: guitars; (25) Carol Emanuel: harp; Marc Ribot: banjo; Ciro Baptista: percussion; Kermit Driscoll: bass; (26) Peter Scherer: keyboards; David Shea: samples; Cyro Baptista: percussion; Carol Emmanuel: harp; (27) Arto Lindsay: guitar, vocals; Bill Laswell: bass; Ikue Mori: drum machines; (28) Arto Lindsay: guitar; Marc Ribot: guitar; Ikue Mor : drum machines; (29,32) Keith Underwood: flute; Jill Jaffee: viola; Carol Emmanuel: harp; Miguel Frasconi: glass harmonica; (30) Robert Quine: guitar; Bill Laswell: bass; David Shea: turntables; (31) Peter Scherer: keyboards; David Shea: samples; Cyro Baptista: percussion; Carol Emmanuel: harp; (33 Guy Klucevsek: accordion; Anthony Coleman: organ, keyboards; Greg Cohen: bass; Joey Baron: drums; (34) Robert Quine: guitar; Anthony Coleman: keyboards; Ciro Baptista: percussion; (35) Robert Quine: guitar; Marc Ribot: guitar; David Shea: keyboards; Chris Wood: bass; Sim Cain: drums; (36) Cyro Baptista: percussion; (37-52) Robert Quine: guitar; Marc Ribot: guitar; David Shea: keyboards; Eric Friedlander: cello; Chris Wood: bass; Ciro Baptista: percussion; (53) Robert Quine: guitar; Eric Friedlander: cello; David Shea: keyboards; Ikue Mori: drum machines; Cyro Baptista: percussion; (54-56) Robert Quine : guitar; Marc Ribot: guitar; Anthony Coleman: keyboards; Eric Friedlander: cello; Chris Wood: bass; Ciro Baptista: percussion; Joey Baron: drums; John Zorn: alto.

          1995 - Eva  (Japan), EVVA 33006 (CD)
          1997 - Tzadik  (USA), TZ 7309 (CD)


The third volume cataloguing John Zorn's film scores is a quality release that offers the scores from two films, a rare piece of music cues that would lead to Cynical Hysterie Hour, and music spots for commercials. First comes the 1993 score for {#Thieves Quartet}, which is warm, solid, smoky jazz written with Miles Davis' Escalator to the Scaffold soundtrack in mind. This score also marks the first recording of the quartet that would later be known as Masada. Combining musicians of the highest caliber and compatibility, this strong first outing gives full indication of the rapport between bassist Greg Cohen, trumpeter Dave Douglas, drummer Joey Baron and Zorn. Guitarist Robert Quine also guests on the closer, "End Titles." The track of music sketches for Japanese cartoonist Kiriko Kubo, "Music for Tsunta (nine cues)," separates the two film scores. Following this track is the score from 1994, for L.A. filmmaker Mei-Juin Chen's {#Hollywood Hotel}. This recording joins a long, impressive list of Zorn's sax collaborations with electric guitarists that includes Eugene Chadbourne, Henry Kaiser, Derek Bailey, and Keiji Haino. Here is his saxophone duo with exemplary guitarist Marc Ribot; Ribot most often provides fabric and rhythm for Zorn's solos, in addition to his crucial role in a few atmospheric and a few splurtey pieces. The remaining 31 tracks on the album are shorts composed for a commercial advertising firm with which Zorn had an excellent and open working relationship. The musicianship and stylistic range found here is commendable. The reed and brass-less instrumentation varies between tracks, as guitarists Arto Lindsay, Quine, and Ribot provide a strong front, seamlessly relaxed in southwestern and surf.

Joslyn Layne (courtesy of the All Music Guide, via the Get Music website)


Brilliant, fun, and featuring proto-Masada stuff!

This disc is one of the most varied of the FILMWORKS releases. The stuff that will draw most people to it is the Thieves' Quartet material -- tracks from Masada, before they were Masada. Baron, Cohen, Douglas and Zorn are in fine form, and one can easily hear how Masada took off from these beginnings -- anyone could tell that this was a good idea, crying out to be elaborated upon. After that, the "Hollywood Hotel" material would likely be the next big draw, featuring some really snazzy Zorn/Ribot collaborations. The rest of the disc is pretty hard to do justice to in prose; there are a series of cues for Kiriko Kubo cartoons -- she of the Cynical Hysterie Hour, which Zorn also scored (see my review). These aren't fully developed pieces, however, and each lasts only a short while, such that nine pieces of music run together into one three-and-a-half minute "composition." Rounding out the disc are compositions Zorn recorded with hosts of his regulars (Arto Lindsay, Cyro Baptista, and many, many more) for Weiden and Kennedy, an advertising firm who commissioned television commercials from directors like David Cronenberg and Jean Luc Godard. (Amazingly, Zorn got on quite well with Weiden and Kennedy, was treated very respectfully, and seems quite happy with the finished results, as he details in his liner notes, which, as always, are very interesting reading). Many of these pieces, too, only last a few seconds, and end rather jaggedly, but there are several longer takes of some cuts, including a 32-second take on the "Batman" theme that should please Naked City fans. This is NOT my favorite FILMWORKS disc -- it's just a little too uneven for me -- but it's still wonderful stuff.

4 stars out of 5

Allan MacInnis (courtesy of the website)


A Very Mixed Set of Material

One of the more diverse of John Zorn's soundtrack series, "Filmworks III" brings together performances from four very different environments and contains many historically critical pieces.

The first part of the CD is given over to the soundtrack to a movie called "Thieves Quartet". Inspired by Miles Davis' "Escalator to the Scaffolds" soundtrack, the music is by and large highly intriguing loungey jazz, ably performed by Zorn on alto, Dave Douglas on trumpet, Greg Cohen on bass and Joey Baron on drums. A year later, this group would in fact become Masada. Many of the hallmarks of Masada are already present-- dueling improvs ("Kidnapping"), fantastic grooves set up by the rhythm section ("The Caper") and downright fantastic interaction all around ("Bag Man"). Musically, it's not as powerful as Masada, but for its curiosity value, it's worth a listen. The CD next turns over to "Music for Tsunta"-- nine cues for the director of "Cynical Hysterie Hour" featuring largely the same instrumentation. The music is very visual, very over-the-top, and largely driven by Bill Frisell's banjo. The lightness of this seems in clear opposition to the soundtrack to "Hollywood Hotel", a duet between Zorn (on alto) and Marc Ribot (guitar). The two cover ground in Naked City-like fashion, exploring frantic improvs and implied grooves in what is probably my favorite part of the disc. Finally, the album closes with a couple dozen commercial spots done for an advertising house Zorn works with. The music itself is at times intriguing and at times over before you notice, though the sheer diversity of the work here catches your attention, the necessarily short format hinders development of ideas.

While it's not the best of Zorn's work by far in the soundtrack arena, "Filmworks III" has historical value and makes for a decent listen. Recommended for those already immersed in Zorn's soundtrack works, newcomers would probably do better starting with the new Filmworks Anthology or (for a single piece) "Filmworks XIII: Inviation to a Suicide".

3 stars out of 5

Michael Stack (courtesy of the website)