Adelaide Festival Review: Zorn in Oz: Triple Bill
Zorn in Oz - John Zorn

Adelaide Festival Review: Zorn in Oz: Triple Bill

Triple Bill , the third of four shows in the ‘Zorn in Oz’ extravaganza, opened and ended spectacularly and held that level throughout the concert.


Zorn in Oz - John Zorn
Presented by Adelaide Festival
Reviewed 13 March 2014

Triple Bill , the third of four shows in the Zorn in Oz extravaganza, opened spectacularly with trio Bladerunner. John Zorn delivered every conceivable alto saxophone sound, improvising with the unparalleled drumming of Dave Lombardo (who at one point got a kiss from Zorn for his troubles), and the dynamic bass of Bill Laswell. For the final number, the trio was joined by Mike Patton (on his knees with back to the audience), which thrilled their adoring fans and showed why they are the best in the business.

Essential Cinema equalled movie night, Zorn style. Ten members of Electric Masada performed film scores composed by Zorn, who conducted from the floor in the dark (is there nothing he can’t do?!). The giant projections of some fascinating experimental cinema films were accompanied by live music.

Rose Hobart, 1936 by Joseph Cornell, a surreal collage/fanvid, comprised of scenes edited from East of Borneo, 1931, was perfectly complemented with a rockabilly-esque score. Harry Smith’s 1967 animated short, The Tin Woodsman’s Dream followed, aptly rocking some superb jungle beats. The hand-coloured short Aleph, 1966 by Wallace Berman matched collages of nudes and pot plants to Ikue Mori’s inspired electronica. Next, the dreamy Ritual in Transfigured Time, 1946 by Maya Deren (featuring Deren), opened with a wool skein and ended with dancers turning into statues.

The scores matched the films so superbly, it was easy to get lost in it all… and become influenced. Subliminal film message takeaways include: I now want a pet monkey, I should keep a gun in my undies draw, and I have an inexplicable need to take up knitting.

Cobra, described as one of Zorn’s ‘game pieces’, would be more aptly coined a ‘game changer’. The Zorn dozen were conducted from a desk in the middle of a semi-circle from which Zorn held up numbered and lettered cards, perhaps indicating themes and riffs. Partnerships were formed and split, in a spectacle competing to be named the-greatest-sport-ever-invented.

Ringmaster Zorn, who, at times wore a baseball cap when a musician donned a headband (of sub-leadership?), picked from, and pointed to individuals or groups who jammed and, at times, tried to mimic the other’s instrument. At the raising of a hand, some were granted (or not) the opportunity to riff. Among the highlights, Patton competed with Cyro Baptista in an amped walkie-talkie v megaphone jam, and Trevor Dunn spun a copy-what-I-do idea with Kenny Wollesen; all managed by Zorn. Think Professor, lecture hall, and students; at the University of Awesome.

This brilliant piece of performance art, able to be taken in any direction, showcased avante-garde improvisation at its finest and, at one point, threatened to get away, before a quick word from Zorn to Marc Ribot re-railed the train.

It is impossible to comprehend a show improving on the past three nights, but I reckon [email protected] is going to give it a good crack on Friday night.

Reviewed by Gordon Forester

Venue: Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: 11-14 March 2014
Duration: 2½ hours
Tickets: $30 – $450
Bookings: Book through BASS online or phone 131 246


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