Pat Metheny Mingles in the Weird World of John Zorn

Pat Metheny’s new album came out last week: Tap: John Zorn’s Book of Angels, Vol. 20. As the title suggests, it’s part of a very long series — for composer Zorn, not for jazz guitarist Metheny — and it’s got a twisty story behind it. “Mastema” from it appears below; as on the rest of the album, Metheny is playing everything but the drums (which are played by Antonio Sánchez).
Forty years ago, John Zorn made his earliest recordings; by the mid-’70s, he’d moved to New York City, and started making a name for himself as an experimental composer. His early work included a bunch of “game pieces,” played with rules rather than with a score. The most famous of them is the twelve-player improvisation game “Cobra,” which has been recorded several times and performed many, many times. (The Knitting Factory, in New York, used to have a “Cobra night” every month.) Here’s a fantastic 1992 film of Zorn conducting a round of “Cobra.”

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