John Zorn The Big Gundown

This is a welcome reissue, bound to appeal to a much wider audience than it did upon its initial release in 1986. John Zorn reinterprets the music of famed film composer Ennio Morricone (Sergio Leone, The Mission). The Big Gundown is a tightly constructed studio project that features an army of contributors perfectly cast to execute Zorn's twisted orchestrations. At the time, I remember this record as being maddeningly all over the place, but this was but the first example of Zorn's Carl Stalling influenced jump-cut arrangements. Morricone's guitar-friendly pieces, of which there are many, are taken to their illogical extremes by such notables as Bill Frisell, Vernon Reid, and Robert Quine, prefiguring math rock for years to come. The "jazz" content nails the horny lounge vibe that has spawned a late '90s reissue frenzy of Italian stock music. And Brazilian batucada vibes fade in and out ten years before anyone latching dance beats on. Basically, what was hard to digest 15 years ago is quite pop friendly now. Morricone's perverse compositions are evergreen, and there are many great ideas on The Big Gundown that enhance his and Zorn's reputation. (Tzadik)