As a leader:
John Schott In These Great Times (Tzadik)
My first record as a leader, an enormous step forwards for me. Zorn challenged me to come up with something for his Radical Jewish Culture series. This was my response. Three songs for Tenor and guitar trio on texts by Kafka, Karl Kraus, and Jacob Glatshteyn, interwoven with four instrumental pieces, bookended by two guitar solos. Trevor and Kenny were wonderful, approaching the score with a lot of devotion and hard work. I was very fortunate to get John Horton Murry, a tremendous and resourceful singer of opera and concert music. I feel the guitar writing in the songs is pretty much without precedent (not that there’s any real value in that): extremely challenging, Schoenbergian writing for the electric guitar that is nevertheless idiomatic.
John Schott and Ensemble Diglossia Shuffle Play: Elegies for the Recording Angel (New World)
More on Shuffle Play coming soon!
John Schott’s Dream Kitchen: Drunken Songs For Sober Times (Smash The State! 2008)
John Schott’s Typical Orchestra (Smash The State! 2002)
John Schott and Ensemble Diglossia Diglossia
This record of four ensemble pieces is unreleased as yet. It was recorded over a three-year period at several locations. Tracks are:
1. Diglossia, for nine musicians. Recorded live at Yoshi’s, Oakland, in 1995, by Jeff Cressman. Musicians: Carla Kihlstedt, Jenny Sheinman, Trevor Dunn, Ben Goldberg, Laura Carmichale, Dan Plonsey, Steve Adams, Willie Winant.
2. Three Bagatelles for trombone, accordion, acoustic guitar and drums.
3. Jealous Lover #2: Josephine The Singer, for voices, percussion, violin, guitar, bass, and drums. Recorded in New York and Oakland.
4. Snakes, for eleven players. Recorded at Festival Rovatè, 1998.
As a co-leader:
Ben Goldberg, John Schott, Mike Sarin What Comes Before (Tzadik)
Recorded the day after we finished Ben’s “Eight Phrases” this impromptu session of free improvisations is very close to my heart. Mike and I played a lot together in our late teens-early twenties in Seattle. He went to New York, and to a lot of work: (Thomas Chapin, Dave Douglas, Myra Melford, Ned Rothenberg). And, any opportunity to record with Ben is extremely important to me.
I’ve been asked why this record is on Zorn’s Jewish series; what’s Jewish about it? Well, in the months prior to this session, Ben and I had been exploring ways to improvise together on a given four-note set, or chord. Using some of the basic principles of set theory – octave equivalence, inversional equivalence, etc. – we found ways to move between sets that would provide a coherent continuity. After the fact, we made a connection in our minds to Rabbinic commentary, the polyphony of texts in the Talmud, as well as the laborious study that symbolizes being Jewish. The connection is very loose, but at the same time I know it’s there, and that not just any record would fit into that category.
Junk Genius Junk Genius (Knitting Factory)
What happens when two guys lock themselves in a room for six months and play bebop heads over and over and over again? This: screaming, furious deconstructions of compositions by Bud Powell, Charlie Parker, and Tadd Dameron. It was originally intended to convey their dark and troubled natures, their self-destructiveness and their outsider status within American society. But I think we failed, being young and thrilled to be making a record together. Instead the record sounds celebratory and joyous to me. Oh well.
Junk Genius Ghost Of Electricity (Songlines)
This was the result of six months of concentration on some recordings of Southern traditional music by Ben and myself. Working from the Harry Smith anthology and Alan Lomax’s field recordings, we learned a score of songs from both the black and white songbooks (keeping in mind that there’s a lot of overlap). Our process was more or less the same as it had been five years before: play the songs over and over to ‘till something gives. We wrote the material in about the week before the recording, not trying to copy anything or anybody, just letting the effects of our research seep naturally into the compositional soil. Tony Rief paid us the compliment of recording us in HDCD, and engineer Cookie Marenco really shone on this one – it’s stunningly recorded.
I wrote a statement about the music when the record came out – here it is.
Snorkel Bootleg — Live at the Elbo Room, San Francisco (NoBarCode)
T. J. Kirk T. J. Kirk (Warner Bros.) out of print
T. J. Kirk If Four Was One (Warner Bros.) out of print
When T. J. Kirk was fun, it was a lot of fun. I will forever be grateful for this experience and the great friends I made: Charlie, Will, and Scott. I learned so much from these guys, and from producer Lee Townsend. Much of what was great about the band was about performance, and could only be captured fitfully on these records. The records, of course, have an integrity of their own, and I’m especially proud of the second disc, If Four Was One. Maybe someday the unreleased live record, recorded during our last dozen shows, will be released.
Ben Goldberg, John Schott, Trevor Dunn Acoustic Trio
We have a pile of tapes of improvisations with acoustic guitar that never came out. Perhaps these are still in Mr. Goldberg’s possession. I borrowed incredible vintage guitars from Tony Furtado and Henry Kaiser for these sessions.
As a sideman:
Ben Goldberg Eight Phrases for Jefferson Rubin (Victo)
Ben Goldberg Almost Never (nuscope)
Various Artists In Your Own Sweet Way: A Tribute To Dave Brubeck (Avant)
This collection of Brubeck compositions interpreted by the usual Zorn stable: Joey Baron, Anthony Coleman, Bill Frisell, Dave Douglas, et alia. I play on Dave Slusser’s very creative version of “Blue Shadows In The Street”, which you can hear in the jukebox on my home page. I am stone crazy about the Ruins’ version of “Blue Rondo A la Turk” on this record!
John Zorn Xu Feng (Tzadik – Sept. 26th)
This is one of Zorn’s post-Cobra game pieces, for the specific instrumentation of two guitars, two keyboard/electronics players, and two drummers. For this recording – the piece’s first – the band was Dave Lombardo (Slayer, Fantomas), Willie Winant, Chris Brown, Dave Slusser, Fred Frith, and myself. Zorn led the session.
Joel Harrison 3+3=7 (Nine Winds)
Steve Adams Diatribe, Parts 1-6 (unreleased)
Larry Ochs Invisible Quartet (unreleased)
Henry Kaiser and John French (unreleased)
Some CDs I helped out on:
Bun-Ching Lam Like Water (Tzadik)
Rova Saxophone Quartet The Works, Vol. 4: Freedom In Fragments – Fred Frith
Lou Harrison Rhymes With Silver (New Albion- forthcoming Winter 2000)
Music for Mac Wellman’s “Girl Gone”
Jealous Lover #3: The Device