John Rockwell

  • East Village People

    Every art has its day, and so maybe does every city and every neighborhood. Lower Manhattan—Greenwich Village, SoHo, the East Village, and the Lower East Side—saw an explosion of poetry and painting, music and dance, over much of the past century. But from the early ’60s to the ’90s, the performing arts flourished. They flourished in myriad genres, music especially, and devotees of one aspect of the scene—whether conceptual performance art, minimalist composition, experimental dance and theater, punk rock, or disco—were sometimes only dimly aware of the others. Yet everyone who was there knew


    The composer John Zorn likes to think of himself as an outsider, wallowing in paradoxes, and he’s done a terrific job of it. The musicologist John Brackett has written what is apparently the first book-length study of the man’s music, titled John Zorn: Tradition and Transgression. He’s done not quite so terrific a job, but for anyone interested in an initial foray into the thickets of complexity and contradiction enveloping Zorn and his “poetics” (a Brackettian favorite), this is a start.

    It’s a tribute to Zorn, who was born in 1953, that he has remained so stubbornly unknown to the general