Naked City
(I'd like to go there...)
"The [first] five days and nights John, Bill Frisell, Fred Frith, Joey Baron, and
Wayne Horvitz played and rehearsed were amazing. The first morning John
came in at 10am with the rest of the band and passed out a booklet of his
songs he had prepared. By 9pm the group had learned 25 songs and played
them for a standing-room crowd in our new space. The next morning, the
band came in, John gave them 15 new songs, and by show time they had
those down and also played some of the old material. This went on each
day. In five days they had a whole repertoire and went on a European tour
as if they had been together for years." -Micheal Dorf
This was the band that endeared Zorn to the hearts of hardcore punks everywhere, and got him in trouble with Committee Against Asian Violence for some album art they considered demeaning to Asians. A brutal mishmash of styles being played by five of NYC's best musicians (and occasionally one very angry Japanese "vocalist") Naked City was one of John Zorn's most ambitious projects.

This band never repeated themselves. Their self titled debut, Naked City, was a slickly produced album that had everything from jump-cut, screaming insanity (Snagglepuss, Blood Duster), to covers of classic film themes (A Shot in the Dark, The Sicilian Clan, The James Bond Theme) to rocked out avant-jazz (Lonely Woman, Latin Quarter, Inside Straight) to demented country (You Will Be Shot, N.Y. Flat Top Box). This was followed by the gradually deconstructing Radio, classical covers on Grand Guignol, and the muffled ambient quality of  Absinthe. Naked City was one of Zorn's best projects, and "Torture Garden" and "Grand Guignol" are two of my favorite Zorn pieces.

Naked City featured Zorn on alto sax, the ubiquitous Bill Frisell on guitar, avant-rocker Fred Frith on bass, Wayne Horvitz on keyboards, jack-of-all-trades Joey Baron on drums, and hardcore vocalist Yamatsuka Eye.

"This band was basically a composition workshop. When I stopped
hearing/writing for the band, we broke up. Compositionally the challenge I
set for myself was to see how much I could come up with given the
limitations of the simple sax, guitar, keyboard, bass, drums format." John Zorn

Naked City Radio Grand Guignol Absinthe
Heretic, Jeux Des Dames Cruelles Black Box (Torture Garden/Leng Tch'e)

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