March 22, 2013 – 4:47 am

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London 2000 [no label, 1CD]

Live at the Barbican, London, UK; July 3, 2000 (this has also been shared as July 30, 2000). Very good to excellent audience recording.

Thanks to abbcccus for keeping the show alive at Dime.

The following extract/review by John Fordham appeared in The Guardian, July 6, 2000. Tip of the hat to Alastair Wilson at

When John Zorn, the volcanically productive new-music alchemist, picked up his alto sax at the Barbican this week, the audience braced itself for a ride to the brink of migraine. The American saxophonist and composer had appeared on this stage twice in the previous nine months. But while those occasions featured first chamber music, then a blend of jazz and traditional Jewish music, this time Zorn brought a heavyweight improvising band featuring former Henry Cow guitarist Fred Frith, drummer David Lombardo and bassist Bill Laswell.

Lombardo’s sinister tappings heightened expectations at the opening, and sure enough Zorn opened with probably the loudest and longest overblown alto-sax note heard on that stage. The pieces were urgent and succinct, frequently winding up on abrupt crash-stops or circituitous but logical decelerations.

With barely perceptible nods and gestures, Zorn determined who payed with whom, and when. While some improv purists might describe this as cheating, the framework kept the audience insured against everything that Zorn and Frith cold hurl at it. Nor was it all white-heat improvising. A scrambled, lopsidedly swinging Frith intro brought Zorn to a spine-tingling sax lament, which ended in a trance-like fluttering of the instrument’s pads alone. A whirling, repeated Ornette Coleman-like figure brought an exquisite solo of glinting sounds from Frith.

A barrage of squalling between Frith and Zorn gaveway to an episode of movie soundtrack atmospherics between Laswell and Lombardo. Zorn made a motorbike sound way below the alto’s range and Frith detuned to follow him, but then the saxophonist turned to breezy, dancing figures. It was fluid, restless, wild, and rich in contrast. The audience reaction was ecstatic, despite the mugging of its eardrums by Zorn’s ferocious music.

Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (224 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

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Track 01. Untitled (21.3MB)
Track 02. Untitled (24.9MB)
Track 03. Untitled (16.1MB)
Track 04. Untitled (6.4MB)
Track 05. Untitled (12.0MB)
Track 06. Untitled (10.5MB)
Track 07. Untitled (1.8MB)
Track 08. Untitled (19.6MB)
Track 09. Untitled (11.9MB)

John Zorn – sax
Bill Laswell – bass
Fred Frith – guitar
Dave Lombardo – drums

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  1. 26 Responses to “JOHN ZORN’S BLADERUNNER - LONDON 2000”

  2. i think there should be classes to somehow educate people so that they/we/i could learn to appreciate this sort of music(?). i know that not all people can enjoy all music but people can be taught to understand and appreciate what makes good quality music what it is. i know these musicians are tops in their fields. their names are profoundly known around the world. ive known friths name since around 76 and laswells since about 77 or 78 im sure. probably known zorns name since 78 or 79 the latest. even seen frith twice and zorn once. they didnt necessarily sound like this when i did. im not a fan normally of jazz because of.. well.. the inherent annoyance quality that this here performance contains as a perfect example. now jazz fusion is a totally different matter. theres a rhythm and a melody a tune etc. i dont hear that here. thats why i want someone to educate me on what they hear here that makes this crap.. oops.. stuff worth listening to. if u know what i mean.

    By darth on Mar 22, 2013

  3. John Zorn is great. I beg everyone to ignore the pretentious, idiotic, and obviously bogus blathering of the comment that precedes this one and simply check out Zorn’s music.

    By Innocent Bystander on Mar 22, 2013

  4. at least it’s not schoenberg…

    By matt the cat on Mar 22, 2013

  5. Ditto. Our “resident arsehole” shows his immaturity by insulting the music, then demanding that someone to explain it to him.

    By Dingus on Mar 22, 2013

  6. i think there should be classes for darth to learn to be a human being with fault

    By there is no darth on Mar 22, 2013

  7. hey bigo, zorn’s good. however, he may not be for everybody. i prefer his jazzy albums such as o’o, news for lulu, more news for lulu and masada.

    i haven’t met him, but i wrote a few times. he wrote me back. i still have the postcard he sent me in 2002 and note he wrote me with cobra game pieces vol. 2.

    i was working on another boc show so i didn’t have time to get this today. i’ll get it this weekend. i have another show with this same band from paris on a cd-r. it’s a good one. it was on guitar forum. however, i don’t know if the mediafire links are still good.


    By Ed Saad on Mar 22, 2013

  8. i want someone to educate me on what they hear here that makes this crap.. oops.. stuff worth listening to.

    you have a very odd way of asking for help.

    By there is no darth on Mar 22, 2013

  9. hey bigo, this is pretty good. i am listening to it, as i type this. you know i think i got every zorn you offered, except for masada-taipei. i listened to it then deleted. offer another masada show that’s not been officially released, and i’ll get it. i have one on two cd-r’s from seattle and as a bonus it has the opening band after masada on disc 2 which was sex mob. yeah, as i recall, baron isn’t on drums wollesen is. offer a different one.

    my favorite zorn you offered is the big gundown show from verona, italy 87. i think, i’ve played it 4 or 5x.


    By Ed Saad on Mar 23, 2013

  10. ed perhaps you could explain how to enjoy this music to the dummy.

    By there is no darth on Mar 23, 2013

  11. music to paint by…

    By sluggo on Mar 23, 2013

  12. well to be honest, the first time i heard zorn was on the earache grindcrusher compilation with bands like napalm death, bolt thrower, morbid angel, entombed, etc. it was his band called naked city, and the song was osaka bondage. this was in 1991. well i honestly didn’t know what to make of it. i just remember yamatsuka eye of the boredoms screaming. i hadn’t heard anybody play alto sax like that. i didn’t know about free jazz, thrash jazz or improv then. i then went out and picked up naked city, and here i am 22 years later still listening to john zorn.

    to be honest, i knew about zorn before ornette coleman. i heard the name ornette coleman, but i never listened to him. on naked city they cover lonely woman. then i learned about jazz and free jazz just by buying the albums, reading and talking to other fans. i’m not going to say i like everything of zorn puts out, but his jazzy albums are good. he has been doing it a long time too.

    i guess, people may like zorn’s stuff and other unconventional music is cause it’s not mainstream. if you think about it, it’s punk. it has an underground following, the albums don’t really sell big numbers, they play in clubs or smaller venues. the shows are usually $10, but sometimes zorn may charge more if he’s playing with say somebody like evan parker or lou reed who are bigger names.

    hope this helps.


    By Ed Saad on Mar 23, 2013

  13. @Ed Saad,

    Well said. Zorn in heavy mode and this zone in general is indeed punk. Further evidence is Last Exit (mssers Laswell, Sharrock, R Shannon Jackson and Brotzmann) who drew equal parts outre jazz heads and evolved punks to their shows.

    I’m up for anything Zorn does, from this stuff through to his delicate explorations of Jewish folk idioms. And of course anyone who is digging this post must check out his work with Naked City. Not to be missed.

    Thanks for the post, BigO

    By kingpossum on Mar 23, 2013

  14. hi ed and innocent bystander-

    i liked zorns “spillane” lp especially with albert collins. its the only zorn i have. i grabbed the first track here but didn’t care for the screeching sax. punk is an accurate description a friend would call it “angry jazz”. ill give the rest a listen based on your comments. thanks!

    By barth on Mar 23, 2013

  15. hey kingpossum and barth, love your comments. as for your last exit, yes, noise of trouble is a good one. another good brotzmann and laswell is lowlife. too heavy. i bought it a couple years ago on cassette at the thriftstore for a quarter. i have several other avant cassettes i picked up there cheap.

    now i have not heard spillane. i have heard it’s good, though. now a good zorn is called taboo and exile. dave lombardo plays on it just like this show. for those that don’t know him, he’s an original member of slayer. i enjoy taboo and exile. i can’t get into moonchild and six litanies for heliogabulus. patton’s screaming starts getting to me. spy vs. spy isn’t really one i enjoy either. it’s too noisy, and it has a bunch of big names in the genre on it. it’s supposed to be a tribute to ornette coleman, but, honestly, masada sounds more like ornette. then voices in the wilderness are his masada compositions just done with the newer generation. it’s really not one i play. i’d rather just listen to zorn play masada. the dreamers is a good zorn band and i’ll tell you i really like the xmas album they did. the last two xmas’s i played it driving around.


    By Ed Saad on Mar 24, 2013

  16. spillane has two songs with albert collins one with kronos quartet. most of it could be a film noir soundtrack. good john zorn interview here:

    By barth on Mar 24, 2013

  17. @ Ed Saad and barth,

    Indeed Ed, Low Life is one of my regular go-tos. Though I have far too many go-tos for Laswell and Brotzmann to list here. For Last Exit, Headfirst into the Flames is my default setting…I hear Sonny Sharrock’s schizoid monster guitar work best on that one.

    Hey barth, thanks for noting the collaborations on Spillane. Zorn is nothing but one of the world’s great collaborators. All of it expressed through noir soundtracks, Jewish folk, free jazz, free improv, metal, Painkiller, Cobra, Naked City, Masada, Moonchild,; you could make an entire record store out of the Zorn’s work alone.

    And I’d be a happy dude never to leave that store…

    By kingpossum on Mar 24, 2013

  18. zorn’s a guy of opposites and (unless you research the piece you’re getting) he can go from wonderfully excellent to piercingly ‘bad’ tho i’m not using ‘bad’ the way the first post up there did.
    there’s lots of him that i’m just curious about, listen once, go ‘eeew!’ and it never goes on again.
    i’m more of a masada/bar kokhba/dreamers kinda guy> those 3 always gets lots of repeats (mountains of madness, yeah!) - basically 95% of anything he does w/marc ribot, a guy who also has his ‘good’ and ‘evil’ sides re staying somewhat ‘conventional’…
    bladerunner here is somewhere in between the two extremes and i love hearing lombardo in a context like this.
    thanks bigO!

    By rocdoc on Mar 25, 2013

  19. @ rocdoc:

    Yeah I’m down. Thanks for mentioning Bar Kokhba. They beauty (for me) of a guy like Zorn is exactly what you post about–the fact that he can be awesome and terrible (either one being fully subjective for the listener). The fact that he just keeps doing stuff is what keeps me paying attention.

    By kingpossum on Mar 26, 2013

  20. The fact that he just keeps doing stuff is what keeps me paying attention.

    that makes perfect sense and its wonderful there are artists that play on the edge instead of regurgitating the same setlist for a lifetime.

    By bootleg princess on Mar 26, 2013

  21. Thanks for tnis. Bladerunner was an intersting epxerimental group for Laswell and Zorn.

    By Jonathan on Mar 27, 2013

  22. great stuff. thank you.
    (derek & the ruins looks due for a restart, also excellent and in a similar improvisatory vein.)

    By jn on Apr 4, 2013

  23. hey jn, there’s a ruins show from seattle in bigo’s archives. if you don’t have it, e-mail bigo they’ll send you a link. i have it backed up on a dvd-r, but it’s really not one i play much. i really wouldn’t put them in the same vein with this zorn band. last exit would be more in the vein of this band. the ruins playing is sloppy and the screaming vocals get to me.

    if you want to hear some good guitar improvisers, i’d say nels cline. davey williams from b’ham, al is good too. he’s done some work with zorn. check out the parachute years. i have one disc he’s on and a couple shows on cd-r’s. i’ve seen him play a few times here in b’ham, and, when we see each other, we talk. the last time i saw him was june 3 in tuscaloosa, al at green bar. i was at an improv show not one of his shows, though. he always comments on how good my memory is.

    going back to nels, i have a bunch of albums he’s on. he’s a very versatile player too. he’ll improv then he’ll play a show with wilco. a good nels is the entire time. it’s a duo with vinny golia. i have it.


    By Ed Saad on Apr 4, 2013

  24. John Zorn’s crazed screaming sax is just ain’t for my ears. But it sounds like he’s having fun! Maybe another time, another place… but his Filmworks series is extraordinarily wonderful and varied. “In the Mirror of Maya Deren” is a high recommendation. There’s a few samplers, worth a listen to hear what appeals. Someone mentioned his foray into trad Jewish-Klezmer territory. I like Klezmer… any titles to seek out? thanx.

    By lowendbill on Apr 4, 2013

  25. there is no darth

    By there is no darth on Apr 4, 2013

  26. hey lowendbill, here’s a good masada disc, and scroll down and the elctric masada disc 50th is good too. i have both.

    now i like the stone issue 1 one disc too. it’s not masada just a cool live show. there are other volumes i am not really familiar with. i know there’s one with lou reed and laurie anderson. i saw get the show bigo offered first, and, if you like it, maybe consider that one.


    By Ed Saad on Apr 4, 2013

  27. Thank you very very much!

    By Enrico on Jan 4, 2014

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