John Zorn was born in NYC in 1953. As a teenager he was already studying classical composition before being inspired as a teenager to take up saxophone by hearing Antony Braxton's album For Alto. He became a significant figure in the Downtown avant garde scene, where he developed some unique improvisational pieces utilising prompting. In his thirties he became internationally known for a series of landmark recordings beginning with an album of inventive Morricone re-inventions and culminating in Naked City: a “hardcore” band notable for its virtuosity & aggression. He started a long-running series of film scores in the same period. In his forties, after some time in Japan, he dramatically changed direction by starting the Masada quartet, which exclusively improvised around heads that Zorn had composed using Jewish scales. This lead to a more extensive Masada project with multiple ensembles and configurations performing music from what eventually became three books of heads. In his fifties and beyond Zorn's music has become ever more fertile with a significant expansion of his classical compositions, a new series of heads with atonal themes (the Bagatelles), a series of improvisations for pipe organ, chamber ensembles, rock bands and some frankly extreme one-off projects. I've got something over 210 Zorn albums and there are probably people on these boards who have more but, what the hell, I'm unlikely to run out of material. In this thread I will take on difficult the task of introducing John Zorn albums to an audience that may not have heard much, if any, of his music. Threads of this type are often “song by song” beginning at the start and ending at the end of a career but a chronological run through Zorn's discography would, frankly, not be much fun for anyone and his work is, in any case, “synchronic” in the sense that his many varying styles are generally present in some form or another. So I'll jump around, reaching for albums when the mood hits me. Listening to Zorn presupposes that you will run up against your limitations as a listener. I think it's possible to navigate a path through his catalogue that would keep an adventurous music fan within their comfort zone but that would really be to sell him short. Speaking as a huge (albeit belated) Zorn fan I feel that his strength is to take you places that you haven't been before and didn't know that you wanted to visit. For each album I will be giving a personal rating from 1-10 and I'll be trying to use as much of that range as possible. I will also give a “Parental Advisory” content guide with the following categories: Scares the Horses/Weird/Quirky/Accessible/Relaxed. Note that John Zorn albums are usually credited simply to him but I will adopt the habit of giving an ensemble name along with the title where possible. Some terms: Game refers to Zorn's game pieces where abrupt changes of style and direction are prompted, often with intervening moments of simulated chaos. This is always on the more avant garde end of his work. File Card is similar but refers to his compositions where pre-determined style sections are cued by the prompter using cards; these pieces are less chaotic but marked by sudden turns of direction and often their more protracted length. Downtown denotes the New York music scene that emerged in the 1960s as an antidote to uptown music. Characterised by its focus on avant garde experimentation and opposed to any particular genre, it is important to Zorn in terms of the cross-pollenation of musics and musicians that led to his early success as a live performer and recording artist.