Think of John Zorn, the American composer, alto saxophonist and conceptualist, as a juggler. Zorn keeps aloft a plethora of radically different projects while also heading up his own label (Tzadik) and acting as artistic director at the Stone, his own cutting-edge performance venue in Manhattan’s East Village. A restlessly creative spirit with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy, Zorn is, at age 55, experiencing unprecedented productivity in a career that dates back to the mid-’70s, when he began experimenting with like-minded improvisers and musical renegades on Manhattan’s Lower East Side who, together, forged an alternative movement that would be identified by critics as the “downtown” scene.
“I feel like things are really flowing now, like I’ve hit kind of a peak and I’m riding it,” confessed Zorn during an interview at the Ukrainian restaurant Veselka, a favorite East Village haunt for artists, thinkers and assorted bohemians. “I’m riding the wave and the wave is taking me further. People have told me that with Virgos, your life is like a crescendo. It begins and it slowly gets better and better and better. What better life to have?”