Talking Music by William Duckworth (c) 1995 by Schirmer Books ISBN 0-02-870823-7 excerpts 495w

- pg 456, 457 -

ZORN: ... When I left school I went to stay with my brother in Oregon. And I used to practice all the time. I was playing eight to ten hours a day. That's all I would do and I drove him crazy, so he kicked me out of his house. And I went to San Francisco and met some musicians down there. I hung around Oakland and San Francisco for a while and then went back to Oregon where I got my own apartment. I had my own apartment in San Francisco; I was staying with some people. These were the end of the hippie days where you could find a place to live for twenty to thirty dollars a month. It wasn't much of a problem to share in a house, bake your own bread, you know. I was spending seven dollars a week on food, buying potatoes as five cents a pound, twenty pounds for a dollar. I lived on potatoes and cabbage. And I baked by own bread. And anything I had left over, I'd buy records. Or steal them if I couldn't afford it. All my jazz records were stolen, pretty much.


ZORN: Well, I did a lot of work on the West Coast meeting musicians in jazz-oriented, improvisation-oriented music. And I started promoting my own concerts. I'd just go into a coffee shop and say "Hey, can I play here on Friday?" And they'd go, "Well, yeah, why not?" I'd make my own posters and put them around. That was 1974. I kept making my own posters until something like '83 or '84. And it was a really great period. No one would come to gigs, but I just loved the opportunity to be able to play, and to compose and then perform it. I think another one of my dissatisfactions was writing these big scores that never got played. In high school, I maybe did one or two performances my whole time, and even that was not very satisfactory. It was like watching my music get butchered by people. And another reason I think I got involved in performing my own music was that I'd get it done right. So I started paring the stuff down. That's something I learned in college. Not writing symphonic works that would never get played, but doing a thing for four, five, or six players, then getting the people together, rehearsing them, and doing it. So, starting from where I dropped out I just said, "Okay, I'm going to meet people, write, perform my music, and play wherever I can play." I played on the street for years. And I had met musicians on the West Coast who eventually gravitated to New York, and we began working. But in 1974, '75, '76, there were maybe two people I could play with, so I booked trio pieces, you know.