Anyone who even bothers to read this blog will by now know that I have a slightly obsessive admiration of the music of John Zorn. Fortunately Zorn is one of those rare artists who has control of most of his own copyrighted recordings and due to lack of much information out in Webland, I assume he started Tzadik Records as an outlet for his releases. As I have grown my collection of Zorn's recordings I was attracted to the label that he was releasing them on and I discovered that Tzadik is quite a prolific little operation and I decided it was time to start checking some of it out after being put onto the excellent Zion 80 release last year. With well over 600 releases to choose from it was mind boggling where to start sampling this music, especially as I was completely unfamiliar with almost all of it, so I decided to start with the latest releases and start working my way back if I liked what I was hearing. The image above was lifted from the Tzadik web site and gives a very limited insight as to the music available. After acquiring over 50 CDs from the label so far, I have been so very very impressed with the music presented with only one release I really didn't like.
Wikipedia states that "Tzadik is a not-for-profit, cooperative record label". So I assume that after costs, all profits from the sale of the CDs goes direct to the artists. The CDs are all released under certain "Series" like the "Composers Series" or the "Radical Jewish Culture Series" these two being the biggest series. Within each series, although there is a sort of theme or some sort of loose connection, the music within each series is quite diverse and sometimes the music released on a CD in one series could more than likely fit in to a different series but thematic attributes put it where it is.
So several things I have noticed about the music from Tzadik releases are the overall sound and production quality is first rate, the musicians are all without exception, exceptional and the artwork is also great. Each series has a consistent cover art theme to Identify the series it inhabits, which interestingly makes for a quite uniform output for such an eclectic catalogue of music. The music on Tzadik, I find to be very advanced and quite often very challenging but so far almost uniformly exciting and enjoyable. I especially like to have my Tzadik playlist in Itunes set to random and am constantly surprised ant the new sounds that keep coming out.
John Zorn is listed as executive producer on every tzadik release, so I assume he has the final say as to who gets their music released on his label. From what I have heard so far, that is a good thing. I look forward to exploring many more of the back catalogue and future releases and I suspect I never listen to popular music the same way again.
The label may not be well represented on the internet but it does have it's own Web Site which lists and sells all of the catalogue of releases right back to the initial releases in 1995 and if you can read French, there is a great Blog reviewing many of the Tzadik releases, links below.