My review of John Zorn: Tradition and Transgression by John Brackett ran today at PopMatters.
Brackett does an admirable job with a difficult subject. Zorn’s catalog (to say nothing of the myriad influences, references, allusions contained within) is daunting. Brackett has the knowledge and the familiarity with it to know how to analyze it, and also to know not to bite off more than he can chew. Though the focus is very specific, John Zorn reveals a lot about this enigmatic artist, and will definitely please die hard fans of his work.
Those not initiated into Zorn’s confusing and challenging world, however, should probably spend some time getting the basic historical outline before plunging into this dense, academic treatise.