ON ''Voodoo'' (Black Saint/Polygram), the Sonny Clark Memorial Quartet has something original to say about Sonny Clark, the modern jazz pianist and composer who died in 1963 at the age of 31. A cult following has built up around Sonny Clark's recorded work, much of it among fans of be-bop and the hard-bop sessions associated with Blue Note Records, the label that recorded Mr. Clark most frequently. But the Sonny Clark Memorial Quartet was assembled by Wayne Horvitz, a downtown keyboard player known for his partly-electronic solo albums and his work with ''deconstructionist'' ensembles like Curlew and John Zorn's performing groups. Mr. Zorn himself is on alto saxophone, and the drummer, Bobby Previte, is also associated with the downtown avant-garde. Only the bassist, Ray Drummond, has ''jazz credentials'' in the conventional sense.
There haven't been many clues in the music of Mr. Horvitz and Mr. Zorn that music like Sonny Clark's would hold some special meaning for them. But it's hard to forget running into Mr. Zorn a few years ago in a record store and witnessing the look of sheer, elated triumph on his face when he found an out-of-print Blue Note album by the tenor saxophonist Don Wilkerson, with Mr. Clark on piano. Mr. Horvitz said that he and Mr. Zorn had been playing Sonny Clark tunes since the late 70's and that ''all John Zorn ever practices is be-bop.''
''Voodoo'' reflects the musicians' respect for Mr. Clark's music and their determination to play it their own way, but without atomizing its structures or simply using it as a jumping-off pad for unstructured explorations. One couldn't really call the album bop in a conventional sense, but the question that older jazz fans always ask about avant-gardists - can they play be-bop? - must nevertheless be answered yes. They keep to the structures of the tunes, have excellent time, and unlike some of the more virtuosic young would-be boppers, they contribute improvisations appropriate to the shape and mood of each composition, rather than plunging in to show how fast they can play the changes. The group's thoughtful combination of affection for sources and stubborn individuality gives ''Voodoo,'' which includes interpretations of seven Clark compositions, a distinctive flavor of its own.
The album's qualities may be a reflection of the particular special aura that hovers around Mr. Clark's music, an aura that musicians recognize but that critics have found difficult to define. In the standard jazz histories, Mr. Clark is generally lumped in with ''the Bud Powell school,'' when he is mentioned at all. But then jazz has never been well served by the sort of sloppy categorizing that subordinates players as individual as a Sonny Clark or an Elmo Hope to a more widely influential figure such as Bud Powell.
A former associate of Mr. Clark's, Johnny Griffin, a tenor saxophonist, came closer to defining the pianist's identity in an interview published in a European discography: ''Sonny was a little different. He used Bud's basis for power and attack on the piano, but he had another finesse and an exceptional technique, too. He was quite himself.'' The pianist himself was even more succinct: ''Your soul is your conception, and you begin to have it in your playing when the way you strike a note, the sound you get and your phrasing come out of you yourself, and no one else.''
Two rewarding albums by the fully mature Mr. Clark are ''Sonny Clark Trio,'' with George Duvivier and Max Roach, available on the Bainbridge label, and ''Leapin' and Lopin','' an excellent quintet session and his last as a leader, on Blue Note. Many of the tunes on ''Voodoo,'' however, are drawn from out-of-print Blue Note albums. All of them are well worth searching for, particularly two splendid sextet sessions - ''Dial 'S' for Sonny'' (with Art Farmer) and ''Sonny's Crib'' (with John Coltrane) - and the enduring hard-bop classic ''Cool Struttin','' with Mr. Farmer and Jackie McLean. This music lives on, and Wayne Horvitz, John Zorn and company have offered a timely reminder of how special it is. Breaking Circus Returns With 'The Ice Machine'
''The Ice Machine,'' the new Homestead album by Breaking Circus, has been eagerly awaited wherever the group's 1985 EP, ''The Very Long Fuse,'' became a turntable favorite. Since the release of that first record, with its metallic guitar grandeur and unforgettable songs about uncommon subjects, the only thing that's been heard from Breaking Circus was one terrific song, ''Driving the Dynamite Truck,'' on the Twin/Tone Records sampler album ''Big Hits From Mid-America Volume Four.''
It turns out that Breaking Circus used to be mostly a studio project, but ''The Ice Machine'' and a series of recent New York appearances introduced the new, slimmed-down, three-piece Breaking Circus lineup: the songwriter, singer and guitarist Steve Bjorklund, plus the drummer Todd Trainer and the bassist Pete Conway, who do double duty with Circus and the band Rifle Sport. Any fears that Mr. Bjorkland on his own wouldn't be able to match the wide-screen wall-of-guitars sound of the earlier records were groundless. ''The Ice Machine'' comes whizzing in on a relentless attack and as much soaring, squalling guitar damage as one could wish for. And the songs are as thoughtful as ever, with a plain-spoken honesty and incisive approach to existential dilemmas that give even the most thunderous songs some real depth. This is a band that deserves a hearing; hopefully it won't take them two years to record the follow-up album.