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Frank Zappa - Waka / Jawaka CD (album) cover

WAKA / JAWAKA

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.90 | 324 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Waka/ Jawaka was the first album with new material Zappa released after his near fatal fall from the stage in late 1971. Zappa had clearly heard Miles Davis Bitches Brew and wanted to make a jazz rock album himself. Zappaīs Hot Rats album is of course a jazz rock album but with Waka/ Jawaka Zappa got to work with a small orchestra of brass players as well as former Mothers of Invention collegues George Duke, Don Preston, Jeff Simmons, Aynsley Dunbar, Ian Underwood and new man Sal Marquez on trumpet, chimes, flugelhorn and vocals. There is a whole cast of other musicians playing on the album but Sal Marquez needs a special mention as he plays a very central role on Waka/ Jawaka.

The music on Waka/ Jawaka is when it comes the two long pieces Big Swifty ( 17:23 minutes) and the title track (11:18) jazz rock with occasional big band tendencies. Itīs in those two songs were treated with Sal Marquez great trumpet playing. Jazzy but often bordering avant garde. His solo in Big Swifty is actually a transcribed Frank Zappa guitar solo played on trumpet. It sounds great. Big Swifty is of a jam like nature even though there is a structure in the song while Waka/ Jawaka is the most orchestrated affair on the album. There is some really menacing dark moods in that song. Great moog solo from Don Preston.

The two short songs called Your Mouth and It Just Might be a One-Shot Deal are more like avant garde rock that weīre used to from Frank Zappa. Lots of different styles and sections in each song. Your Mouth is great and for the first time we hear female background singing in a Zappa song but itīs with It Just Might Be a One-Shot Deal that weīre treated with a Frank Zappa masterpiece. We have everything from avant garde to country pedal steel solos to blues and jazz rock in 4:16 minutes. Iīm sold. Note that this is the songs where we for the first time hear Frank Zappaīs new lower voice. His Larynx was damaged during his fall from stage and after his recovery his voice had dropped a third.

The musicianship is excellent and again I have to point out how great a musician Sal Marquez is. He contributes so many intriguing features to this album. But Zappaīs guitar playing is also worth mentioning as itīs unpredictable as always. He supports the music with some really challenging tricks here and there. A great performance.

The production is astonishing and I really enjoy the mix with all the layers in the music hearable.

I think Waka/ Jawaka was a groundbreaking release from Frank Zappa. He was obviously venturing into unknown territory with this one and as usual got away with it in style. Zappa would soon assemble a much bigger big band with which he would also tour and release an album called The Grand Wazoo which is much in the same vein as Waka/ Jawaka just a bit more elaborate. Personally I have always enjoyed Waka/ Jawaka more than The Grand Wazoo. I donīt nesseccarely think that Waka/ Jawaka is essential for all prog heads but for Zappa fans this is a must and Iīll rate Waka/ Jawaka 4 stars. For fans of jazz rock this one will probably ( at least partially) please you too.

UMUR | 4/5 |

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