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Frank Zappa - The Grand Wazoo CD (album) cover

THE GRAND WAZOO

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.31 | 585 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
3 stars This is even more big-band jazz-fusion, with fewer articulate vocals, longer muted trumpet solos and a bigger disparity in appeal to jazz lovers and jazz non-lovers than Waka Waka. Some of the actually composed portions are quite fascinating; for instance, "Cletus Awreetus Awrightus" smooshes a neat brass theme with some solid riffs, solid melody development, the most interesting mix of instrumentation on the album (that mid-section with the electric piano with the guitar scurrying underneath, giving way to the saxophones and organs that come later, is divine) and some amusing vocal sounds into a three-minute dose of goofy aural bliss. The opening title track, also, has a lengthy theme that both starts and ends the track, full of neat compositional ideas, mood shifts and moments that stand up to anything in Zappa's catalogue. But way too much of the rest of the album just falls into the background noise category for me; the middle section of the title track, for instance, bores me to tears, with a dull trumpet solo that seems to last forever and ever and ever.

"For Calvin (And His Next Two Hitch-Hikers)" can't hold my interest for more than ten seconds at a time, and it just seems like a giant ugly mess to me. Fortunately, though, that's the only bad track here. "Eat That Question" has a great main riff, and while it gets rambling pretty quickly, it does so in a good way, and not in a sloppy way. And finally, the closing "Blessed Relief" is quite pretty. I keep feeling every so often like it's going to break into the theme of some 70's TV drama, and it threatens from time to time to get boring, but there are some really lovely electric piano and guitar meanderings that save it whenever it gets close to the edge, so to speak.

This album bores me a little more than I'd like, but it only took a little bit of jazz training to get me to feel good about this album on the whole. The worst parts are pretty crappy, but the highs are higher than on Waka, and this is definitely a necessity for any serious Zappa collector.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |

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