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Frank Zappa - The Grand Wazoo CD (album) cover

THE GRAND WAZOO

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.31 | 567 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
4 stars This big, dynamic Zappa release features a full jazz orchestra performing a combination of quirky and bombastic jazz-rock fusion to great effect. Zappa's compositions are catchy and deep, immediately likeable and possessing a wealth of instrumental enjoyment.

Things start off with the excellent title track. Bold, upbeat, dynamic, and sweeping, "Grand Wazoo" features a tremendous symphony of fusion sound. Zappa plays a great wah-wah guitar throughout most of it, and the various wind instruments are spot on. Dramatic for most of its first half, this track dips into a lengthy jam-session during its middle section which will probably turn off listeners who aren't already onboard with Zappa's style of free-jazz, but it's still a lot of fun. Great trombone playing by Shroyer!

The second track is probably the weakest, being a mostly slow, atmosphereic freak out, though there is still some fine instrument work to make it entertaining. "Cleetus Awreetus..." is playful and eccentric, with and enjoyable upbeat vibe. The second half of Grand Wazoo is probably my favorite, with the more focused "Eat That Question" probably being my favorite track. This song has a strong groove, purposeful soloing, and a jazzier vibe than the other tunes, with outstanding trap work by Dunbar. The album closes with the laid back "Blessed Relief", sort of an evening jam with a strong jazz feel-- crisp, clean, and a lot of fun.

While not an epic masterpiece, or even my favorite Zappa album-- Grand Wazoo is very good, showing off Zappa's skill at big compositions and performing a more pure fusion sound than on some of his other releases. There are only a few moments throughout this whole album that feel like misfires or noodley indulgence, the highlights greatly outshining its few faults. This album is easy to listen to and easy to enjoy thanks to great playing and fun '70's grooves; a great place for fans exploring Zappa to start out.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: NA Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Prog Leviathan | 4/5 |

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