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Frank Zappa - The Grand Wazoo CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



4.31 | 862 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Frank Zappa: The Grand Wazoo [1972]

Rating: 9/10

The Grand Wazoo is Frank Zappa's second jazz masterpiece, with Hot Rats being his first. This is the second album recorded during the aftermath of Zappa's stage-fall. Thus, it is stylistically identical to Waka/Jawaka: a big-band jazz-fusion album with bombastic brass arrangements and alternating solo sections. However, The Grand Wazoo is an improvement of its predecessor. Some of Zappa's greatest compositions can be found here. Virtuosity is combined with soulful composition and playing, resulting in a near-flawless fusion album. The Grand Wazoo holds a lot of emotional significance for me, as well.

"For Calvin (And His Next Two Hitch-Hikers)" begins the album in an abstract manner. It's centered on free-jazzy arrangements and quirky electronic sounds. It's certainly an unorthodox opening track. The title track follows. This is an absolutely perfect piece, with wonderful soloing and a legendary rhythm section. It's obvious that Zappa had become completely comfortable with the big-band setup at this point. "Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus" is a short and humorously upbeat track with fantastic harpsichord work and a fun main hook. The vocal section at the end is great, as well. "Eat the Question" contains one of the greatest hooks Zappa ever wrote. This simple hook manages to display just how brilliant Zappa was: he was able to turn a tiny, brief motif into something unceasingly brilliant and memorable. "Blessed Relief" is a very smooth and chilled-out track with yet another amazing main theme. The keys create a fantastic atmosphere here.

I can't recommend this album highly enough, especially to fans of jazz-fusion. There are moments of compositional genius here that I can only describe as "enlightened." The only problem I have with this album is that it's too short; I think it would have been better if Zappa combined this with Waka/Jawaka to create a lengthy double-album. I'm splitting hairs, however; these are hardly complaints. The Grand Wazoo makes it onto my Zappa top-five without a doubt. Although not quite as flawless as Hot Rats, this album is an essential masterpiece.

Anthony H. | 5/5 |


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