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Frank Zappa - The Grand Wazoo CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



4.31 | 868 ratings

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4 stars As far as Zappa's music concern I can consider myself as newbie. Yes I knew the name and (of course) his picture long time ago in the seventies - the glory days of rock music. But I knew only one album of Zappa and The Mothers at that time and now with the information power over the net finally I read a lot of news and stories about how unique Frank Zappa as person is (and probably "has been"). That's enough to draw a conclusion that he's definitely prog. Uhm. As my previous review of another album "Hot Rats" posted here couple of weeks ago, now it's time for me to digest the music of Frank Zappa through this "Grand Wazoo" album.

Musically this album is at par excellent with "Hot Rats". Some of my friends reckon that this album even better than "Hot Rats". I can agree but I still consider that both are at the same quality. Personally, I consider the music of Zappa - especially this album and also "Hot Rats" - is the kind of music typically used at pasar malam (night market - it's not truly correct translation). This is a local term we use in my country on the seasonal market usually held at night with many attractions including acrobatic show by motorist (Harley Davidson and the like) and any other activities (haunted house, windmill, etc. etc.). Basically there are bits of everything offered in a typical traditional pasar malam. I enjoyed going to pasar malam when I was a child.

So is the case with this album. Musically there a bits of everything here - almost all styles of music are blended beautifully here. Take an example of the opening track "For Calvin (And His Next Two Hitch-hikers). There are many instruments used here with this track. Name any instrument - and I'm sure it's played here. From the woodwind and brass section like trumpet, trombone, baritone, sax to electric guitar, everything is played proportionately. Oh yeah, it's like a pasar malam where there are many stores offering different choices of attractions - even some of them are offering goods (clothing, children toys, etc) - where many instruments play together with individual chords and notes. The result is a music packed with different kind of sounds. It's nice and unique - at least for me because I never heard this kind of music before. I enjoy how the guitar fills are surrounded by brass section like a big band. This opening track is like an improvisation music and is NOT a song-orientated music.

Track 2 is more jazz than the opening track, even the tempo is much slower. Vocals are added at this track. Sax and trumpet play roles as soloists. There are parts with simple to digest arrangements and there are parts with complex arrangement. As I have been listening to Frogg Café (a band inspired by Zappa music) I don't have any problem digesting this track. Track 3 is a short one with big band line-up like previous two tracks featuring brass section as lead melody. It's interesting track with similar approach like track 1.

Track 4 starts off with keyboard solo, followed with full stream of music that combines rock, jazz and a bit of blues. It's an excellent track with keyboard improvisation. The music moves from simple arrangement to complex one maintaining keyboard as lead instrument. It's important to notice here on how drums are played as beat maker but at the same time serves a role as filler. Guitar then takes the lead after long keyboard role. It sounds like a jam session. So, again, it's not a song-orientated music. There is a break to a silent mode where guitar gives melody followed with big band music with drums played in marching style. It's excellent and really cool!

The concluding track serves a style of slow jazz music with brass section dominate the composition. This track definitely fits with those of you who love jazz music even though this is not a pure jazz. But if you listen to the trumpet solo, it really sounds like a jazz composition. As far as rhythm section this track offers a constant style and only the soloist that differs one segment to another. After long trumpet section it moves to excellent keyboard solo and followed with acoustic guitar solo.

Overall, this is one of Frank Zappa's best albums. The music is a blend of jazz (mostly), pop, and rock - performed in big band concept. Recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Gatot | 4/5 |


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