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Frank Zappa: Hot Rats

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SteveG View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SteveG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Frank Zappa: Hot Rats
    Posted: October 10 2018 at 04:24
An entry level accessible Zappa  album or a jazz rock pioneer?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote irrelevant Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 10 2018 at 06:21
I like Waka/Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo more, but Hot Rats is cool. Little Umbrellas is an underrated little tune. 

Hey, does the recent CD reissue on Zappa records sound better than the Rykodisc version? 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hellogoodbye Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 10 2018 at 06:37
The Zappa Records Cd or vinyl sound different. The last song " It must be a camel" sounds fantastic.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote irrelevant Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 10 2018 at 06:50
^ Worth a replacement buy? Been happy with the other ones so far. The mix on the Rykodisc CD sounds weird to me but I haven't heard much of the original LP mix. I'm hoping it'll give me a new appreciation of the album. 

Edited by irrelevant - October 10 2018 at 06:51
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fischman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 10 2018 at 09:10
Originally posted by SteveG SteveG wrote:

An entry level accessible Zappa  album or a jazz rock pioneer?

Both.

And therein lies much of its brilliance.  It is accessible Zappa.  It is accessible fusion.  It is intricate music, but you need not be a proghead or fusion freak to appreciate it.  It is one of those rare albums that spans both worlds.  Zappa could be a full blown esoteric, or he could make for a wider audience and he could do either exceptionally well.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SteveG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 10 2018 at 11:25
^ ClapClapClap
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dwill123 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 10 2018 at 16:20

"Hot Rats" contains one of Frank's best studio guitar solos, "Willie the Pimp".

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The.Crimson.King Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 11 2018 at 13:17
I have over 40 FZ albums, but have never liked Hot Rats...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ForestFriend Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 11 2018 at 15:59
I don't think I'd say it's my favorite Zappa albums, but still very good. The composed pieces are really great, but I'm not a big fan of The Gumbo Variations - just too much jamming for me.


Edited by ForestFriend - October 11 2018 at 15:59
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Frenetic Zetetic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 11 2018 at 16:20
Originally posted by irrelevant irrelevant wrote:

I like Waka/Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo more, but Hot Rats is cool. Little Umbrellas is an underrated little tune.

Same, and exactly. I also agree with whomever said it has some of his best guitar solos. Willie The Pimp!

I also feel it was early jazz rock at its finest.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HackettFan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 11 2018 at 22:32
Originally posted by ForestFriend ForestFriend wrote:

I don't think I'd say it's my favorite Zappa albums, but still very good. The composed pieces are really great, but I'm not a big fan of The Gumbo Variations - just too much jamming for me.

I don't see how you can take up the question of its status as pioneering Jazz-Rock and only like the composed pieces. If there's a Jazz element, there's going to be an improvisation element. Anyway, Gumbo Variations is neither free form Jazz nor free wheeling Rock. It's very highly structured, as are most of Zappa's improv's really, Jazz or not.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hieronymous Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 12 2018 at 12:37
Originally posted by HackettFan HackettFan wrote:

I don't see how you can take up the question of its status as pioneering Jazz-Rock and only like the composed pieces. If there's a Jazz element, there's going to be an improvisation element. Anyway, Gumbo Variations is neither free form Jazz nor free wheeling Rock. It's very highly structured, as are most of Zappa's improv's really, Jazz or not.

The relationship between composition and improvisation is a fascinating aspect of Zappa's music. Some pieces are completely composed, sometimes he would improvise something and then turn that into a compositional element. One example being a solo in "Big Swifty" (I think that's the track - something from Waka/Jawaka) - Zappa improvised a solo, then the trumpet player notated it and overdubbed horns to play it in unison. Or "The Dangerous Kitchen" from The Man From Utopia, where Steve Vai transcribed a half-spoken/half-sung vocal piece (improvised?). Xenochrony is another example where he takes recorded improvisations and overlays them on each other. Maybe one way to look at it is manipulation of improvised material so that it becomes "composed" in a way - different than the "spontaneous improvisation" of Can for example. 

I personally think that Gumbo Variations is very improvised - not structured in the same way as "Peaches En Regalia" for example. "Son of Mr. Green Genes" is a great example of a combination of the two - composed piece with jamming solos in the middle, then back to the composition at the end - kind of standard in a way but nice - and kind of "jazz" in the sense of how traditional jazz pieces are often structured (head/improvised solos/head) even if it doesn't sound "jazz" in the sense of swing/instrumentation/etc.

Or as the master himself said - "Jazz isn't dead, it just smells funny!"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HackettFan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 12 2018 at 21:31
Originally posted by hieronymous hieronymous wrote:

Originally posted by HackettFan HackettFan wrote:

I don't see how you can take up the question of its status as pioneering Jazz-Rock and only like the composed pieces. If there's a Jazz element, there's going to be an improvisation element. Anyway, Gumbo Variations is neither free form Jazz nor free wheeling Rock. It's very highly structured, as are most of Zappa's improv's really, Jazz or not.


The relationship between composition and improvisation is a fascinating aspect of Zappa's music. Some pieces are completely composed, sometimes he would improvise something and then turn that into a compositional element. One example being a solo in "Big Swifty" (I think that's the track - something from Waka/Jawaka) - Zappa improvised a solo, then the trumpet player notated it and overdubbed horns to play it in unison. Or "The Dangerous Kitchen" from The Man From Utopia, where Steve Vai transcribed a half-spoken/half-sung vocal piece (improvised?). Xenochrony is another example where he takes recorded improvisations and overlays them on each other. Maybe one way to look at it is manipulation of improvised material so that it becomes "composed" in a way - different than the "spontaneous improvisation" of Can for example. 

I personally think that Gumbo Variations is very improvised - not structured in the same way as "Peaches En Regalia" for example. "Son of Mr. Green Genes" is a great example of a combination of the two - composed piece with jamming solos in the middle, then back to the composition at the end - kind of standard in a way but nice - and kind of "jazz" in the sense of how traditional jazz pieces are often structured (head/improvised solos/head) even if it doesn't sound "jazz" in the sense of swing/instrumentation/etc.

Or as the master himself said - "Jazz isn't dead, it just smells funny!"

Right on indeed for so much here. I'd like to just point out that 'structured' and 'composed' are not the same thing. Composing is a pre-planning sort of thing. Structuring music, however can happen on the fly. Jazz improvisation is typically very highly structured. Jazz improvs, traditionally at least, closely follow chords as they develop within a progression. In other words, what counts as a "good" note depends on what the current chord is, what is referred to as chord tone soloing. This a special challenge to the Jazz soloist to attend to exactly when any particular chord changes and know instantly how to adjust note selection. This is not how Rock and Blues traditionally work. This is at least in one part a type of structure I'm referring to. Gumbo Variations, to my ear, uses standard chord tone soloing. Later Zappa improvs frequently follow a Modal Jazz approach, an innovation in Jazz that incidentally brings it closer in approach to Blues and Rock. Also, the lead work in Gumbo Variations interacts constructively with the drumming aspect of the rhythm. The drumming develops through many different, dare I say, variations throughout the piece and the guitar lead finds a variety of ways to be responsive to it.



Edited by HackettFan - October 12 2018 at 21:34
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote micky Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 13 2018 at 07:03
Originally posted by dwill123 dwill123 wrote:

"Hot Rats" contains one of Frank's best studio guitar solos, "Willie the Pimp".


yes sir...  Willie the Pimp sits at #5 on my list of blow thy speaker songs ever...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SteveG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 13 2018 at 07:51
Originally posted by HackettFan HackettFan wrote:


 
Right on indeed for so much here. I'd like to just point out that 'structured' and 'composed' are not the same thing. Composing is a pre-planning sort of thing. Structuring music, however can happen on the fly. Jazz improvisation is typically very highly structured. Jazz improvs, traditionally at least, closely follow chords as they develop within a progression. In other words, what counts as a "good" note depends on what the current chord is, what is referred to as chord tone soloing. This a special challenge to the Jazz soloist to attend to exactly when any particular chord changes and know instantly how to adjust note selection. This is not how Rock and Blues traditionally work. This is at least in one part a type of structure I'm referring to. Gumbo Variations, to my ear, uses standard chord tone soloing. Later Zappa improvs frequently follow a Modal Jazz approach, an innovation in Jazz that incidentally brings it closer in approach to Blues and Rock. Also, the lead work in Gumbo Variations interacts constructively with the drumming aspect of the rhythm. The drumming develops through many different, dare I say, variations throughout the piece and the guitar lead finds a variety of ways to be responsive to it.

This is fascinating and probably why this music is both improvisational while being accessible.

Edited by SteveG - October 13 2018 at 07:51
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HackettFan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 13 2018 at 09:29
Originally posted by SteveG SteveG wrote:

Originally posted by HackettFan HackettFan wrote:


 
Right on indeed for so much here. I'd like to just point out that 'structured' and 'composed' are not the same thing. Composing is a pre-planning sort of thing. Structuring music, however can happen on the fly. Jazz improvisation is typically very highly structured. Jazz improvs, traditionally at least, closely follow chords as they develop within a progression. In other words, what counts as a "good" note depends on what the current chord is, what is referred to as chord tone soloing. This a special challenge to the Jazz soloist to attend to exactly when any particular chord changes and know instantly how to adjust note selection. This is not how Rock and Blues traditionally work. This is at least in one part a type of structure I'm referring to. Gumbo Variations, to my ear, uses standard chord tone soloing. Later Zappa improvs frequently follow a Modal Jazz approach, an innovation in Jazz that incidentally brings it closer in approach to Blues and Rock. Also, the lead work in Gumbo Variations interacts constructively with the drumming aspect of the rhythm. The drumming develops through many different, dare I say, variations throughout the piece and the guitar lead finds a variety of ways to be responsive to it.

This is fascinating and probably why this music is both improvisational while being accessible.
It is such an interesting creative period. We take Jazz Fusion for granted today, but back then nobody really knew how to do it and were largely imagining what it would be like. Different musicians came up with different answers. Miles Davis, for instance, simply used very Jazz improvs over Rock oriented drumming. Some tilted more to the Jazz side. Some tilted more to the Rock side. Zappa was the only early example of Jazz-Rock that was really pretty evenhanded on both the Jazz and Rock dimensions, and therefore maybe the most successful. If you listen to the other albums in Zappa's Jazz period, he's still probing alternative ways of approaching fusion. They're not all the same.



Edited by HackettFan - October 13 2018 at 09:29
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