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Frank Zappa - The Grand Wazoo CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



4.33 | 939 ratings

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5 stars 'The Grand Wazzo' was released in 1972 and is Zappa's third solo record (even so the term 'solo' is to be used carefully, all Zappa records' Mothers' or not are in the first place Zappa records). 'The Grand Wazzo' presents the jazzier side of Zappa's music and forms a trilogy with 'Hot Rats' and 'Waka/Jawaka'. While these two records were featuring smaller groups 'The Grand Wazoo' features a full blown Jazz Rock Big Band. Most tracks follow the traditional solo/ensemble play in the frame of Zappa's twisted compositions. The rhythmic work delivered by drummer Aynsley Dunbar is stunning and allows Zappa a complexity, that was not possible with the the first MOI. Among the other featured musicians are Jack Bruce on bass (appearing for contractual reason as 'Erroneus') and George Duke who's funky keyboard playing and twisted vocals inspired Zappa a lot.

On the remasterd CD the track-order of side one is inversed and the CD starts with the main dish of the record the title track 'The Grand Wazzoo', a masterpiece of Jazz Rock with a Big Band arrangement. The composition follows the classic theme/solo development with a breathtaking rhythmic interplay between solists and ensemble featuring Aynsley Dunbar, Toni Duran and Zappa on guitar. A second theme in form of a Fanfare appears towards the end of the track followed by a moog solo by Don Preston.

The second track 'For Calvin (And His Next Two Hitch-Hikers' is dedicated to Cal Schenkel, a friend of Zappa and responsible for most of Zappa's early cover art,( including the cover of 'The Grand Wazzoo' that illustrates the story told by Zappa and reproduced in the inner cover) A track that presents the 'Vaudeville' side of Zappa's music; a slow rhythm introduces the theme, a mock opera vocal duette by Janet Neville- Ferguson and Sal Marquez, followed by a moog and a trumpet solo that introduces the theme of 'New Brown Clouds', that would appear on 'Greggary Peccary' and a reprise of the first theme.

The second side starts with 'Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus' a short Soul influenced Funk track that prefigures 'Overnite Sensation', with Georg Duke playing honky tonk piano and a vocal duette by Zappa and Duke another track with stunning rhythm work.

'Eat That Question' is the second 'serious' composition on the record, featuring heavily Gorge Duke's talents. the track starts with a funky Fender Rhodes intro by Duke, followed by the main theme on wah-wah guitar by Zapppa himself. The following development and interplay between drums and piano is breathtaking and among the most sophisticated rhthmic work in Jazz-Rock followed by a great Zappa solo, before the rhythm dissolves into a slow rubato reprise of the main theme.

The record closes with 'Blessed Relief' a chillout track with a nice relaxed athmosphere alternating solo and ensemble sections, featuring Sal Marquez on trumpet Duke on piano and Zappa on guitar.

A masterpiece of Big Band Jazz Rock with extraordinary rhythm work!

Alucard | 5/5 |


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