Posts Tagged ‘Jazz Fusion’

frank1970

(Pic is actually from Bath Music Festival later that summer)

1970/03/07 Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, CA  71.44   AUD, B+/A-

Set List:
01 Intro ~ Tune Up [4.45]  02 Sharleena [9.21]   03 Preamble To Twinkle Tits [1.28]
04 Twinkle Tits [7.17]  05 Interlude [2.28]  06 Preamble To Directly From My Heart To You [1.36]
07 Directly From My Heart To You [5.34]  08 Preamble To Chunga’s Revenge [1.22]
09 Chunga’s Revenge [23.22] 10 Preamble To Willie The Pimp [2.33] 11 Willie The Pimp [11.59]

This time, it’s the spring 1970 Hot Rats band, consisting of FZ(guitar), Max Bennett(bass), Aynsley Dunbar(drums), Sugarcane Harris(electric violin), Ian Underwood(keyboards, alto saxophone) tearing the roof down with material from Hot Rats and (the at the time, still unreleased) Chunga’s Revenge. This band was given a distinct identity and feel among Zappa geeks by the addition of Sugarcane’s electric violin. He is showcased on this night with a great setlist, perfect for his improv style. This night is also preserved with a great(especially for it’s time) recording that has been lovingly restored by the folks at Zappateers.com. What a night this must’ve been.

After the tune up, the band launches into an early, psychadelic-bluesy(compared to it’s later reggae incarnation) version of Sharleena. The first Frank solo is great, but then Sugarcane ratchets it up a notch on his solo, hosing the crowd with a rainbow assault of slithering notes that wash over the crowd, leaving them in a daze. This daze doesn’t have time to last, as Frank steps it up again on his second solo and destroys the room…he can do this at will. Finally, as if sensing the crowd needs to be rescued, Sugarcane comes back and simply plays beautiful variations on the Sharleena theme and puts out the fires before wrapping the song up and giving the crowd a breather. That’s how Frank opens a show!

Next up is Twinkle Tits, which is an amazing journey that fuses jazz and baroque together into a hyper ballet of notes, tones and time signatures that all battle for balance. At times it feels like it might all fall apart but that’s the thing about Franks bands…they held it together. I don’t know how, but they did. Around the 5:40 mark the band drops out, leaving just drums and bass to hold the groove for a few seconds(the musical equivalent of taking a deep breath before jumping off a cliff into unknown waters). Then Franks comes in and takes the song into a war zone for about a minute and a half, until the recording is unfortunately cut and comes back into the “interlude”, which is in itself, amazing…I just can’t help but wonder what the hell must have happened on that stage during the minutes the tape was cut. Maybe it got so crazy the tape recorder couldn’t handle it and just shut itself off? Ha, maybe not, but it’s just a thought.

Following the madness of the opening numbers, Frank gives the crowd a chance to recover with a fairly straightforward blues, Directly From My Heart To You. There is a great Sugarcane solo here, but this serves mainly as a rest for the beast that was to be unleashed next…

Chunga’s Revenge would prove in years to be a staple in Frank’s repertoire, opening many shows and serving as a band intro vehicle, but on this night it was something much, much more. First, the song had yet to be released on an album yet, so the crowd was probably hearing it for the first time on that night. Second, it was played with such ferocity that even the band must’ve been a little scared. Finally, it was a juggernaut, lasting over 20 minutes, going in a hundred different directions. Sometimes the band would lock in on a groove and ride it together for a bit and then someone would jump out of the gate and try and pull it in a different direction. It was true collaboration and improvisation, only touching down here and there to return to the safety of it’s great bass line theme… and then, Boom! the band is off again, shredding the building to pieces. There are too many amazing moments to mention(FZ taking delicate control around the 10:07 mark only to abuse his Gibson shortly after is one), so included below are two youtube clips containing the entire trip. Enjoy.

The whole thing winds down with Willie The Pimp…well it doesn’t wind down as much as it comes to an end…there is no letting up here, more like closure. It, like the rest of this amazing performance, is not to be missed.

Frank and the boys were on fucking fire this night. I am so glad to have finally heard this incendiary performance captured in such fine quality. Thanks again to Zappateers.com. If you haven’t heard this show yet, download it and prepare to have your mind blown. If you HAVE heard this recording before…well, listen again and PREPARE TO HAVE YOUR MIND BLOWN…AGAIN.

Sharleena

Chunga’s Revenge (pt. 1)

Chunga’s Revenge (pt. 2)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMtd60Ox1z4

081

Waka/Jawaka  –  Frank Zappa   1972  Bizaare Records(Blue Label)

Disclaimer: There is nothing I’d rather listen to on vinyl thank Frank Zappa albums. They are always recorded, mixed and mastered impeccably, written and played with meticulous attention to detail, wildly creative and packaged with great artwork(most of the time). If I am lucky enough to track down a mint pressing, there is no better treat for my turntable than Frank’s bizarre offerings. Now, on with the review…

082Waka/Jawaka comes from the peak of Frank’s early to mid seventies “Jazz-Fusion” period. He would take to the studio(and even the road) with huge orchestras to play incredibly complex and original works that sounded like nothing else. This record has two epic tracks that push the musicians while remaining tuneful and fun. The title track has an almost lounge scumbag feel but upon closer listening, one is struck but the interweaving of instruments that form chords. For example,  when someone holds a chord on a guitar, there is a very limited depth to the note, a limited tone color. However, when a composer like Frank writes for an orchestra, he can have 5 instruments play separate notes at the same time to build one chord, giving it a huge body. The results are amazing. Taking that into consideration, it makes the interplay between the musicians that much more impressive. They have to be so exact and so in synch. It’s mind-blowing.

085My Favorite here is Big Swifty, an epic that opens in a fast 7/8 riff, then continues to alternate between 7/8 and 6/8 times, and eventually making it’s way to a 4/4 swing time signature. The song is manipulated even more live(but that is for another review). Sitting and listening to this on a good turntable with a solid amp/pre-amp and quality speakers is like being in the orchestra pit. This is due to Frank’s incredible recording style (he is know to take days getting mic placement right for the orchestra). The pressing I have is great as well, so I was in, well not heaven(even if it did exist, doesn’t seem like a place I’d enjoy too much), but I was transported to a place in my mind that was very nice, warm and fuzzy. Frank is a God. Simple.

Big Swifty (In Two Parts)

Waka/Jawaka