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 Post subject: Re: FRANK ZAPPA AND JAZZ
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 3:08 pm 
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Guy Cool wrote:
The lengths some people go to pretend that FZ's music and 'Jazz' are unrelated always bemuses me.
I'm not sure that's what's happening here, not with me anyway. I'm quite happy to acknowledge that Zappa wrote jazz music, he just didn't do it in a typical jazz way. Which is ironic, because jazz was always supposed to be about breaking the rules. It's the continual sameness of most jazz I hear that I can't handle. But there are jazz composers that I do like and Eric Dolphy and Charles Mingus at the very least produced some very interesting stuff.
Guy Cool wrote:
FZ's music and 'Jazz' have so much in common-improvisation on standards (the standards in FZ's case being his own 'standards'), FZ's ability to push that improvisational envelope and keep the music evolving, the instrumentation involved etc etc
Just 'cause FZ's improv didn't have a basis in bebop and those 'rules'.
What sets FZ's music slightly apart, for me at least, is the inclusion of 'songs' ie tunes with words, in and amongst the instrumentals. This makes it a lot easier to listen to FZ for extended periods, whereas with 'Jazz' I end up craving some vocal levity. And, to be honest, FZ's music is easier to follow. His solos tend to be more melodic.
I think it's more than just the inclusion of songs. Jazz is generally very thematically limited because jazz musicians generally take their influence from other jazz musicians. Zappa wasn't the first to write jazz with thematic material from outside the usual jazz sphere. I don't think it's invalid musicologically to point out the difference between such composers and those who tend to stay within the mainstream. Yes, Zappa wrote jazz music, but it's not typical jazz music.

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 Post subject: Re: FRANK ZAPPA AND JAZZ
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 3:42 pm 
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polydigm wrote:
It's worth it just for the conceptual continuity of the last track on that album being the obvious inspiration for The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue. And otherwise it's not typical jazz. I'm no jazz buff, but I like this one.


I said no. Case closed.


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 Post subject: Re: frank zappa and jazz
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 4:13 pm 
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'make a jazz noise here' says it all.

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 Post subject: Re: frank zappa and jazz
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:21 pm 
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Lumpy Gravy wrote:
'make a jazz noise here' says it all.


make a jazz noise here bob

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 8:08 pm 
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new book

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although frank zappa died over 20 years ago, he continues to be regarded as an iconic figure in 20th century culture; in 1973 he famously said 'jazz is not dead… it just smells funny', & in this new book geoff wills takes a look at zappa’s widely assumed antipathy for the jazz genre ... along the way, he throws up some very interesting facts

frank zappa’s music has a unique & easily recognizable quality, it brilliantly synthesizes a wide range of cultural influences; zappa and jazz focuses on the influence of jazz on zappa in an attempt to clarify the often-confusing nature of his relationship with it

zappa’s early years are examined, from his first foray into a recording studio to the formation and progress of his band the mothers of invention; there are exhaustive critiques here of the key jazz-related albums hot rats, king kong, the grand wazoo & waka/jawaka ... along the way, wills analyses zappa’s music & the wider influences that were crucial in forming his attitudes, not only to jazz but to society in general

the book concludes with a discussion of zappa’s similarity to more orthodox jazz leaders, his legacy & the influence on jazz-related music ... guaranteed to appeal to all zappa fans who seek new insights into his music, to open-minded jazz listeners & to anyone with an interest in the melting pot of 20th century music

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 Post subject: Re: FRANK ZAPPA AND JAZZ
PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 10:48 pm 
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calvin2hikers wrote:
polydigm wrote:
It's worth it just for the conceptual continuity of the last track on that album being the obvious inspiration for The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue. And otherwise it's not typical jazz. I'm no jazz buff, but I like this one.
I said no. Case closed.
Sorry Cal, I missed this reply way back when. Which case were you referring to?

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 Post subject: Re: FRANK ZAPPA AND JAZZ
PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:43 pm 
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Frank Zappa's jazz legacy
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Frank Zappa left a huge legacy of pioneering music and outspoken opinions that has proved obliquely influential in shaping the style and attitudes of generations of rock and jazz musicians, while often upsetting their elders and certain establishment figures. Stuart Nicholson re-evaluates Zappa’s jazz-oriented work and looks at the ways in which he made his mark on improvised music

It’s easy to believe Frank Zappa hated jazz. If royalties were paid on quotes, then he would have been a rich man on the strength of his once witty, but now oh-so-overused jibe, ‘Jazz isn't dead, it just smells funny’. Yet in his world of scatological humour, outspoken political criticism, crass satire, send ups, put downs and insider jokes, jazz was something for which he reserved considerable respect. Yet one thing he recognised, right from the beginning, was that jazz was seen by rock audiences as distinctly unhip and could be an impediment to album sales. Jazz was, he once joked, ‘the music of unemployment.'

Consequently he was always careful to position himself firmly in the rock camp, whatever stylistic bridge he had decided to cross, be it to the blues, jazz or classical music. Generic categories tend to be an after the fact rationalisation to define music in its market used by the music industry to organise the sales process and thus target potential consumers. Zappa knew musical genres were not determined by musical style but by the audience’s perception of that style. ‘It’s foolish,’ he once said, ‘every time you hear someone improvise [in my music] to assume it's jazz.’

He knew the music business was as much about organising audiences’ expectations as selling albums. So if you were a rock fan and heard improvisation and didn't immediately associate it with jazz, it brought more people into his music – a music where the listener could be confronted with a wide range of musical challenges under the generic safety net of ‘rock’.

Zappa Absolutely Free Certainly a large chunk of Zappa's music contains plenty of improvisation, but it’s not all jazz improvisation by a long shot. Yet his music is amazingly rich for broad minded jazz fans, whether it’s jazz or non-jazz improvisation. Zappa admitted in an interview that even when dealing with parody he worked on harmony and melody in a manner which years later he considered musically valid. Thus one of his cleverest songs, ‘America Drinks and Goes Home’ turns out to be his protest at the banalisation of jazz. A parody of a lounge band playing watered down jazz. 'It was based on the same subconscious formula that all those pukers of Tin Pan Alley used: you know ii-V-l progressions modulating all the way round,' he said. It was used in the album Absolutely Free as a parody of a cocktail lounge love song with ringing tills, brawls and drunken revelry. Yet when pianist Alan Broadbent arranged the piece in 1974 for the Woody Herman Orchestra on the Grammy-winning album Thundering Herd, with Frank Tiberi on bassoon, it became an affecting, memorable ballad.

Jazz slotted into Zappa's musical vision, often in subtle ways. ‘Twenty Small Cigars' is a composition considered by many to be his jazz masterpiece, but his first official recording of it was on harpsichord on Chunga’s Revenge (it had made an earlier appearance in the late 60s with Bunk Gardner on flute as ‘Interlude’). And while the album Overnite Sensation might have been insolent and provocative, it was also a synthesis of lyrics and complex arrangements with jazz solos and accompaniment amid the dizzying rush of Zappa's ideas.

‘As a West Coast band the need for his music to be accessible to hippy audiences was a source of frustration to Zappa’

Zappa arrived at jazz through the blues, his first love. The kind of jazz he liked was made clear as early as 1966 on the inside cover of his debut album Freak Out with the Mothers of Invention, one of the first rock double albums, and one of the first concept albums that was an acknowledged influence on the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Included in a very long list of influences cited were Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown, Cecil Taylor, Roland Kirk. Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Bill Evans.

It’s hardly surprising in the light of his own highly distinctive music that the kind of jazz musician that appealed to him shied away from the cliches of conventional jazz. 'People like Eric Dolphy, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus and Archie Shepp are very important in the history of music, and not just jazz,’ he once asserted. And when asked by aspiring guitar players who to listen to, he would advise Wes Montgomery or tell up and coming keyboard players to check out Cecil Taylor. Both were musicians who had highly individual approaches to their instruments.

Certainly he was critical of jazz – what wasn’t he critical about? – but his criticisms were usually directed to the unthinking fan who adheres to the style without understanding its profound values or the sectarian attitude of those who thought themselves to be members of an exclusive musical elite. Yet he was inspired by jazz. As Ted Gioia notes in The History of Jazz: ‘Zappa’s groups, perhaps alone among the rock bands of the day, could match many major jazz combos in terms of breadth and depth of musicianship.'

Born in 1940, Zappa's peripatetic childhood followed his father’s search for employment, and his early interest in music came through playing his father’s acoustic guitar. When he heard Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s ‘Three Hours Past Midnight’ his interest in R&B was born. Zappa would blossom into an accomplished, gutsy, blues-based player, and Watson would graduate from early influence to occasional recording companion and life long friend. Zappa’s musical curiosity led him to Edgard Varese and classical studies, and he took to writing for the high school band, including one piece called ‘Visual Music for Jazz Ensemble and 16mm Projector' when he was 17.

Zappa's working musical career began as a rock ’n’ roll band guitarist, forming the Mothers of Invention in 1964, when he met a group of musicians who were willing to experiment with his original compositions. Fired from countless venues because of their refusal to perform cover versions of the then hits, Tom Wilson from MGM happened into the Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles at the moment the band was playing a blues and, according to Zappa, signed them on the surmise he had discovered a white blues group.

Zappa Freak Out In 1966 came Zappa's dazzling debut Freak Out. It made Billboard's Top 200 album chart, establishing the Mothers as an 'underground' rock act and setting the tone for Zappa's early musical direction – musically eclectic and weighted towards political debate and satire with songs such as ‘Who Are the Brain Police?' A mixture of good melodies, blasted satire, political contempt, parody and experimentation with black and sometimes immature humour it established a somewhat confusing reputation for the band, who were sometimes reviewed as a comedy act rather than a musical one.

As a West Coast band the need for his music to be accessible to hippy audiences was a source of frustration to Zappa. Nevertheless, while maintaining high musical standards, he set about adding to the vocabulary of rock and contemporary music. In 1967, Zappa and the Mothers decamped to New York City to play a six month residency in the Garrick Theatre, above the Cafe Au Go Go. Performances would vary nightly. ‘I was playing with Jeremy and the Satyrs downstairs at the time,' said jazz vibist Mike Mainieri.

‘We were there on and off for almost a year. Zappa was upstairs with his band. A lot of people are not familiar with Zappa's classical work. He would have workshops and whoever showed up, showed up. He was exploring the more classical approach to composition, written structures. Zappa, myself, Don Preston who played piano for Zappa, and Joe Beck and a few others organised some small chamber ensembles and we would write some weird shit to perform for our own entertainment. That’s why there's a string group on my album Journey Thru an Electric Tube, which was recorded around then.' Mainieri says Zappa often sat-in with the jazz musicians and the Satyrs, sowing the seeds of what would subsequently produce a new colour in his music that would surface in termittently through his career. With his own band Zappa was developing a reputation as a hard musical task master, rehearsing his band during their New York stop-over for long periods as a way of achieving the more complex results he was after.

Two years later, Zappa had Roland Kirk come onstage to jam with the Mothers at the Boston Globe Jazz Festival, and again at the Newport Jazz Festival when the Mothers played between the Newport All Stars and Dave Brubeck. The result was ‘quite literally indescribable,' said Downbeat. As a result the Mothers were invited to tour as a George Wein package, an experience which influenced Zappa's view of jazz profoundly.

‘George Wein, impresario of the Newport Jazz festival put us in a package tour with Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Duke Ellington and Gary Burton,' he said. ‘Before I went on I saw Duke Ellington begging – pleading – for a 10 dollar advance. It was really depressing. I told the guys: “That's it we're breaking the band up".' Zappa would later, not without irony, dub an Aynsley Dunbar drum solo the ‘George Wein Variations', which included a manic version of ‘Ain’t She Sweet.'

Zappa Hot Rats In September 1969, Zappa was to be found sitting-in with Jean-Luc Ponty and George Duke trio at The Experience in San Francisco, a rock club. Duke and Ponty were playing an early version of jazz-rock, straightahead jazz improvisation over a rock beat. In the same year Zappa produced Burnt Weeny Sandwich, a proto-jazz-rock album and Uncle Meat which anticipated progressive rock. He also recorded Hot Rats, a mainly instrumental jazz-rock album of original compositions and arrangements that showcased his guitar playing. Hot Rats was accessible, sophisticated and unencumbered with disruptive parody, satire, and Zappa’s apparently insatiable need to sneer at and ridicule the establishment. Even the lyrics of ‘Willie the Pimp’, sung by Captain Beefheart, are in context with the gutsy low-down drive of the arrangement. On ‘The Gumbo Variations’ Ian Underwood manages to pay decent homage to Albert Ayler, although he was by no means a great saxophonist. The album highlights are 'Peaches en Regalia' and 'Son of Mr Green Genes’; 'Peaches' contains no soloing or improvisation as such, but related orchestrated variations of the theme. Such was the affection among jazz musicians for this track, it later inspired ‘A New Regalia', composed by Vince Mendoza, on Peter Erskine's 1988 album Motion Poet.

'Mr Green Genes' is a 16-bar tune consisting of two eight-bar melodies, and is shorn of the inane lyrics of the original version that had previously appeared on Uncle Meat. It gave full reign to Zappa's imagination, allowing him to score for highly unusual combinations of instruments. On the track 'It Must Be a Camel’, the jazz violin virtuoso Jean-Luc Ponty guested and would become a member of Zappa’s revolving cast of musicians.

In October 1969, Zappa collaborated with Ponty on King Kong, an album under the violinist's name subtitled ‘Jean-Luc Ponty plays the music of Frank Zappa'. A mixture of absorbing and not-so-absorbing fusion compositions, the title track in the Dorian mode was for years a Mothers jam session favourite. The 19-minute 'Music for Electric Violin and Low Budget Orchestra' sustained interest and momentum through imaginative and resourceful writing from the opening bassoon passage to the demonic closing violin passages in 7/8 while 'Twenty Small Cigars' received its first recognition from a jazz musician. Also that year, Zappa was invited to MC the Actuel Festival in Amougles, and jammed with saxophonist Archie Shepp's group. Fifteen years later, he returned the honour, taking part in one of Zappa's concerts (You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 4).

Although Weasels Ripped My Flesh was released in 1970, it was essentially out-takes from the previous three years, albeit containing 'Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue’, the only tribute from the rock world to the gifted jazz saxophonist and the free-blowing 'Toads of the Short Forest’, complete with a spoken commentary on the jazz time signatures from the leader.

Waka/Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo, both from 1972, together with Hot Rats, completed Zappa's famous ‘jazz-rock trilogy' (now a three album set). The line-up for both included George Duke on keyboards, Sal Marquez on trumpet, Mike Altschul on saxophones, Bill Byers on trombone and Aynsley Dunbar on both albums, who were augmented to big band proportions on The Grand Wazoo by an array of Hollywood studio musicians. The first track of Waka/Jawaka is the extended 'Big Swifty’. The emphasis is rhythmic, with the original, complex theme – incorporating several metre changes – fading into a modal, bluesy blowing section in 4/4 with solo space for George Duke, Sal Marquez and Tony Duran. Zappa sounds as if he’d been listening to John McLaughlin (Mahavishnu’s Inner Mounting Flame had just been released). Waka/Jawaka avoids repeating the original theme, the arrangement building through complex waves of overdubs and, during the final five minutes, introduces elaborate arranged variations of the main theme complete with tubular bells on the last chorus, displaying unique voicings paralleling the richness associated with Gil Evans. Indeed, Robert Christgau has suggested Zappa had been listening to a lot of Miles Davis, based on the presence of trumpeter Marquez.

Grand Wazoo had a distinctly jazzy feel throughout. The form is intro, theme, solos and theme. However, the theme is 87 bars in length with key, rhythm and theme shifts with a blowing section that has carefully marshalled background figures ebbing and flowing throughout against an intriguing rock-swing feel generated by the rhythm section, the sleeve notes credit the terse sax solo to Funky Emperor: it is, in fact, Ernie Watts. ‘Cleetus Awreetus’ starts with a jaunty light classical feel to it, moving into parody, while ‘Eat that Question’ is in a minor key, with a strident eight bar riff. The soloists build to a dramatic entry by Zappa and a beefed-up recapitulation of the theme to close and fade. How Blessed Relief has not become a jazz standard is a mystery. Performed here as a wistful ballad, Zappa gave full rein to the jazzy direction in which these sessions had been leaning, although Zappa’s music as a whole was too broad and diverse to be limited by conventional categorisation.

Zappa Roxy In 1973, Zappa reformed the Mothers with a strong line-up that included Tom and Bruce Fowler, Ian and Ruth Underwood, George Duke and Jean-Luc Ponty and Overnight Sensation, a synthesis of unusual lyrics and highly articulate, complex arrangements contributed several future concert favourites to his repertoire. Roxy & Elsewhere, a live set from 1974, captured the impressive elan of the group with strong jazz solos and 'little-big band’ attack including the track ‘Be-Bop Tango’ satirically represented as the anthem of the chimerical ‘Old Jazzmen’s Church’. The tricky 'Echidna’s Arf' would be recorded by George Duke at an even more frantic tempo the following year on his album The Aura Will Prevail. The following year Zappa again sounded decidedly jazz-rock-ish on One Size Fits All amid vocals that ‘gave up on mere scatology and extended Zappa's private mythology to new extremes of obscurity.'

Zappa always employed a number of jazz musicians. His explanation was: 'For me it was always more interesting to encounter a musician who had a unique ability. Find a way to showcase that, and build that unusual skill into the composition... so [it] would be stamped with the personality of the person who was there when the composition was created,' a Duke Ellington-like remark if ever there was one.

His later bands always employed excellent drummers and percussionists who possessed an admirable ability to play and read in a wide breadth of styles. Chad Wackerman later spoke of the challenges of working with Zappa. ‘He pushed everyone who worked for him. He'd ask me to play something incredibly complex. When I couldn't do it, he'd get more specific and ask me to play something even more difficult. I couldn't do that either, but as I would try, then I'd realise I was playing what he had originally asked me to play'. Saxophonist Mike Brecker, who played on 1978's Zappa In New York, then playing highly complex ‘electric bebop' arrangements as a co-leader of the Brecker Brothers, has said he was amazed at the detail and rehearsal that went into a Zappa performance. His performances with the guitarist soared.

In the 1970s Zappa-as-composer started to broaden the musical contexts in which he worked, and the true extent of his imagination started to unfold. As well as the live band, and his more popular rock albums, he recorded in a diverse range of contexts. The orchestral Zappa – inspired greatly by Edgard Varese, Krzysztof Penderecki, Pierre Boulez and Elliot Carter – emerged in 1971 with 200 Motels, the atonal soundtrack music for film of the same name, and continued up to The Yellow Shark, the release of which preceded his death by just a short while. Later in life he was delighted to be asked by orchestras and chamber groups to perform his many orchestral works.

Zappa Jazz From Hell The jazz connection continued, however, the Grammy winning Jazz From Hell (1988), was an album of original compositions for the synclavier, the computer-to-digital interface used among others by Miles Davis on Tutu. On release it contained a warning against offensive lyrics even though it was an instrumental album.

Zappa gave up running road bands in 1988 after recording Make A Jazz Noise Here, The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life and Broadway The Hard Way. His band, augmented by an agile horn section, acquitted themselves with precision, and showed what a fertile musical imagination could achieve using the 'horns plus rock' formula that was quickly exhausted by bands operating in the Blood, Sweat and Tears and Chicago nexus. While not jazz-rock, these albums frequently darted in and out of its shadows and were impressive documents of his final performing band. After sinking a good deal of money into the group, Zappa finally called it quits in the middle of his final tour.

His ability to claim both the musical low ground as well as scaling the heights meant that he was easy meat for critics, who were unable to pigeonhole his music. Hereby lies the conundrum, and the need to dig into his recorded repertoire to discover the gems, aided by the judicious use of the fast forward button. As one reviewer noted: 'The constant temptation is to say that Zappa is a genius (which he is) and consequently to rank highly all his offerings.'

An ideal guide to some of Zappa's finest compositions appeared in 1997 from the New Jersey-based band leader Ed Palermo. Ed Palermo Big Band Plays the Music of Frank Zappa includes pieces such as 'Twenty Small Cigars', 'Peaches En Regalia’, ‘King Kong’ and 'Waka/Jawaka' that successfully realised the potential of these compositions from a purely jazz perspective. Palermo first appeared with his big band at New York's Bitter End playing Zappa arrangements, but the audience reaction was such that he moved to the larger Bottom Line club. 'It took several months of staying up to five in the morning transcribing and arranging this gorgeous music,' he said, ‘and the audience reaction was incredibly enthusiastic.’

The only real constant in Zappa's diverse musical output was his guitar playing, and all his work is littered with good examples of this. From early solos such as 'The Duke of Prunes' (on Absolutely Free), ‘Willie The Pimp' (on Hot Rats) to later examples such as ‘Fire and Chain’ (on Make a Jazz Noise Here) and the sensuous 'Watermelon In Easter Hay’ (on Guitar), Zappa showed a preference for minor moods, spinning sensuously intense lines within his own unique context and musical vocabulary. Shut Up ’n ' Play Yer Guitar (recorded from 1977-80) was a collection of guitar solos while another collection, Guitar (1978-84) contained powerful playing with Chad Wackerman on drums and Scott Thunes on bass. Zappa was not the only guitarist to be heard on his sessions, guitar monster Steve Vai was on his later work, such as his mind-boggling vocalised-melodic guitar solo on 'The Jazz Discharge Party Hats’ from The Man From Utopia.

Zappa continued composing and conducting up to his death from cancer in December 1993. Nominated for at least seven Grammy awards, he became only the second rock musician (Jimi Hendrix was the first) to enter the Downbeat Critics’ Hall of Fame in September 1994 and was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in January 1995. But he disdained success, opting instead for 'bad taste' and its attendant lack of air play, although Apostrophe (') was eventually certified gold, reaching number 10 on the Billboard chart and the single from it, ‘Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow’ was Zappa's first in Billboard's Hot 100.

Zappa matched the criteria for a genuinely creative artist concerned with exploring and extending the boundaries of rock, which inevitably brought him into contact with jazz as a means to this end since both have common roots in the blues. Yet while he combined jazz and rock in a particularly individual way producing a classic jazz-rock trilogy and several albums of great interest in the genre, jazz-rock per se was never central to Zappa's musical thinking, more a musical challenge to be confronted and surmounted among many – another musical flavour in a miscellany of musical genres that comprised his remarkable music.

This article originally appeared in the December 2003 issue of Jazzwise.

http://www.jazzwisemagazine.com/artists ... rank-zappa

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 Post subject: Re: FRANK ZAPPA AND JAZZ
PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:19 am 
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also interesting, 90 mins radio documentary on the topic feat. lots of allumnis:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hpcWPxBzpI

and another interesting read: https://www.allaboutjazz.com/zappa-and-jazz-frank-zappa-by-geoffrey-wills.php?page=1
Zappa And Jazz: Did It Really Smell Funny, Frank?
By GEOFFREY WILLS
September 15, 2015
The following is an excerpt from "Chapter 2: Early Encounters with Jazz" of Zappa and Jazz: Did it Really Smell Funny, Frank? by Geoffrey Wills (Matador, 2015).

When, at the age of fourteen, Zappa entered Mission Bay High School in San Diego in 1955, his first exposure to the elitist snobbery of a certain type of jazz fan occurred. It was like a red rag to a bull, and was no doubt the source of all his later caustic comments about jazz. He recounted the experience in an interview with Dan Forte in Musician magazine in 1979: ..."at the time I was down there, there was a real definite division between the people who liked rhythm and blues and the people who liked jazz... The people who liked jazz would always go around putting you down..." These people were fans of West Coast jazz, at the time at the height of its popularity, and exemplified by Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars and Shorty Rogers and his Giants. Unfortunately, Zappa's ire at mindless adherence to a fashion spilled over onto the music. He commented... "to me, there wasn't that much emotional depth in listening to something like "Martians Go Home" by Shorty Rogers—that kind of stuff. It was just bleak."

Was Zappa being disingenuous here? "Martians Go Home" is not bleak—it is a piece of quirkily mischievous, Basie-inspired, small-group swing. Interestingly, Rogers, like many West Coast jazz musicians, also had a foot in the rhythm and blues camp. He supervised recording sessions by doo-wop groups and formed a publishing company with singer Jesse Belvin, publishing the latter's hit "Guess Who" (Rounce, 2004). Under the name Boots Brown and the Blockbusters he recorded a series of rhythm and blues instrumentals and reached number 23 in the charts in 1958 with "Cerveza" (Myers, 2013). It is not stretching the imagination too much to suggest that Rogers was the type of person that Zappa later sought to emulate when he worked with Paul Buff at Pal Studios in the early 1960s, where they produced rock instrumentals and used group names like The Hollywood Persuaders and The Rotations.

Jazz fans could be bigoted and snobbish. So could certain jazz musicians. On the other hand, many were prepared to be open-minded about different types of music. They were not all haters of rhythm and blues.

Johnny Otis, who, as Barry Miles states, Zappa first met in 1958 on a visit to his studio, was another musician whose feet were in the camps of both jazz and rhythm and blues. He had early associations with jazz, having played drums with Lester Young, Illinois Jacquet and (at least according to Tom Lord's 2004 Jazz Discography) Stan Kenton. His experiences are recounted in his 1993 autobiography. Fans created rigid categories, but for the pragmatic musician, the boundaries between jazz and other types of music were much more fluid. Session bassist Carol Kaye, in a 1998 article in Downbeat magazine, admitted that although "rock and roll was a dirty word among L.A. bebop musicians in the late 1950s... if it hadn't been for the huge hidden jazz influence in the 1960s hits, that musical era might never have happened..."

As described in the 1979 Musician interview, Zappa's first encounter with bebop was not a positive one. He said, "I didn't hear any bebop until I moved away from San Diego, and moved to Lancaster and I came across a Charlie Parker album. I didn't like it—because it sounded very tuneless, and it didn't feel like it had any balls to it." He confirmed these early impressions in later interviews: in "The Mother of All Interviews" (Menn, 1993) he said, "I didn't like Charlie Parker. I didn't like some other modern jazz things. Listening to these things, I would go, 'Why do people like this? I don't understand it.'" And in the Zappa Late Show Special on BBC 2 TV in 1993, in his interview with Nigel Leigh he said:

"I'd come into contact with Charlie Parker records and things like that, but they didn't hold my interest. I couldn't follow it. Same kind of argument that you'd get from people today: 'What are they doing? They're just noodling around,' you know. I mean, now I understand why they're noodling and where they're noodling and I can tell the difference between good noodling and bad noodling, but without certain musical clues, it just all sounded like noodles to me."

Zappa was only fifteen when he first encountered Parker's music. In "The Mother of All Interviews," he described how and why he struggled to understand and appreciate certain pieces of music, for instance "Chronochromie" by Olivier Messiaen:

"It's just that the more I learned, the more interesting it became, because at the time I was exposed to this kind of music, I didn't have a classical education. I was just a guy buying records. Everything that I liked was based on my gut reaction to what was on the record. For some reason I liked Varèse right away. I liked Stravinsky right away, but these other things not... when you start learning about structure, when you start learning about how these things work, then you can appreciate how other people deal with the material... the more I learned about what the rules of the game were, the more I could appreciate how other people might solve the problem."

Although he did not clarify this, it seems not unlikely that the more Zappa learned about music, the more his appreciation of Parker, like that of Messiaen, grew. His initial dislike of Parker may have been partly connected to aversive experiences with bebop-loving jazz snobs, in contrast to his reaction to the music of Varèse, as he said in the BBC 2 Late Show Special:

"I liked it a lot. Nobody had to explain it to me... It just sounded good to me. The dissonance—the way I perceived the dissonance was, 'these chords are really mean. I like these chords. And the drums are playing loud in this music, and you can hear the drums often in this music...'"

Contrasting with jazz snobs, Varèse, with his "really mean" chords, loud drums and (according to The Real Frank Zappa Book) mad scientist looks, could express Zappa's teenage angst brilliantly, and was probably a perfect alternative to his father.

Despite his initial negative reaction to bebop, Zappa continued to explore jazz and invested in albums by Oscar Pettiford and Charles Mingus, according to the 1979 Musician article. He thought Pettiford was good, and really liked Mingus. He also liked Thelonious Monk, Eric Dolphy and Harold Land. These were not musicians that the casual fan would be familiar with—Zappa was obviously taking a serious interest. And all the jazz musicians that he professed to like had moved through the bebop experience to develop their own music. Ted Gioia (1992) states that "the music [Dolphy] was playing on gigs in the mid-1950s was... closely related to the bebop idiom." Pettiford, Mingus and Monk all played with Parker at different times. In Lancaster, Zappa became a student at Antelope Valley High School, and, as Barry Miles (2004) describes, he explored its record library. Here he became familiar with albums by Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor, and later developed a liking for the Oliver Nelson album Blues and the Abstract Truth (1961), featuring Eric Dolphy. He became a jazz autodidact, in the same way that he taught himself about twentieth century classical music.

Zappa referred to another jazz album that he was familiar with in a 1967 interview with Frank Kofsky. He was asked if he listened to John Coltrane and he replied, "Well, I don't own any Coltrane, except he's one artist on the anthology album that Tom Wilson produced in 1950 [it was actually 1957]. The one that has Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra. It's called Jazz in Transition—it's a classic."

This album features Sun Ra and Cecil Taylor at relatively conventional stages in their careers, and John Coltrane in a mid-1950s hard bop setting reminiscent of his Blue Train session. Other tracks include one with Donald Byrd, featuring Horace Silver and Art Blakey, and Boston groups led by Dick Wetmore, Jay Migliori and Herb Pomeroy (the album was recorded in Boston to showcase Wilson's Transition label). So here was Zappa enthusing about an album containing a mixture of 1950s modern and early avant-garde jazz.

Zappa was on his own ceaseless personal, private quest to gather knowledge and information that would feed into his unique vision—the Project/Object, the overall concept of his work in various mediums, with each project connecting to a larger object. It appears that he made regular "research trips," exemplified by his visit to Johnny Otis's studio in 1958, and, having discovered Miles Davis ('I really liked his music,' he said in a 1984 RockBill magazine interview with Robert O'Brian), he went to see him play at the Black Hawk in San Francisco. Sadly, when Zappa introduced himself to Davis, the latter turned his back—typical Davis behaviour that consolidated Zappa's experience with the San Diego jazz fans and undoubtedly increased his misgivings about certain aspects of jazz. "I haven't had anything to do with him or his music since that time" said Zappa. But at least he did admit that he had liked Davis's music (incidentally, although Zappa described the meeting as happening in 1962, there is no record of Davis appearing at the Black Hawk in that year, so it was probably the previous year, when Davis's historic Friday Night/ Saturday Night at the Blackhawk albums were recorded).

It is interesting to speculate about other research trips that Zappa might have made. As Vladimir Simosko states in his 1974 biography of Eric Dolphy, the Ojai, California, Festival in 1962 featured Dolphy playing Varèse's 'Density 21.5,' and other performers included Cathy Berberian and Luciano Berio. Compositions by John Cage and Thelonious Monk were played. This is the sort of event that Zappa might have attended but not talked about. Certainly, Zappa associates like trumpeter Malcolm McNab were involved in the Ojai Festival during the early 1960s. McNab discusses this in the notes for Wazoo (2007). Interestingly, Zappa had Cathy Berberian in mind as a singer when he wrote a piece of music in 1968 entitled "Music for the Queen's Circus" which later became 200 Motels. Zappa's widow Gail discussed this at a talk given prior to the 2013 London performance of 200 Motels (Greenaway, 2014).

One also wonders whether Zappa paid a visit to The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, despite his disparaging comments about Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All Stars (as well as referring to them in the 1979 Musician interview, he sarcastically called them "Howard Ramsey's Light Love All Stars" in the 1967 Frank Kofsky interview, so he was familiar with their music). A number of black groups, playing funky, soulful hard bop that would have appealed to Zappa, recorded live albums there. They included those of Julian "Cannonball" Adderley in 1960 and The Jazz Crusaders and Curtis Amy, both in 1962. After appearing at the Lighthouse, Amy hired the crisp, swinging drummer Ron Selico, who played on Zappa's classic track "Peaches en Regalia" in 1969. Selico can be heard with Amy, recorded on the 1962 KTLA TV programme Frankly Jazz, on the 2008 Dupree Bolton CD Fireball. Fellow Californian musicians like John Densmore, who became the drummer with The Doors, were familiar with The Lighthouse. Densmore, as reported by Harvey Kubernik in 2009, said:

"I saw every jazz great who came to town the first half of the 1960s. Les McCann at the Renaissance Club. Cannonball Adderley at Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse. Bill Evans five or six times at Shelly's Manne Hole."

Another fact worth noting is that, around the time that Zappa was becoming aware of the music of the composer who became his favourite, Edgard Varèse, the latter was forming close associations with New York jazz musicians. He was on friendly terms with Charlie Parker until the latter's death in 1955, as he described in Robert Reisner's book Bird: The Legend of Charlie Parker (1962), and was involved in a series of jam sessions in 1957, organized by composer Earle Brown. Eminent jazz musicians participating included Art Farmer (trumpet), Frank Rehak (trombone), Hal McKusick (clarinet and alto saxophone), Teo Macero (tenor saxophone), Hall Overton (piano), Charles Mingus (bass) and Ed Shaughnessy (drums). Olivia Mattis (2006) gives a comprehensive account of these sessions, and bassist Bill Crow discusses the meetings in his 1993 book From Birdland to Broadway. The improvised nature of the music occurred four years before Ornette Coleman's album Free Jazz (1961) was released. Might Zappa have been aware of Varèse's jazz associations?

Reprinted from Zappa and Jazz: Did it Really Smell Funny, Frank? © 2015 Geoffrey Wills (Matador)

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 Post subject: Re: FRANK ZAPPA AND JAZZ
PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:54 am 
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Sweeeeet, cheers Urs'

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 Post subject: Re: FRANK ZAPPA AND JAZZ
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 7:01 pm 
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ursinator wrote:
also interesting, 90 mins radio documentary on the topic feat. lots of allumnis:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hpcWPxBzpI

Zappa And Jazz: Did It Really Smell Funny, Frank?

Zappa referred to another jazz album that he was familiar with in a 1967 interview with Frank Kofsky. He was asked if he listened to John Coltrane and he replied, "Well, I don't own any Coltrane, except he's one artist on the anthology album that Tom Wilson produced in 1950 [it was actually 1957]. The one that has Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra. It's called Jazz in Transition—it's a classic."

This album features Sun Ra and Cecil Taylor at relatively conventional stages in their careers, and John Coltrane in a mid-1950s hard bop setting reminiscent of his Blue Train session. Other tracks include one with Donald Byrd, featuring Horace Silver and Art Blakey, and Boston groups led by Dick Wetmore, Jay Migliori and Herb Pomeroy (the album was recorded in Boston to showcase Wilson's Transition label). So here was Zappa enthusing about an album containing a mixture of 1950s modern and early avant-garde jazz.

It is interesting to speculate about other research trips that Zappa might have made. As Vladimir Simosko states in his 1974 biography of Eric Dolphy, the Ojai, California, Festival in 1962 featured Dolphy playing Varèse's 'Density 21.5,' and other performers included Cathy Berberian and Luciano Berio. Compositions by John Cage and Thelonious Monk were played. This is the sort of event that Zappa might have attended but not talked about. Certainly, Zappa associates like trumpeter Malcolm McNab were involved in the Ojai Festival during the early 1960s. McNab discusses this in the notes for Wazoo (2007). Interestingly, Zappa had Cathy Berberian in mind as a singer when he wrote a piece of music in 1968 entitled "Music for the Queen's Circus" which later became 200 Motels. Zappa's widow Gail discussed this at a talk given prior to the 2013 London performance of 200 Motels (Greenaway, 2014).

One also wonders whether Zappa paid a visit to The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, despite his disparaging comments about Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All Stars (as well as referring to them in the 1979 Musician interview, he sarcastically called them "Howard Ramsey's Light Love All Stars" in the 1967 Frank Kofsky interview, so he was familiar with their music). A number of black groups, playing funky, soulful hard bop that would have appealed to Zappa, recorded live albums there. They included those of Julian "Cannonball" Adderley in 1960 and The Jazz Crusaders and Curtis Amy, both in 1962. After appearing at the Lighthouse, Amy hired the crisp, swinging drummer Ron Selico, who played on Zappa's classic track "Peaches en Regalia" in 1969. Selico can be heard with Amy, recorded on the 1962 KTLA TV programme Frankly Jazz, on the 2008 Dupree Bolton CD Fireball. Fellow Californian musicians like John Densmore, who became the drummer with The Doors, were familiar with The Lighthouse. Densmore, as reported by Harvey Kubernik in 2009, said:

"I saw every jazz great who came to town the first half of the 1960s. Les McCann at the Renaissance Club. Cannonball Adderley at Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse. Bill Evans five or six times at Shelly's Manne Hole."

Another fact worth noting is that, around the time that Zappa was becoming aware of the music of the composer who became his favourite, Edgard Varèse, the latter was forming close associations with New York jazz musicians. He was on friendly terms with Charlie Parker until the latter's death in 1955, as he described in Robert Reisner's book Bird: The Legend of Charlie Parker (1962), and was involved in a series of jam sessions in 1957, organized by composer Earle Brown. Eminent jazz musicians participating included Art Farmer (trumpet), Frank Rehak (trombone), Hal McKusick (clarinet and alto saxophone), Teo Macero (tenor saxophone), Hall Overton (piano), Charles Mingus (bass) and Ed Shaughnessy (drums). Olivia Mattis (2006) gives a comprehensive account of these sessions, and bassist Bill Crow discusses the meetings in his 1993 book From Birdland to Broadway. The improvised nature of the music occurred four years before Ornette Coleman's album Free Jazz (1961) was released. Might Zappa have been aware of Varèse's jazz associations?

Reprinted from Zappa and Jazz: Did it Really Smell Funny, Frank? © 2015 Geoffrey Wills (Matador)

Thanks for posting.

Crusaders, Cannonball, Sun Ra, Coltrane, Mingus, Bird, Bill Evans "5 or 6 times". This is, like, the essence of American improvisational music in our lifetimes. And it's always been clear Zappa liked some of the stuff that gets filed under jazz. Black Napkins was jazz in 1976. Is it still? Who cares? "Jazz" as a word lost most of it's meaning as the 70s were grinding to a halt. It's a shame FZ had to run into Miles. Almost any of those other guys would probably have been kind to FZ.


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