Paul Carr has written an excellent paper on the clash between the ZFT and tribute bands. Looking at both conflicting points of view in depth, he comes to this conclusion:
How would Zappa himself have learnt his trade if his heroes Varèse and Stravinsky had asked him to stop appropriating their music into the popular music canon? How can musical ability and indeed our culture grow if we are not allowed to experience from the inside what the great masters have already achieved? Zappa was outspoken about this very process, as typified by the Central Scrutinizer character in Joe’s Garage. This album features the voice of Ike Willis as the voice of ‘Joe’, in a rock opera about the dangers of political systems that are ironically and alarmingly similar to those adopted by the ZFT. According to Miles, Zappa’s coverage of the suppression of freedom of speech in music was inspired in part by the Islamic revolution that had made music illegal within its jurisdiction at the time and this is something he continued in his much publicized confrontation with the Parents Music Resource Centre. It seems that the ZFT are attempting to implement precisely the type of restrictions that Zappa despised, and in doing so conflicting with his legacy. As discussed at the start of this paper, Zappa himself liberally incorporated the music of his heroes such as Ives, Stravinsky and Varèse in particular into his creative idiolect, and to restrict musicians and the public’s access to music goes against the impetus of the post modern culture we live in.
Note: I’m not posting this as flame bait — I just think it’s a really well thought through essay. Give it a read and decide for yourself.