Dweezil Zappa: A Son of (a Mother of) Invention

Another big thing for next year is another DVD, our Roxy concert that we did 35 years to the date that Frank last played at the Roxy. We’re also working hard to complete Frank’s Roxy film, so hopefully both of those can get released by the end of 2010.

In an interview including also some other news: a new ZPZ CD, some other musical experimentations, Dweezil’s guitars, and the What the Hell Was I Thinking project – with a downloadable part from Zomby Woof’s solo.

31 Responses to “Dweezil Zappa: A Son of (a Mother of) Invention”

  1. Noam says:

    Wow, this solo is AMAZING

  2. Grimpo says:

    wow.

  3. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Noam:

    Wow, this solo is AMAZING

    I’m afraid, but at least to me, Dweezil’s Zomby Woof solo still sounds a lot like 80s Van Halen – which, of course, is great if you are into constant shredding solos a la “Run With The Devil” – believe me, I don’t mind “Running With The Devil” when the spirit hits, but Dweezil’s solos deliver a monotonous diet of this while Frank’s solos were, themselves, studies in improvisational composition. I think Dweezil’s cover story of hiding away for two years to change his style of playing is a lot of crock (mostly for the consumption of media).

  4. Thinman says:

    I still don’t care for DZ’s guitar style and especially the solos. Many players with lesser chops play far more interesting.

    Most aspects of the ZPZ project are like painting like numbers and so is the guitar concept with trying to imitate all the original sounds and everything. Boring.

    Th.

  5. Noam says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    A quote from Noam:

    Wow, this solo is AMAZING

    I’m afraid, but at least to me, Dweezil’s Zomby Woof solo still sounds a lot like 80s Van Halen – which, of course, is great if you are into constant shredding solos a la “Run With The Devil” – believe me, I don’t mind “Running With The Devil” when the spirit hits, but Dweezil’s solos deliver a monotonous diet of this while Frank’s solos were, themselves, studies in improvisational composition. I think Dweezil’s cover story of hiding away for two years to change his style of playing is a lot of crock (mostly for the consumption of media).

    Dweezil has more fusion influences than Van Halan.
    I like his play on chromatics (like Vai in Trouble Every Day on the ZPZ DVD) in this solo, and the fusion influences is very apparent in the solo here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpE64hdR-iU
    and by the way, I didn’t even like all of Dweezil’s albums.

    But yea, Frank was much better.

  6. Harry Barris says:

    Over such a basic & boring backbeat, it must be hard for any guitarist to come up with something inspired to solo.

  7. Birdman! says:

    I hear a lot more FZ in this solo than Van Halen. His phrasing is very much like FZ, but he’s sticking with one type of groove here and not changing things up, but this is pretty cool stuff, I aint bitchin’ about it. I dont hear Van Halen at all.

    Check out the schematic of his rig. That’s out of control. Sounds good – can’t complain about that. FZ’s guitar solo albums are really the only FZ I really listen to at this point, so it’d be great if Dweezil could develop enough variety in his playing to put out a guitar solo album (imagine the outcry and scandal). His tone is certainly interesting, but doesn’t have the dirt and mystery of FZ. Who does, though?

  8. Birdman! says:

    Shit – I’m listening to this again. If someone had the recordings to do it, it’d be great to hear a “The Lost Solos” or “We’re Only In It For The Guitar” type compilation of Dweezil. I’d listen to it. Who is this bass player?

  9. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Noam:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    A quote from Noam:

    Wow, this solo is AMAZING

    I’m afraid, but at least to me, Dweezil’s Zomby Woof solo still sounds a lot like 80s Van Halen – which, of course, is great if you are into constant shredding solos a la “Run With The Devil” – believe me, I don’t mind “Running With The Devil” when the spirit hits, but Dweezil’s solos deliver a monotonous diet of this while Frank’s solos were, themselves, studies in improvisational composition. I think Dweezil’s cover story of hiding away for two years to change his style of playing is a lot of crock (mostly for the consumption of media).

    Dweezil has more fusion influences than Van Halan.
    I like his play on chromatics (like Vai in Trouble Every Day on the ZPZ DVD) in this solo, and the fusion influences is very apparent in the solo here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpE64hdR-iU
    and by the way, I didn’t even like all of Dweezil’s albums.

    But yea, Frank was much better.

    Nice choice. I’m not suggesting that Dweezil isn’t an excellent guitarist in his own right – but when one is going to play FZ’s material, one must be willing to stand up to the obvious comparisons. For instance, in the video clip you selected, Dweezil asks how many people in the audience own Frank Zappa records, as though he would prefer to play to an audience unfamiliar with the nuances of FZ’s music. Why is this I wonder? I mean, if you are putting yourself out there as the sole arbiter of everything Zappa, and then frowning upon anyone else who attempts to perform FZ’s music, you’ve got to expect the hefty amount of criticism that’s going to follow your performances.

    Like it or not, agree with me or not, yet side by side ZPZ is no better and no worse than any other tribute bands I have heard, and I like them (and Dweezil) all for a wide variety of reasons. Perhaps ZPZ might do somewhat better to promote themselves as performing Zappa a la Dweezil, instead of attempting to resurrect Frank’s music note for note, then complaining when we “old fans” who bought all of Frank’s records criticize him for what he implies he is doing.

    One of the things I loved about FZ’s solos were that they were compositions within compositions. Most of the time they worked as such, sometimes not, but as a fan I was always willing to follow Frank as created his “air sculptures”. FZ took risks when he picked up his guitar.

    Can the same be said about Dweezil?

    Yes and no. He certainly took risks when he was composing some of the tracks for Automatic:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Va-5dUcrCTg

  10. Noam says:

    @ urbangraffito
    Can you give some examples for FZ solos which are compositions within compositions?

  11. Birdman! says:

    Noam – the original “Inca Roads” solo definitely fits the description. FZ always described his solos that way – as spontaneous compositions – but you could say the same thing about anybody who really improvises, which doesn’t really happen in rock that much.

  12. Noam says:

    The Inca Roads (I guess you’re talking about the One Size Fits All version) solo is the solo that got me and persuaded me to listen to FZ. It is absolutely amazing. The Zoot Allures solos are also my favorites.
    The technical improficiency which FZ takes (cognitively of course) is also a great component of his solos (Steve Vai talked about it in the Classic Albums documentary if I’m not mistaken). and the duet between the guitar and Chad Wackerman’s drums in the Halloween 1981 show is also magnificent.

  13. Thinman says:

    Lots of musicians (and listeners) understand improvised soloing as a display of instrumental chops – a demonstration of finger exercises in public.

    FZ never did that.

    Th.

  14. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Noam:

    @ urbangraffito
    Can you give some examples for FZ solos which are compositions within compositions?

    Two Zappa songs that immediately leap to mind, Noam, are “The Torture Never Stops” and “The Little House I Used To Live In” both from FZ’s ‘February 15th, 1978, Deutschlandhalle, Berlin, Germany’ show, which include within each composition, “Rat Tomago” and “The Sheik Yerbouti Tango” respectively. Of course, this isn’t apparent in FZ’s official catalogue, yet once you start exploring the myriad of versions in all the field recordings and bootlegs, these “compositions within compositions” just jump out at you.

  15. Noam says:

    Can you give me your messenger or e-mail so I can somehow get this show?
    My messenger\E-Mail is: drnigga23@hotmail.com

  16. metafunj says:

    Some of the lines he’s playing in this solo remind me of the crazy chromatic lines frank would write for xylophone, yet in a solo form. So in that way I find this solo interesting. Rhythmically its all up and down as Frank would say, mostly 16th notes so in that regard it is very far from how Frank would play.

  17. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Noam:

    Can you give me your messenger or e-mail so I can somehow get this show?
    My messenger\E-Mail is: drnigga23@hotmail.com

    You can download the show via torrent @ Zappateers, Noam:

    http://www.zappateers.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=3344

  18. Noam says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    A quote from Noam:

    Can you give me your messenger or e-mail so I can somehow get this show?
    My messenger\E-Mail is: drnigga23@hotmail.com

    You can download the show via torrent @ Zappateers, Noam:

    http://www.zappateers.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=3344

    I thought that 1 seeders isn’t good but I get good download speed.
    Thanks alot!
    P.S. I need serious recommendations. I have only 12.2 giga of FZ albums and I need more, plus other artists who are close musically to FZ.
    This is what I have:
    http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/7457/78367303.jpg

  19. urbangraffito says:

    Noam, I see from your list you’ve acquired the official catalogue (like all we Zappa freaks have done – some of us in multiple formats, too). I’m sure just about everyone would have a different set of favorite FZ field recordings (no two FZ shows are ever alike), which is what makes collecting them so educational and vastly entertaining. My recommendation to you would be to collect/download the A+ and A- soundboard recordings first, then the respective audience recordings. Begin with:

    1) Apollo Theater, Manchester, UK, 12 Feb 1979
    2) Geneva, Switzerland, 21 Jun 1980
    3) Hemmerleinhalle, Neunkirchen am Brand, West Germany, 25 Feb 1978
    4) The Ritz, NYC, 17 Nov 1981
    5) Mid-Hudson Civic Center, Poughkeepsie, NY, 21 Sep 1978

  20. Noam says:

    Thanks!
    Do you have any recommendation for artists who resemble FZ?

  21. Slap says:

    Try and find recordings by the Italian band Picchio dal Pozzo (combines FZ and Canterbury rather nicely), and I remember a French guitarist some years back called Albert Marcoeur (sp?) who seemed to carry a HEAVY FZ influence….

  22. Noam says:

    Didn’t find anything by Albert Marcoeur.
    Know already Picchio dal Pozzo, great band.

  23. Paul Sempschi says:

    I know it’s sort of obvious, but if you want some Zappaesque sounds go for the Mahavishnu Orchestra. McLaughlin’s dense guitar alone makes it worth the listen.

  24. Noam says:

    Yep I know the Mahavishnu Orchestra :]

  25. Thinman says:

    Only now did I bother to listen to the Zomby Woof snippet for the first time. And I still can’t find anything good in those performances. Tasteless sound and tasteless noodling.

    And what about the vocals on both ends of this snippets? Is there anybody out there who really thinks this is good and anywhere near what Frank did with his ensembles?

    I immediately have to listen to a Frank-recording in order to clean my ears from this ZPZ-acoustic-pollution right now.

    Th.

  26. peter says:

    The ONE ARMED BANDIT tune off Jaga Jazzist’s upcoming album is fairly Frank-like: http://www.myspace.com/jagajazzist

    Pretty sure this is still being offered as a free download via the ninjatune label site.

  27. Noam says:

    It sounds like something off a Mothers’ record.
    Jaga Jazzist is great, thanks.

  28. Slap says:

    I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before — I’m sure you’ve already been there, but also Magma. Udu Wudu is pretty astonishing, but most of their early work is worth a listen. Tristan Vander, the leader/composer/visionary of the band, is a drummer, so there’s a similar focus. And a decided lack of commercial potential…..

  29. Sterbus says:

    A quote from Noam:

    Thanks!
    Do you have any recommendation for artists who resemble FZ?

    Cardiacs are a good mix of Zappa and… punk.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxhuQWKwbqY

  30. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Noam:

    Thanks!
    Do you have any recommendation for artists who resemble FZ?

    Besides many already mentioned here (i.e. Mahavishnu Orchestra, Gong, and Magma), there’s early Little Feat, Geronimo Black’s self titled debut album, early George Duke albums (including his collaboration with Billy Cobham), the albums of Shuggie Otis, Don “Sugarcane” Harris, and Jean-Luc Ponty just to name a few.

  31. Slap says:

    A quote from Slap:

    early George Duke albums

    Holy poop, how could I forget these???? ANY of the albums that were released on BASF in the ’70s — Feel, The Aura Will Prevail, I Love the Blues – are superb funk/prog/fusion. (The latter features MR. Johnny Guitar Watson, btw). Kudos on that recommendation!

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