The Grande Mothers & Guests in L.A.

On Saturday, April 25th, 2009 – in preparation for their Norwegian Tour – The Grande Mothers Re:Invented were joined by very special guests, Not Your Fathers Mothers String Quartet, for one performance only at The Music Recital Hall, L.A. Harbor College.

Harry Scorzo, friend of the band, and an accomplished jazz violinist (check out his pieces for jazz violin on his MySpace page – very reminiscent of 1970s era Ponty and Sugarcane Harris yet with a style which is distinctly his own) and arranger put together the String Quartet (featuring himself on violin, Tim Weed on violin, Dan Weinstien on viola, and April Guthrie on cello). Harry Scorzo did the string arrangements for “Pound for a Brown” (above), “Peaches en Regalia”, “Big Swifty”, and “Twenty Small Cigars” originally titled “Transitions” (below).

Don Preston arranged everything else, including “Son of Orange County” and “More Trouble Every Day”:


Unfortunately, these are the only videos from that performance which have thus far surfaced. Given that other concerts have been recorded at Harbor College’s Music Recital Hall, there is always hope that this show was also recorded (or at very least, more clips exist of this special performance). Don Preston, Napoleon Murphy Brock, and Roy Estrada are a joy to watch on the same stage. Chris Garcia, drummer, is the resident Grande Mothers historian (check out his other project, Eartha Austria Trio). And it’s easy to understand why the editors of Guitar Player magazine voted Miroslav Tadic one of the world’s thirty most radical and individual guitarists:

I highly recommend Vlatko Stefanovski & Miroslav Tadic’s ‘Live In Zagreb’ (featuring Theodosii & Swapan Chaudhuri) until such a time that The Grande Mothers Re:Invented release something.

10 Responses to “The Grande Mothers & Guests in L.A.”

  1. Harry Barris says:

    horrible heavy-handed unsympathetic drumming, but that seems to be expected with FZ tributes these days (and drumming in general…)

  2. urbangraffito says:

    While not every drummer is a Terry Bozzio, or Chester Thompson (or a Zappa drummer in general), I find Garcia’s drumming well suited to the task at hand (however, I plead complete ignorance to the nuances of drumming in general). That said, I know enough to place Garcia well along the proficiency curve (as a drummer). Indeed, he’s no technician like Bozzio, neither is he just a mid-range rock and roll drummer like FZ often described Jimmy Carl Black. Having heard his other musical projects, I’d place Garcia’s drumming firmly in the jazz camp. Perhaps this is what you mean by “heavy-handed unsympathetic drumming”, Harry Barris? We all know that songs like “Pound for a Brown” allowed for individual solos (including drum solos) by musicians (Don Preston’s solo, for instance). That, of course, didn’t give musicians free reign to improvise. They were playing FZ’s notes, after all, no matter who arranged them. Still, I found the overall performance quite reminiscent of certain early MOI versions from Uncle Meat and Burnt Weeny.

  3. urbangraffito says:

    Addendum: heavy handed and unsympathetic? Listen closely to “Son of Orange County” and “More Trouble Every Day”. In particular, the segue between the two songs. Perfectly executed. For a moment there, I thought I was listening to Chester…

  4. jonnybutter says:

    I think I know what Harry Barris means. I don’t feel like just slagging on musicians for fun, but this guy doesn’t kill me. I think UG is probably right that the guy is a jazzer. A lot of jazz players aren’t *committed* to the pulse the way, say, JCB was (or the other rock drummers who played with Frank). He shaves a few ticks of tempo off every few bars – it feels logey and not intense. Jazz drummers do indeed tend to play ‘flexible time’ – when Frank said that, I remember blurting out ‘YES!’ because I’d been playing with jazz drummers a lot at the time, and they were driving me nuts! I actually gave up playing jazz for that reason (and also because of the cheesy chord changes…).

  5. Harry Barris says:

    Hey jonny, i meant just the opposite: jazz drummers *should* play with some sensitivity–this guy just pounds away on the downbeat in a loud unswinging rigid manner–but everything is subjective (i think?)

  6. urbangraffito says:

    I’m giving Chris a pass here because I’ve heard other performances at other venues and his drumming doesn’t come across as loud as it does here (perhaps it’s the way the sound itself was mixed – playing live aren’t they at the mercy of the sound guy? Brian, Brain…can I have a little more monitor…Chris’s drum’s are giving Harry a headache!)

  7. jonnybutter says:

    Drummers should keep time, first of all. This drummer lags behind the beat. He has no intensity, to my ear. He sounded like a drum machine, but one that slows down little by little. Not good.

    The reason I bagged on jazz drummers is that sometimes when they play a straight beat, they seem bored, like they’re too ‘sensitive’ to play something so simple as rock (or latin beats) with intensity. I got that feeling here. You can play simply with intensity (like JCB did) and you can play a very complex part, also with intensity (like Bozzio did). Or you can phone it in.

  8. jonnybutter says:

    Actually, I wish I could erase my comments above. Pointless and grouchy. Sorry. I have a nasty cold…

  9. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from jonnybutter:

    Drummers should keep time, first of all. This drummer lags behind the beat. He has no intensity, to my ear. He sounded like a drum machine, but one that slows down little by little. Not good.

    The reason I bagged on jazz drummers is that sometimes when they play a straight beat, they seem bored, like they’re too ‘sensitive’ to play something so simple as rock (or latin beats) with intensity. I got that feeling here. You can play simply with intensity (like JCB did) and you can play a very complex part, also with intensity (like Bozzio did). Or you can phone it in.

    I completely get your point. I’ve witnessed bored drummers with no enthusiasm before, and they certainly take away from the overall performance, particularly if they are performing Zappa material. JCB may have been a mid-range rock and roll drummer, yet he always played with intensity (I refer you to the post of the original mix of Ruben, for example). Perhaps this was also the source of FZ’s overall public jazz aversion – not the music in and of itself – but it’s practitioners inability to remain on task when it came to performing his notes?

  10. jonnybutter says:

    A quote from jonnybutter:

    I’ve witnessed bored drummers with no enthusiasm before, and they certainly take away from the overall performance

    Indeed. If you’re going to mess with the tempo, at least push rather than pull. Pulling is deadly.

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