The Grand Wazoo

Released: November 1972

Tracklist

  1. The Grand Wazoo
  2. For Calvin (and his next two hitch-hikers)
  3. Cletus-Awreetus Awrightus
  4. Eat that Question
  5. Blessed Relief

Line-up
Janet Neville-Ferguson, Sal Marquez (vocals), Mike Altschul, Earl Dumler, Tony Ortega, Joanne Caldwell McNabb, Johnny Rotella, Fred Jackson (woodwinds), Sal Marquez, Malcolm McNabb, Bill Byers, Ken Shroyer Ernie Tack (brass), Bob Zimmitti, Alan Estes (percussion), Don Preston (mini-moog), Frank Zappa (guitars, percussion, vocals), Toni Duran (guitars), Erroneous (bass), Aynsley Dunbar (drums), Ernie Watts, Mike Altschul, Joel Peskin (woodwinds), George Duke (keyboards), Ken Shroyer (multiple trombones), Lee Clement (percussion)

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24 Responses to “The Grand Wazoo”

  1. kzdarwin says:

    Bizarre big band jazz. Quite different from anything up to this point in FZ’s released recording.

  2. Steef says:

    Ah, this must be one of the first FZ albums I fell in love with. Eat That Question and Cleetus Awreetus Alrightus are my two favourites. Definitely a great album.

  3. eNiner says:

    Eat that question is a thematic trip.
    Makes me happy just to know it exists…

  4. Craig says:

    I bought The Grand Wazoo and Waka/Jawaka the same day, at Apex Music Korner in Schenectady, NY. To this day I am not sure why I did! They are still my 2 favorite Zappa LP’s. My first exposure to what MUSIC is…no stylistic borders. How else can you explain the instrumentation and personnel of The Grand Wazoo to anyone? FZ signed my cover of The Grand Wazoo at a concert in Troy, NY in 1976, and Ernie Watts signed it after playing a concert with the jazz big band I play in, several years ago. I doubt too many people have albums with that combination of autographs on it. I miss FZ.

  5. Tom Lentz says:

    I am particularily fond Eat That Question, the intro riff is addictive…

  6. Helmuth Sgakal says:

    very good

  7. xorg says:

    Not just one of FZ’s best albums but one of the best albums EVER. I never tire of this album- the compositions are truly original and FZ did something new with the ‘big band’ format, demonstrating (again) that musical boundaries are there to be crossed. And done with a sense of humour too.

  8. marco J says:

    “The Grand Wazoo” picks up where “Waka/Jawaka” left off, and vice-versa. They really could have been released as a two-record set, their instrumental approach is so similar and complimentary. For many listeners, “Wazoo” is the more accessible work, probably because of the shorter pieces with less “space out” sections. For this listener, “Blessed Relief” is one of the most achingly beautiful compositions Frank ever crafted, right up there with “A Watermelon in Easter Hay”, and I often play a solo piano rendition for folks, and then surprise them with “do you know who wrote that?” When they find out it was Zappa, they choke on their lunch!! I love the shuffle feel of the tune “The Grand Wazoo”, and “Eat That Question” excites me not only because it has such a heavy feel for this particular band, but because its intro proudly presents the arrival of someone who is arguably the finest keyboard player Frank ever worked with: the marvelous George Duke. All over this stupendous record, varied instrumentalists are “locking” and interweaving in gloriously organized mahem, and this record (just like “Hot Rats” boasts) truly is a “movie for your ears”, just featuring many more players than that record did. It is really too bad that Frank couldn’t feasibly tour this Wazoo Orchestra more than he did, because this music is just as unique and exciting as the “Yellow Shark” material he did with the Ensemble Modern. Although the “Waka”/”Wazoo” period was quite short-lived in Zappa chronology, it still stands as a wonderful and essential chapter that should constantly be studied and revisited with your ears. Marvelous!

  9. ben's EclectiKtroniK says:

    This (criminally overlooked IMO) period in Zappa’s career comes after the freaky MOI years, and fits in between the Flo-And Eddie ‘vaudeville’ act and the move towards more mainstream guitar rock in the mid-late 70s – neither of which I especially like compared to this! This album is an utter classic.

    Agree with the above comments especially of Marco J, so I won’t repeat what’s already here. However, I think fans of this album should check out also Hot Rats, Waka/ jawaka and possibly Make a jazz noise here.

  10. Frunobulax says:

    This album has driven me to sit at a keyboard for three hours to figure out melodies. I have them for ‘Eat That Question’ and ‘Blessed Relief.’ I still have yet to figure out ‘Cletus.’ Why does music have to be so good?
    Still one of the best albums ever made. Ever.

  11. jimb says:

    has anybody ever heard the remix of eat that question? i heard it in holland someplace. anyone know who did it?

  12. Frunobulax says:

    A remix of ‘Question’? How interesting! I wish I knew who did this.

  13. kim svendsen says:

    Exescuse me! BUT THIS ALBUM IS NOT PERFECT…. FOR CALVIN SUCKS BIG TIME… BUT BLESSED RELIEF IS WOUNDERFUL…… little bit more guitar and grand Wazoo had been a masterpiece…..

  14. Frunobulax says:

    ‘For Calvin…’ is an atonal masterpiece. It shows the road which led to ‘Mo & Herb’s Vacation.’ How can you hate it?!?

  15. kim svendsen says:

    beacauce it sounds terrible! its too hard to swellow! i get psychotic ever time i hear it……

  16. Frunobulax says:

    Check your head, because something’s wrong! ‘Calvin’ is supposed to sound harsh. Jeez.

  17. jim says:

    The Grand Wazoo was the LP that made me furious when i was circa 16, because it was so lacking in scurrilous verbal hijinx compared w/ what i’d come 2 expect from Herr Zappa, so that whilst being the album w/ the best shot @ airplay it was, ironically enough, the most offensive thing 2 my little ears that he’d ever put out – ! Ah, ironic paradox.
    But … even back then th’ tasty leetle sucker grew on me … i soon learned 2 love bathing in its iridescent indigo jelly … it made my silly brain pirhouette atop my spinal column w/ pleasure, which it now does anew, since i just got it again after 18 or so yrs., so nyah.
    I was trepidatious upon seeing the mutated track order but gotta say that it’s better than the original – that title track has more acoustic nutrients than most entire albums, & if you’ll let that monster in, t’others’ll actually seem polite in their (relative) brevity. There are bejeezly few songs in the Multiverse 1/2 @ nitro-injected rip-roarin’ HEAVY @ the theme 2 “Eat That Question” … & FZ’s vocals were never 2 be quite so gloriously SLEEZY @ when he was singing about, uh, er, the assorted ramifications, permutations & macrostructural methodology of la-la-la’s, rum’s & pum’s on “Cleetus Awreetus-Awrightus” … gee, i even have more tolerance 4 “Calvin” now, mayhap the remastering was actually worthwhile? Or i’ve just gotten enough age-rings around my tentacles now 2 fully & strenously identify w/ its esoteric exotica – if it makes ya feel psycho that may be JUST what it’s supposed 2 do 4 yez, mmm?
    Personally that response is an excellent depiction of my OWN visceral aversion 2 th’ Jazz Epik: ’tis neither relieving nor blesing 2 my uppity lobes, that … but what th’ fuck, i’m just one o’ them heretix that didn’t get off on “The Purple Lagoon” either … that one aesthetic quibble aside, this’s the kind of shit de whirled needz mo’ of, BAD!

  18. Wonderful Wino says:

    Lo que es la vida, un cambio radical. De la banda de comedia se pasa a esto parecido al jazz.Un disco que hay que escuchar si quieres tener una vida completa

  19. Centralscerew10iser says:

    With out a doubt Blessed Relief has to be one of Franks great musical excursions. He wandersup & down the scale with a refreshing sense of adventure, intespersed with some great horns, subtle guitar which shows a sensitivity missing in many other outings.

    A great group of backing musos, good compos, great sythesiser on Eat that question, Its nearly perfect!

    WITHOUT A DOUBT THIS IS THE ALBUM WHICH SHOULD BE #1 ON THE FRANK ZAPPA INTRODUCTORY LIST FOR ALL PEOPLE WHO PUT MUSIC BEFORE LYRIC.

    Tell your friends about it?

  20. Daniel Thomas MacInnes says:

    Fantastic stuff. I heard “big band” and thought of Sinatra and Tommy Dorsey. Little did I know this was a jazz fusion record comparable to the groovy stuff Miles was amazing the world with. It’s a great coninuation of the Hot Rats vibe, with a more polished, bigger sound. Terrific, fantastic stuff – makes me wonder why Zappa abandoned his fusion style after the early ’70s. What happened with that? I could take a dozen albums like this, instead of the endless pee-pee jokes. But maybe that’s just me. I’m probably in the minority here.

  21. bob says:

    Let’s give credit where credit is due — brilliant arrangements on Wazoo/Waka (and song Hot Rats) had to be done by Count Basie arranger Billy Byers, who is credited as trombonist (BB alluded to this in Billboard interview in the 1970s). Byers also apparently ghost arranged for Quincy Jones — Quincy even made him a Vice President, as I recall.

    Does anybody really think Jimmy Webb arranged MacArthur Park? Listen to Stan Kenton’s version arranged by Dee Barton — this came out in the Dee Barton obituaries.

  22. Limber Timber says:

    That is quite a leap Bob, to say that Byers arranged Waka/Wazoo. Quincy Jones is hell of an arranger, or used to be anyway. If Byers ghost arranged for Q, that is comprehensible, Q being a “busy man” with lots of gigs to fulfill. Dee Barton, was fine writer-arranger, too. But what’s your point?
    Waka/Wazoo just doesn’t sound like any of the music you cite. Zappa did know how to score for orchestra, so why this bizarre conjecture? Besides, MacArthur Park sucks, Stan Kenton and Jim Webb often sucked, and Dee Barton’s score for Thunderbolt and Lightfoot sucked. What the fuck does MacArthur Park have to do with Waka Jawaka?

  23. ken duvall says:

    Waka/Jawaka was done with many Sal Marquez overdubs…
    If anyone helped “arrange” it, it was Sal…

  24. JM says:

    Brilliant album. One thing that really struck me was in the title track (and I haven’t heard or read about this anywhere). Starting at about 2:43, they break into a B pedal tone that drops into this fantastic groove with guitar solo at 2:49-3:18. It suddenly struck me what it strongly reminded me of: the guitar solo portion of Floyd’s “Money.” Same key, same feel, and Wazoo was recorded in the Spring of ’72 right around the time Floyd was doing the first sessions for “Dark Side…”. Apparently Floyd had played portions of Dark Side live prior to recording it, so I wonder if this is Frank doing a quick tribute to them or if it’s toally a coincidence. I don’t think Frank, music and coincidence ever truly belong in the same sentence.

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