Zappa’s Last Project

Back in 1997, the ZFT announced on their website the impending release of Frank Zappa’s last completed project, recorded just 5 months before his death: an album of Varèse compositions selected, supervised and conducted by the man himself. Nine years have passed, and behold:

The long-awaited Varèse album may be coming out after all, possibly by the end of this year. “The Varèse album is on hold for a very specific reason,” Zappa’s widow, Gail, said in December. “We documented three recording sessions with a film crew, and they absconded with the film and tapes, and it took me eight years and lawsuits to get the sucker back.

6 Responses to “Zappa’s Last Project”

  1. Balint says:

    Thanks for the info! A tiny correction: the sessions were conducted by Peter Eötvös:

    “The noted new music conductor Peter Eötvös actually wielded the baton at the sessions, while Zappa rested on a couch directly in back of him, conferring frequently with the conductor, speaking directly to the musicians, using facial expressions to get what he wanted.”

    We’ve just made an interview with him a few weeks ago, we just need some time to translate it. He said it to be a beautiful period of time:

    „One day Nicolas Slonimsky arrived – he was the first conductor of Ionisation in the thirties. This was one of the basic pieces for which Zappa planned to do this recording in the first place, so the situation was beautiful: with the very first conductor, with Zappa, with the Ensemble, with me…”

  2. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    Right you are, Balint. The article does state though “conducted, ‘in fashion’, by FZ”. He was, indeed, in some way or other, “directing” the proceedings…

  3. muzza says:

    What a beautiful way to go out, two composers that you admire in attendance, one of them working on your final composition/ recording and the other present to enable you to fulfill the ambition to say thank you for past inspiration.I personally enjoy reading something uplifting about a piece of music or an album and then being able to listen to the music in peace , watching and waiting to see if all the small points of beauty i read about come through..sublime!

  4. bernard says:

    Yes, Muzza, you’re absulutely right.

    And Eötvös is a very good musician. My guess is that – if FZ would have lived much longer ( histiric counterfactual) – he would have concentrated on this kind of musical exercices, while still composing himself: building furhter on Varèse.

  5. Fun! says:

    lawsuit

    lawsuit

    lawsuit

    lawsuit

    lawsuit

    (yawn)

    lawsuit

    lawsuit

    lawsuit

    (pass me a sandwich please?)

    lawsuit

    lawsuit

    lawsuit

  6. xorg says:

    So the film crew took the film tapes away and the lawyers spent eight years getting ’em back. That brings us to 2001 and five years of nothing. But what was to stop the ZFT from meanwhile releasing a CD of the recording? Surely the film crew eren’t claiming copyright on the actual sound recording?

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