Created by Bang On A Can, New York City’s Asphalt Orchestra is Bang On A Can’s street band. A 12 piece ensemble of brass and percussion, Asphalt Orchestra brings together “odd meters, virtuosic playing, and general tech-dorkery under the vibrant, visceral auspices of totally fun street performance” re-imagining the marching band, drawing their repertoire from rock, jazz and classical. Their self-titled debut (out this month via Cantaloupe) attempts covers of Frank Zappa, Björk, frenetic Balkan jazzer Goran Bregovic, tech-metal kings Meshuggah, and NYC’s own Tyondai Braxton of Battles.
Asphalt Orchestra’s version of Zappa’s “Zomby Woof” nails all his “tricky nonsense and jazz-fusion insanity with the added bonus of some slapstick honking and wild trumpet solos” or so says The Village Voice which also interviews the band regarding their decision in choosing Zappa and “Zomby Woof” in their “Q&A with Asphalt Orchestra”:
Tell me about your decision to cover “Zomby Woof.”
Ken Thomson: Zappa was one of the first composers on our list when we decided to form Asphalt. I believe his music truly achieves what we’re trying to do here–combining the sounds of many genres and cultures into a personal synthesis that rings honest and vibrant.
Jessica Schmitz: One of our band members, Peter Hess, suggested we cover the song. The goal was to find a Zappa piece that wasn’t so out there that no one would know it, but not one that’s too prevalent in the Zappa canon.
The Village Voice also offers the track for a free download in it’s New York Music – Sound of the City section. Listen here. If you want to hear more, go to Asphalt Orchestra’s website.
Note: On the Bang On A Can Audio section, there is fantasic Conlon Nancarrow piece under the category ‘unpop’, Piano Studies #3a “Boogie Woogie” (arr Evan Ziporyn).