Zappa Wazoo

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Released 31 October 2007

Disc One

  1. Intro Intros
  2. The Grand Wazoo (Think It Over)
  3. Approximate
  4. Big Swifty

Disc Two

  1. “Ulterior Motive”
  2. The Adventures Of Greggery Peccary
  3. Movement I
  4. Movement II
  5. Movement III
  6. Movement IV – TheNewBrownClouds
  7. Penis Dimension
  8. Variant I Processional March

From the liner notes: “This concert was recorded live at Boston Music Hall in Boston, Massachusetts on 24 September 1972. These stereo masters were digitally transferred from FZ’s Ampex ATR 100 deck into Nuendo at 96 K 24 bit by Joe Travers using Euphonix AM 713 Converters – in April 2007. …this concert had a slightly different original dynamic in that Big Swifty followed Greggery Peccary. Due to disc space we resequenced the program to maintain the integrity of the performance.”

11 thoughts on “Zappa Wazoo”

  1. Just Received my copy of Wazoo last night. Here is the play by play.
    Disc 1 – Improv disc
    Disc 2 – arranged

    The Grand Wazoo- This version surpassed the album version in many ways. After a somewhat sloppy first minute ( sounds like drummer drops a stick or something) the peice takes off and doesn’t let up. The “boogie” is tight but still posses that looseness that is so important for improv. Soprano sax, Slide guitar, organ, Trombone, Trumpet and Frank all get a crack at it before the theme reappears. It may be a little long but its so good!!!

    Approximate- A nice suprise with real abstract avant garde improv, Sounds like a bass clarinet or somethings. exciting and innovative jam and a nice percussion/drum feature.

    Big Switfy- Hot version with a fast funky 70’s style jam. Sax , Trumpet and Frank all solo. and it is HOT!!!!

    2nd Disc-
    All through composed zappa charts. I think I would enjoy it more if the quality of the recording was better but still it is very exiciting.

    I give the disk a 4 out of 5 . Merely because of sound quality. don’t get me wrong it is very listenable and will not disrupt your listening pleasure. But the intricate and sophisticated music especially on the second disc needs that perfect EQ

  2. I give the disk a 4 out of 5

    P.P. — I hope you realize the rating gizmo above goes all the way up to 10? (Not 11 I’m afraid.)

  3. killuglyradio Says:
    November 15th, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    I give the disk a 4 out of 5

    P.P. — I hope you realize the rating gizmo above goes all the way up to 10? (Not 11 I’m afraid.)

    I long since gave up attempting to rate FZ albums. They require a completely different standard from which to make judgements, comparisons, etc., and numbers just don’t cut it: especially when rating album to album and era to era.

    That being said, my only criticism of Wazoo was that parts of it weren’t entirely presented as originally performed/recorded. Otherwise, well worth the purchase.

  4. Maybe I’m the only one with this opinion so far: I think those performances are horrible. It’s painful to listen to this all the way through. No wonder again (the same with the Petite Wazoo), FZ didn’t release anything himself from this period beyond the studio recordings.

    If you are looking for performances and releases that are up to FZ’s own standards of his lifetime: don’t try this one.

    (Now you can beat me.)


  5. Michael Pabst, I won’t beat you, but I will discuss this release with you. After listening to Wazoo, and enough of a period had passed to fully digest what I had heard, I then listened to The Grand Wazoo again. There’s a good reason why TGW was released in FZ’s lifetime, while Imaginary Diseases and Wazoo were not: TGW is simply a much superior release. That’s not to say that Wazoo doesn’t have it’s moments (the same for ID), but it comes across more as a well-produced field recording than a release up to FZ’s own standards. Still, I like Wazoo for that very reason. I reveals these pieces as they were performed during a time, and in a specific place. They weren’t the note for note standards, but they were on their way there…

  6. I love this album. This is the best posthumous release I’ve heard in years. If you enjoy the Hot Rats/Wazoo/Waka era then this should be right up your alleyway. I love the abstractness of it – it’ll hold up for years of listening.

    While I agree side two is more arranged, Frank says himself that at the end of each of the movements there are short improv pieces, and these little freakouts are pretty crazy. But, if you are a fan of ‘Gregary Peccary’, then avant garde weirdness shouldn’t be a surprise to your ears. I was amazed as I din’t know FZ performed this music, apart from ‘Brown Clouds’, so this was a great find for me.

    Be warned, it is a bit raw sounding…if you haven’t heard much live rock from this era it might sound ‘bad’ to you, but it’s just the difference between clean studio cuts and live performaces without a net.

    My highest recommendation!

  7. I love this album, just like Barbarella above. Nowadays I listen to it a lot.
    The main thing this album gives to me, is the experience of IMROVISATION. During almost each and every solos one can feel the strong concentration of the WHOLE band, one can feel that each of the 20 musicians are THERE and listennig, and taking part in it – waiting for the moment to join. This album is about collaborating, about being together (in a way), about experience. And yes: its anexciting game trying to find out which are the written sections, and which are the improvised parts (I like the part where FZ plays a solo in the Grand Wazoo, and under it the horns start playing. Who conducts them?).
    So: this is good. I like it.
    (one note: well, the beginning of Processional March is wrong… the drummer makes a mistake, I think.)

  8. This is an incredible time-capsule-worthy example of premier 20th century music and performance. Maybe not worthy of Frank’s studio output, but he didn’t edit it.

    Calling it anything other than a premier example of top notch musicians careening along their last chance effort to get the most out of this occasion, simply won’t do it justice.
    The range of genres explored and separate examples of different approaches to music-in-performance of which collaborative improvisation is ONE example, the suite of Greggory Peccary themes that were modified ON THE SPOT to reach still other musical genres within the frame of the suite, is another, the spotlight on the soloist in Penis Dimension (a trademark of this tour) is one more. Frank’s introduction of all the ensemble members and the way it works (this time) to the show starter with a slide guitar lick is itself a trick.
    People don’t operate in this field of exploration any more or at least very few do, I fear. With such a willingness to take a chance, mistakes get made in the moment. That’s just part of it. It used to be what it meant to play live. A chance.
    And damn but I want to hear FZT released versions of the Berlin or Amsterdam shows of this brief tour plus all the extant zappa recorded tapes from the following smaller ensemble’s tour.

  9. A fascinating glimpse into a previously unreleased tour. Whilst the sound quality is, er, somewhat “organic” (the sound levels are constantly shifting –sometimes pretty quiet, sometimes Very Loud!), the skill and enthusiasm of all the musicians involved more than make up for it. It’s kind of like, “So what if the bass is louder than the trumpet solo?! They still sound like they are having a good time!”

    The Grand Wazoo and Big Swifty are here presented as long solo-fests; and as there are 20 great musicians in this band, the solos all have something to say, and all go to interesting places (the baritone sax solo in Movement Three of Greggery Peccary also stands out). But what really makes these tracks so successful is the rhythm section of Ian Underwood, Tony Duran, Dave Parlato and Jim Gordon, who all seem to be enjoying themselves immensely and are never boring.

    As noted above, Jim Gordon does seem to make a couple of Mistakes: at the beginning of The Grand Wazoo it does indeed sound like he drops a stick, or his bass drum pedal ceases to work and he tries to fix it; and he does something really weird at the beginning of Variant Processional March, which I can’t figure out whether it’s one of FZ’s strange rhythm figures or Jim drops (or gains) an extra beat to the bar. Apart from these two points, his playing on this album is a revelation – way more interesting that the two tracks previously heard on FZ albums (Apostrophe’ and Down In De Dew from Lather).

    The version of Approximate performed here makes previously-released versions sound like Top 40 radio in comparison. Here we get a wonderfully abstract, but at times still grooving, basis for adventures in improvisation. The first disc here is sheer enjoyment… once you get used to the sound levels constantly shifting!

    For me Disc 2 is less successful. There are some FZ conducted group improvisation sections between the Movements of Greggery Peccary, which hold some interest, but overall are lacking in dynamics. The Movements themselves are not as successful as the studio recorded versions; I have come to the conclusion that this is not just due to the sound quality here, but also the additions that FZ later made to the score. Including the vocals!

    Penis Dimension and Variant Processional March (later known as Regyptian Strut) are given perfunctory run-throughs here, and may have made more sense to the attendees at the concert who would’ve heard these pieces in the correct order (these two through-scored pieces would’ve appeared straight after the grooves of Big Swifty, rather than after the long, also through-scored Greggery Peccary): I haven’t gotten around to programming my cd’s that way yet!

    I almost forgot to mention: we get a real close up look at Frank’s entirely unique way of playing guitar solos. Here he almost entirely eschews distortion of any kind, so we can really hear his note choices very clearly – much like his late 1960’s work. That’s not to say his playing is anywhere near perfect, but to hear it in this context is absolutely fascinating. People may think they know how to sound like FZ, but it’s on recordings like these that we can really see how distinct his approach was.

    But this is an excellent album for fans, both as an album for enjoyment purposes and as a document of a previously unheard part of Frank’s Zappa oeuvre.

  10. It’s a live unreleased album and you should hear it as such: alternate takes of tunes that later were issued as studio-polished pieces.

    Having said that, the version of ‘Variant I Processional March’ (aka Regyptian Strut) is THE gem of this album!

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