The UMO Jazz Orchestra: UMO Plays Frank Zappa (2004)

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With a playing time of 16:36 and no liner notes or list of personnel, this brief survey by Finland’s UMO Jazz Orchestra of the music of Frank Zappa is more a demo than a full-fledged album, but I can’t grasp who is being promoted. According to its cover, the album “Features Marzi Nyman,” but as I’m not familiar with that name I don’t know whether he (or she) is the vocalist (on Track 2 only) or guitarist (showcased throughout). To add to the mystery, there’s a picture of a guitarist on the front of the booklet but it’s impossible to say whether it’s a man or woman.

The orchestra performs four of Zappa’s songs, arranged by New York-based Ed Palermo, three of which appeared on an album released about seven years ago, The Ed Palermo Big Band Plays the Music of Frank Zappa (the lone vocal, “The Idiot Bastard Son,” did not). The singer, by the way, is definitely a man, his rich, bluesy baritone reminiscent of David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat and Tears.

The guitar is most prominent elsewhere, with an unknown trombonist adding a lithe solo on “King Kong.” The orchestra is sharp and the music effective in a rockish sort of way, but I can’t imagine anyone buying a CD that clocks in at less than seventeen minutes unless the price were reduced to about one-fourth of what he or she would normally pay.

[Ed. note: Marzi Nyman is a male guitarist.]

Track Listing: Peaches en Regalia; The Idiot Bastard Son; Sofa; King Kong (16:36)

Personnel: Marzi Nyman, vocals (?), guitar (?); other personnel unlisted.

Style: Big Band


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