If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.
You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...
Frank Zappa’s now batting .500. I’d heard one other big–band tribute to Zappa’s music (by an ensemble that will remain nameless) and was thoroughly unimpressed. But the second time’s a charm — and a charmer as well.
What’s the difference? It has to be the fabulous charts by bandleader / alto saxophonist Ed Palermo who’s long been an admirer of Zappa and manages to bring out the best in his labyrinthine and often quirky compositions. What’s more, he makes sure they swing, not an easy task when one is dealing with music written for another genre, in this case rock. When one is planning a tribute, it’s usually more successful when he thinks highly of the honoree, and Palermo makes no secret of his respect for Zappa who was always on the cutting edge of whatever was happening in the world of pop / rock music. About the nicest thing one can say about the eleven selections on this dashing and colorful album is that they sound as though they were actually written for a contemporary big band such as Palermo’s (one of them, Palermo’s “wai’fn?,” actually was).
And what a remarkable band this is, generously stocked with some of New York’s finest musicians and enhanced on a number of tracks by guests Bob Mintzer or Chris Potter (tenor sax), Mike Keneally or Mike Stern (electric guitar) and vibraphonist Dave Samuels. Mintzer is featured on the appropriately named “King Kong” (that’s close to what his tenor sounds like), Potter on “Waka / Jawaka,” Samuels on “Twenty Small Cigars,” Keneally on “Aybe Sea,” Stern on “The Little House I Used to Live In” and “Who Are the Brain Police? / Holiday in Berlin.” Palermo has his say too, soloing crisply on alto (“Toads of the Short Forest,” “Sofa #1, “wai’fn?”) and joining Keneally and Stern to make up a splendid guitar trio on “We Are Not Alone.” Mintzer also solos on “Toads,” Samuels on “Sofa #1,” pianist Bob Quaranta on “wai’fn?,” alto Cliff Lyons (with Keneally) on “Peaches en Regalia,” while Ted Kooshian is heard on guitar (“Toads”) and harpsichord (“wai’fn?”).
High marks for Palermo’s sure–handed rhythm section, anchored by drummer Ray Marchica, which wrestles Zappa’s brawny compositions to the ground and bars them from breaking free, and for the other sections as well (presided over by lead trumpeter Liesl Whitaker) who are always on top of their game. As Palermo notes in thanking them, “Folks, this Zappa stuff ain’t easy, and my band mastered all of it.” There’s no doubt about that, Ed — and your engaging enterprise has caused at least one listener to reconsider his opinion of Zappa’s music. Perhaps others may do the same.
Track Listing: Peaches en Regalia; Toads of the Short Forest; Who Are the Brain Police?/Holiday in Berlin (excerpt); Twenty Small Cigars; King Kong; Aybe Sea; Waka/Jawaka; Sofa #1; The Little House I Use to Live In; We Are Not Alone; wai’fn?
Personnel: Ed Palermo, leader, alto sax, guitar; Cliff Lyons, flute, clarinet, alto sax; Phil Chester, piccolo, flute, soprano, alto sax; Chuck Fisher, flute, clarinet, tenor sax; Jeff Lederer, flute, tenor sax; Al Hunt, piccolo, flute, oboe, soprano, baritone sax, bass clarinet; Liesl Whitaker, Jami Dauber, Ronny Buttacavoli, trumpet; Jeff Holmes, piccolo trumpet, lead trumpet (6, 7, 9); Dan Levine, Dale Kirkland, trombone; Jack Schatz, bass trombone; Bob Quaranta, piano; Ted Kooshian, harpsichord, organ, synthesizer; Paul Adamy, electric bass; Ray Marchica, drums.
Contact: Astor Place Recordings, 740 Broadway, New York, NY 10003.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
We sent a confirmation message to . Look for it, then click the link to activate your account. If you don’t see the email in your inbox, check your spam, bulk or promotions folder.
Thanks for joining the All About Jazz community!