If two is company, would three be a crowd? In addition to an already published pair of positivereviews of this homage to Frank Zappa, this third review will hopefully sail off as a good luck charm for Ed Palermo's future enterprises. Not that he really needs it, given the fact that NPR featured Palermo and this album in one of their Weekend Edition Sundays last Octobera very pleasant and welcome opportunity for this most entertaining and contemplative album to reach a wider audience.
I recommend listening with an open mind. One doesn't necessarily have to be a devoted FZ listeneror even profess familiarity with the original musicto appreciate or understand Ed Palermo's arrangements. Although Zappa's unique style and twist in moods is present in each of the tracks, Palermo's own palette of colors shines through. "RDNZL, for example, is like a rollercoaster taking the listener down and up a variety of big band jazz-infused moments, while flirting with its rock 'n' roll heritage.
Palermo sometimes strips Zappa's music from its lyrics, so whatever story there's left to tell, Palermo has to make his arrangements work twice as hard to get the job done. His musicians really pull it off, although one might hope for a little more of the dynamics and vibrant energy usually present during live performances. "Gumbo Variations sure sounds danceable enough, but it seems to lack a little in speed and passion to really set things on fire. It's the restriction of listening to recorded music. All the more reason to catch this bunch in live performance.
Besides the whack, the humor and the intricate ingredients Zappa was known for, Palermo added a touch of melancholy and sensitive awareness one wouldn't ascribe to the genius of his hero.
RDNZL; Take your Clothes Off When You Dance; Dwarf Nebula Processional March & Dwarf
Nebula; Pound For A Brown On The Bus; Sleep Dirt; Gumbo Variations; Mom And Dad/Oh No;
Paul Adamy: electric bass; Bob Quaranta: piano; Ray Marchica: drums; Ted Kooshian:
Kurzweil; Cliff Lyons: alto saxophone, clarinet; Phil Chester: alto & soprano saxophones,
flute, piccolo; Bill Straub: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Ben Kono: tenor saxophone, flute;
Barbara Cifelli: baritone saxophone; Charles Gordon: trombone; Joe Fiedler: trombone; Matt
Ingman: bass trombone; Ronnie Buttacavoli: trumpet; John Hines: trumpet; Carl Restivo:
vocals, guitar; Ed Palermo: arranger, alto saxophone.
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