13 August 2007

Zappatistas - Live at Frankfurt Jazz Festival Oct 2003 (FM Recording)

Zappatistas is a Frank Zappa tribute band, composed of a group of British jazz musicians led by guitarist John Etheridge, who is perhaps best known for his work with Soft Machine in the 1970s. Since then, he's played with classicist violinist Nigel Kennedy, and other former Soft Machine stalwarts such as Elton Dean and John Marshall, and with Stephane Grappelli. I don't know too much about the other band members, with the exception of Annie Whitehead, who runs her own band and is considered as Britain's finest female trombone players (though I must admit I couldn't name any others).

I'm no particular fan of Frank Zappa, but I saw the Zappatistas live a couple of years ago at a local club and I thought they were tremendous. Unfortunately, they have made only one recording, which I think is no longer available. Also, their gigs are few and far between, as I expect the musicians don't want to become typecast into a tribute repetoire. I obtained this recording from a bit torrent, originating from a German FM broadcast. It was an old torrent file, only 2 seeds so it took over a week to download it, but well worth it as this is a rare example of the band's recorded work.

Considering that Zappa was thought to live much of his life under a drug-induced depression, much of his music is "jolly". There are some really good tunes in this work.

Personnel and setlist:

Zappatistas - 2003/10/03 concert : "Cool Rats - Hot Licks!" at the Jazz Festival Frankfurt, Germany

John Etheridge: guitar
Steve Lodder: keyboard
Annie Whithead: trombone
Teena Lyle: percussion
Simon Bates: tenor sax, alto sax, soprano sax, flute
Paul Jayasinha: trumpet
Rob Statham: bass
Mike Bradley: drums

1.Radio Intro 01:44
02.peaches en regalia 07:37
03.Big Swiffty 10:13
04.let's make the water turn black 03:49
05.sofa#1 02:29
06.eat that question 02:38
07.sexual harrassment in the workplace 04:19
08.king kong 06:42
09.Introduction to the band 04:40
10.sleep dirt 06:33
11.harry you're a beast / lumpy gravy 07:53
12.oh no 01:47
13.I am the slime 08:59
14.we are not alone 05:35

Some of the tracks finish a bit abruptly - tracks 6,7, and 8 are a medley which have been split up a little inappropriately, though hopefully this will not spoil your enjoyment too much.

FM recording ripped at 320 VBR. Thanks to "boomboom" on dimedozen for initial seeding.



Anonymous said...

Nice post man.

centrifuge said...

i'll check this one out...

"Zappa was thought to live much of his life under a drug-induced depression" - what?? zappa was very famously anti-drugs, excluding only coffee and nicotine (heavy duty analgesics late in his life of course, but not many i don't think) - where did you hear that?!

centrifuge said...

come to think of it sotise, are you not sort of trying to say to us, "look, forget about the real thing, this tribute version is much more palatable"?!

if you dig the tunes you would find your time repaid to check out some zappa live shows... start around 1973-4

thanks for this anyway... there are loads of these tribute projects, they're doubtless all very good (since you have to be in order to negotiate the charts, etc) but i haven't really taken the time to check many of them out... not heard this band before

initial impressions mixed... don't like the drummer AT ALL for one thing, it's a good sound for the band tho' - keyboards are pretty cheesy, but fz himself was fond of tacky keyboard sounds so that'll pass... some of the melodies aren't very fully fleshed out, such as "peaches" and parts of "big swifty" - a bit worrying since they have enough voices at their disposal to complete the complex tonalities, suggesting that whoever arranged the pieces might not hear the tonalities fully in the first place (? otherwise why simplify them?)

not overly keen on the '88-style arrgt of "let's make the water" tho' admittedly it does make a change to hear the lyrics (although... outside the greater context of woiiftm i don't think the lyrics are much use really, it's cracking little tune tho')

on the other hand i actually quite like what they've done with "king kong" - the drummer, who can't play a decent rock beat without sounding REALLY WHITE about it, is surprisingly good at reggae style - go figure :-S

mmm anyway i'm not about to review the entire thing... cheers, it's enjoyable and a thought-provoking listen.

oh yeah, the uk free improv scene benefits greatly from the presence of gail brand, a trombonist and music therapist.

centrifuge said...

some track notes: trs6-8 are separate pieces, which would not normally be played in this order, hence it's appropriate to index them separately... and the indices are actually in the right places, albeit not very accurately pinpointed !

track 12 is actually "lumpy gravy" (aka "duodenum"); track 11 is in fact the medley one might expect (with just "water" missing since that's already been played with vocals): "harry"/"orange county lumber truck"/"oh no"/""orange county lumber truck pt 2"

still not sure about it but there's some very tight ensemble sections... and it is fun...

sotise said...

centrifuge hi
just a brief clarification, boromir
posted this not i.

i know zappa was very anti hard drugs, though i think he enjoyed people believing otherwise, it did little harm to his reputation , im not saying he fostered that image only that it amused him that some people may have believed he was an acid freak.