Archive for January, 2014

Michael Hodsdon

Posted: January 29, 2014 in visual arts, zappa

Michael Hodsdon from Minnesota, #1 Pat Hingle fan and fabulous painter, has drawn some great ones of interest here.

Follow him on twitter!  @michael_hodsdon
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Mark Volman & Howard Kaylan by Michael Hodsdon

Mark Volman & Howard Kaylan by Michael Hodsdon

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Frank Zappa by Michael Hodsdon

Frank Zappa by Michael Hodsdon

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A Frank Zappa sketch by by Michael Hodsdon

A Frank Zappa sketch by by Michael Hodsdon

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A Frank Zappa sketch by Michael Hodsdon

A Frank Zappa sketch by Michael Hodsdon

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Giuliano Bottali

Posted: January 19, 2014 in visual arts, zappa

Another great Italian!

http://www.giulianobottali.net/portfolio.html

Ar Mattatoio, Giuliano Bottali, July 1982

Ar Mattatoio, Giuliano Bottali, July 1982

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Zolar Czakl, Giuliano Bottali, March 2014

Zolar Czakl, Giuliano Bottali, March 2014

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The Son of Mr Green Genes Himself, Giuliano Bottali, July 2014

The Son of Mr Green Genes Himself, Giuliano Bottali, July 2014

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Sluggo! Roads

Posted: January 16, 2014 in fz related album review, zappa
Mike Keneally & Beer For Dolphins Sluggo! SuperDeluxe

Mike Keneally & Beer For Dolphins Sluggo! SuperDeluxe

In 1994 (Boil That Dust Speck) 1988 was a million years ago and, according to this distortion in spacetime, about 4 million years have been the optimal distance to be produced (probably from an emotional point of view too) before releasing some piece of music by Frank Zappa. The releaser of the matter is dolphins dear friend Mr. Mike Hat Nokertompf Scambot Keneally. “I should be enough tall“, he should have thought, where tallness is a measure of distance too. And the release of the matter is:

Mike Keneally & Beer For Dolphins Sluggo! SuperDeluxe (2CD+2DVD+Download)

This hyperbolic piece of musical evidence includes the long awaited Sluggo! (out of print since 1997) in a new powerfully clear remixed version, with two bonus tracks.

Craney, the first bonus, is dedicated to Mark Craney. Mike Keneally wrote it to support Mark when he was still struggling with his bad health (Mike tells the story on his web site). Sadly Craney passed away in 2005.

I ignore the origin of the title of the second bonus track, but it’s seems that Bob Dylan’s Nose is a hot (sort of) topic on the Internet. Just google it, or try these two blogs: thenewcornpoppy, spinalbap. Mike says: “is a pretty scorching track recorded live in the studio by Bryan Beller, Joe Travers and myself.”

Such a luxury package includes also a DVD with the original mix and over two hours of unreleased stereo live and studio video material which witnesses some of the mystic of the Beer for Dolphins era. Just to give a sneak inside, during the first video live set (Club Tavern – Madison, WI – 8/8/98) the band builds a piece of music working on casual bits of humming produced by selected members of the audience, who are kindly invited to give away a short vocal improvisation. The episode arises into Uglytown, is a lot of fun and at the end of it, the band goes back to the song, but they can’t help themselves to quote bits from the former episode. And the fantastic highest moment of this frenziness is Keneally and Beller spontaneously starting to play in unison one of the previous themes into Uglytown. Mike describes the whole thing in the commentary track, in his words this is what you have back as “payoff” when the band is so comfortable with itself. And it is not all: some hidden treatments are also available on the DVD, I will not spoil them, search the menus carefully!

There is one DVD more, actually a DVD-A with no less than PCM 16/48 Stereo, DTS 24/48 5.1 Digital Surround, MLP 24/96 Lossless Stereo & MLP 24/96 Lossless 5.1 Surround. I for one can’t tell much about it as my PIBKOAPSI state endures.

The fourth physical piece of the Sluggo! SuperDeluxe embodiment is a CD including Mike Keneally & Beer for Dolphins performing live in Boston on August 15, 1998 (Live At Mama Kin). Another gorgeous 1998 live set which closes with a 13 minutes long Inca Roads, here we are. Shut up and listen to a great rendition. Mike take a long (4 minutes) solo, he starts quietly to slowly but boldly go to the final resolution sustained by a great rhythmic section. Mark Ziegenhagen takes the second solo, again over a great rhythmic section, with Keneally. Right after that a bit confused synthetic marimba lick, maybe the only blur of the set which showcases parts of Sluggo! and some BFD classics, like the beloved Dolphins sequence. The band performed also Immigrant Song, almost at the beginning of the set, after an instrumental intro. Needless to say, a pleasure for your ears.

Inca Roads aside, if you are a Mike Keneally fan grab Sluggo! SuperDeluxe, if you are not, you are even luckier, grab it and become a fan!

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A final remark. That is for Mike. For sure you already know Road Tapes #2. As soon as I heard Village of the Sun, the Helsinki ’73 rendition, I imagined what now could be your next official move into the Zappa realm. Take the “new” VotS intro and outro and write a new song within!

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Marco Dalpane is a composer and a pianist primarily focused on 20th century and contemporary music. He plays piano in Orchestra Spaziale meets Zappafrank and is one of the producers for the A Simple Lunch netlabel. He has also transcribed, arranged and performed for piano solo Peaches and Regalia and Frank Zappa suite (Let’s Make the Water Turn Black/Harry, You Are a Beast/The Orange County Lumber Truck/Oh No/Theme from Lumpy Gravy).

Here are the videos of these performances.

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Especially in the case of Frank Zappa suite, Marco’s transcriptions demonstrate that the music of Frank Zappa is a text that can be read in different languages keeping the original message, and sometimes renewing it.

Finland & Elsewhere

Posted: January 14, 2014 in folklore, zappa
Kulttuuritalo (Culture house) concert hall, Helsinki, September 22, 1974. Ruth Underwood, Chester Thompson, Matti Koskiala, George Duke. Tom Fowler and Frank Zappa. Matti Koskiala, a veteran Finnish drummer and percussionist, is teaching the band to play a Finnish tango, Satumaa.

Kulttuuritalo (Culture house) concert hall, Helsinki, September 22, 1974. Ruth Underwood, Chester Thompson, Matti Koskiala, George Duke. Tom Fowler and Frank Zappa. Matti Koskiala, a veteran Finnish drummer and percussionist, is teaching the band to play a Finnish tango, Satumaa.

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Matti Laipio, the author of the article about the Helsinki 73 concerts published on the Finnish magazine Intro, had a lot of further contacts with FZ in the years to come. In 70’s Matti was in touch with Antero Virtanen who has read the post about Road Tapes #2 and contacted this blog informing that some other stories about Frank Zappa and Matti are included in the Finnish edition of Barry Miles’ “Frank Zappa” (in the US: Barry Miles, “Zappa – A Biography”, Grove Press, Oct. 2005). Also, on the Zappa Books web site, Antero found an article from another Finnish magazine about the Shashlik events mentioned on the book. Here is his contribution.

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There is some knowledge about Matti Laipio and Frank Zappa in the Finnish edition of Barry Miles’ “Frank Zappa”. Actually the translation includes a 10 pages long bonus text “Zappa and Finland” by Esa Kuloniemi. Here’s a shortened version of such text.

Matti Laipio became the PR manager of record company Scandia Music in 1971. That year he met Zappa in the Stockholm concert and made a radio interview on him. In August 1973 Zappa arrived straight from Australia to Helsinki to arrange a two nights’ concert in September. The two sold out concerts happened in the Finlandia house.
The most interesting thing outside the concerts was that Zappa was taken to a Ladies afternoon dance in a Helsinki restaurant: Vanha Maestro. We used to have these dance happenings, where only the ladies were allowed to pick up men of their desire for a dance. At the dance Frank heard the Finnish version of tango for the first time. The Finnish tango is something like Argentinian flavoured melody with German march beat.
In Autumn 1974 Zappa and Dick Barber were here to arrange his concerts. This time Matti Laipio took him into Shashlik, a Russian restaurant where Frank had negotiations with Finnish bass and violin player Pekka Pohjola (Wigwam) about a recording project in Caribu Ranch studios in Montana. the project didn’t finalize, though. In Shashlik they met also a bunch of young Finnish ladies, who were celebrating a bachelorette party, because one of them was getting married – actually in the same weekend when The Mothers were about to perform in Helsinki. Zappa was invited to join the wedding party. Zappa immediately ordered Barber to change their arrival earlier so he and Gail could participate in the wedding party in the same Hesperia hotel the Zappas would stay. And they joined the party. Zappa got acquainted with the married couple so well that he visited the couple two years later at their home.
After the Hesperia hotel wedding party Matti Laipio asked Zappa if he would like to amuse his Finnish audience with a special number of Finnish tango. Frank thought that was a brilliant idea. So Matti got the notes for a Finnish tango “Satumaa” and took them next day to the rehearsals in the Kulttuuritalo. George Duke was fast to learn the melody, but Chester Thompson couldn’t figure out the rhythm, so Matti called a Finnish drummer Matti Koskiala for help. The Kulttuuritalo has a recording studio down stair and Zappa asked to book it for recording. This is how the guitar solo for “Inca Roads” was recorded. The rest of the concert was published on YCDTOSA vol 2.
If I can recall correctly Matti Laipio was mentioned as one of the producers. Matti Laipio visited Los Angeles in 1976. Frank asked him to come and live with his family on Woodrow Wilson Drive. He was accommodated in a small guest cottage. He tells that the main house was a blue, plastered wooden house with a work space down stairs. The actual studio was built only later on, but in the workspace he saw mountains of archive reels and R&B & Doowop records.
One day Matti’s wife visited the residence and she was given a welcome party where Moon Unit performed a dance and played a small harp. Ahmet was only two months old. At that time Zappa was working in Record Plant studios to complete his assignment with Warner. According to Matti Laipio he was mostly playing guitar solos on basic tracks, but in the studio there were on call also some of his musicians. Laipio met there at least Eddie Jobson and Patrick O’Hearn. During his stay in the studio Laipio remembers that at least “Lemme Take You To The beach” with Davey Moire’s vocals was recorded. Zappa defined it to be his summer hit single.
In Los Angeles Laipio was coaching a Finnish rock singer Jussi Raittinen for his Nashville album and they had negotiations with Capitol Records for the details. When they went to Capitol Records they bumped up to Frank Zappa. He was there to sell his summer hit, but without success.
Matti Laipio kept on his relationship with Zappa up to the finale and visited him in LA again in the turn of the years 1989-90. He tells about their discussions on Zappa’s participation in politics and businesses in the East-European countries. Laipio also tells that Frank had an interest in the Soviet Union market and had connection with a Moscow concert arranger Stas Namin, whose grandfather was Anastas Mikojan, one of the Soviet leaders. They had plans for a big media center.
Since Matti Laipio had plans to visit Hungary and was to visit the Hungarian president Matias Szyros, Frank got a business idea also with him. When Laipio got back to Helsinki, he got some 20 pages of fax to take with him to Matias Szyros. Matti also arranged Zappa’s visit for financial negotiations with the Troika Bank in Moskow.
Last time Matti saw Frank in 1992 in Los Angeles. At that time Frank was editing his old tapes with London Symphony Orchestra and correcting the poorly played parts. Laipio was on his way to New Orleans Jazz festival and when he was leaving the Zappas, Frank pointed out:” I wonder, why you like New Orleans. I find it disgusting. However, now, Moon (26) would also like to go there.” Laipio arranged that Moon could stay in the same hotel as he was and the parents were relieved. In the same afternoon, however, the Rodney King riots started and the airport was closed. Laipio regrets that he was that close to be a babysitter for a grown up Zappa daughter.

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I also found an article about the Shashlik events with very nice pictures, from the family magazine Apu (available here).

The first picture is Zappa with the reporter at Shashlik,  the fourth picture is Zappa with M A Numminen an underground veteran in Finland, the fifth is with Kirka Babitsin a late rock vocalist and the sixth with one of the girls at Shashlik. Then there is a picture of Gail and Frank in the mentioned wedding party with bride and groom Eva and Christian von Alfthan and a smaller pict of Eva’s sister Hannele Helkama-Rågård and aunt Maria Helkama.

Gail and Frank in the wedding party with bride and groom Eva and Christian von Alfthan

Gail and Frank in the wedding party with bride and groom Eva and Christian von Alfthan

As a wedding gift Zappa and the Mothers performed an improvisation of “Approximate” with words telling about Eve and the apple and boosted up with vague jumps.

There is a rumor, that very funny pictures were taken during Zappa’s visit to family von Alfthan’s home two years later, but they haven’t been published anywhere to my knowledge.

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Thank you Antero!

Some of these, and more stories from Finland are told in “Frank Zappa in Finland”, an article by Esa Järvi, available at the moment here.

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Leter one night, slime.oofytv.set sent another photo from the wedding party (as a comment here). Are they performing Approximate for bride and groom?

at the weddding party, performing Approximate? (photo by Reijo Porkka)

at the weddding party, performing Approximate? (photo by Reijo Porkka)

at the wedding party, back, mark of the photographer

at the wedding party, back, mark of the photographer

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thank you slime.oofytv.set, for shedding new light on the episode!

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Orchestra Spaziale meets Zappafrank, cover by Vanni Spazzoli

Orchestra Spaziale meets Zappafrank, cover by Vanni Spazzoli

At last, 13 years from his debut, at the end of 2013 a special edition of the project Orchestra Spaziale meets Zappafrank has been released by A Simple Lunch, an independent Italian “net label” from Bologna. Every title issued by this label is digitally available, and a limited number of cd-r physical editions with special artwork are also available.

The cover of the Orchestra Spaziale album is a painting by Vanni Spazzoli and can be seen in its real dimensions in some pictures taken during the “Magazzino dei ricordi” exhibition held at the art gallery L’ARIETE in Bologna (November 12, 2011 | January 10, 2012).

A picture shot at the "Magazzino dei ricordi" exhibition available through galleriaariete.it

A picture shot at the “Magazzino dei ricordi” exhibition available through galleriaariete.it

A Simple Lunch will be presented in the same art gallery on January 11, 2014.

The Orchestra Spaziale has been put together by Giorgio Casadei in 1998 to create a big band able to play an assorted repertoire with references to easy listening, soundtracks, jazz, pop, liscio (a folk dance originating from the northern Italian region of Romagna) and original compositions. What follows is a sample list of deities given by Giorgio: Anthony Braxton, Homer Simpson, Burt Bacharach, David Lynch, Calvin and Hobbes, Mel Brooks, Derek Bailey, James Last, Spider Man, Roswell Rudd, Betty Page, Don Ellis, Carla Bley, Zagor, Zandozy, Raffaella Carrà, Sun Ra, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Don DeLillo, Ringo Starr and Clint Eastwood.

The Zappafrank project has been commissioned in 2000 by Consorzio I Teatri di Reggio Emilia for the “Di Nuovo Musica” festival. Giordano Montecchi, a musicologist who knew Casadei and his Orchestra, gave the idea of a Zappa project for a young big band, and it worked fine!

The project refers to the asteroid of the same name.

Most of the Zappafrank live shows have been performed between 2000 and 2005, some of them have been recorded. The A Simple Lunch album has been edited from at least three sets. Further sources has been used, in the case of Uncle Meat according to a xenochrone process. In the album Italian notes Casadei explains:

The central section includes overlapped unreleased material from totally independent sources. The xenochrone contribution has been given by Dencs Daniel Csaba (drums), Giorgio Casadei (guitar, bass), Alessandro Lamborghini (reverse aesthetics).

Complete credits are available through the A Simple Lunch soundcloud site, where the whole album is available for audio streaming.

Here is the album program:

1. Regyptian Strut (§) 4’17”
2. Let’s make the water turn black (§) 2’54”
Solo: Marco Zanardi (tenor sax)
3. The torture never stops (*, §) 8’28”
Solos: Alessandro Lamborghini (guitar) e Vincenzo Vasi (vocals)
4. Uncle Meat / Right There (*, §) 6’54”
Solos: Alfredo Impullitti (piano), Vincenzo Vasi (theremin), Giorgio Casadei (guitar)
5. Pygmy Twylyte (you can’t do that mazurca on stage anymore) (*) 10’06”
solos: Massimo Semprini (tenor sax), Federico Tassani (trombone), Adriano Pancaldi (tenor sax), Manolo Nardi (trumpet)
6. How Could I be such a fool (*) 4’39”
trumpets: Daniele Giardina, Manolo Nardi, Mario Gigliotti
solos: Ivan Valentini (tenor sax), Marina Ciccarelli (trombone)
7. Stick it Out (§) 4’19”
solo: Giorgio Casadei (guitar)
8. Holiday in Berlin (§, °) 6’35”
solos: Adriano Pancaldi (soprano sax), Massimo Semprini (tenore sax with the himself ensemble)
9. RDNZL (*) 8’27”
solos: Ivan Valentini (tenore sax), Federico Tassani (trombone)
10. Outside Now (§) 6’05”
solo: Giorgio Casadei (guitar)
11. Oh No – Orange County (*, §) 8’37

* = Reggio Emilia, Teatro Ariosto, November 5, 2000, “Di Nuovo Musica” festival, section: “il suono e l’onda”
§ = Bologna, Container Club, December 2, 2003
° = Cagli, Teatro Comunale, December 29, 2005, “il suono di una mano sola” festival

Regyptian Strut is a perfect opener, the arrangement is faithful to the original and gives a great introduction to the sound of the band. Theremin parts are noteworthy!

The Let’s Make the Water Turn Black rendition has the right irony and works fine to prepare the entry of The Torture Never Stops, with an arrangement full of new details, perfectly in tune with the spirit of the song. A guitar/(tortured) vocal duet plays the improvised section. Vincenzo Vasi powerful voice is in evidence, also due to a strong Italian accent that gives further eccentricity to the piece (Bizzarre!).

Time to low the pressure a little bit, the first part of Uncle Meat takes this function. After the theme, a quiet piano solo follows, by Alfredo Impullitti, a great musician passed away too early in 2002. Then the theme again, followed by an improvised section with xenochrone inserts that segues into the Right There finale.

Again further new details in the varied arrangement of Pygmy Twylyte. In the original presentation of the project Casadei explains how he wanted to use different styles, as Zappa often did, particularly in his own different arrangements of this piece (compare Roxy and YCDTOSA 2). So Mazurca (a style of lisco) and rock blues alternate. Also, the beginning of the YCDTOSA 2 guitar solo has been transcribed and rearranged here for winds, a great written section that preludes to the improvised finale, that goes into Heavy Duty Judy, which unfortunately fades out. HDJ have been actually used as an intro to the following song, cut off here maybe because of the Italian speech in the intro. In spite of this brutal fade out finale, Pygmy Twylyte is one of the highlights of the album.

Time to low again the tone with a gorgeous Mexican intro to How Could I Be Such a Fool, rendered with a dramatic cadenza in which further Mexican elements are disclosed. The finale is an Orchestra fade out very effectively conceived, but the effect is lost when Stick it Out harshly enters. In the radio performance mentioned below, the transition is into Holiday in Berlin and it works better. Anyway, going back to the album, the Orchestra Spaziale version of Stick it Out is extremely tight and the band resembles the Don Ellis Orchestra. The song ends with a short Casadei solo on guitar who quotes Jimi Hendrix (Third Stone from the Sun) and the Beatles (Day Tripper).

The transition into Holiday in Berlin works properly here and the arrangements is faithful to the original, the closing improvised section is given to the saxophones who play a few bars alone in the emptiness of a silent Orchestra.

A powerful RDNZL follows. After the theme and a great tenor sax solo (in the position of the Zappa solo in the Studio Tan version), the Orchestra gives its best. Then another great solo for trombone in the “latin” section followed by a Don Ellis-que arrangement for a great finale.

Outside Now is perfect here to low again the tone. Giorgio Casadei takes his longest solo here, a touching tribute to Zappa.

Oh No – Orange County closes the set. The first part follows the original arrangement, then, using a sort of mambo-cha-cha-cha tempo, the piece deviates, and after a sort of vocal solo, the finale is for full Orchestra and baritone sax. Again a fade out here, in the original live shows the finale is a vehicle for the presentation of the band. In the case of the album the band is not the same on every track, that is maybe why it has been cut off.

This album gives a chance to discover a FZ project little known outside Italy, which deserves more international recognition.

The approach of Giorgio Casadei to this repertoire and to read the Zappa attitude at jazz can be summarized through the following quote from an article by Jon Newey entitled “Broadway the Hard Way”, published by Jazzwise on the December 2003/January 2004 issue (n. 71).

Jazzwise n.71, December 2003/January 2004

Jazzwise n.71, December 2003/January 2004

Grand Wazoo has a distinct jazzy feel throughout. The form is intro, theme, solos and theme. However the theme is 87 bars in length with key, rhythm and theme shifts with a blowing section that has carefully marshalled background figures ebbing and flowing throughout against an intriguing rock-swing feel generated by the rhythm section.

These few words give the right picture of what a jazz big band should consider to render Zappa, going beyond the straight exposition of the main theme, and taking into account some specific work to arrange the rhythm section.

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RAI Radio3 December 6, 2003 event flyer

RAI Radio3 December 6, 2003 event flyer

As a final note, it is worth mention that Zappafrank show has been presented live in studio at RAI Radio3, one of the Italian public radio channels, on December 6, 2003, 10 years after Zappa passed away. The Zappafrank album has been issued 20 years after, and in the his notes Giorgio Casadei mentions all the people who supported the project and the 2003 RAI Radio3 event, which has been broadcasted again by the same radio on December 4, 2013. The 2013 RAI Radio3 tribute show has been named NON MANGIATE LA NEVE GIALLA (Don’t You Eat the Yellow Show).

Here are setlist and credits for the 2003 RAI Radio3 concert.

1 Regyptian Strut
2 Let’s Make the Water Turn Black
3 The Torture Never Stops / Pygmy Twylyte
4 Heavy Duty Judy Intro / How Could I Be Such a Fool
5 Holiday in Berlin / Run Home Slow
6 Outside Now
7 Uncle Meat
8 RDNZL
9 The Deathless Horsie / Oh No / Son of Orange County
10 Stick it Out

Encores
11 Anything
12 You Are What You Is

Giorgio Casadei: conduction, guitar, arrangements
Massimo Semprini: alto sax, tenor sax, flute
Ivan Valentini: alto sax, tenor sax, soprano sax
Adriano Pancaldi: tenor sax, soprano sax
Marco Zanardi: baritone sax, tenor sax, clarinet
Daniele Giardina: trumpet
Manolo Nardi: trumpet
Mario Gigliotti: trumpet
Federico Tassani: trombone
Marina Ciccarelli: trombone
Marco Dalpane: piano, keyboards
Alessandro Lamborghini: guitar
Andrea Taravelli: bass
Claudio Trotta: drums
Vincenzo Vasi: vocals, theremin

This recording is in the Zappateers archives, and is sometimes available somewhere else, today here (titles are sometimes misspelled).

Some picture I shot with my old Nikon F80 are available here. Here is the first one.

Giorgio Casadei at RAI Radio3 Via Asiago 10 studio, Rome, December 6, 2003

Giorgio Casadei at RAI Radio3 Via Asiago 10 studio, Rome, December 6, 2003

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Debra Kadabra, issue 25, December 2001

Debra Kadabra, issue 25, December 2001

A real final note for Italian reading persons only. Please find an article by Giorgio Casadei published by Debra Kadabra, the Italian Frank Zappa fanzine (issue 25, December 2001). Here: Orchestra Spaziale meets Zappafrank.

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