Archive for May, 2015

Around Zappa

Posted: May 23, 2015 in fz related album review, zappa
Around Zappa, Quintorigo / Roberto Gatto, Incipit records (distributed by Egea Music), May 2015

Around Zappa, Quintorigo / Roberto Gatto, Incipit records (distributed by Egea Music), May 2015

Around Zappa is an Italian project started in 2014 from the collaboration between Quintorigo and Roberto Gatto. Though not exactly electric, an electrified ensemble with a taste for the eclectic, and a jazz drummer with a long and successful career, mainly in the acoustic jazz realm, but also linked with pop and progressive.

The band was founded in the late nineties and published more than ten albums that spans from originals to tributes to the likes of Charlie Mingus and Jimi Hendrix. Their peculiar instrumentation (violin, cello, double bass, saxophones, vocals) and the way they electrify them with large use of effects, are the main elements for their distinctive sound.

Through their web side, Quintorigo tells that Zappa has always been a secret idea of theirs and when Roberto Gatto proposed such an affair, it was the right push for the project.

A really experienced and powerful jazz drummer, an electrified ensemble, they all were longing for entering the Zappa universe, as they told the Rome audience during their short May residency at Big Mama (20-23), they met in the right moment, both ready to go.

Around Zappa is touring Italy as:
Valentino Bianchi: saxophones
Andrea Costa: violin
Stefano Ricci: double bass
Gionata Costa: cello
Roberto Gatto: drums
Moris Pradella: vocals

The set list for their May 21 date in Rome was:
1. Uncle Meat
2. Peaches en Regalia
3. Cosmik Debris
4. Montana
5. Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up
6. King Kong
7. Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow
8. Uncle Remus
9. Big Swifty
10. Igor’s Boogie
11. Black Napkins
12. Village of the Sun
13. Echidna’s Arf (Of You)
14. Zomby Woof

Arrangements:
Stefano Ricci: 1, 10
Quintorigo & Roberto Gatto: 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14
Roberto Gatto: 4, 13
Valentino Bianchi: 6, 8

That is the same program of the audio cd of the album by the same name, released this May by Incipit records (distributed by Egea Music) as a double set, also including a dvd recorded live at the Blue Note in Milan on December 12, 2014 with the following program:

1. Cosmik Debris
2. Montana
3. Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up
4. King Kong
5. Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow
6. Uncle Remus
7. Big Swifty
8. Igor’s Boogie
9. Black Napkins
10. Village of the Sun
11. Echidna’s Arf (Of You)

Montana and King Kong are also available on video via YouTube.

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The peculiar sound of the band emerges after a few bars into Montana: electrified violin and cello, together with the voice of the soprano sax for the main theme, supported by the solid drumming of Roberto Gatto, and by the melodic pulse of the double bass. But there is one more element that hits immediately: the vocals of Moris Pradella. His voice is warm and black, he can manage bass frequencies and knows how to call for tension, à la Ricky Lancelotti. However, especially on a first listen, one may get hooked by the strangest of the accents, which it is not an Italian one, but also not the English inflection you would expect. To fully enter into Around Zappa, one should jump this sort of linguistic oddity and enjoy the sound of the ensemble, the arrangements, the “electrified cello as a guitar” solos, the voice of the saxophones, the “cantable” nature of the violin and double bass parts, the swinging drums, but also the vocals palette: from the warmer parts of Uncle Remus and Lucille, to the frenzy of Yellow Snow and Zomby Woof, Moris gives a considerable contribution to the overall sound of the ensemble.

The King Kong rendition that follows in the video is one of the two arrangements by Valentino Bianchi, he adds here some melodic material that highlights the jazz elements of the composition, pushing the gigantic ape towards the 1970 Jean-Luc Ponty idea of the piece, featuring here a very well balanced drum solo by Roberto Gatto.

Uncle Remus is the other arrangement by Valentino Bianchi and includes a nice full band orchestration of the beginning of the original first Zappa short solo that perfectly fits the middle section of the song.

The above video belongs to the “Quintorigo Roberto Gatto” YouTube channel which also includes some of the tracks of the audio album, including Uncle Remus.

However you should go for the full album and for the project as a whole. Be sure not to miss Yellow Snow for instance, the orchestration gives an immediate flavor of the Around Zappa substance, and the brief electrified cello solo is a heavy swinger!

Their live act as performed in Rome on May 21 is really close to the studio recording presented as an audio cd in the album. As a matter of fact Around Zappa is a live project, however it would be interesting if it could have a further studio development. Take the present version of Peaches en Regalia for instance, the layered nature of the piece is effectively delivered especially in the first part thanks to the arrangement that properly takes advantage from every single voice of the instruments. However the final part (from about 2:40 on) reveals some room for further voices, that could be also orchestrated as studio overdubs. That was also a typical Zappa practice, just to give an example (that shortly will give a chance for a bizzare hook), consider Flakes as released on Sheik Yerbouti compared with the version included in Hammersmith Odeon, overdubs here are crucial for the transition to the finale.

The “She’s frosting a cake with a paper knife” lyrics section is overdubbed and it is Sheik Yerbouti specific. And since we are here, please watch this 1977 Pilsbury Frosting Supreme “Paper Knife” Commercial.

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But I digress!

Back to the further development matter, I can’t help going to Road Tapes, Venue #2 once again: I believe that the first sequence, from The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue to RDNZL, may very well fit this project as far as orchestration is concerned. Moreover it would be amazing to enjoy Quintorigo/Gatto play a Zappa suite, all songs segue.

I would like to close this post with the words of Quintorigo and Roberto Gatto, from the facebook page of the project:

Sentito, onesto, filologico, personale ringraziamento a Frank Zappa, accurato nella veste teatrale e scenografica, commosso e viscerale nella performance.

A faithful, honest, philological, personal thanksgiving to Frank Zappa, accurate as a theatrical and dramatic set, emotional and visceral as a performance.

But for the very last closing go for Zomby Woof, the appropriate final number for the cd audio set!

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Quintorigo and Roberto Gatto

Quintorigo and Roberto Gatto

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MOTHERS DAY 2015

Posted: May 11, 2015 in album review, zappa
Pick Me, I’m Clean - Single (download only) - May 10, 2015

Pick Me, I’m Clean – Single (download only) – May 10, 2015

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As pointed out by zappateers NikZah, Zappa Family Trust is been continuing to issue new special items on Mothers Day. A new one every May 10th, almost always a digital download:

10 May 2009 – Mothermania – digital download
10 May 2010 – Buffalo, EIHN, Imaginary Diseases and FZ:OZ – digital download
10 May 2011 – Penguin In Bondage / The Little Known History Of The Mothers Of Invention – digital download
10 May 2012 – I’m Not Satisfied 1964 – free mp3
10 May 2013 – It Can’t Happen Here / Who Are The Brain Police? / HELP I’M A ROCK – 12” single pre-order
10 May 2014 – Zoot Allures 1982 / Cosmik Debris 1973 – digital download

(See MOTHERS DAY 2014 elsewhere on this blog for the last year ZFT issue).

May 10, 2015 was the right time for a summer 1980 rendition of Pick Me, I’m Clean, as usual available through Barfko-Swill.

Here are the short May 10th Pick Me, I’m Clean “liner notes” from the zappa.com “whatsnew” page:

Pick Me, I’m Clean – Single, Download

“There is no undertaking more challenging, more rewarding than the responsibility of being a Mother.”
˜ Richard Milhous Nixon
“Thanks a lot, Dick!”
˜ FZ

FRANK ZAPPA, Ike Willis, Ray White, rthur Barrow, Tommy Mars, Dave Logeman
The Olympiahalle, Munich Germany, 3 July 1980
Produced by Frank Zappa
Mastered by Frank Filipetti, 2015

A 30 seconds mono preview is available through the Barfko-Swill on line shop, here is the direct link:
Pick Me, I’m Clean (1980) excerpt

2015 Mothers Day is as special one in the “zappaverse”, being 1965 Mothers Day the most accredited point in time where the Frank Zappa project/object took “The Mothers” moniker. 50 years ago in California the band left names like “The Soul Giants”, “The Blackouts” or “Captain Glasspack & His Magic Mufflers”, for a simple but effective one, so effective that needed the “of Invention” extension to be accepted in the music business of the 60s (see the “Chronology” page at IINK for the details on band name changes during the 60s).

Strangely enough, this 50th anniversary has been little celebrated, it would have been worth further enforced recreation than what was available!

On the local press side, a post by David Allen on Inland Valley Daily Bulletin needs to be mentioned. His article “Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention formed 50 years ago in Pomona” includes the following vivid quote, from an interview by Jerry Hopkins, published on the July 1968 issue of Rolling Stone (here is the afka link to the article):

“Sometime before this I’d had a group called the Mothers, but while all this was going on we were called Captain Glasspack and His Magic Mufflers. It was a strange time. We even got thrown out of after-hours jam sessions. Eventually we went back to the Broadside in Pomona and we called ourselves the Mothers. It just happened, by sheer accident, to be Mother’s Day, although we weren’t aware of it at the time. When you are nearly starving to death, you don’t keep track of holidays.”

This David Allen post also features a recent photo of what was the Broadside in Pomona.

"This automotive shop at 960 E. Holt Ave. in Pomona was where a band led by Frank Zappa first used the name the Mothers on May 9, 1965. They became world-famous as the Mothers of Invention". Photo and caption by David Allen

“This automotive shop at 960 E. Holt Ave. in Pomona was where a band led by Frank Zappa first used the name the Mothers on May 9, 1965. They became world-famous as the Mothers of Invention”. Photo and caption by David Allen

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Back to the ZFT and 2015, the real thing to celebrate 50 years of The Mothers is this new rendition of Pick Me, I’m Clean.

It is the third officially released version of this 80s classic, and “the first appearance of the Logeman band on a posthumous Zappa release”, as properly noted by zappateers pbuzby.

Even tough the reference version is probably the one delivered by the “Colaiuta band” (released on Tinseltown Rebellion and Buffalo), which featured great interplay moments related to drums and guitar improvised parts, this “Logeman band” rendition is truly solid and highlights the melodic contribution of Arthur Barrow on bass. Also, it acts as an appropriate addendum to Shut Up ‘n’ Play Yer Guitar, which does not feature any “Logeman band” driven FZ solos.

As noted by pbuzby somewhere else at zappateers, “this is the version from the King Biscuit broadcast, but it is complete here while in the broadcast the solo was edited”.

The broadcast in question have been heavily bootlegged (follow this link at Zappa Patio for more info) in a good sound quality but often with wrong pitch.

The history of posthumous Zappa releases demonstrates that ZFT concentrates especially on little known (or circulating) recordings, however there is a lot of famous concerts like this, that deserve a professional, pitch correct and clean publication. Not to mention that most of the Olympiahalle 1980 recordings have certain words edited out of the “offensive” lyric type songs, since it derives from an American radio show.

A final note on the overall sound, by zappateers pbuzby again (precise and sharp as usual!): “In the Mark Pinske interview he said FZ described these early digital tapes as sounding like having darts thrown at your head.”

It was the first tour to use a digital recording equipment, it was a two-tracks one with a really peculiar sound, I do hope more is on the way.

Pick me, I’m clean, it is the 50th Mothers Day!

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