Archive for December, 2015

The Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

The Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

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Terry Bozzio is been celebrating the release of his Terry Bozzio Composer Series CD Box Set (out on December 18, 4CD+DVD/Blu-ray, Ward Records) with a long Japan/European solo tour. Rome Planet Live Club November 20 was the last date of the European leg of “An Evening with Terry Bozzio”: melodic drumming at its best on “the world’s largest tuned drum and percussion set”. A fine musician behind an impressive monster-instrument delivers one hour and half of fine art, a wisely controlled blend of tuned toms fury and cymbals lyricism.

Terry Bozzio Composer Series CD Box Set (4CD+DVD/Blu-ray), Ward Records, 2015

Terry Bozzio
Composer Series
CD Box Set (4CD+DVD/Blu-ray), Ward Records, 2015

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Terry Bozzio 2015 European Tour flyer

Terry Bozzio 2015 European Tour flyer

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You must be a real sound/percussion expert to master all technical details (goto the kit set-up page at bozzio dot com even if you are not one of those techies, and you’ll get the picture), but also from the naïve listener point of you, it is a sound and vision terrific experience.

The Rome audience was packed of techies/drummers (Terry called for them in a chat between two pieces), but everyone has been highly focused on the music all over the set. A level of concentration and respect rarely found elsewhere, but this is the case of the jazz-fusion-chamber-pop-metal unique young-old kind of a Bozzio (heavily Zappa-shirted) audience.

Terry Bozzio is been playing melodic drumming since ages, but his research continues, on the sound matter too. The following video captures how Bozzio sounds like today, it is Pat’s Changes at Sweetwater’s “Gearfest” 2013.

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On the YouTube notes to the piece he gives an idea of how the sound design is relevant to the final melodic outcome:

I am using pintech midi triggers on each tuned drum. That goes into 6 Roland TMC-6 units, then into m-Audio midi-usb routers and into my mac using Reason for a sign-wave pure tone of the note each drum is tuned to. That helps the melodies come out more clearly. I apologize for the slap back echo (that came from a live mix room mice I guess!).

There’s a lot of work and fine tuning to do behind “the world’s largest tuned drum and percussion set”, Terry needs professional support, and the man behind the drums in the photographs below – taken right before the Rome performance – is Trommelduwer Michel Weekhout.

I had my camera with me at the show but they told me Terry Bozzio asked not to take any picture during the set, so I took some before and after. And I must say I was impressed from the audience who once again were truly respectful of Terry: we were told not to shoot during the show (there were plenty of cameras), and with just one exception, nobody even tried to.

Here they are, Master Trommelduwer behind the kit, and some close views of the kit itself.

Michel Weekhout fine tuning the Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

Michel Weekhout fine tuning the Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

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Michel Weekhout fine tuning the Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

Michel Weekhout fine tuning the Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

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Michel Weekhout fine tuning the Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

Michel Weekhout fine tuning the Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

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The Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

The Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

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The Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

The Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

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The Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

The Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

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The Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

The Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

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For a black and white take of the kit, go to spaziofermo: Terry’s furniture.

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Panty Quilt, Emily Alana James, circa 1982, commissioned by Zappa and constructed of ladies' undergarments thrown on stage during the Tinseltown Rebellion tour

Panty Quilt, Emily Alana James, circa 1982, commissioned by Zappa and constructed of ladies’ undergarments thrown on stage during the Tinseltown Rebellion tour

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Mark Pinske was a recording engineer for Frank Zappa from 1980 until 1987. Mark is also one of the featured voices on Drafted Again from from You Are What You Is.

On January 2003 Chris Michie interviewed Mark Pinske for Mix magazine: an extensive account on Mark career with a lot of Zappa insights. It is divided in 4 sections and available on line:
The Complete Mark Pinske Interview – Day One
The Complete Mark Pinske Interview – Day Two
The Complete Mark Pinske Interview – Day Three – part 1
The Complete Mark Pinske Interview – Day Three – part 2

In these very days Mike has been really kind to share through his web site two Zappa songs and a Panty Rap from the November 18, 1980 St Paul Civic Arena Bowl concert. A nice treat for Zappadan 2015!

City of Tiny Lights – 10:38

Love of my Life – 2:16

Panty Rap/Band intro – 4:33

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He have informed Zappateers of such good news, giving some comments on the two songs.

City of Tiny Lights
A song taken from an FZ show off of my board that has some very interesting live effects like the Ursa Major Space Station and octave divider on Franks Guitar.

Later around 6 minutes Steve Vai and Frank play together and some other thrills like Frank changing to a reggae tempo at around 9 minutes.

The line up was. FZ, Steve Vai, Tommy Mars, Arthur Barrow, Vinnie Colaiuta, Bob Harris, Ray White, Ike Willis. Isn’t that enough?

Love of my Life
Here is the live version of Love of my Life (short song) from the same show that features my dear friend Bob Harris using his wonderful falsetto that he used on the audition for the Tinsel Town Rebellion album and got him a place in Franks music.

I have a whole story that goes with that. (one little feedback screech near the end from the onstage monitor, my apology).

THANK YOU MARK!

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December 30, 2015 update
On December 26 Mark uploaded yet another number from the fall ’80 Colaiuta-drummed tour. Judging fron the file name, it should be from the December 11, 1980 show in Santa Monica, the last date of the fall ’80 tour, actually a two shows deal.

Outside Now!


During the intro rap FZ mentions Sand Diego as a two days ago panty bonanza experience, then at 1:15, after a quite abrupt cut towards the song, Joe starts to sing and lay the foundation for a great Zappa solo!

Again, thank you Mark, I do hope it will be a monthly thing!

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February 5, 2016 update
On February 4 Mark uploaded another 1980 file, this time from the Logeman-drummed tour:

Here is a little mix off my board from London Wembley Arena on 06-17-1980 just for fun.

It’s Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?, and features “Ray – Night of the Living Dead – White”!


Thank you Mark, it’s really monthly!

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September 17, 2016 update
Yet another Markman upload from the ’80s post-prodution laboratory, a Dub Rum Special mix outtake, just magnificent!

Something funny for today. I found a Beta Hi-Fi work tape from many years ago when I was working on the Dub Room Special with FZ. I did this ridiculous mix for the song StinkFoot and Frank said that he thought it might be a bit over the top. So I said to Frank that we need to make some of these things so they can hold up for the future because 20 years from now everything will be more outrageous. So Frank just started laughing hard and said “I tell you what Markman, you hang on to this work tape and then 20 years from now you can pull it out and see how well it does.” Well it has been more than 20 years so, see what you think. (This was my first headphone stereo Low frequency experiment) Oh yes on Franks guitar solo I used a 5 tap Ursa Major Space station, a Dynamix Flanger and a few Lexicon 240 reverbs.

 

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July 9, 2017 update – Beauty Knows No Pain

I found an early mix that I did for the You Are What Your Is album of Beauty Knows No Pain. I hope you like it.
For the Real Zappa fans, this has Steve Vai, Ike Willis, Ray White, Tommy Mars, Ed Mann, Arthur Barrow, David Logaman, and Jimmy Carl Black doing the snorts along with a young Moon Zappa on the end saying “it doesn’t have that stale after taste” Segway to Charlie’s enormous mouth. Oh and Yes Bob Harris singing up into the ways with that gorgeous high falsetto.

 

July 10, 2017 update – Teen-Age Wind

Ok, so now here is the deal. The YAWYI (You Are What You Is album was the only 100% studio album that we did at Frank Zappa’s studio, UMRK (Utility Muffin Research Kitchen). I recorded every track from scratch and I also did most of the mixing (with tag team help from a few others like Bob Stone God rest his soul). Special Thanks to John Good of DW drums for his help as always. This was one of the most creative times of Frank’s life and the recording sessions were some of the most unbelievable magic ever caught on tape. So here is a mix I did of Teen-Age Wind featuring Bob Harris as the Kid on vocals and complimented by the whole ensemble of other ZAPPA star vocalist like Ike Willis, Ray White, Frank Zappa, Jimmy Carl Black and others. This mix features the famous Pinske vocal layering and gets interesting with the panorama and the Jimmy Carl Black blow back overdubs that we did for the “Life long Fans”. I apologize for the abrupt cut off on the end, but that is only because FZ whole albums are segue oriented. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Frank did give me a lot of leeway and sometimes he would go up to bed and tell me to leave the final mix on the two track. The next day we would usually talk and laugh about each approach. He once told me that when he was on stage I had to be the producer because an artist cannot play and produce at the same time. I was very honored to try to do the best I can and I once asked him “Frank, why me” and he said because you are the only one I can trust. I felt truly blessed, another time he just finished over playing on a Guitar solo and came in to the control room and asked me what I thought and I said “Frank, it really sucked”! He just burst out laughing because nobody ever told him that before and then he said, “Yea, it really did suck didn’t it” then he got up and walked back to the multitrack machine and put all his guitar channels into record and erased the whole solo. Then he walked over to the basement and yelled up the stairwell saying “Dweezil come on down I got a solo I want you to play on this song”. If I remember right it was on Stevie’s Spanking. You never knew what Frank would do next, he was totally an original.

 

July 11, 2017 update – Doreen

So then, I didn’t know if I should do this or not, but in our frenzy during the making of YAWYI, Frank wanted to do a one minute and 30 second version of the song Doreen with a 2 minute totally ridiculous vamp that rocked out with a massive kludge of overlays. So, well ok, that is what I mixed. This features Ray White on the lead vocal. The funny thing is that in the middle of laughing during the vamp, you are actually able to make out some of the intended lyrics that made the whole song a lot of fun to do. We did use a different mix on the album I think that was more sparse, but when I went back to listen to this one I think it somehow fit the more teen age frenzy that Frank had in mind for just a fun wild feel. Oh I almost forgot that about 3 minutes into it Frank said Markman it’s not quite thick enough I think you should put the kitchen sink into it too!

 

What’s next?

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Sonata Islands, Casa Depero, Rovereto, November 7, 2015

Sonata Islands, Casa Depero, Rovereto, November 7, 2015

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As part of The Trentino Jazz Festival, on November 7, 2015 Sonata Islands and Giordano Montecchi performed their A Spasso Con Frank (“Walking With Frank”) at Casa Depero in Rovereto, Italy. Giorgio Casadei and Emilio Galante arranged a group of compositions by Frank Zappa for a chamber, electro-acoustic, percussion-less ensemble:

Sonata Islands
Alessio Alberghini: baritone sax
Giorgio Casadei: electric guitar
Emilio Galante: flute
Simone Pederzoli: trombone

Sonata Islands and Giordano Montecchi, Casa Depero, Rovereto, November 7, 2015

Sonata Islands and Giordano Montecchi, Casa Depero, Rovereto, November 7, 2015

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The program is interspersed with a text written by Giordano Montecchi who dramatizes it as Part Time Minister of the Church of Zap-o-logic Music-Is-The-Best Humanism. Wherefore the subheading: “melologo undergound intorno al grande Frank Zappa da Baltimora” (“underground melologue around the great Frank Zappa from Baltimore”).

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Giordano Montecchi as Part Time Minister of the Church of Zap-o-logic Music-Is-The-Best Humanism, Casa Depero, Rovereto, November 7, 2015

Giordano Montecchi as Part Time Minister of the Church of Zap-o-logic Music-Is-The-Best Humanism, Casa Depero, Rovereto, November 7, 2015

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Here is the musical program:
1 Peaches en Regalia
2 Chunga’s Revenge
3 Inca Roads
4 Holiday in Berlin
5 Little Umbrellas
6 The Idiot Bastard Son
7 Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance
8 Son Of Mr. Green Genes
9 Dog Breath
10 Uncle Meat
11 Mom & Dad
12 Blessed Outside Relief Now

An extract of the Casa Depero performance is available on video

The concert has been performed at the first floor of the museum in a gorgeous large room, with a bizarre bottom-up low lighting. Such an obscure choice resulted in a dark video shooting that gives a vague idea of the place. Fortunately the audio track is good enough to give back the overall sound of the ensemble, warm and earthy due to baritone sax and trombone (a would say a tone of brown), with a bright flute to keep it light and an electric guitar to sustain the rhythmic framework and the speech vamps. I do hope a work in progress aimed to tune a little bit the performance and to enrich the speech vamps, too smooth at the moment. The band is too much behind Giordano whose text would gain more strength from a clearly defined rhythmic background.

Montecchi’s text is of great interest because gives back an accurate portrait of the composer, shedding light on the essential traits of the Zappa approach to music and to THE REAL WORLD, with a taste for the religious bizarre: a Zappa discography litany sometimes suspends the biographic account.

Sonata Islands and Giordano Montecchi kindly provided this blog with the Italian libretto of the melologue: “A Spasso Con Frank“.

Here are some excerpts:

Rock tough guys claim him as their private property, as their anti-establishment prophet.

Academics tolerate him as a composer… an exception! for the world of rock.

Somebody considers him a jester, a symbol of the most anarchoid transgression.

Others think of him as a committed radicalism guru.

Jazzophiles as a failed jazz musician.

Petty politicians as a subversion leader.

Respectable women committees reckon him as the embodiment of the corruption that threatens their children.

Music industry executives as a Plague of Egypt.

However Frank Zappa is not here anymore. Controversies, insults and complaints belong to the past. Today sanctification prevails.

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Tonight there are no songs. We have called it melologue, underground melologue actually, so it nearly seems a smart something.

It should work for a classical music audience: although they consider themselves high and mighty, few of them know what a melologue is. And furthermore they often enjoy listening to what they do not understand a shit.

And it should also work for a rock audience, because the “underground” moniker stuck to music is like the “organic” label attached to supermarket fruits.

Matter of the fact is that about lyrics, yes: Frank had a precise idea also on this, as about almost everything.

Broken Hearts are for Assholes.

Stupid lyrics? Of course, furthermore: demented! Since Zappa’s stupid lyrics have a really special purpose.

Not only as a ferocious caricature of hit songs, but also as a detector, as a Geiger counter adjusted to get the level of background idiocy.

Yes, this is true, but Zappa’s stupid lyrics serve further purpose also.

First to transform a piece of music into a SONG, and then, to let it EXIST in that musical world where, in fact, only songs exist. And maybe make it well edible for that 90% [majority of eating-songs people]. Sometimes it happened.

However stupid lyrics also meet his understatement attitude, they serve to conceal the music he really care for, what he calls the “musically uncompromising” category, that is music … out and out, no compromises.

On the other hand, if lyrics are serious, important, in such a case … he explains: “I don’t build an elaborate accompaniment because it gets in the way of the words.”

All of the above ultimately means one only thing to Zappa: if you have in mind something complicated or difficult, and you want listeners to appreciate it, you have to combine it with something simple:

“Music is based on contrasts, contrasts between things that are very simple and things that are very complicated. If everything is complicated all the time, there is no contrast”.

Furthermore, there is not even contact with the listener, who is not able to understand anymore.

Since centuries, music worked just this way: put what is easy in the service of what is difficult.

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In music, as in Zappa’s lyrics you never know where virulence of speech, make-believe and cynicism exhibited as a mask end, and where what he calls THE REAL WORD begins.

That is, stuff that are really important, the crucial question, the real disillusion.

It always seems that he hates and despises everything and everyone.

Or that he madly loves the universe most deranged stuff.

It is not like that, though.

That is his way to say that the emperor has no clothes, his way to stick his words straight into the stomach, into the belly.

It is his way to denounce all the filth in the world, or to bury it with a laugh.

These are his parables: who knows that you will eventually understand what is really happening.

That’s what the lyrics are for.

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Zappa did know he could not win his war against the Leviathan.

A no appeal conviction of the outrageous flaws of American society and a bitter disillusion were concealed behind his cynicism mask.

As musician and citizen he was more and more pissed off about what he called fascist theocracy, his last Reaganian nightmare.

Much worse than the Dangerous Kitchen, where bananas turn black, where everything rot, where everything is disgusting.

But the worst was yet to come, and he was spared.

1966: Freak Out! … 1993: Civilization Phaze III, not even thirty years. Too little.

There are artists who have had a much longer career. Unfortunately, sometimes.

Not even thirty years: ten thousand days ceaselessly: music and passion against stupidity, stereotypes, hypocrisy, prejudice, corruption and aberration.

It was too much, even for someone like him.

[…]

It is no coincidence if the journey of Zappa comes to an end in Europe with the Ensemble Modern, in love, at last, with an astonishing orchestra.

And it is not even by chance that his last album, his last completed composition, is entitled Civilization Phaze III.

This opera-pantomime in two acts ends with an episode with a disturbing title: Waffenspiel, “weapon game” in German, but the translation does not give back the actual meaning.

It is not music, it is a soundscape.

Something that sounds, perhaps, as a farewell to life, or perhaps as the last riddle.

Reading from the album liner notes: “Life goes on outside the piano – more rain, excitable dogs, automatic weapon fire, traffic, building demolition, etc. THE REAPER, much to the dismay of the dancers in the previous piece, arrives (when the car door slams) to claim them. ACT TWO ends with a large model of a crop-dusting plane, spraying the audience with a toxic substance.”

Just in closing, however, as the plane departs, something else can be heard … but Zappa does not say it.

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Emilio Galante on flute, Casa Depero, Rovereto, November 7, 2015

Emilio Galante on flute, Casa Depero, Rovereto, November 7, 2015

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Giorgio Casadei on guitar, Casa Depero, Rovereto, November 7, 2015

Giorgio Casadei on guitar, Casa Depero, Rovereto, November 7, 2015

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Giorgio Casadei on guitar, Simone Pederzoli on trombone, Casa Depero, Rovereto, November 7, 2015

Giorgio Casadei on guitar, Simone Pederzoli on trombone, Casa Depero, Rovereto, November 7, 2015

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Emilio Galante on flute, Alessio Alberghini on sax, Casa Depero, Rovereto, November 7, 2015

Emilio Galante on flute, Alessio Alberghini on sax, Casa Depero, Rovereto, November 7, 2015

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Alessio Alberghini on sax, Giorgio Casadei on guitar, Casa Depero, Rovereto, November 7, 2015

Alessio Alberghini on sax, Giorgio Casadei on guitar, Casa Depero, Rovereto, November 7, 2015

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Giordano Montecchi some more: Rock as compositional practice

Son of Giorgio Casadei: Orchestra Spaziale meets Zappafrank

The Return of the Son of Sonata Islands:

Amy Denio and Sonata Islands Kommandoh live @ La Scighera, Milan, November 14, 2015
Emilio Galante, Giovanni Venosta, William Nicastro, Roberto Zanisi

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Some alternate cover images for this post here: Underground Melologue.

More pictures taken the same day at the museum that hosted “A Spasso con Frank”: Casa Depero.

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