When Frank Zappa died in 1993, he had spent much of his remaining time and energy completing a number of projects before the end finally came. Why the majority of them are still unreleased as of late 2006 is anybody's guess, but perhaps the long awaited release of Trance-Fusion is a good sign. Trance-Fusion is another collection of guitar solos, forming something of a trilogy with the Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar set and Guitar. As FZ fans know, Frank had his favorite vehicles for soloing and careful listening to the albums as a group gives you a good idea which songs these are.
Official Release #70. This two-CD set represents almost all of Frank Zappa's concert on January 20, 1976, at Hordern Pavilion in Sydney, Australia… The only problem is that there was only one reel-to-reel machine to record the concert, necessitating missing portions of several songs to change tapes; these gaps were replaced by excerpts from a pitch-corrected bootleg from the same tour, with an obvious drop in sound quality but little loss in continuity. This particular band – with tenor saxophonist Napoleon Murphy Brock, bassist Roy Estrada, drummer Terry Bozzio, and keyboardist Andre Lewis (in his only tour with Zappa) – has only been represented sporadically on Zappa's earlier releases.
After being thrown 15 feet off of the Rainbow Theater stage in London on December 10, 1971 by unstable concert attendee Trevor Howell, Frank Zappa spent the better part of the following winter and spring in rehearsals for what would become the Waka/Jawaka (1972) and Grand Wazoo (1972) platters and related live shows. Joe's Domage (2004) – the second in a series of never-before-available material from the luminous Frank Zappa tape vaults – gathers 50 minutes from these closed-door sessions, during which Zappa was confined to a wheelchair as he recuperated. The incident left the guitarist with some permanent damage, with a lower voice from a partially crushed larynx, and a fractured right leg which ended up shorter than the left, as referenced in the lyrics of "Zomby Woof" and "Dancin' Fool." Being off the road resulted in some of the Zappa's most involved fusions of jazz and rock.
Official Release #103. Performed/Arranged/Conducted by Frank Zappa. Road Tapes, Venue #3 features two complete shows from Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN. The July '70 Mothers line-up featured Flo & Eddie, George Duke, Ian Underwood, Aynsley Dunbar & Jeff Simmons. FZ's vast Vault does not contain many full shows from this time period, so that alone makes this release a special one. The tapes were recorded to stereo reel-to-reel, but not without problems. Due to their historical relevance, we felt it was worth it, warts 'n all! Venue #3 does not disappoint.
For longtime fans and un-Zapped neophytes alike, Does Humor Belong in Music? presents the late, great Frank Zappa at his mischievous best. Unlike the infamously rambling Baby Snakes, this hour-long, digitally remastered 14-song set (culled from FZ's performance at the Pier in New York City on August 26, 1984) is 95% music, punctuated with brief interview clips (including the inane titular question, and Frank's expectedly affirmative response), and featuring one of the tightest bands that Zappa ever assembled. Everybody participates in Zappa's unique parade of musical fusion, street theater, and defiant anti-establishment sarcasm, with Zappa playing masterful conductor when he's not riffing with nimble-fingered fretwork (notably during "Zoot Allures," "Cosmik Debris," and Greg Allman's "Whipping Post," the set's only cover song).
In the early '80s a loose aggregate of musicians – many of whom were former Mothers Of Invention (MOI) – began performing as the Grandmothers. The band centred on the talents of seminal Frank Zappa sidemen Jimmy Carl Black (percussion/vocals/Indian of the group), Bunk Gardner (sax/trumpet/flute) and Don Preston (keyboards). At various points prior to this union the trio were joined by a laundry list of relatively unknowns as well as other Mothers such as Denny Walley (guitar), Elliot Ingber (guitar), Ray Collins (vocals) and Jim "Motorhead" Sherwood (bass) as well as ex-Love member Tjay Cantrelli (sax/flute) plus (should one wish to further the Zappa affiliations) both Tom Leavey and Andy Cahan (drums) from Flo & Eddie's band . This 21-track compilation includes recordings made primarily in the early '70s from a number of MOI alumni and their respective collaborators.
This CD by the Don Preston Trio features pianist Preston, bassist Joel Hamilton and drummer Alex Cline presenting inventive treatments of music by Frank Zappa, Carla Bley, John Carter, Cole Porter, and Don himself. Transformation presents a survey Preston's multifarious career: his stint as keyboardist with Frank Zappa's Mothers Of Invention, his association with pianist-composer Carla Bley, his synthesizer work for the late distinguished composer-clarinetist John Carter as well as his own reputation as a writer of powerful though twisted music.