ZAPPA PLAYS ZAPPA / February 18th, 2014
There is no such thing as a passive Zappa fan. Frank Zappa’s musical career blended virtuoso musicians interpreting his musical vision through a unique blend of rock, jazz and classical genres, often highlighted by his bizarre humor. The spirit and music of Frank’s genius lives on through his son Dweezil’s Zappa Plays Zappa band which brought it’s recreation of The Mothers’ 1974 milestone recording, Roxy & Elsewhere, to Mojoe’s in Joliet on February 18th. The capacity crowd consisted of fans from the 60s and 70s through college aged newcomers. Before launching into the Roxy set, Dweezil and the band, consisting of Scheila Gonzalez on sax, flute, keyboards and vocals; spot-on vocals from Ben Thomas; keyboardist & vocalist Chris Norton; drummer Ryan Brown and bassist Kurt Morgan, opened with “The Torture Never Stops,” from Frank’s 1976 album, Zoot Allures. Dweezil appropriated the song choice due to bus failure and a tough week of travel for the band. Stretching out for thirteen plus minutes, the sinister song warmed up the avid crowd. Next, the band recreated the Roxy & Elsewhere album for the next hour. If you are a Zappa fan and have not witnessed ZPZ, prepare to be floored. This unbelievably tight band not only recreates the instrumentation of Frank’s complex music, but every bit of stage banter, background asides and scripted humor with precision. Prior to the show, Dweezil and I discussed the fact that his father often debuted new material live, like the music from the Roxy & Elsewhere album. Dweezil stated his intent is to recreate that feeling of hearing the fresh music like it was the first time and took a show-of-hands poll at the beginning of the set to gauge how many had never heard the album. For those people, they were transported back in time forty years; hearing such Zappa classics as “Penguin In Bondage,” “Village of the Sun,” “Son of Orange County,” “Cheepnis” and the rest of the amazing music from the original recording. In addition, the band dug deep into the Zappa catalogue. For Zappa fans, it was a love letter from Frank, channeled through his son and the ZPZ band.
Mike Tomano is a Zappa fanatic, Chicago area broadcast personality and musician.
The entire Dweezil Zappa interview will debut in April at www.miketomano.com