Saturday, November 17, 2007

Classical Frank

Obviously Frank's music can be and has been articulated many different ways, from a capella to full symphonic treatments. Rock may have been the core – or at least the funding mechanism –
of the Zappa experience, but the only thing that minimized his use of more elaborate instrumental assemblages was their cost and inherent management problems.

Even young Frank would hire orchestras from time to time, just to hear his music played. And he knew how to get the big band sound by augmenting the rock bands with horn and percussion sections. In attempting to more fully instrumentalize his music, he got screwed a few times.

Nonetheless, given his persistence and productivity, over the years Frank did manage to overcome the obstacles and create a solid body of what we might call "classical" music, whatever that is. With small ensembles, full orchestras and in digital realms, he explored the harmonic and percussive climes of fine, fine music.

On the November 27, 2007 Zappa's Grubby Chamber, we'll enjoy a pleasant Thanksgiving treat together as some of us digest and assimilate slaughtered turkey remains – Classical Frank. And I'll be channeling sort of a combo of Sebastian Cabot and Leonard Pinth-Garnell for the occasion.


M-Chu said...

Bravo! This one should be very interesting. I wonder if you’ll be playing fragments of the young, precocious Frank, like what can be found in the 1996 ZFT release, Lost Episodes. Obviously the Mount St. Mary’s Concert Excerpt comes to mind.

I always enjoy explaining to a novice listener the reasons behind Frank’s variety in instrumentation and composition. The fact that he launched the Zappa empire through his film score endeavors is a great way to connect the dots from Uncle Meat to Zappa In New York.

I don’t know if previously I've mentioned this story from the early morning show I emceed for my friends at the college station. The show would broadcast from 1:00 to 6:00 and preceded the usual classical programming of that station. Well, Frank and his Rocking Teenage Combo Unit finished off at about 5:45 Sunday morning. Nobody’s listening, right? I had The Yellow Shark Ensemble Modern potted underneath, and after my program finished I just raised the volume which found us in the midst of Welcome to the United States of America. The concert finished at 6:00 on the button and while I was gathering up my discs and notes the phone rang. It was an alumna from the station’s University wanting to know who the composer was I’d just finished playing. It was a shining moment I will always revel in; my payoff for all the times I hosted the show for free.

Hey Kevin, if I call in a request performing my Sebastian Cabot impression, I trust you’ll play along. ;-)

Kevin L. Hoover said...

Matt, my Brother in Frank,

Friday's show is pre-recorded due to Thanksgiving exigencies. But yes, the Yellow Shark basically dominates the second hour.

I had never listened to it much before, because orchestras are usually so wheezy and sloppy. But the Ensemble Modern really took it seriously.

I'll be listening to the show myself at a distant locale over Wi-Fi, just for "kicks."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great Zappa blog. I just discovered it. It brings much light into the world. Keep up the posts.

Portland, Or.