Happy Frank Zappa Day! Today, we celebrate Frank and his musical legacy, which lives not only through his records and live shows, but also through other talented musicians who continue to ensure Frank’s music is played. Ed Palermo is one such devotee who has arranged and recorded a series of big band records of many varieties of Zappa songs and continues to play live shows with his 16+ piece band.
Frank was a master of penning brass and big band arranged songs which are evidnet on such records as The Grand Wazoo and Waka/Jawaka. However, the intricacy and musical depth of all of Zappa’s music has fascinated musicians for many years. The Ed Palermo Big Band run with this fascination and allow fans to hear Zappa’s epic big band songs in all their glory live, in addition to transforming more traditional Zappa tracks into the full ensemble sound.
From the records and live performances, it’s evident that The Ed Palermo Big Band love playing Frank’s very complex music – and it exudes from all the NYC-based professioal musicians in the group. Ed acknowledeges on his official website that it’s purely about the love of Zappa’s music:
“Let it be said that this project, The Ed Palermo Big Band in tribute to the music of Frank Zappa, is and will always be, a money losing proposition. Those of you who have seen us in performance know that this whole thing is about love, as corny as that sounds. Frank himself would probably wretch at this abject sentimentality, but it’s true. Love for Frank’s music and for everything he brought to our culture.”
And it’s true, the live shows are extremely enthusiastic performances of Frank’s music. But what makes each live show and the records even more impressive are the added touches from Ed in the big band arrangements, particularly for songs which were never intended to be played in such a setting (Sy Borg was a pleasant surprise at the latest live show at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York).
So help yourself to a double dose of Zappa as we celebrate Frank’s indomitable musical footprint. Below you’ll find streamers of the original, classic Zappa tracks alongside the versions recorded by The Ed Palermo Big Band (click each logo to reveal it’s corresponding playlist streamer). You could say they are Only in it for the Music. Frank would certainly approve, because Music is the best.
Here is a photo of the Big Band doing what they do best.
They are performing on August 24th at City Winery, go check them out!
Gunz took this photo at a recent live show at Iridium in NYC, and he also carefully crafted the text of this post.