It was a stroke of pure casting genius to have Ringo Starr play Frank Zappa in the bonkers movie 200 Motels.
Since Frank's demise in 1993 others have played him, too; many others.
They've played him baroque, in tribute, rock, orchestral, straight, a capella, avant garde and jazz.
And it's the jazz genre Mar Vista Philharmonic decide on for playing Zappa.
The brainchild of Tommy Mars, the Mar Vista Philharmonic (Mar Vista being the district in L.A. where they play and record) collectively refer to themselves as 'Zappa's last touring band' (although I'm not sure they were [?]), and the 'Band from Utopia', which I presume means the band from nowhere.
(It's all puns, of course: Mar Vista Philharmonic is itself a pun (Tommy Mars, the area and the Mahavishnu Orchestra [!]); 'Band from Utopia' refers to Zappa's Man From Utopia, and if they do come from 'nowhere', then they come from Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch, which tells us 'I Come From Nowhere'.
Man, it all starts folding in on itself! Where's my medicine!?)
Seven musicians in all, MVP play some very cool jazz. There's no holding back on the chops, and even with my not very with it jazz ears I can tell these guys really know what they're doing, and they do it really well.
I'm sure Frank wouldn't have had it any other way.
The piece here was recorded in 2003, ten years after Frank's death, and was performed in tribute to their old master and muse.
A twenty-five minute mash or medley of Zappa's tunes woven together into one piece of live music.
The way familiar melodies ('Chunga's Revenge', 'Treacherous Cretins', 'Inca Roads'...) emerge from this piece of music is rather like spotting a recognisable face among a crowd of strangers; they just float out and greet you, and you immediately feel comfortable, safe; but then you lose sight of them and you become lost again (lost in music); eventually you find solace as another familiar face comes along, and hey, you immediately feel comforted, connected; but not for long....
It goes on like this for some time - well, twenty-five minutes actually, as I said earlier....
(Did you find it? My medicine?)
Anyway. It's really good. And if you like interpretations of Zappa's beautiful music, then this is well worth checking out.
Mar Vista Philharmonic - Shut Up and Make a Jazz Noise Here (2003)
Dedicated to FZ. Recorded by BBC Radio 3, broadcast on Jazz on 3, Dec 3.
Albert Wing - Tenor Sax
Bruce Fowler - Trombone
Walt Fowler - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Kurt McGettrick - Baritone Sax, Bass Clarinette, Flute
Tommy Mars - Keyboards, Vocals
Arthur Barrow - Bass
Vinnie Colaiuta - Drums
Excellent rip from cassette captured FM broadcast @320kbs
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