Well, where do I begin? I remember someone trying to turn me on to The Mothers of Invention back in High School. I believe it was the album “Freakout!”. I just didn’t get it. I liked some of the music but really couldn’t get into it musically. Another friend let me listen to “You Are What You Is”. I had the same reaction. I just couldn’t understand where Frank was coming from. The dirty humor, politics, and nonsense in the music kind of turned me off. I wasn’t ready at that time to appreciate the music.
Then, one day when I was a sophomore in college, there was a guy who lived down the hall from who looked like Jesus. In fact, he was a born again Christian, which suited his looks. He gave me CD entitled “Apostrophe”. I couldn’t believe what I was listening to. It was a like soundtrack for a cartoon! I instantly became a fan of his music in one fail swoop and, in retrospect, I realized I had stumbled upon Frank’s Jazz Fusion period of the whole “Project-Object” of his life’s work of 65 albums. I couldn’t get enough of George Duke’s keyboard wizardry, Chester Thompson’s amazing drumming sensibilities, Ruth Underwood’s xylophone dexterity, Napoleon Murphy Brock’s Sax and wild vocals, Tom Fowler’s organic bass grooves and of course Frank Zappa’s guitar and musicianship.
This album launched me into digging deep into everything I could wrap my ears around in the Zappa Universe. From doo-wop, modern classical, avante garde, rock and jazz fusion I became a Zappa fanatic and had soon realized that there were about 65 albums to wrap my ears around and sooooo much music to listen to!
I had the wonderful opportunity to see The Grandmothers perform in Dallas at a small club in Deep Ellum back in 1999. There must have only been about 30 people in attendance, but everyone knew what was going on and really wanted to be there. The 2 sets were great and I was so happy to finally have witnessed the music of Frank Zappa LIVE in person by some of the original members of The Mothers of Invention. How often does that happen? I got to talk to Don Preston, Jimmy Carl Black and Bunk Gardner and thanked them for doing what they do.
Back in 2006, I had the opportunity to have witnessed Dweezil’s latest foray into his father’s musical legacy with Zappa Plays Zappa, with the kickoff of the first tour, in 2008, 2012, 2015 (One Size Fits all tour) and in 2019 for the 50th anniversary of Hot Rats.
I can honestly say that seeing them is about as close to seeing a Zappa concert back in the day. His band is amazingly tight and filled with an incredible virtuosity of musicianship. The most incredible night ever was seeing Zappa Plays Zappa seeing them opening up for the jazz fusion legendary supergroup Return To Forever. What a treat!