Frank Zappa, The Grand Wazoo

Christopher R. Weingarten

By Christopher R. Weingarten

on 12.18.11 in Reviews

The Grand Wazoo

Frank Zappa

A wheelchair-bound Frank Zappa, recovering from a broken leg and fractured skull after being shoved off a London stage, disbanded the Mothers and focused on studio work, penning the glossier Hot Rats sequel Waka/Jawaka and its companion, the fiery big-band workout The Grand Wazoo. Working with a group of 19 West Coast jazzers, Zappa occasionally sings (his crushed larynx lowered his voice a third) and occasionally solos, but the main focus is Zappa conducting the crew from his chair. This bitchin’ brew is a chance to hear seasoned virtuosos like trumpeter Sal Marquez (who’d previously worked with Buddy Rich and Woody Herman) play off Zappa’s trademark rhythmic restlessness in a cooler, more reserved environment.