Frank Zappa "Grand Wazoo"

By Crocus Behemoth

Scene, 7 December 1972

Frank Zappa & The Grand Wazoo
Bizarre/Reprise 2093

The first question: Where did Zappa get all these fantastic and little known musicians (21 in all)? The first hypothesis: He created them from jelly-like masses slumped in test tubes.

If you’re still into Zappa as degenerate and general fun, farting frat guy, forget this album. This is Zappa as serious musician/composer. GRAND WAZOO, recorded at about the same time as WAKA/JAWAKA, is a further and more accomplished expedition into distinctly Zappa concoctions based around jazz.

The Grand Wazoo, the band, is one of Zappa’s dreams realized – an “electric orchestra; capable of performing intricate compositions at the same sound intensity levels normally associated with other forms of pop music.” His compositions ARE intricate and as distinctive as everything Zappa has ever done. He is inexorably creative when not making himself some money to support his esoteric and not so popular albums, such as Grand Wazoo.

WAZOO, a concept album explained by liner notes as a fantasy courtesy of Uncle Stu Meat, is marked as a Zappa product by frequent time changes, quick and meticulous runs, and by its eclectic being that alternates between tight structure and chaos, rock and jazz, within the same thematic framework – a framework that like all Zappa’s real music contains the precise musical notes of cosmic anti-plasticity.

Zappa isn’t a Coryell on guitar, but his music isn’t anything that Coryell or anyone in ,jazz would play. In his own right, which is a large and prestigous domain, Zappa is a very effective jazz guitarist – this album should prove it.

Grand Wazoo is an electric orchestra, however, and Zappa’s guitar is not flambouyantly showcased – he takes his rightful place among the other 21 musicians whose pecularities include woodwinds, trumpets, trombone, moog, piano, and organ.

GRAND WAZOO is impressive enough that you’d wish Zappa would get together with some prominent jazzmen in one of those superstar deals that never work in rock, but usually do in jazz. The probabilities are low, however. Zappa is a musical iconoclast, an artistic dictator – which is all right when you’re Zappa and you’ve released an album of the caliber of this one.