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Ed Palermo Big Band: Oh No, Not Jazz

Okay, I could write one the shortest reviews ever: "Buy this!" And that would do it. This is utterly wonderful, in every sense of the word; wonderful in being just gorgeous music, and wonderful in the sense of being full of wonder. It is 2 discs of astonishing big band music, one devoted to the music of Frank Zappa and one featuring compositions written by Ed Palermo himself. His band is filled with master musicians and top-notch improvisers, who have the technical skills required to play these thorny, detailed and hugely musical charts.

Talk about ambitious. The first disc begins with what I think has become the most iconic of Zappa compositions, "Inca Roads." This is one the big crowd pleasers, and it moves all over the place with its time signatures and differing parts. And here, the erstwhile Napoleon Murphy Brock adds his vocals to the stew, and I have to say, for once I can hear every word in that little spoken part near the beginning of the tune. Palermo transmutes this burner into a more swinging, fluid piece of music. Each of the Zappa songs is played in a manner different from the original. They have tweaks and unexpected turns and demonstrate new facets to each of the compositions. I love them all, and all seem to stand out. In each song, solos abound. Always a stand-out is Katie Jacoby, whose violin swings like crazy. Palermo does a superb job of capturing the spirit and ethos of Frank Zappa, keeping the flame alive.

Disc 2 is all about Ed Palermo's own writing. The tone of these compositions differs from the Zappa, though the charts are no less complicated. The PR material accompanying the release notes that Palermo cites Thad Jones and Mel Lewis as primary influences, and it is easy to hear their style of big band composition in Palermo's writing. One of the standout compositions on this second disc is "Let's reproduce," which slides along, combining Zappa's orchestral colors and exact musician (for example, marimba) over some excellent drumming (from Ray Marchica) and a sweet violin from Jacoby.

All of this is a wonder. Let me close with this thought: buy this.

Track Listings

  1. Inca Roads
  2. The Uncle Meat Variations
  3. Little Umbrellas
  4. The Dog Breath Variations
  5. Chunga's revenge
  6. Lumpy Gravy
  7. The Black Page
  8. America Drinks and Goes Home
  9. Moosh
  10. Prelude to an Insult
  11. Why is the Doctor barking
  12. Prelude to a Catastrophe
  13. A Catastrophe (is Just Around the Corner)
  14. Let's Reproduce
  15. An Escape Nonetheless
  16. Nostalgia Revisited (For Susan)
  17. The Insult
  18. Good Night, Everybody! God Love Ya!
  19. She's so Heavy

Added: February 14th 2014
Reviewer: Dana Lawrence
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 3831
Language: english

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