One can always count on Ed Palermo and his Big Band to pop up every couple of years with another sizzling set of Frank Zappa inspired jazz, and he's done that yet again here in early 2016 with his latest Cuneiform Records release One Child Left Behind. Featuring 17 tracks, 9 of which are Zappa recreations, along with some Palermo originals and other covers, One Child Left Behind is a dazzling display of musical artistry from this large outfit, which for the album consists of seventeen musicians.
With Palermo taking up the helm of conductor/arranger and lead alto sax, the rest of the band is made up of folks contributing trombone, sax, flute, clarinet, piccolo, keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, oboe, trumpet, and violin. Katie Jacoby delivers some stunning lead violin on the original track "Scarface", and another Palermo penned cut, "Dirty White Bucks", soars with melodic might, the horn & reed section in full force, delivering a majestic display of powerful jazz. Of course, the Zappa renditions are killer as always, the horns saddled up alongside guitarist Bruce McDaniel for a scorching "Grand Wazoo", leading their own charge on "Fifty Fifty", and digging deep alongside a powerful rhythm team on a raging "Pygmy Twylyte", which also features Zappa alumni Napoleon Murphy Brock on lead vocals. Brock also pops up on a playful "Po-Jama People", with the Palermo Big Band giving this Zappa classic their own spin. The great thing about One Child Left Behind is that the non-Zappa material is just as strong, especially the big band sounds of "Vengeance", the gentle "Harvest Moon", the mysterious "The Goat Patrol" (featuring some stellar trumpet & trombone), and the acrobatic "Kiko and the Lavender Moon". The highlight however has to be the legendary Zappa cut "Andy", again featuring Brock on vocals as well as some incredible ensemble playing from the full band. At just under 8-minutes it's a real treat for any longtime Frank Zappa fan.
It's not very hard to gush about this band time and time again when they just keep delivering such amazing music on a consistent basis. If you are a Frank Zappa fan, and have not yet checked out the incredible Ed Palermo Big Band, I urge you to do so as quickly as possible. Not only do they tackle so many of Frank's classic compositions (giving those songs their own stamp at the same time), but their original material is just as enjoyable. Big band jazz is alive and kicking folks!!
1. Cleetus Awreetus Awrightus (Zappa) (3:48)
2. Dirty White Bucks (Palermo) (4:40)
3. Spider of Destiny (Zappa) (2:38)
4. Scarface (Moroder) (2:30)
5. Grand Wazoo (Zappa) (2:22)
6. Fifty-Fifty (Zappa) (5:55)
7. Harvest Moon (Young) (4:44)
8. Pygmy Twylyte (Zappa) (2:53)
9. Po-Jama People (Zappa) (5:26)
10. Kiko and the Lavender Moon (Hidalgo/Perez) (4:08)
11. Vengeance (Palermo) (5:27)
12. Evelyn, a Modified Dog (Zappa) (1:23)
13. Village of the Sun (Zappa) (3:25)
14. The Goat Patrol (Palermo) (5:51)
15. Is That All There Is? (Lieber/Stoller) (2:35)
16. Andy (Zappa) (7:59)
17. [secret bonus track] (1:45)