The Ed Palermo Big Band — Oh No! Not Jazz!!
(Cuneiform Rune 380/381, 2014, 2CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2014-03-11
On three previous releases, and on half of this one, we hear bandleader Palermo and his big band (eighteen players plus guests this time) covering the music of the late great Frank Zappa. This time out we are also treated to a full second disc featuring mostly Palermo’s own compositions, which as one might expect, are somewhat Zappa influenced yet manage to sound extremely original at the same time, pulling in a strong swing component working in a powerful orchestral jazz style, and pulling out all the stops. In fact, after a few listens to the complete two-disc set, one has to pretty much conclude that the dozen Palermo pieces on disc two are the real icing on the cake here. But that in no way lessens the excellence of the arrangements of Zappa material on disc one; in fact, that they can both exist side by side complementing each other is a testament to Palermo’s brilliance as both a composer and arranger. Kicking off with “Inca Roads” with Napoleon Murphy Brock guesting on vocals, they jump next into a version of “The Uncle Meat Variations” that is every bit as impressive as the original from 1969, in fact let me say this – it’s better than the original. Versions of “Chunga’s Revenge” and “Little Umbrellas” pack a serious punch as well, but “Dog Breath Variations” maybe not so much, sounding almost like there’s too many cooks in the kitchen trying to make a rock composition sound like jazz. The five minute arrangement of “Lumpy Gravy” is a real surprise, breathing new life into what was probably one of Zappa’s weirdest endeavors. And almost as if it had to end this way, the first disc fittingly closes with “America Drinks and Goes Home,” which originally closed Absolutely Free back in 1966. All taken, this is an outstanding package that underscores Palermo’s prowess as a composer, arranger, and bandleader. My highest Recommendation.
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more