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.
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more