Exposé Online banner

The Ed Palermo Big Band — One Child Left Behind
(Cuneiform Rune 418, 2016, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2016-02-22

One Child Left Behind Cover art

This review could easily become an essay on Frank Zappa’s compositional ideas, since nine of the sixteen cuts here are adaptations of his work, and Ed Palermo’s originals tend to follow his style somewhat as well, but we all know FZ’s work well through his many phases, so let’s just simplify this and say that those nine Zappa cuts chosen here on One Child Left Behind are some of his very best, and Palermo does a masterful job arranging them for his sixteen-piece big band. But anyone familiar with Palermo’s earlier Cuneiform releases like Oh No! Not Jazz!, Eddy Loves Frank, and Take Your Clothes off When You Dance will certainly have a fairly clear idea what to expect. Especially noteworthy is the instrumental medley presented early on that includes “Spider of Destiny,” “Grand Wazoo,” and “Fifty-Fifty,” with Giorgio Moroder’s motion picture theme for “Scarface” in the middle somewhere. But there are more Zappa surprises when a segue of “Pygmy Twylyte” into “Po-Jama People” features none other than Napoleon Murphy Brock on vocals (Brock also sings on “Andy,” later in the program). Throughout, there are plenty of solo spots for all of the exceptionally hot players in this band, and one of particular note is the tenor sax solo by Ben Kono on the Palermo original “Vengeance.” A very surprising piece in this set is his adaptation of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” in a typical Nelson Riddle style, with guitarist Bruce McDaniel handling the vocals superbly. Another non-Zappa piece, albeit far more strange, is the Lieber / Stoller tune “Is That All There Is,” originally recorded by various artists in the late 60s but ultimately a top 40 hit for Peggy Lee in 1969. If one even remembers it, with its spoken verses, you are probably be trying hard to forget it. Here guest vocalist Mike James pretty much dumps most of the original lyrics, and adds his own hilariously improvised narrative, launching off into a rant about how he hates Frank Zappa’s music and he’s only doing this gig for the money. Meanwile, the band in the background is quoting various Zappa tunes as the song proceeds. Another guest of note is Candy Zappa, Frank’s younger sister, providing vocals on the Los Lobos tune “Kiko and the Lavender Moon” as well as the FZ original “Evelyn, a Modified Dog” from One Size Fits All. The final surprise is a hidden track, the barbershop-style “Why You Bustin’ My Balls?” that closes the disc nicely, vocals only, no big band. As one might expect, Palermo brings new life to parts of the immense Zappa catalog as well as providing some new original tunes and carefully selected covers in his own consummate big band style.


Filed under: New releases, 2016 releases

Related artist(s): The Ed Palermo Big Band, Frank Zappa

Latest news

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the ago of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ken Pedersen - Deja Views – Deja Views is a collection of 12 piano instrumental pieces based upon various classical themes. Many of the tracks are piano solos, and some have wind or string accompaniment. The songs list people...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues