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

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more

2018-12-23
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Faith & Disease - Insularia – The new Faith & Disease album is a continuation of the sound set forth on the Livesongs: Third Body album. That is slow, dreamy music, more similar in style to Mazzy Star than Dead Can Dance. If...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues