Zappa.com

The Official Frank Zappa Messageboards
It is currently Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:59 pm

All times are UTC - 8 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 11 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Bremen October 1968
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:03 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:16 am
Posts: 2458
What a performance!
I got this show on a bootleg video back in about 1996 and it was my first exposure to that particular period of the Mother's music, and in particular those pieces that they were performing regularly on that tour.
At that point I was still used to listening to the first 3 Mother's albums so this was a very different band that I was watching. In fact, there was almost no similarities. In particular, the fact that these were compositions with much more elaborate percussion and winds.
The only thing I hated was the camera effects which I thought became annoying after a while. Probably quite advanced for the time though.

I watched this show again on youtube a few days ago and it began with the tail end of King Kong (which they mess up, as they did at the BBC). My video also had a warm up / 50's style jam plus an interview with Zappa from 1970 but it switched back into the performance at the same point.

Great performances of Pound for a Brown (A particularly happy looking JCB during the opening bars) and Sleeping in a Jar and very avant garde keyboard runs from Don Preston.

The piece of music that has always intrigued me from this performance comes after Sleeping in a Jar and begins with Zappa tuning his guitar. He plays some beautiful guitar here and Art Tripp comes in with some very innovative percussion. In fact everything about his percussion during this piece is exactly what I loved about his style. Then the whole band comes in and it blows me a away.

Rarely have the Mothers played anything so beautiful (that I have heard anyway). The person that uploaded the show calls this piece the String Quartet. Is that correct? I have seen The String Quartet listed before on various gig listings from this period.
And is it unique to this show or was there a format that the band had prepared?

I’d love to know exactly what Don Preston says to Zappa at the end of this piece, something about the time signature that he is playing in.

It is also a particularly gorgeous version of Uncle Meat too.

Not much to say about the remainder of the show. I understand that they use a piece called Lohengrin by Wagner. I don’t know that piece so I can’t identify it but it apparently comes in during the Gas Mask piece (Great Roy as always).

I just wish that I could watch it having been filmed as well as the performance in Paris from the same tour.

This suite of music, immortalised in the performance filmed in Paris must have been audience’s first real exposure to Zappa’s full potential at writing serious music. It’s definitely a favourite era of mine and I hate the later incarnations of some of these pieces that are played almost tongue in cheek.
Something that Zappa frequently did.

I wonder how Zappa felt about the potential of this band during this period? I wonder whether he thought that they could break through and away from their earlier and freakier roots?
They certainly come across as a completely different band and even dressed differently.

_________________
"drums are too noisy, 'n you've got no corners to hide in"


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Bremen October 1968
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:39 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2007 8:07 am
Posts: 1528
Well, the post-Sleeping In A Jar thing is 100% improvisation, in the late 60s-early 70s FZ often had his bands just improvise music on the spot, good examples can be heard at the beginning of "Swiss Cheese/Fire" bootleg (Dec 1971), quite a number of jams on "Imaginary Diseases" and one of my favorites: the Berlin Improvisation from the 9-15-1972 Hot Rats Orchestra live recording. Even the 1973 band occasionally improvised music almost out of nothing.

However, it does seem like the guitar "tuning" thing at the beginning of the Bremen Improvisation (as I'd call it) contains the bass line notes (A-D-G-A-D-G-A) for "Pound for a Brown", so FZ might've used the Pound bass-line in deadly slow rubato for kicking off the improvisation. But yeah, quite an interesting and mellow improv, it does prefigure all those post-rock bands a la Godspeed You Black Emperor three decades later. It also contains a rare glimpse of FZ playing the piano during performance.

What FZ wanted to do was to write not so much songs anymore, but to compose some kind of electric chamber music. The elaborate percussion and winds were definitely more prominent after the first three (well, the first four, if you also count the doo-wop music collection "...Ruben and the Jets") Mothers albums. By 1968 he definitely had got more virtuosi in his bands, people like Bunk Gardner, Ian Underwood and Arthur Tripp could really read music and play tons of instruments and thus give FZ a chance to record some of his more elaborate instrumentals.

And get this: in 1969 at Fillmore East, he represented what was in fact a rather controversial piece of music: "Electric Bassoon Concerto". Written for electrified bassoon, clarinet, flugelhorn as well as percussion (and even featuring a guitar solo), it was FZ' attempt at making new sort of classical music with a rock-ish backbeat. However, critics hated it (and called it, to prove that rock journalism and true intelligence are mutually exclusive, "Oboe (sic!) Concerto"!) and I don't think most of the Fillmore audience dug it either. The Groupie Opera with two tenor/alto male vocalists* this was not! He had some more music for winds and percussion, but eventually FZ disbanded the original Mothers, partially because of uneven musicianship in the band and partially because others just didn't get his radical approach (and he was in debt because of the high cost of touring and not getting enough money from concerts).

*Referring of course to the "Fillmore 1971" live album with the Flo & Eddie period Mothers singing bawdy and slapstick lyrics about groupies. Ostensibly, FZ shifted back to a bit more mainstream pop sound in 1970 and reserved his orchestral ambitions for "200 Motels" movie. Clearly he didn't see the expected results to playing chamber music for three horns and percussion.

_________________
Lies are like quicksand, soft and comfortable, but they will swallow us. Truth is like bedrock, hard and uncomfortable, but we can always stand on it


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Bremen October 1968
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 7:55 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:16 am
Posts: 2458
Very interesting reply, thanks Ed

_________________
"drums are too noisy, 'n you've got no corners to hide in"


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Bremen October 1968
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:42 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2007 8:07 am
Posts: 1528
And here's some verbal relevance from the Maestro himself (Summer 1970):
http://www.afka.net/Articles/1970-07_Down_Beat.htm

M.B.: Do you think you're music can be as spontaneous as you would like it to be?

F.Z.: We're not doing spontaneous music to the extent the old Mothers group used to do it. I've more or less abandoned that until the audience got a chance to comprehend it. I mean, there were elements in what we did that were completely spontaneous, like at the point where I start conducting and breaking up the tunes; that's all 100% spontaneous, nobody knows where it's gonna go. I can stop the group or twist the time around or do anything I want, 'cause this group knows all the signals – but I'm just not doing it as much as I used to.

_________________
Lies are like quicksand, soft and comfortable, but they will swallow us. Truth is like bedrock, hard and uncomfortable, but we can always stand on it


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Bremen October 1968
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:52 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:16 am
Posts: 2458
Thanks again Ed.
Classic Zappa;

M.B.: You made this line about "most people wouldn't know good music if it came out and bit them on the ass" –

F.Z.: I didn't even say "good" music – I said "music".

_________________
"drums are too noisy, 'n you've got no corners to hide in"


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Bremen October 1968
PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 1:55 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2007 8:07 am
Posts: 1528
Here's a fantastic example of the chamber music FZ was composing in the late 60s for the more virtuoso half of the MOI, from the unreleased "Weasel Music" acetate. At least the more rhythmically sustained and melodic parts are really gorgeous and it's a fantastic soundboard recording, you can follow quite well what Bunk does on bassoon, Ian on clarinet and Buzz on flugel. It would've been a wonderful addition on Weasels Ripped My Flesh.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qwCrQ6PbaI

_________________
Lies are like quicksand, soft and comfortable, but they will swallow us. Truth is like bedrock, hard and uncomfortable, but we can always stand on it


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Bremen October 1968
PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 3:27 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2005 3:03 pm
Posts: 5908
Location: Pouting for you? Punky Meadows, pouting for you?!!
Interesting. I'd not heard that before. Thanks.

_________________
The way I see it Barry, this should be a very dynamite show.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Bremen October 1968
PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 5:57 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Tue Sep 29, 2009 1:29 am
Posts: 32
Location: York, Uk
Ed Organus Maximus wrote:
Here's a fantastic example of the chamber music FZ was composing in the late 60s for the more virtuoso half of the MOI, from the unreleased "Weasel Music" acetate. At least the more rhythmically sustained and melodic parts are really gorgeous and it's a fantastic soundboard recording, you can follow quite well what Bunk does on bassoon, Ian on clarinet and Buzz on flugel. It would've been a wonderful addition on Weasels Ripped My Flesh.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qwCrQ6PbaI


Now THAT is the stuff I love best

_________________
Carry Go Bring Come


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Bremen October 1968
PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:10 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:16 am
Posts: 2458
Ed Organus Maximus wrote:
Here's a fantastic example of the chamber music FZ was composing in the late 60s for the more virtuoso half of the MOI, from the unreleased "Weasel Music" acetate. At least the more rhythmically sustained and melodic parts are really gorgeous and it's a fantastic soundboard recording, you can follow quite well what Bunk does on bassoon, Ian on clarinet and Buzz on flugel. It would've been a wonderful addition on Weasels Ripped My Flesh.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qwCrQ6PbaI


Fuck, that is so good!
I love that direction Zappa went in. A real shame we don't have aot more of in the catalogue.

_________________
"drums are too noisy, 'n you've got no corners to hide in"


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Bremen October 1968
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:52 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 19, 2003 11:37 am
Posts: 502
excellant interview Ed

"One of the things that I've been advocating all along is called "Slot Power," where a lot of the hippie girls, who are now, say, some of the ones in Chicago who joined the Weathermen and help make Molotov cocktails – they would be better off going into an uptown bar with a different set of clothes on and picking up executives and industrialists, and maybe eventually marrying these people and exerting a profound influence on the lives of the men who actually have control of the material things in the United States, and just sort of by inference and pressure from another direction could cause a great deal of things to change."

Tipper Gore anyone?

Maybe Frank's advice came back and bit him in the ass?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Bremen October 1968
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:14 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2007 8:07 am
Posts: 1528
Now there was this wonderful bloke on the forum: FeralCats. So young, yet so knowledgeable. Classical music was his expertise, and he also mentioned this composer called Kyle Gann quite a bit. I just downloaded some Gann's music and one of his pieces "As the Day is Long" does in fact remind me a bit of the post-Sleeping in a Jar mellow improv bits from 1968. He even uses the same kind of electric keyboard tone that Don Preston used back in the day. His stuff can be downloaded at: http://www.kylegann.com/Gannmusic.html

_________________
Lies are like quicksand, soft and comfortable, but they will swallow us. Truth is like bedrock, hard and uncomfortable, but we can always stand on it


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 11 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: NuclearProstate and 4 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group