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 Post subject: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:41 am 
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We all know that Zappa had quite a bit of negative things to say about Jazz. 'Jazz isn't dead it just smells funny.' 'Jazz, the music of unemployment.' And we know that he was an amazing improvisor, but could he play in the straight Jazz vernacular?

Taken from another angle: when Zappa met Tommy Tedesco and Joe Pass---Zappa is famous for making fun of jazz. The problem is: he couldn't play any.

Excerpt:

"The story goes like this according to Joe Pass and I'm paraphrasing: "Tommy and I were both very excited to hear the Frank Zappa would be gracing our small stage that day at the NAMM show." Joe went on to say "In fact I was nervous, my palms were sweating, I had read and heard that this man was one of the greatest guitarists and composers of all time, like a modern day Mozart."

"We played a set, we waited, no Zappa, we played another set, still no Zappa. By this time, the suspense was killing both Tedesco and myself," (myself meaning Joe Pass.)

"At last, we see a dark haired man wearing a black long cape surrounded by a flock of worshipers coming toward our stage. We had to stop playing because there was complete chaos around our booth as Zappa was signing autographs and his fans were trying to touch his garment."

"After an hour of worship and autographs, he picks up a guitar and bangs out a couple of loud bar chords. Zappa turns to Tommy and asks, 'What do you guys what to play?'" Joe Pass started to rattle off tunes like Giant Steps, a John Coltrane classic, hey, Joe said, "we figured this Zappa guy is the best, lets play the most demanding music possible."

"After requesting more then two dozen standards, we realized this guy couldn't play any standards, not one. We ended up playing a TOO loud 12 bar blues, that's all Frank could play. It was pathetic."


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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 2:29 am 
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Thanks for the excerpts and welcome to the forum...

The fact FZ could not play standards (i.e. was not familiar with the particular tunes) does not mean he wasn't a jazz man of some sort. He definitively left his mark in the so called fusion/jazz-rock genera. Besides, his music defies labels...

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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 2:53 am 
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Joe's Entitle too his opinion and sounds correct.

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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 2:56 am 
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jk666 wrote:
"... After requesting more then two dozen standards, we realized this guy couldn't play any standards, not one ... "


the fact, that they asked mr. zappa more than 24 (nearly identical) questions speaks for itself and could be interpreted as dullness and/or numbness on the questioner's side and extraordinary patience on the part of the listener ...


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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 3:45 am 
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I was surprised at first, then again Frank claimed to have never heard most of the Beatles' work either. He lived in his own World, for better or for worse. I tend to put him in the same category as someone like Ornette Coleman who followed his own rules and was slightly uncomfortable outside of them.


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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 7:45 am 
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Anyone here familiar with the following (Dutch) article about Zappa's love/hate affair with jazz ?
http://www.littleumbrellas.nl/dawerdz/jazz.htm

Quote:
"There's no passion in it (jazz). It's a bunch of people trying to be cool, looking for the certification of an intellectual community. Most of today's jazz is even more worthless than the most blatantly commercial music because it pretends something it's not. I'd rather stay away from that." (from Viva Zappa, Dominique Chevalier)


Here it is in English: http://translate.google.nl/translate?sl=nl&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=nl&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.littleumbrellas.nl%2Fdawerdz%2Fjazz.htm&act=url

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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 8:05 am 
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jk666 wrote:
We all know that Zappa had quite a bit of negative things to say about Jazz. 'Jazz isn't dead it just smells funny.' 'Jazz, the music of unemployment.' And we know that he was an amazing improvisor, but could he play in the straight Jazz vernacular?

Taken from another angle: when Zappa met Tommy Tedesco and Joe Pass---Zappa is famous for making fun of jazz. The problem is: he couldn't play any.

Excerpt:

"The story goes like this according to Joe Pass and I'm paraphrasing: "Tommy and I were both very excited to hear the Frank Zappa would be gracing our small stage that day at the NAMM show." Joe went on to say "In fact I was nervous, my palms were sweating, I had read and heard that this man was one of the greatest guitarists and composers of all time, like a modern day Mozart."

"We played a set, we waited, no Zappa, we played another set, still no Zappa. By this time, the suspense was killing both Tedesco and myself," (myself meaning Joe Pass.)

"At last, we see a dark haired man wearing a black long cape surrounded by a flock of worshipers coming toward our stage. We had to stop playing because there was complete chaos around our booth as Zappa was signing autographs and his fans were trying to touch his garment."

"After an hour of worship and autographs, he picks up a guitar and bangs out a couple of loud bar chords. Zappa turns to Tommy and asks, 'What do you guys what to play?'" Joe Pass started to rattle off tunes like Giant Steps, a John Coltrane classic, hey, Joe said, "we figured this Zappa guy is the best, lets play the most demanding music possible."

"After requesting more then two dozen standards, we realized this guy couldn't play any standards, not one. We ended up playing a TOO loud 12 bar blues, that's all Frank could play. It was pathetic."
found the site thats copy and paste from say's more.
http://www.stevelaury.com/html/s_zappa.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Laury there he is on wiki
i heard one of is songs on you tube that was enuff :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 8:43 am 
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Frank was shit

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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:34 am 
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Since Tommy Tedesco played on Lumpy Gravy, I'm guessing that he knew what was up, but since he was such a part player, he didn't know what to do in that situation. A straight-laced guy like Joe Pass couldn't have known better on any level. Why anyone would think that FZ should have Giant Steps memorized is hilarious. Standards are only standards to those who agree to play or listen to them all the time.

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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:46 am 
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The Forum Killed Arkay wrote:
Since Tommy Tedesco played on Lumpy Gravy, I'm guessing that he knew what was up, but since he was such a part player, he didn't know what to do in that situation. A straight-laced guy like Joe Pass couldn't have known better on any level. Why anyone would think that FZ should have Giant Steps memorized is hilarious. Standards are only standards to those who agree to play or listen to them all the time.



But that was the snobbishness of a lot of jazz players back then. If you couldn't play "Love For Sale" or "On Green Dolphin Street", you were a hack.

And would Mozart even want to memorize "Giant Steps"?

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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:03 am 
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I think What Joe said was a good way to slag somebody off If you think that person been having a dig at you or something you do.has for them as players Just my opinion Tommy Tedesco(good player) joe Pass(goodplayer) FZ(very good Player,just joking good player) :mrgreen:
No body perfect on guitar like Arkay said,Try doing the Three test they either fast accurate no feel,it can go on and on like JH was fast not so accurate Loads of feel he even had too slow down for the feel and now he can't be classed as fast really.

See what Three stars with players metioned none get them All :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:38 am 
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I would guess that folks like Archie Shepp, Don Cherry and Roland Kirk didn't have the mind-set of Frank being "pathetic". Oh wait, I guess free-jazz isn't true jazz either. In any event, those two jazz-standard elitist guys sound like a bunch of Po-Jama People to me.

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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:15 am 
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I am guessing Joe Pass and Tedesco, suggested playing a standard, as they probably did not know a Zappa tune and FZ was not familiar with a Pass tune, so like many jams the musicians play something everyone is familiar with.
You gotta remember FZ was making millions, and Pass with all his ability never got into any big bucks in his career, as was the case with many musicians especially jazz. So Frank maybe just blew off the situation.. I would have liked to hear them jam on Louie, Louie, Pass had to have known that one.

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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:44 am 
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On second thought, is it just my loonie self or could it be that this story is just an urban legend?

I mean, I find it hard to fathom FZ was all that interested in banging out loud 12-bar blues jams with random dudes in the early 80s, didn't he have lots of other stuff to do? Second, that jazz guitarist's link, I mean it's pretty strange how he dismisses Zappa as a "lackluster rock soloist" (begs the question: what exactly is a fantastic rock solo in his mind?), that Steve whatsisname makes Zappa sound less sophisticated than he actually was. And come on, didn't FZ know at least one jazz standard: "Stolen Moments", which was played with the 1988 band, if not before? Another thing: as far as I know, Zappa was never hailed as a jazz genius on the exact par with Coltrane, he did get a lot of praise, but for different qualities than overt jazzmanship. So if there was indeed mythology that FZ is a jazz genius, then wouldn't FZ had been the first to debunk such claims in the press?

So, I'm willing to call bullshit unless there's evidence that this unfortunate meeting with Pass and Tedesco indeed took place at some point in early 1980s.

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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:44 am 
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It's probably from around the time FZ jammed with al di meola the Jazz guitarist.

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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:09 am 
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Biffy The Elephant Shrew also smells bullshit:

Quote:
I smell bullshit. It's the 1980s, and Tommy Tedesco didn't know that
Frank Zappa wasn't a jazz guitarist? Hell, Tedesco even played on at
least one Zappa session in the '60s (Lumpy Gravy). According to
legend, Tedesco had heard that Zappa was a "freak," so he showed up
for the session in costume. He was then embarrassed to find that it
was a "serious music" session, and the music he was given was too hard
for him to sight read.

Your pal,
Biffy the Elephant Shrew


http://www.freak-search.com/en/thread/1 ... my_tedesco

So I ain't apparently the only one doubting the story's authenticity: I mean, there's not a single mention of any Anaheim gig in early 80s at the FZ GigList. And I think it's safe to say that by that time, FZ wasn't so into sitting in with other bands. The age of sitting in at free jazz sessions in 1969 was obviously over.

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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 11:09 am 
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Wonder how this urban legend first began.

Steve Vai attends NAMM quite often. Maybe he could shed some light on this snarky tale.

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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 3:48 am 
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http://www.namm.org/category/tags/frank-zappa#

Bob Luly built the first sound system for the Rolling Stones that they used in the United States. The system was created for the Orange Show in the 1960s and led Bill to build systems for the likes of Three Dog Night and Frank Zappa (whom Bill played electric bass for on stage in the early part of Zappa’s career). Bob worked to improve the sound and electronics for live shows and found he had a great interest in designing amplifiers.

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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:52 pm 
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True or not, it doesn't sound like any great mystery.

It wouldn't surprise me if FZ couldn't improvise confidently 'in the jazz idiom' over standards that he had no interest in.
Why would he even want to try-he had his own voice, and complying to the 'accepted' rules of Jazz was not what FZ was about.

It doesn't mean he wasn't a great guitar player, or an innovator in what could be called Jazz-Rock or Fusion.


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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:35 pm 
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Check out this link: http://www.jazzguitar.be/joe_pass_guitar.html

Says that Joe Pass endorsed Ibanez in the 80's, just like Steve Vai. What are the odds that Pass may have played with Vai at NAMM on the Ibanez stage/booth, and this Steve Laury guy has the story all screwed up?

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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:24 pm 
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Take for instance albums like The Grand Wazoo or Waka/Jawaka, if those aren't jazz, I don't know what they are.

Even if Frank Zappa usually used to swim against the stream, the 2 albums I named fit in their age rather well, being some sort of fusion jazz, a genre people like Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock were playing aswell in that era!

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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:36 am 
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The irony is that Blessed Relief became a jazz standard in an edition of one of those jazz standard books you can get along with Stolen Moments. If those guys really did say that stuff then it highlights them as assholes. There's a similar principle in most fields. I'm a mathematician and my specialty is functional analysis and it would be absurd and disingenuous to disparage a number theorist for not knowing any particular analysis theorem that had no application in number theory. In fact the parallel is even more relevant as these days many areas of mathematics have become multidisciplinary. I have a book on abstract algebra, another area of maths again, and there is a huge amount of modern analysis in there amongst other things.

Frank Zappa was a multi disciplinarian and I can totally relate to his choice not to spend time on the dimension of soloing over a constantly changing harmonic background. His compositional prowess was way more expansive than all but an exceptional few jazz composers.

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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:17 am 
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So then why did he even show up? I think your analysis is is flawed.
I know many musicians and when they jam with someone or music they are not familiar with they always kick around tunes they all know. I suspect the jam we are talking about was pretty good, just about had to be. The rest of this banter is superfluous.

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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:52 am 
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I think it happened also that guy who said Joe pass said it about zappa he is the problem Joe weren't really that hard on FZ He did say "it was Pathetic" so what Toomy didn't even say anything did he :roll:
Zappa could play some nice Jazz track Toads Of The Short Forest proves that,My Favorite Things thrown in on the end of the first part.Jazz Standard after his own made up jazz nice :smoke:

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 Post subject: Re: Zappa and Jazz
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:48 am 
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Zappa not jazz skilled?

hummmm.....

I guess Ravi Shankar, J.L.Ponty and the great Gearge Duke
should never have invited him to play on their records.
I mean....think of what people would think of them!

shamefull.

I wonder what Miles thought of him?


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