1967 June 29
Vol. 34 No. 4
Panther organs ad
Nifty Tough & Bitchin'
Back in 1967, Frank Zappa created an advertising agency in New York City called "Nifty Tough & Bitchin'" as another creative outlet associated with, but not directly tied to his musical endeavors. This ad agency, in a very short amount of time, mounted various professional advertising campaigns for clients such as Hagstrom Guitars, Panther Combo Organs, and even Remington Razor Blades in addition to art direction for the Mother's of Invention album covers.
The Hagstrom campaign was one of the first campaigns launched by Nifty Tough & Bitchin'. It features 3 print ads: "Nifty", "Long and Slippery", and "Folk Rock is a Drag", and a radio spot: "Long and Slippery". ... (hagstromguitars.com)
Similar to "Long an Slippery" ad is an "One Size Fits All" Hagstrom ad from German Guitar magazine, September 2007.
The next 45 minutes are quite literally indescribable. The Mothers of Invention are a nine-member band who make the East Village look like a Brooks Brothers showroom. Musically, they can play anything from early Basie to late '50s schlock-rock to concepts out of a Varèse-Cage-Stockhausen panorama. Can play them; each musician is highly gifted, and the Mothers are a tightly disciplined, responsive aggregation.
They started very free – electronic shrieks and whines, scale-running from hornmen Ian Underwood, Bunk Gardner and Jim Sherwood, and some falsetto sing-song by electric bassist Roy Estrada. They settled into a jazz framework with a riff similar to the Jazz Crusaders' Young Rabbits. Short solos by Don Preston on electric piano and Gardner on trumpet (using the false low range, like Rex Stewart on Lion of Judah) ... and then pandemonium broke loose as Kirk wandered out and jammed with them for the rest of the night. (read more)
1969 October 30
Vol. 36 No. 22
(1) Frank Zappa: The Mother of Us All
A meditation on the manifold implications of the Mothers of Invention.
By Larry Kart, pp 14-15
(2) Music Workshop: Little House by Frank Zappa
Score, pp 31-33
(1) Zappa is standing onstage in front of 10,000 or so people, most of them under 21, at an open-air concert last summer. He says to the audience, "We've just had a request for Caravan with a drum solo" (the fruit of their routine on America Drinks & Goes Home). Laughter. Shouts of "yeah!" "Now we may play Caravan with a drum solo, or we might refuse to play Caravan with a drum solo. Which will it be? We think we'll let you decide." (All of this is delivered in a light, mocking tone of voice.) An applause-meter type test indicates that the crowd does not want Caravan with a drum solo. "All right, we'll play Wipeout" (the nadir of early-'60s schlock). Which they proceed to do, in three tempos at once. The mindless riff of Wipeout melts like plastic. (read more)
1970 January 22
Europe's Answer To Woodstock: The First Actuel Paris Music Festival
By Jane Welch, pp 16, 17, 31
If any single individual could be said to represent the spirit of those attending the Festival, it was its co-host, the music-loving Mother of Us All, Frank Zappa. Exuding intelligence, wit and wry humor, Zappa darted around like a 2001 Fred Astaire, charming everyone in sight and becoming a friend to all. He was in the car taking saxophonist Roland Alexander and myself into Brussels upon our arrival in Europe. He assured us, on the way into town, that the many old buildings and interesting monuments we passed on the way were really run-down Holiday Inns getting ready to close for the push to the suburbs.
Zappa listened to the avant garde jazz with the same rapt interest as to the rock, and even with childlike innocence sat in with Archie Shepp's group. He was seriously interested in anyone who approached him with questions. "Nobody understands rhythm", Zappa complained in a rap with Burton Greene on the band bus. "Most people don't know what they're listening to, and some musicians don't know what they're playing." Burton agreed, and then added, "When I play, I'm the one who messes up my own arrangements." Frank befriended many jazz musicians. "You guys gonna play tonight?" he questioned Dave Burrell and Clifford Thornton, shivering in the unheated music tent one early morning. "Yes . . . sometime," they answered. Zappa returned a wise, sympathetic look. "Yeah", he said softly, and walked away. (read more)
1970 December 24
Vol. 37 No. 26
35th Annual Down Beat Readers Poll
1971 December 9
Vol. 38 No. 21
Film Review: Frank Zappa's "200 Motels"
by Dan Morgenstern, p 12
ON THE FOURTH OF JULY, Frank Zappa played the second of two Indianapolis concerts. At that time, the new Mothers of Invention revealed themselves surely the most consummately brilliant ensemble of musicians performing in the rock idiom: Ian Underwood, keyboards, tenor sax; George Duke, keyboards, ring modulator; Zappa, guitar; Jeff Simmons, bass, vocals; Aynsley Dunbar, drums; Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, percussion, vocals. Yet Zappa proved himself, as he has consistently since his popular emergence, hardly the rock artist most may have expected, nor simply a "jazz/rock" artist or any other expressive amalgam, but a serious composer of contemporary music, whose bizarre wit and often quasi-perverse stage presence have perhaps prevented (for an audience stoned on image) the ready perception of the true genius in his art – which is certainly formidable. We spoke in the sterility of his Holiday Inn motel room.
M.B.: How does it feel to spend Independence Day in the heart of middle America?
F.Z.: Painless so far, except for the Holiday Inn scallops.
M.B.: According to the press, your group isn't supposed to be officially together.
F.Z.: Well, we were offered an extremely large amount of money to play a festival in England. I didn't think it would be such a bad idea.
M.B.: Is this another get-your-chops-together tour?
F.Z.: No, we already did that one. This group has been together for about four or five weeks. We rehearsed for about ten days before we went out on the road, and we've played San Antonio, Atlanta, a TV show in Holland, a festival in England, and then Ravinia. And that job last night was our sixth job with that instrumentation. (read more)
1972 November 9
Vol. 39 No. 18
Meet The Grand Wazoo:
Harvey Siders investigates a new Frank Zappa sound, pp 13, 36
We all know that necessity is the mother of invention. I'd always maintained that Pat Pending is the father--until I discovered that the real father is a mother: Frank Zappa.
Just how inventive Zappa can be was tested on an unsuspecting public on two continents as this word picture was being drawn. Just how unpredictable Zappa can be will become clear when I report that the prime mover behind the Mothers of Invention has gone legit. Now don't get the wrong impression: His hair is just as long, just as unkempt; his mustache is just as droopingly evil, and its bottom half just as tentative; his thoughts are just as outrageous, and his disdain for convention just as intense.
How then, you ask, has Frank Zappa become house-broken? Well it's his music. A respectable, big band jazz sound has suddenly asserted itself. Try to imagine 200 Motels infested with Hot Rats that can swing. The result runs a gamut that duplicates the two record labels owned by Zappa: Bizarre and Straight! (read more @ Grand Wazoo Reviews)
The Many Sides of Buell Neidlinger
Interview by Alan Heineman, pp 13-15, 36
Excerpt from the article about Frank Zappa:
A.H. : Have you got a course title, or –
B.N.: Oh, no. I’m a free teacher. We’re all free teachers at the California Institute of the Arts. We’re free, according to our dean , anyway, to teach on a one-to-one basis whenever they want. Like, if you play the clarinet but you wanna know what’s the highest note you can play on a bass, I’ll try and tell you, you know? It’s one of those schools where if you want to know something, you go see if you can find out.
A.H. : That was the idea of schools originally, but it doesn’t seem to’ve worked out that way.
B.N.: Yeah, they mucked it up. So you’re not a slave to the registrar’s office is the idea of this school. So that, and then I was gonna work with Frank (Zappa).
A.H. : How did that come about?
B.N. : That came about – well, Frank knew my work from Cecil’s recordings, and I knew Ian Underwood from when I went to Yale; he was just coming in, or he was around, or something like that, and so when the Mothers were at the Ark in Boston last spring, I went over and Ian came over to my house with that guitar player (Paul Lenart) and the drummer from the Far Cry, who’s a good rock ’n’ roll drummer. Plus, Frank called me up about five in the morning from his
A.H. : How did you like the record date?
B.N.: Well, you see, Frank is such a great mixer, meddler, that I’m sure (laughs) it bears no resemblance to what we laid down there. He’s a genius with that shit, man, with the mixing and speeding up and – he’s a genius, man, that’s all there is to it. I’m lucky to have known two, now; that’s two that I’ve been able to play music with. (Pauses) Very fortunate. Frank and Cecil. (pauses) Lukas Foss is not a genius.
B.N.: (Jams mike close to his mouth) I must enunciate clearly that I shit on the Don Ellis movement in music.
 According to other B.N. interview "While I was with the BSO, I went out [to California] to record with Frank Zappa on October 19, 1969. That’s a date I’ll never forget because it was a turning point in my life. That day I met Mel Powell, who was the dean of music at the new school and had been interested in hiring me. After our meeting in Frank’s basement he hired me and I went to Cal Arts."
1973 September 13
Vol. 40 No. 36
The Perspective of Frank Zappa:
Frank Zappa gives his viewpoints about his music, his musicians, and the business of music as elicited by Jim Schaffer, pp 14-15, 36
db: What about the bands educational backgrounds?
ZAPPA: Ian has a couple of degrees – a bachelor's and an MA in music. I think everybody in the group has a degree except me. They are all thoroughly trained, schooled musicians with either jazz or rock backgrounds. Ruth has more of a classical background. She's a Juilliard product.
I'm mostly self-taught. I had one semester of junior college. It's the highest rank I achieved in school. During that one semester I had a harmony course and the rest or the time I went to the library and listened to records. Played in bars. (read more)
1977 January 13
By Arnold Jay Smith & Bob Henschen, pp 16-17
FRANK ZAPPA: I like electronic music, I think it will be around for a long time. I think that the instruments are going to have to be designed so that they're easier to operate in live performance situations.
On Zoot Allures (Zappa's newest album), most of the electronic events that are taking place are things that were done with studio electronics. There are some synthesizer things that I played on the album, but they're real simple-minded.
Electronics, for instance the string synthesizer, is the best thing that could happen to pop music because when you consider the attitude of normal string players, even jazz string players, it's so disgusting doing business with them that it's great that somebody has finally invented a box (the string synthesizer) that will help you do away with them and their aura. If you can get a better sound by using real musicians I would prefer to do it. But unfortunately the attitude of those kind of musicians toward the work that they do is so moribund, it just adds a cloud.... People are more worried about their pensions than the notes that they're playing, and I hate to do business with them. Working with many so-called "studio musicians," all they care about is their pensions, going to their union meetings, and maintaining their position in a musical community that has nothing to do with music, but more to do with, you know, really horrible middle-class, middle-of-the-road lifestyle. It's depressing for me, in most instances, to deal with them, because they do not have my musical interests at heart, and I doubt if they have anybody's musical
interests at heart when they come in to do those sessions. All you gotta do is stand in the hallway during one of their little union breaks and listen to their conversation, then you know where it's at. And it's the same thing in symphony orchestras. So thank God somebody put together a box that'll sound like a string section, because in a hockey rink who can tell the difference?
As for where music will be in ten or fifteen years, all the jazz musicians will forget how to improvise and really get good at playing disco music. Each one of them will have three cars and a house in the country.
1978 May 18
Vol. 45 No. 10
Garni Du Jour, Lizard King Poetry And Slime
Interview by Tim Schneckloth, pp 15-17, 44-46
Schneckloth: In the last few years, it seems you've been going away from larger orchestrated things back to a fairly basic rock band format. Is there a conscious reason for that?
Zappa: No, I do whatever I feel like doing. See, all you know about what I've done is what's been released on records. And all you know about that is what you've listened to. Right now, I think there are about 45 albums out that I've made over the last 14 years. Chances are you haven't heard all of that, and that's maybe 50% of what's actually available to be released. I've got orchestra stuff that's been recorded, more elaborate compositions that haven't been released yet. They're just sitting around waiting for a home. (read more)
Source: home.online.no/~corneliu & zappateers
1981 November 21
Vol. 48 No. 11
Frank Zappa On Edgar Varèse
Interview by John Diliberto & Kimberly Haas, 4 pp
John Diliberto: How did you first find out about Edgar Varèse?
Frank Zappa: That's a very simple story. I read an article in Look magazine in the early '50s which was a feature saying what a great guy Sam Goody was because he was such an exciting merchandiser and he could sell anything, he could sell any kind of record. And to give an example of what a great merchandiser he was, it said that he was even able to sell an album called "Ionisation" which had a bunch of drums banging, and it described the album in very negative terms. When I read that, I thought it sounded exactly like the kind of album that I wanted to hear because I had been playing drums since I was 12. So I went looking for the album and I finally found it after a couple of months' search, and I took it home, put it on, and I loved it as soon as I heard it. (read more)
Vol. 50 No. 2
Frank Zappa: Guitar Player
This Mother's music, lyrics, and attitudes are legenday, so for a change, Bill Milkowski talks to Frank about his instrumental prowess, pp 14-17, 46
Bill Milkowski: You were actually composing classical music before you ever picked up a guitar, then at the age of 16 you got hooked on r&b music. What was the early fascination there?
Frank Zappa: Well, let's face it, there's nothing that sounds like an electric guitar. Good ol' distorted electric guitar is a universe of sound that transcends the actual noise that is coming out. I mean, you can take one fuzztone note from a guitar and look at it on a spectrum analyzer and calculate everything that's in it, but there's so much more in it than the harmonic components. It just says something that no other instrument says. It has emotional content that goes beyond other instruments. And nothing is more blasphemous than a properly played distorted guitar. It is capable of making blasphemous noises, and that's what first attracted me. (read more)
Frank Zappa is both proud and pissed-off. His 1988 road band has been history for more than three years now but he's been reliving the triumphs and frustrations of that band ever since. First, it was over a year at the mixing board, extracting, compiling, and combining the best material into three albums: Broadway The Hard Way, The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life, and the new Make A Jazz Noise Here, as well as bits and pieces in the ongoing You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore series, which fuses performances from Frank's entire career. Since the band – which included drummer Chad Wackerman, bassist Scott Thunes, percussionist Ed Mann, keyboardist Bobby Martin, guitarist/vocalists Ike Willis and Mike Keneally, trumpeter Walt Fowler, trombonist Bruce Fowler, and reedmen Paul Carman, Albert Wing and Kurt McGettrick, along with Frank on guitar, Synclavier, and vocals – only played in Europe and in the northeast United States, Frank can take pride in the fact that many of its finest moments are finally available to his fans. At the same time, the eyebrows scowl and the shrugs turn a tad painful when he discusses the interpersonal problems that led to the premature breakup of the group, leaving Zappa $400,000 in the hole and refusing to put another band together unless someone else foots the bill.
"Most of the guys in the band decided they hated the bass player and refused to go on stage with him again," Frank sighs. "I didn't want to fire the bass player; I liked him. It put me in a position where if I had to replace someone, it meant going back into rehearsal, and rehearsals cost money. We had plenty of offers to do concerts in the U.S. that summer but they just wouldn't do it with Scott." (read more)
Shortly after Frank Zappa's death, his daughter Moon Unit was on the 818-PUMPKIN Zappa hotline informing mourners that in lieu of flowers they could send donations in her dad's name to the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association or to a favorite environmental cause. For those musicians and listeners financially restricted. Moon suggested. "Just play his music. . . . That
will be enough for him." (read more)
Political advocate and subversive satirist, comedian, scatologist, classical composer of works from chamber music to musique concrete, pan-time cynic, part-time optimist, pedagogue, bandleader, and bitchin' guitarist, the Grand Wazoo Frank Zappa enters the Down Beat Critics Hall of Fame in 1994. Joining fellow pick-smith Jimi Hendrix, Zappa is only the second rock musician ever to be voted into the hallowed Hall – perhaps partially a demonstration of the never-ending fascination and glorification of things-with-strings (guitar freaks are always hungry, daddy) and the added chances one has of being recognized for one's achievements when one kicks the bucket – but more likely a testament to the catholicism, enthusiasm, and ingeniousness of Zappa's truly awe-inspiring imagination. (read more)
Vol. 71 No. 1
What Can You Do That's Fantastic
By Mitch Myers, 6 pp
Frank Zappa died 10 years ago, on Dec. 4, 1993 , at the age of 52. His relentlessness as a composer, guitarist and bandleader resulted in one of the most prolific musical careers of the 20th century. Inspiring cult-like fanaticism, Zappa's output has been documented down to the finest detail, and appreciation of his work has only widened since his passing. According to his widow, Gail, there are countless hours of unreleased recordings (both live and in the studio), and more never-before heard Zappa collections should be available in the near future.
Zappa's music has never been more universal than it is today. There are tribute groups featuring various Zappa alumni, including The Grandmothers, Banned From Utopia and Project/Object. In Europe his appeal is even more pervasive, with dedicated repertory groups like Germany 's Dwarf Nebula and Cosmic Debris from Hungary . Zappa festivals are actually flourishing overseas and has classical compositions are now performed the world over.
(read more @ killuglyradio )
Vol. 75 No. 10
By Mitch Myers, p 70
Vol. 76 No. 2
75 Great Guitarists
By Ed Enright, p 34 (pp 27-30, 32-36, 38-43)
In this 75th anniversary collector's edition Zappa's interview from Music 71 Yearbook was reprinted, but only the first part and with different photo.
Vol. 80 No. 3
CJO Tips Hat to Zappa
By Alain Drouot, p 16
Jeff Lindberg, artistic director of the Chicago Jazz Orchestra (CJO), had always been toying with the idea of presenting the music of late rock composer Frank Zappa. The CJO has the reputation of focusing on a less controversial repertoire that includes Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Ahmad Jamal. But on the evening of Dec. 29, Lindberg’s plan came to fruition at Chicago’s Park West.
Full digital edition pdf: Down Beat, March 2013
Source: Vitaly Zaremba
Vol. 80 No. 6
Frank Zappa: A Serious Man
By Geoffrey Himes, pp 32-36
In addition to article by Geoffrey Himes on page 84 is an announcement, that M&T Syracuse Jazz Fest XXXI, Syracuse, July 4-6 includes a 20th anniversary tribute to Frank Zappa.
Full digital edition pdf: Down Beat, May 2013