Friday, March 29, 2013

Frank Zappa 15: Waka/Jawaka

While recovering from a stage accident that nearly took his life, Frank devoted his spare time to writing and arranging two albums’ worth of jazz-infused music, which, in another about-face to his recent work, featured a minimum of lyrics.
The first of these to appear was Waka/Jawaka, which bears a pretty blatant reference to Hot Rats right there on the rather clever cover. However, the similarities don’t go that deep—the biggest difference that the new stuff employed a lot of overdubbed horns, giving the proceedings a “big band” sound.
Along with such holdovers as Aynsley Dunbar, George Duke, Don Preston and even the return of Jeff Simmons, new contributors include Tony Duran on slide guitar, Sal Marquez on trumpet and vocals and somebody named Erroneous on bass. “Big Swifty” takes up all of the first side, beginning with a tightly syncopated rhythm, before sliding into a lengthy jam of dueling improvs. The result is something like a less chaotic “King Kong”.
Side two includes two relatively short tracks with vocals, but at least they’re not Flo & Eddie. “Your Mouth” is a bluesy shuffle mostly based on the structure of “Key To The Highway”, but with some more changes in the chorus. Frank solos most of the way through to the fade, leaving us to assume that the lyrics were an afterthought. “It Just Might Be A One-Shot Deal” is a little more complicated, using wacky accents to question the motives of a certain frog, pausing a few times for Sneaky Pete Kleinow to solo on the pedal steel, cutting to a more chaotic section. There’s a quick jump to the title track, which sets up a horn-driven theme, itself a setup for ten minutes of soloing.
These ears don’t hear anything as snappy as side one of Hot Rats, but the two longer instrumentals make Waka/Jawaka worth the effort. To help it along, he wasn’t done yet.

Frank Zappa Waka/Jawaka (1972)—3

1 comment:

  1. Zappa is in his real zone here, both compositionally and instrumentally. ...