"For a long time there's been a real lack of understanding of Frank's music, mainly because the real bulk of his iconic work has been under exposed," says Dweezil Zappa. It's no surprise -- the...Expand
"For a long time there's been a real lack of understanding of Frank's music, mainly because the real bulk of his iconic work has been under exposed," says Dweezil Zappa. It's no surprise -- the word "impossible" is often associated with his father's combination of sophisticated rhythms and complex sounds and melodies. His compositions, spanning some 80 recordings, can seem weird, challenging or even intimidating to pedestrian ears and baffling to many musicians. Consequently, the Zappa fan base is a niche occupied by people attuned to such aural exotica; discerning listeners who aren't frightened or offended when confronted with topics like monsters, sex, politics, more monsters, and scathing social commentary.
Misconceptions, then, are inevitable. Zappa's music demands an open mind, and it's far easier to keep our lids hermetically sealed, opening them only to the easiest, least threatening concepts. There's a lot of that out there, after all, and composers like Frank Zappa are few and far between. Zappa was a self taught musician who ignored musical boundaries and operated out of his own carefully crafted playbook. "Anything At Anytime For Any Reason At All" was his credo.
Over the past six years, his son Dweezil has been on a grass roots campaign to expose his father's music to a wider audience and in the process educate the audiences to the musical depth beyond the humorous songs that may have accidentally been broadcast on the radio. Return of the Son of..., the second release in Dweezil's ongoing endeavor to keep Frank's music alive. Too often, he says, people's opinions of Frank's work are based on casual exposure to his "novelty" crossover songs. "If the only thing you ever heard is "Dancin' Fool" or "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" or "Valley Girl," says Dweezil, "then you really haven't even scratched the surface of Frank's music. In our shows we make a concerted effort to give people a broader perspective of his music and it really speaks for itself."
ZPZ sticks as closely as possible to recorded versions of FZ tunes, since they are the official representations of the composer's work. That is not to say that the band cannot soar into the stratosphere during improvisational sections. The musicians, handpicked by Dweezil all have the required skills to navigate this amazing musical terrain. "In order to give people an authentic experience we treat the music with the respect it deserves," he says. And just like the versatile virtuosos that passed through FZ's ranks, ZPZ lets their own personalities shine through in the improvisational sections. For now, Dweezil's content with the musical challenges and posthumous paternal bonding he enjoys with Zappa Plays Zappa. By taking the music to a new, younger audience Dweezil hopes to put the emphasis back on musicianship as opposed to smoke and mirrors.
In 2011 he released a double CD album onU.K.label Fantom Records: ‘Dweezil Zappa – Live In The Moment’ which is a compilation of improvised guitar solos taken from various ZPZ shows since 2007. His own music had been sidelined for a while but is currently experiencing a resurgence. 2012 will see new releases of Dweezil's own music (both classical and rock genres) and the continuation of his music boot camp Dweezilla, as well as another new release from Fantom Records simply titled “F.O.H.” – a live double CD featuring Zappa Plays Zappa performances of Frank Zappa songs.