In an article Frank Zappa wrote in preparation for the 1972 tour that culminated with the Boston concert that's recorded here, he said, "Since the earliest days of the M.O.I. (from about 1964, roughly), I have been interested in assembling some kind of electric orchestra, capable of performing intricate compositions at the same sound-intensity levels normally associated with other forms of pop music. The formation of the new Mothers of Invention/Hot Rats/Grand Wazoo represents the first large scale attempt to mount such a monstrosity...." The music, some of which is meticulously notated and some of which is improvised, is a testimony to how brilliantly Zappa succeeds at accomplishing his goal. The 20-piece group he assembled (which includes instruments like oboe, cello, bass clarinet, bassoon, euphonium, and contrabass sarrusophone) is a far cry from the standard group of the era, but the music was intended largely for fans of rock and jazz willing to have their boundaries stretched, as well as for the avant-garde music scene, and it has the visceral punch, improvisational sophistication, and modernist complexity to appeal to all the groups. Zappa warms up the crowd with The Grand Wazoo (Think It Over), a relatively conventional piece of jazz-rock fusion, even though its length of 17 minutes already plays with the audience's expectations. He follows it with Approximate, in which he notates the rhythms with absolute precision, but leaves the choice of pitches almost entirely up to the performers' discretion. The intriguing result is like highly organized cacophony, with wonderfully eccentric instrumentation. Other highlights of the two-CD set include a performance (without the vocals or narration) of The Adventures of Greggery Peccary, Zappa's most ambitious crossover piece, one that's widely considered his masterpiece in that genre, and its variety, ingenuity, humor, sophistication, and melodic richness make it hard to argue with that assessment. The sound is surprisingly good for a concert recording, with just a little background noise. A must-have for all Zappa fans.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2