Rocker Frank Zappa briefly experimented with big bands in the early 1970s and again during his last tour in 1988; this big band tribute by saxophonist Ed Palermo concentrates primarily on pieces recorded for Zappa's early Mothers of Invention records. So many rock and modern pop tunes don't translate into jazz very well. Zappa's enthusiasm for unusual time signatures and wild chord progressions are relatively new ground for jazz musicians; Palermo dreamed for years of "fleshing out" Zappa's music for big band. The snappy "Peaches En Regalia," features ex-Zappa sideman Mike Keneally capturing the spirit of his late boss' guitar solos, as he also does with his blazing attack on "Aybe Sea." Palermo successfully extends Zappa miniatures like the upbeat "Toads of the Short Forest" and cocktail lounge parody "Twenty Small Cigars." Perhaps his most intriguing arrangement is the imaginative combining of "Who Are the Brain Police?" with "Holiday In Berlin" in a medley showcasing guitarist Mike Stern. Palermo's horn charts flesh out "Waka Jawaka" (originally recorded by Zappa with Sal Marquez overdubbing several trumpets); tenor saxophonist Chris Potter's solo is outstanding, but drummer Ray Marchita's drums are a bit too prominent in the mix. Jam session favorite "King Kong" has always inspired lively solos and tenor saxman Bob Mintzer keeps the tradition alive. This CD should have high appeal to jazz fans familiar with Frank Zappa's recordings, but others should also give it a hearing with open ears.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden