Zappa Plays Zappa (2007) is the name of both the Dweezil Zappa (guitar/vocals)-led ensemble and the title of this lengthy package. The contents were compiled from a pair of live ZPZ performances -- December 21, 2006 in Portland, OR at the Roseland Theater and in Seattle, WA's Paramount Theater the following evening. The concept behind the ZPZ rockin' teenage combo is to present the songs of Dweezil's father -- Frank Zappa -- in a serious context for new generations of live attendees. For enthusiasts of the senior Zappa's voluminous legacy and the junior's impeccable fretwork, Zappa Plays Zappa is nothing short of a dream come true. Dweezil has assembled a core group of young men and women to aid in his note-perfect execution of Frank's music. The talented collective in question consists of Joe Travers (drums/vocals), Pete Griffin (bass/vocals), Jamie Kime (guitar/vocals), Aaron Arntz (keyboards/trumpet/vocals), Sheila Gonzalez (saxophone/flute/keyboards/vocals), and Billy Hulting (mallets/percussion/manic ranting). One of the features of each ZPZ tour are special guests who shared the stage at one time or another with Frank Zappa. Mid-'70s Mother Napoleon Murphy Brock (vocals/sax/flute), early-'80s cohort Steve Vai (guitar), and late-'70s percussive madman Terry Bozzio (drums/vocals) all drop by at various points throughout the proceedings. The set list is derived from the more than five dozen albums and projects that Frank Zappa had instigated during his 20-plus years as an active artist. Zappa Plays Zappa excel in their collective ability to flawlessly maneuver from hard rockers such as "Tell Me You Love Me" to the tightly structured jazz fusion of "Eat That Question" or the particularly tasty and extended workout given to the classically tinged early Mothers' instrumental "Pound for a Brown." Brock being back on board gives the tunes "Andy," "Florentine Pogen," "Inca Roads," "Village of the Sun," and "Oh No" a familiar presence and spirit as they connect the past with the present right before the audience's eyes and ears. The same can be said of Bozzio's madcap antics on "I'm So Cute," "Tryin' to Grow a Chin," "Punky's Whips," and especially the "Black Page #1" drum solo that Zappa wrote with Bozzio's nimble skin-tapping in mind. Vai is a force of nature as he and Dweezil take on "Peaches en Regalia," "Montana," "Echinda's Arf (Of You)," and especially the emotive guitar-centric "Black Napkins." Tried and true Zappa-philes should not feel embarrassed if a lump arises in their throat. The empathy is palpable enough to reach beyond time and space.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer