Frank Zappa - Make a Jazz Noise Here
(2 reader votes, average 4.50 out of 5)

by Ben Perry

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Artist Name: Frank Zappa
Album Name: Make a Jazz Noise Here
Release Date: June 4, 1991

Band on Record:
Ike Wilis: Guitar and vocals.
Bruce Fowler: Trombone.
Paul Carmen: Alto Saxophone.
Albert Wing: Tenor Saxophone.
Kurt McGettrick: Baritone saxophone.
Chad Wackerman: Drums.
Frank Zappa: Guitar and vocals.
Ed Mann: Percussion.
Scott Thunes: Bass guitar.
Walt Fowler: Trumpet.
Mike Keneally: Synthesizer, vocals, and guitar.


Track 1: “Stinkfoot”
An interesting beginning track with Frank Zappa bringing his political and social ideas into the concert by vocalizing some of the current events at the time of this gig; particularly the Swaggart sex scandal (there are versions of his songs on other live recordings that revolve around this). The music is Zappa’s staple of many odds and ends coming at you at any given time, with the rhythm section always providing some anchor to the music. The improved guitar solo and vocals sound especially great.
Song Rating: 9 out of 10


Track 2: “When Yuppies Go to Hell”
More odd noises and sounds get thrown throughout this track. Most of the music is pretty good if you enjoy jazz, but the length seems to go on too long for me to fully enjoy the track as a whole. Great if you enjoy different jazz, bad if you do not.
Song Rating: 7 out of 10


Track 3: “Fire and Chains”
Takes a while for this song to really heat up, but the smooth guitar solo that comes in about a third of the way in makes this song as good as it is (since the entire song is that guitar solo in different styles after the intro).
Song Rating: 9 out of 10


Track 4: “Let’s Make the Water Turn Black”
A short jazz tune that lifts the mood up with extremely “happy” notes being played by the band. Cool listen if you’re in a bad mood.
Song Rating: 8 out of 10


Track 5: “Harry, You’re a Beast”
An even shorter instrumental that carries the same vibe from the previous one, though I don’t see the difference enough to give it another name.
Song Rating: 7.5 out of 10


Track 6: “The Orange County Lumber Truck”
The third string in this happy trio of short instrumentals, with the speed picking up for this and leading directly into “Oh No”.
Song Rating: 7 out of 10


Track 7: “Oh No”
Ike Willis lays down some extremely smooth lyrics for this song that lead perfectly into the smooth blues/jazz guitar solo. Perfect combination of the vocals and music on here, even with the happy jazz section coming back into the fold for another song.
Song Rating: 9.5 out of 10


Track 8: “Theme from ‘Lumpy Gravy’”
One of Frank Zappa’s first albums, Lumpy Grav\y, is the reference for this song. That album only contained two songs, each 15 minutes in length. This “Theme” is marginally shorter at just over a minute, but I remember the sequence that makes up this live tune. It’s a good indicator as to how that album goes with a lot of horns and mostly music.
Song Rating: 7.5 out of 10


Track 9: “Eat that Question”
This song starts off interesting with the xylophone type sounds, loses it somewhere in the middle, but finished on a great note with the horns carrying it through.
Song Rating: 8 out of 10


Track 10: “Black Napkins”
If you are into jazz instrumentals, this song is right up your alley. Jazz is something new to me, and I dug this track a lot. The horns and sax sound great interweaving with the keyboards and drums.
Song Rating: 9.5 out of 10


Track 11: “Big Swifty”
This is a Jazz instrumental played much like “When Yuppies Go to Hell” with the random vocals and sound effects over the music near the end. It’s a decent song, but just like “Yuppies” it’s not my particular taste.
Song Rating: 7 out of 10


Track 12: “King Kong”
“Burn in hell, hey! I’ve been there” has got to be one of the funniest lines I’ve ever heard on tape. Credit this song that starts off as jazz instrumental a la the previous tune, but deviates when the story is told and collapses into the babbling that has accompanied a few tracks now.
Song Rating: 6.5 out of 10


Track 13: “Star Wars Won’t Work”
A cool guitar improvisational solo that lends a break from all the jazz instruments as Zappa goes nuts on the six-string. The keyboards that come in near the end add a second layer that flushes out the sound, not to mention the theme of the song about Star Wars sucking :lol:.
Song Rating: 9 out of 10

DISC TWO:

Track 1:”The Black Page”
Mostly a horn centered jazz piece that does include some interesting xylophone work as well. There’s just enough guitar to create a background feeling, but only taking the semi-forefront a few times during the piece. Notably before the solo as well as the solo itself which is Zappa great.
Song Rating: 7 out of 10


Track 2: “T’Mershi Duween
A shorter jazz number that carries the same feeling as the previous tune, except adding some vocals here and there. Not much in terms of peaking my interest, though.
Song Rating: 5 out of 10


Track 3: “Dupree’s Paradise”
I’ve heard this song performed on several live albums as well as the album cut. This rendition in the live atmosphere sounds great with the different instruments all playing their parts as well as accompanying the current lead instrument. The bass itself has a great masked role in this tune; listen for it.
Song Rating: 8 out of 10


Track 4: “City of Tiny Lites”
Finally, some vocals come back into the music on this double album. They are smooth when Ike Willis (I believe) is laying down his lines and Zappa provides his harsher style as well. The music is more to my taste when listening to Zappa with more of the rock infused with jazz tone. Perfect sounding on this track just like most of them, and no overdubs during the guitar solo or anything. Can’t get better than this.
Song Rating: 9.5 out of 10


Track 5: “Royal March from l’Histoire du Soldat”
An Igor Stravinsky piece adapted to the Frank Zappa live show as he is often prone to due (check out his autobiography The Real Frank Zappa Book to see how much classical music really played in his writing). I’ve heard this piece and the adaptation done for jazz is quite good.
Song Rating: 9 out of 10


Track 6:”Theme from ‘The Bartok Piano Concerto #3’”
Béla Bartók’s piece (I’ve never heard it) is adapted just like Stravinsky’s is for the jazz format of Zappa’s concert; and it sounds pretty good. I might have to try some of Béla’s work and see how it compares.
Song Rating: 8 out of 10


Track 7: “Sinister Footwear (2nd Movement)”
This songs bends its way from the pseudo-classical feeling the previous two songs had to definite jazz composition. I can picture hearing this played at a jazz bar or restaurant somewhere ritzy. This stuff is not always my taste, but some of it hits the spot like this song does.
Song Rating: 8 out of 10


Track 8: “Stevie’s Spanking”
There’s a very interesting story behind this song. I’m not going to spoil it here, but Zappa tells the tale in his autobiography…WOW :lol:. There’s vocal work on this tune, not as great as Ike Willis’ stuff, but still decent delivery. The music is a little more guitar and drum driven than the other tunes as this tune deals with Mr. Steve Vai, but those jazz elements are still there.
Song Rating: 9 out of 10


Track 9: “Alien Orifice”
Another instrumental piece, not much too offer here as I had to listen a few times and still can not really remember much…
Song Rating: 4 out of 10


Track 10: “Cruising for Burgers”
More vocals…YAY! I enjoy this song and the schizophrenic nature it has at times musically as well as vocally. I’ve never heard the study album of this one, but I’m anxious to see how the live show was able to change the dynamics from the studio, as Zappa is notorious at changing arrangements.
Song Rating: 9.5 out of 10


Track 11: “Advance Romance”
Pretty good song, I particularly like the vocal/instrument interplay. It keeps things fresh and entertaining, particularly with the lyrical content á la Frank Zappa style. The guitar solo is nice and long with a decent rhythm back up. The one downside is the vocals need some more juice as you have to strain to hear what’s being said or sung at points.
Song Rating: 8 out of 10


Track 12: “Strictly Genteel”
A jazz tune to end this jazz live album. I’ve heard a couple of versions of this song, and this one seems to remain true to the arrangement I remember. It’s good if you like what most of this album has to offer.
Song Rating: 6 out of 10


Overall Album Review:
I decided to step outside of the box for this one and review a mostly instrumental, jazz album. I cannot explain why I did this, but I feel it broadened my horizons a bit (not to mention that fact we might have some jazz enthusiasts reading?) If you are a fan of Frank Zappa or jazz, or both, then this album is probably already sitting around somewhere. For me, both Zappa and jazz are recently new to my listening habits and reviewing this album allowed me to see what it is I like and dislike about the genre. There’s a healthy dose of different jazz styles from straight horn tunes to those songs that mix the horns, guitar and other various instruments on stage within the single tune. There are also a number of “break it up” songs that throw the witticism Zappa is able to articulate lyrically, in addition to the opening statements that discuss the religious and political agenda that pervades a lot of his music. Overall, I thought the album was good as an experimental piece. However, if you have a strong aversion to saxophone or other jazz staples then sampling the few tunes that follow more of Zappa’s rock catalog will be enough for you. I would say this album deserves at least one listen in order to hear the different style that has influenced some or most of the music Zappa has recorded; you might even unexpectedly like it.
Overall Album Rating: 7.75 out of 10

 

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