There are great reasons for Zappa-philes to rejoice right now. Three big reasons, in fact.
Zappa Plays Zappa has been touring this summer and will tour through December. The music centers around the 1975 classic One Size Fits All, with plenty of tunes from a variety of Zappa eras. Two words: “Po-Jama People.”
Also, several albums have been released recently, including AAAFNRAA Birthday Bundle 21.12.2014 (Anything Anytime Anywhere For No Reason At All) and Roxy by Proxy. The last album that Frank put together was Dance Me This, a ballet. It has just been released, and it is a landmark: album #100 for Mr. Z. This is another Synclavier album in the vein of Jazz From Hell, entirely realized on the Synclavier. When he was completing it in 1993, Frank reasoned it would be used by modern dance troupes.
Also coming is a remastered version of One Size Fits All on 180-gram vinyl, due out this month. More importantly, a new deal between the Zappa Family Trust and Universal Music Enterprise means much great access to the Zappa vaults and various products of UMRK (United Muffin Research Kitchen). Among the first projects mentioned have been Joe’s Garage, The Musical, the Roxy Movie, and an orchestra performance of 200 Motels featuring the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
The big buzz is that Zappa Family Trust has given the OK to a new film about Zappa. Work has begun on the project, with an anticipated release date of 2017. The director may come as a surprise: Alex Winter. He is best remembered for his role as Bill opposite Keanu Reeves’ Ted in those Excellent Adventures and before that in the cult vampire classic The Lost Boys. More recently, however, he has become a director, notably for his 2013 documentary about the digital revolution, Downloaded. His film Deep Web, released this year, explores Silk Road, Bitcoin and the Dark Web.
There have been numerous books of varying quality about Zappa, but there has never been a true documentary about him, other than films Zappa produced himself such as Baby Snakes.
“There has yet to be a definitive, authorized documentary on the extraordinary life and work of Frank Zappa,” Winter noted. “I am beyond thrilled to be embarking on this journey. Our tale will be told primarily in Frank’s own words; he will be our guide through this journey.”
Few people in the music business understood it in all its complexities and weirdness. Zappa was one of the few. He could — and did — play doowop, jazz, rock, R’n’B, blues, classical, and everything else in between. From Zappa album #1 in 1966, Freak Out!, to #100, he has always been praised as an innovator, as a brilliant musician, as an amazing band leader, and as a true spokesman for those who seek justice and democracy. Zappa constantly encouraged fans to register to vote — on record albums and in concert.
Zappa Plays Zappa on tour. More new Zappa music out now with much more promised. And a true documentary about the man himself in the works.
I don’t know about you, but I’m doing backflips!
Photo courtesy of Fred Bellett.