The Yellow Shark, An Appreciation. Merry Zappadan.
From the liner notes:
Two more characteristics of Zappa’s approach to music perhaps bear mentioning. First, he has always been adept at bringing out “hidden talents” in his musicians. As [Todd] Yvega put it, “If he’d hire a sax player who’s good at playing the sax, it would almost be redundant and pointless to have him just play the sax. Frank already knows he does that. But then he’ll find out that he can tap dance and well—and make use of that.” Accordingly, the players of [Ensemble Modern] found themselves as actors and narrators—most spectacularly, in the cases of violist Hilary Sturt (who delivers the arresting recitativ in “Food Gathering in Post Industrial America”) and Herman Kretzschmar.
(More on Herman to follow.)
Zappa takes a harsh, unnecessary self-effacing dive when introducing this. It’s a little weird, seeing him stand in front of the musicians and refer to the piece they’re about to perform as a “piece of shit.”
There is no need to apologize for this, Mr. Zappa. You gave every one of these musicians an opportunity to be on stage and to be mirthful, and probably in every one of their heads, they’re giving the finger to some stiff-assed music teacher in their past who yelled once a day, HEY! DON’T DO THAT WITH YOUR INSTRUMENTS!
Zappa said it himself. From Barry Miles’ Zappa: A Biography:
One of the things I like about the Ensemble Modern is that they’re interested in sound for its own sake. At one rehearsal, one of the horn players picked up his horn up off the floor, and it scraped and made a noise. And I said, “Do it again,” and the next thing you know, we had the entire brass section takeing their instruments and scraping the bells back and forth across the floor, making this grinding, grunting sound.
Not sure if that technique was used here. But there are no better examples of the EM’s dedication to sound for its own sake then here and in “Welcome to the United States,” which we will consider tomorrow.