Tuesday, June 30, 2015

George Walker, Hale Smith & Adolphus Hailstork – Black Composers Series. First Recordings Vol. 9

   In seventies position of Afro-American artists in USA was a subject of change, after decades of indisputable domination in popular music and jazz, after serious contribution in artistic life after the war, the time for adequate status has come. It was part of general and wide process of social and cultural emancipation of minorities in various spheres. Among many symposiums and festivals, one project has special place as fixative and documenting the moment. The series of Black Composers created by Columbia Masterworks in cooperation with The Afro-American Music Opportunities Association was serious and audible voice in mid-seventies and it is still historical monument. This institutional form of supporting artists created at least nine volumes of music composed and performed by artists of African-American ancestry. This series is an interesting choice of most influential composers in the history of American culture had clear impact on the picture of American culture, promoting composers and performers, giving some representation of the role African-Americans were playing in the history of New World’s musical culture.
   The ninth volume of the series comprises works of three contemporary composers. In its best part the music language of this works is modern but not avant-garde, its symphonic sound is set in mainstream of contemporary compositions, although there are some ideas to show individuality of musical language and social experience. The program of the album shows three composers in three symphonic works. Most appreciated of these composers is George Walker was born 1922 in Washington. He was studying with Robert Cassadesus, Rudolf Serkin, Nadia Boulanger, Gian Carlo Menotti and Gregor Piatigorsky. From 1945 he was developing his career as concert pianist, but earlier started creative activity, debuted as composer in 1941 with Lyric for Strings. In 1956 he became first black Doctor of Music Arts Degree in Eastman School of Music and his later academic career as a university professor in Smith College, The University of Colorado, Rutgers University and many other institutions where he was visiting professor or giving master classes. The list of George Walker’s works is imposing, the more than 90 compositions for orchestra and various instruments including vocal and choral music is covering almost all forms and consequently creating composer’s individual style.

Black Composer Series vol. 9 (1978)

   The Piano Concerto in three parts by George Walker was composed under the patronage of National Endowment for the Arts in 1975 for virtuoso Natalie Hinderas who was also the first performer of this work. Natalie Hinderas was also composer and professor at Temple University in Philadelphia. The Piano Concerto is written in three parts modern version of classic form, with based on two themes first part with exposition and short recapitulation with second theme reference in piano cadenza. Second part is a personal tribute to the memory of Duke Ellington. Final movement in form of rondo is energetic and intellectual culmination of the work. This virtuoso and expressive movement include some references to melodic material of first movement’s main theme. All movements are titled by time signatures with quarter-note equals 72, 63 and 120. The work is full of energy, which source is in dissonant sound material and in articulation contrasts between piano and orchestra, which is clearly the source of power in middle part. This is not the first presentation of his music in Columbia Black Composers Series. In 1974 George Walker’s Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra was presented on 3rd volume of the series. In 1996 he received Pulitzer for Lilacs for Voice and Orchestra – composition to poem by Walt Whitman When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd, the famous elegy to Abraham Lincoln. This was the first Pulitzer Prize to Afro-American composer.
   Next side shows works of two composers Hale Smith (1925-2009) and Adolphus Hailstork (b. 1941). The Celebration by Adolphus Hailstork is short festive composition for American Bicentennial premiered in May 1975. It is tonal and full of dance energy with altering 7/8 meter – 2-2-3 to 2-3-2. As composer had expressed, this was music he aimed for those days, “music for men’s spirits and not merely for their ears or intellects”. Closing composition of this album is Hale Smith’s Ritual and Incantations, work mixing inspirations and experiences of jazz and serial music. These American and European references are crossed with West African drumming practices, but as Dominique-René de Lerma wrote in sleeve notes, no particular cult practice has been assigned to the work. This powerful work was premiered by Huston Symphony Orchestra but for this album it was recorded by Detroit Symphony Orchestra conducted by Paul Freeman. For quality of these performances as well as for lots of creative music, especially Walker’s Piano Concerto, for the idea of the Volume 9. this album is worth four stars.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Bruno Walter - Schubert's Unfinished and Beethoven's Fifth

   There are genius musicians and musicians with moderate talent. Among them there are modest people and impostors. Since most musicians are duplicating some patterns, it is really hard to say what part of the scene is more important in the history of music, creators or carriers and supporters.  One of the best ways to test creative talent in music is to examine how original are interpretations of commonly known works. Performances too much dependent of tradition, reproductive and not self-reliant are excluded at this point, although we should remember this is the main part of all musical activity. Interpreters who can show the work in new perspective, who are able to find some new ideas in famous and commonly known work, these are really gifted people. Such works as most popular symphonies like Beethoven’s Fifth or Schubert’s Unfinished are the test some musicians will never pass.
   Bruno Walter recorded Schubert and Beethoven many times. Especially looking for recordings of most popular symphonies like Beethoven’s Fifth and Schubert’s Unfinished, one can be overwhelmed by number of performances and recordings. But our astonishment fades away when we consider it was just a part of everyday work and basic symphonic repertoire was recorded on various occasions, for example with live radio broadcasts. Standards were considerably lower and market more voracious, so recordings had more chance to be sold. These recordings have paramount importance in understanding changes in perception of music in last century. Bruno Walter recorded Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 “Unfinished” nine times, first time with Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in 1936 and last time with the same orchestra in 1960. Beethoven Symphony No. 5 in C Minor Bruno Walter recorded four times, first time for Columbia with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1926, second with New York Philharmonic in 1941 and then two times more as parts of wider projects of complete Beethoven’s Symphonies in 1950 with New York Philharmonic and in 1958 with Columbia Symphony Orchestra.

Bruno Walter conducts Schubert and Beethoven (1963)

   In 1963 edition of two most popular symphonies Columbia chose newest studio recordings. Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 is sixth recording and was made with New York Philharmonic March 3rd, 1958 at St. George Hotel in Brooklyn. It was recorded three more times with Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic and with Vienna Philharmonic, but all of these were live recordings. Recording of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 with Columbia Symphony Orchestra was Walter’s last recorded performance of this work. It was done during two day session January 27 & 30, 1958 at American Legion Hall. Both were master performances and Columbia published them repeatedly as parts of various programs. Unfinished Symphony was published under Columbia Masterworks label since 1960 in many re-editions. It basic set was together with Schubert’s Fifth Symphony. This album has its license edition in German Democratic Republic in 1967, in 1974 was republished in CBS Masterworks and in 1996 on CD with Beethoven’s Overture Leonore III by Sony. Beethoven’s Fifth was published with Fourth and sold both as a part of  complete Symphonies' set or as alone album.
   What makes these more than half century old recordings still interesting is the question of value in music. In fact this is also the way to ask about autonomy of musical meaning. 19th century music is so much complex it can be reinterpreted without the danger its potential can be exhausted. The issue in best conductors’ performances is not only to show the new face of the composition, but to show it in most universal, most capacious shape. Bruno Walter read Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 B Minor ‘Unfinished’ in a dramatic way, moving the centre of gravity from melodic narration to background harmony dramatic contrasts and obsessive rhythms. Powerful dynamics and orchestral precision of sound and articulation give this performance more tragic aspect than usual. In contrast Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 C Minor Op. 67 Bruno Walter shaped as more classical, balanced in equilibrium of melodic and rhythmic ideas and formal discipline. Characteristic feature of his interpretation of Fifth are moderate tempos, never too fast, rather slower, calm and reassuring. Five stars for quality of interpretation sound of orchestras and recording quality.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Canned Heat - Hallelujah

   Blues being significant part of American folk music tradition was common root for various styles of jazz and rock music. It outgrows in hundreds of popular songs and tunes. In the late 1960’s blues rock played by authors of protest songs or psychedelic bands was quite normal practice. Legends of Woodstock festival Jimi Hendrix, Canned Heat, Taj Mahal, Ten Years After – despite all the differences, they were playing blues. These times it was more musical and poetic form than a kind of subculture it become later. From these fascinations of the harmonic and rhythmic scheme, blues rapidly evolved to such different phenomena as Captain Beefheart and ZZ Top and next generations of blues musicians have established mainstream of the blues rock with clear borders and particular character. Since 60’s blues was more and more specified as a genre, rock found some new directions and break up into many elements. And this is why it is so important to understand what happened with blues in late sixties.
   One of most renowned bands of the scene in late sixties was Canned Heat, for many the band defining blues rock by itself. After Woodstock it was internationally recognized and for some songs and culture contexts it was classified as a psychedelic band. In fact from the starting moment Canned Heat’s background activities were connected with preserving elements of old style blues, connecting they music with folk blues singers and aiming to give blues new position as a creative music. It was unusual band growing on the foundations of fascination and knowledge. Main singer Bob ‘The Bear’ Hite was blues fan and 78 rpm blues records collector. In 1969 Playboy After Dark episode he informed the host of this TV show, his record collection comprises more than 15 000 discs.

Canned Heat - Hallelujah (1969)

   The classic position in Canned Heat’s discography and in a way their crowning achievement is Hallelujah, album recorded at I. D. Sound Recorders in Hollywood CA in five month period between January and May and released July 8th 1969, just few weeks before legendary festival in Woodstock. Hallelujah was recorded by the band with lead singer Bob ‘The Bear’ Hite, second singer and rhythm guitarist Alan ‘Blind Owl’ Wilson, lead guitarist Henry ‘The Sunflower’ Vestine, bassist Larry ‘The Mole’ Taylor and drummer Adolfo ‘Fito’ de la Parra. This was the basic lineup for Canned Heat recordings in late 1960’s, but during almost half a year in the studio there were some more musicians involved. In some songs were playing two pianists (also on organ) – Mark Naftalin (I’m Her Man, Down in the Gutter, But Free) and Ernest Lane (Same All Over) or group vocals in two mentioned songs: Skip Diamond, Elliot Ingber (ex Mothers of Invention) and Javier Batise.
   Fourth album by Canned Heat is substantially different than earlier band’s recordings. Short songs, disciplined and concise in form, expressive and varied create program of many shapes. From blues rock Same All Over, based on strong riff, through Change My Ways sung with falsetto by Alan Wilson, being a tribute to tradition of popular blues songs recorded in times of great depression, to Canned Heat, rewritten and sung by Bob Hite, then written by Bob White and Booker T. White satire on LA sheriff Sic ‘Em Pigs with many theatrical sounds – traditional blues was always subversive and it was trendy to criticize police in late sixties, especially in California under the rule of governor Ronald Reagan. Straight boogie I’m Her Man and relaxed Time Was end this side, being a series of possible directions in future blues rock.
   Second side opens Do Not Enter, shuffle with nice coda suspending its tension, which continues in Big Fat and easing in third track Huautla, instrumental piece in 6/8 with rhythm change to 4/4 in middle part. Last two songs of the album are longer. First song Get Off My Back, has extended central episode with two guitar solos introduced by studio simulation of moving guitar with stereo effects. Last song Down In The Gutter, But Free is powerful narrative, preaching blues, with nice dialoguing guitar and harp. In this song Larry Taylor and Henry Vestine switched their instruments (Taylor played guitar and Vestine played bass). This unique album has many elements of pop music but also in a discrete way more sophisticated than earlier albums. In some fragments it can sound fanciful but it’s hard to judge this album since it was last album recorded with Alan Wilson. Canned Heat’s Hallelujah is full of splendid ideas and for various reasons it deserves to be remembered – four stars at least.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Polish Jazz vol. 43 – Adam Makowicz – Live Embers

   In times when piano become fashionable, Polish culture was rebuilding towards creating independent survival forms. Cultural tradition of Poland from first decades of 19th century was strongly connected with piano music. In many cases this instrument was a medium of cultural identity and national pride. Central position in Polish artistic traditions was reserved for Fryderyk Chopin’s piano music, but every next generation had to define itself in context of these traditions. Such attitude can be traced in music composed in next centuries as well as performance artists and style of own pianistic school. Prominent role in politics of early 20th century played Polish virtuoso pianist and composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski. Connected with public affairs and cultural identity pianistic tradition was great part of cultural narration in postwar Poland. No wonder jazz pianists in Poland had always serious basis. Most famous Polish pianist in seventies was Adam Makowicz.
   Adam Makowicz (born Adam Matyszkowicz) is one of most independent artists of contemporary international jazz scene. He was born August 18th 1940 in Hnojnik (Czech Republic) in Polish family and after war he was learning in Musical School in Rybnik, then in Cracow Chopin Conservatory. As a classical pianist he was trying to reconcile his professional playing with passion to jazz he was played in underground clubs of Cracow. Also later as internationally recognized jazz pianist, he sometimes plays romantic music, especially Chopin which is no coincidence for his education and strong connections with Polish culture. His main activity is jazz but he is playing almost all styles and best denomination for his musical genre could be just creative music.

Adam Makowicz – Live Embers (1975)

   In 1962 when Adam Makowicz was 22, together with Tomasz Stańko he started Jazz Darings, first Polish group playing free jazz. One year later band won 1st prize in South Poland Jazz Competition and Adam Makowicz started his career as jazz musician in various ensembles Andrzej Kurylewicz Quartet, Tomasz Stańko Trio, Michał Urbaniak Group and Zbigniew Namysłowski Band, Jan Wróblewski Quartet and his own Adam Makowicz Trio. He was also playing with Urszula Dudziak, Novi Singers and Wojciech Młynarski. In 1974 he started solo career and this was crucial point of his career. Audience and critics were delighted by new pianistic personality comparing him to Art Tatum and Keith Jarret. In February 1975 he recorded his first solo album Live Embers. Two years later, May 9th, 1977 he debuted in New York “The Cookery” and recorded his solo album Adam for CBS. In 1978 he settled in New York.
   Program of Life Embers looks at first sight like promotional album. One can find here the whole tradition of piano jazz, from Scott Joplin do Keith Jarrett, from Art Tatum to Bill Evans. And I must confess, I thought this way when I bought this album almost 40 years ago. This was one of my first jazz record, I was fourteen, so I think I’m justified. Idea of this program is much deeper than demonstration of pianist’s possibilities. The program comprises seven compositions by Adam Makowicz, two ragtimes by Scott Joplin, with famous The Entertainer, and two standards by John Coltrane with Giant Steps. Ragtimes were reharmonized and rearranged, and even if in a mysterious way they are keeping the original feeling, modern harmonics show its deeper sense. Bebop or hard bop passages connected with swinging stride, lyricism of phrases and rhythmic complexity, citations and stylistic references show the idea of reconstructing and reworking jazz past. Somehow this humble album is a forecast for jazz neoclassicism of the eighties. Adam Makowicz founded here some common denominators for virtuosity and creativity, merging knowledge on jazz styles with his own invention. Somehow this humble album is a forecast for jazz neoclassicism of the eighties. Four stars without any hesitation.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Zubin Mehta — Maurice Ravel — Daphnis and Chloé 2nd Suite, Ma Mere l'Oye, La Valse

   Maurice Ravel was one of most famous composers of early 20th century. And he was really unusual one. What was common for many modern composers, he attempted to create original style and as many others he was clearly different from his contemporaries. But in opposition to trends dominating in modern music, the intellectual factor of his works was explicitly present in thematic and semantic associations. This was Ravel’s own way of creating the distance and classical stability. While inducing some elements of ancient cultures and intertextual references to historic styles, he became famous for his harmonic masterity of orchestration and color imagination. He seen music in various perspectives and this feature decided on differentiation of his oeuvres. He was also great composer of ballet music and his most popular symphonic pieces are connected to the dance. Even rare compositions written specially for orchestra have their dance context and the perfect example is La valse.
   Ravel was one of first composers writing for Sergei Diaghilev, and these cooperation gave him position of prominent composer in the world of contemporary art. As avantgardist he was recognized and valued, and his ballets gave him widespread acceptance. Diaghilev comissioned Daphnis and Chloé in 1909, before successes of Stravinsky’s The Firebird (1910) and Petrushka (1911). Later Diaghilev commissioned also works by Claude Debussy (1913) and Eric Satie (1917). So Ravel was the one who opened for impressionistic style this most famous avant-garde ballet company. He did this with one of best scores ever written for stage. Its formal integrity is based on four leitmotivs and emotional profundity on plentitude of harmonic meanings. The whole scenic work duration is almost an hour, so composer made two suites, one for orchestra and one for orchestra and choir to promote this great music also during symphonic concerts.

Maurice Ravel – Daphnis and Chloé (1971)

   Second suite is almost exact equivalent of third part of the ballet, and it was originally arranged by Ravel for large orchestra and wordless chorus. Shortly it became very popular as a symphonic piece and is frequently performed without the choir, which is quite understandable since choir parts are unisons with some instrumental parts. But as it was arranged by such master as Ravel, it is not good practice to curtail his work of human voice sound. The composer himself considered 2nd Suite from Daphnis and Chloé as a “choreographic symphony in three parts”. The music of 2nd Suite follows libretto from the morning at the grotto to the ending bacchanalia. The following movements’ titles are: Lever du jour, Pantomime and Danse générale. Recorded by Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta 2nd Suite “Daphnis and Chloé” became model performance with choral parts and in perfect interpretation. Published together with ballet music Ma Mère L'Oye and La Valse, it was second “Ravel album” LAPO and Mehta recorded for Decca (after Ravel’s version of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition from 1967). The cover of the album features set design by Leon Bakst for the world premiere in Paris in 1912 of Daphnis and Chloé ballet.
   Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, one of best symphony orchestras in the world its prominent position owes to great conductors and music directors. After series of famous conductors Artur Rodziński, Otto Klemperer, Alfred Wallenstein and Eduard van Beinum, in 1960 post was proposed to Georg Solti who accepted proposal, but resigned when Philharmonic Directors Board appointed 26 year-old Zubin Mehta as an assistant conductor. In effect in 1962 Mehta started his tenure and last on the director’s post to 1978. Successes of Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in sixties and seventies were in big part effect of development leading by Zubin Mehta. Recordings are great opportunity to understand what artistic representation of these achievements was. The great test of orchestra quality is 2nd Suite “Daphnis and Chloe”. Orchestra sounds clearly independently of dynamics, with lots of space and precise articulation in pianissimo and fortissimo. Second side with even more narrative music and opulent La Valse show more perfect sound and large orchestra qualities. This is five stars, resplendent performance and old Decca pressing keeps it in almost natural state.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Jean-Philippe Rameau – La Guirlande

   Late baroque in France was the period of great improvements and multidirectional development. The absolute rule of Louis XIV, who was monarch for 72 years, was also the time for creating the modern, centralized country. Under the reign of Le Roi Soleil France was perfect place for creating new, original and in many cases futuristic solutions, thus cultural life during that period was characterized with tensions and changes in science, technology and arts. Also French music flourished with some new styles and esthetic ideas. One of most progressive composers and theorists of 18th century France was Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764), composer of operas, vocal music and harpsichord works. His operas and ballets were original stage works and he was one of most creative masters of musical theatre ever. His importance was confirmed with series of theoretical writings, opened with fundamental Treatise on Harmony Reduced to its Natural Principles (1722) and in next 40 years developed in works establishing rules of musical theory.
   Most successful part of compositions are harpsichord suites deciding Jean-Philippe Rameau is counted with François Couperin among masters of French school of harpsichord music in 17th century. It’s interesting he has not left any organ music. Almost three decades working on the post of church organist gave him enough experience to write Dissertation on Different Methods of Accompanying for Harpsichord and for Organ (1932). Nevertheless his harpsichord compositions are the clear evidence of his creative talent and cantatas were his early experiences with dramatic music. The best part of Rameau’s achievements is his operas and stage works. He was looking for solution of the balance between dramatic and musical narrative, giving more arioso character to recitative parts and more dramatic elements to arias. In Rameau’s improvements one can find the same spirit as in Wagnerian reform of opera.
Jean-Philippe Rameau – La Guirlande (1967)

   One act opera La guirlande, ou Les fleurs enchantées was composed in 1751, at the best moments of Rameau’s fame as the divertissement to his opera Les Indes Galantes. It was staged with the great success September 21st 1751 at the Paris Opera. The libretto by Jean-François Marmontel is a pastoral story taking its place in Arcadia. From the formal point of view this opera is an acte de ballet – a one act opera with many ballet fragments. The same form was described also as a pastoral ballet with vocal music. This short opera was first Rameau’s work reviewed in 1903, also with great appreciation. In sixties, after double-centenary of Rameau’s death, he was recognized as “French Bach” and played more often. Recorded in France by Versailles Chamber Orchestra under Bernard Wahl with the choir under direction of Elisabeth Brasseur with Claudie Saneva as Zelide and Jean-Jacques Lesueur as Mirtil, this opera was the one to start wider American recognition of dramatic works by Jean-Philippe Rameau. Earlier only instrumental works were published. In 1963 Westminster label published three volumes of Complete Harpsichord Works performed by Robert Veyron-Lacroix, one year after French complete recorded by Huguette Dreyfus for Valois label.
   In Europe Rameau was better known. Especially in France, where his dramatic works were performed on stage and as a part of professional singers training. In 1963 Archive Production (ARC 73 202) published complete acte de ballet Pigmalion. In 1964 La guirlande was recorded for Club Francais du Disque/Princeps (CFD 319). The following Nonesuch edition (H-71023) was released in 1967 with sole information album was “recorded in Europe by Club Francais du Disque, Paris”. Orchestra played with stylish professional sound and precise articulation is the basis for the performance. The same can be said about choral fragments although in some parts all voices can be heard separately without necessary cohesion. Some problems have soloists. Soprano sings with some strange mannerisms like sliding glissandos and blurred articulations. Also tenor has some problems with proper emission and sliding articulation, especially in upper register. Nice sounding voices, acting very well as characters, but weak in upper, spectacular parts of arias. This album is an interesting document of ancient music performing standards. However in many fragments this performance differs of sixties recordings of 18th century music, it still demands two and a half stars on a five-star scale.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Mothers • Fillmore East – June 1971


   Exploring the development of Frank Zappa’s creative activities, we need to consider its social factor. He was always emphasized how much he likes “audience participation”, and it was audible since first concerts and improvised happenings through his famous testimony on rock lyrics moral content before the committee of US Congress in September 1985 and later political statements, to his last and unfortunately unfinished 1988 tour and to his late interviews. Crucial moment is to understand the role concerts were playing as element of social experience. The source of his power as composer, text author, guitarist and personality was his understanding of cultural and social mechanisms and sincere way he was communicating common sense point of view. It is fascinating to observe how his eccentricity was becoming more and more understandable and his views were shared by an increasing part of the audience.
   In seventies, as almost always before, concerts were still the primary way musicians earn for living. The same was with The Mothers of Invention. After dense sequence of concerts in last decade of May when Zappa's band was playing in Chicago IL (21st), Delaware OH (22nd), Columbus OH (23rd), Detroit MI (25th), Madison WI (27th), Rochester MI (29th) and Cleveland OH (30th), June was more loose. Two concerts in Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh June 2nd and Harrisburg 3rd) and four concerts in two days in New York were the end of sequence started in May. In first decade of July Zappa with his band were touring in Canada giving again 7 gigs in 9 days. The two day of Fillmore East concerts in June 5th and 6th, with two gigs every day, became heyday of summer 1971 in Frank Zappa and Mothers of Invention career. Songs and concert dialogs recorded these days in Fillmore East became twelfth album in Frank Zappa discography and his first live album, setting new direction in publishing live recordings. 

The Mothers – Fillmore East – June 1971 (1971)

   This is not just live recording album. Edited out of four gigs Zappa and Mothers of Invention played in New York Fillmore East during two days, this set of songs follow show’s main theme, which was explicit relation of legendary excesses with the participation of musicians from Vanilla Fudge and Led Zeppelin. Strange sexual behavior of rock musicians was the part of rock culture mythology and the element of many urban legends. The alleged story took place in Edgewater Inn in Seattle, where guests were fishing directly from apartments’ windows. The relation focused on story of a groupie and her experience with the fish was shown in The Mud Shark which is a narrative episode connected to live interaction with the audience. This was the second presentation of live performance by Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan who were already singing in Chunga’s Revenge. Other songs are full of situation and vocabulary references and this improvised entertaining jokes give the album cohesion as a continuation of Zappa’s conception-albums with clear narrative aspect and some random reactions.
   Although this is live album, its musical quality is far ahead of its time. Zappa’s compositions are perfectly set and beautiful instrumental Peaches En Regalia became his trademark. This album is signed by The Mothers and Zappa alone is visible on credits as musician, composer, leader of the band and producer of the record. But nobody had any doubts, this was next album in his discography. New lineup of The Mothers consists of vocal duo Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan from The Turtles, playing wind instruments and keyboards Ian Underwood, Bob Harris as a second keyboard player, drummer Aynsley Dunbar and bassist Jim Pons, former member of The Turtles who just started his cooperation with The Mothers. The guest performer was Don Preston playing minimoog, a veteran of first Mothers of Invention and one of most interesting musicians playing with Zappa. This was rather small companion for Zappa’s symphonic ideas of this period. The same minimalistic attitude can be seen of the cover designed by Cal Schenkel. But the economic lineup shows its power when listening to these fragments of live music. Especially vocals and dialogue fragments show new face of the band. This was already in use while recording 200 Motels in January 1971, but this album was released in October 4th, 1971, two months after Fillmore East – June 1971. Four stars looks quite fair, but we can be sure for Zappa fans this one, as well as almost every other Zappa’s record is always worth five.