The Ed Palermo Big Band Pays Tribute to Music Legend Frank Zappa


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New York, NY -- Jazz is not dead - at least not when the Ed Palermo Big Band plays it. Part of the Cuneiform 'Contemporary Masters' series, Eddy Loves Frank is the third album to feature the music of Frank Zappa as arranged by Ed Palermo and performed by the Ed Palermo Big Band. A brilliantly original and entertaining big band jazz CD, 'Eddy Loves Frank' shows that Zappas music has become assimilated into the American songbook. It also reveals that Zappa, as an American rock composer, deserves to be recognized with as much respect as America's other revered popular music composers, including jazz composers such as Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Thelonius Monk, Oliver Nelson, and popular song composers such as George Gershwin and Cole Porter. Despite the music's complexity, Palermo's incredibly skilled 18-piece band and three guest musicians play it with inspiration and apparent ease.

“I'm prouder and happier than ever about this CD because I felt less constrained to follow Zappa's structural formats," says Ed. “It has never been my intention to replicate Zappa's recordings (what would be the point?) and with this new CD (my 3rd of Zappa music) I felt freer to manipulate the structures more than I ever have. I suppose it's a natural evolution."

As a jazz arranger, composer, bandleader and saxophonist, Ed Palermo works magic with Frank Zappas music. Since 1994, he has devoted the bulk of the performance by his NY-based, 18-piece Ed Palermo Big Band to his arrangements of Zappas compositions. These big-band jazz arrangements are no mere transcriptions; they are “revelations", as one critic best said. Palermo belongs to a tradition of visionary composers and arrangers who recognize hidden beauty and genius in an avant garde composer's radical work, and create genius arrangements that serve to reveal that beauty to the public eye. Palermo has arranged almost 200 Zappa tunes. Performed by his inspired and tremendously skilled band, Palermos all instrumental, jazz arrangements of Zappa's rock compositions bring Zappa's music wider recognition, beyond the rock world, and elevate rock musics status as 'serious' composition, proving that serious and satirical can indeed coexist.

Here's what the press have been saying about Eddy Loves Frank:

“Wonderful, breathtaking, fantastic, exhilarating, great sound, great production, great musicianship...I run out of superlatives... It's an album not just for Frank Zappa fans, it's an album for everyone." Paradoxone.uk

“This is masterful arrangement: the ability to see beyond the idiom and find instead the fundamental building blocks that give a piece of music its essential character. Clearly, this is a labour of love for Palermo, born of his genuine admiration and passion for Zappas musicZappa once famously said 'Jazz isnt dead, it just smells funny.' Ed Palermo is making one hell of a wonderful stink." Pop Matters

“Like Zappa, and Duke Ellington before, Palermo's main instrument is his band. And with him at the helm it manages to capture perfectly the spirit of Zappa's music whilst stamping its own authority on the adventurous arrangements with its exuberant, joyous ensemble playing and in the quality of the solos." All About Jazz

In May, 2006, Cuneiform Records released 'Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance', the Ed Palermo Big Bands 2nd CD of “Frank Zappa's astonishingly beautiful and original music" [Palermo], and Palermo's first CD release on Cuneiform. The album received rave notice from the critics and the public, almost instantly becoming one of Cuneiform's best-selling releases. Critics in both the jazz and rock worlds praised it for both making Zappas music more accessible and bringing it wider recognition outside the rock world, while simultaneously bringing big band jazz to new audiences.

Palermo's interpretations of Zappa's work soon received further recognition when Ned Wharton of NPR's Weekend Edition invited the Ed Palermo Big Band into NPR's studio to tape a session with host Andrea Seabrook. Aired on Weekend Edition Sunday on October 8, 2006 to an audience of hundreds of thousands of NPR listeners, the feature, titled “Ed Palermo, Making New Arrangements for Zappa," included the Big Band performing 4 of Palermo's Zappa arrangements and a conversation with Palermo. The Ed Palermo Big Band played a number of shows following its Cuneiform release, including dates at NYC's Iridium and, in 2006, at Baltimore's Sonar, and festival appearances at the Detroit Jazz Festival (2006), The Clifford Brown Festival in Wilmington, DE (2007), the Syracuse Jazz Festival (2007), NYC's South Street Seaport (Summer 2008), and a yearly August spot as part of the Union County Arts Festival at Echo Lake Park, Mountainside, NJ. While most of these concerts featured Palermo's arrangements of Zappa, some focused instead on Palermo's big band jazz arrangements of blues and rock music (Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Mike Bloomfield).

Besides working with his own band, Palermo conducts and arranges for other bands. One of the most adventurous, inspired, and brilliantly humorous arrangers for jazz big band working in America today, Palermo arranged music by James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul", for Christian McBride's Big Band. The music was presented in a Sept. 6, 2006 concert at the Hollywood Bowl, which featured Brown on stage, singing with the band only a few months before his death. Palermo conducts the U.S. Army Blues (also known as the U.S. Army Blues Jazz Ensemble, and part of the U.S. Army Band) in special concerts of his Zappa arrangements held annually most recently in April 2009 at a military base outside Washington DC.

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This story appears courtesy of Glass Onyon PR - William James.
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