Ha, the Ed Palermo Big Band has long been on my radar, but for whatever reason I never pressed the Buy- button. This weekend's special Cuneiform offer took care of that, thanks a lot! :-) I have long been interested in their Zappa renditions, but here things get a little more diverse: Next to Zappa we're treated with Neil Young, Los Lobos and Giorgio Moroder in the typical Palermo big band sound. Wonderful :-)
Favorite track: Kiko and the Lavender Moon.
Over the past two decades Ed Palermo has earned an avid international following with his brilliantly executed, reverently irreverent arrangements of Frank Zappa’s tempestuous and wildly inventive music. On previous albums the New Jersey saxophonist, composer and arranger infused the world of Zappalogy with his own brand of incisive wit and bracing improvisation. He doesn’t neglect Zappa on his fourth Cuneiform dispatch One Child Left Behind but instead of offering another full Frank immersion he turns his big band loose like it’s playing one of its regular gigs. Exploring an expansive array of moods and material, the band delivers an audaciously entertaining program that’s full of surprises.
Featuring the same formidable cast of players as on his last release, Oh No! Not Jazz!!, the 18-piece band interprets a fatalistic film theme and a gorgeous Neil Young ballad. They demolish an existential Leiber and Stoller hit and rhapsodize with an intoxicating Los Lobos classic. Palermo also throws in some beautifully crafted originals, and of course offers a generous helping of Zappa too. As he’s quick to acknowledge, One Child “is more of a mixed bag, where my past albums were more thematic. I’ve been wanting to mix it up like we do at our live shows. These pieces are all road tested, and it felt like a good time to document them.”
Longtime fans of the Palermo band can rest assured that Zappa is well represented on One Child, which features veteran Zappa vocalist Napoleon Murphy Brock on three compositions by Zappa. Speaking of authentic Zappalogy, Frank’s younger sister, Candy Zappa, provides vocals on two tracks.
At this point, the Palermo Big Band has honed some 300 Zappa arrangements, while steadily expanding the band’s book with other composer's work and his originals, all featuring the kind of impressive arrangements and ensemble work that make One Child such a revelation. Nothing demonstrates the ensemble’s ongoing vitality better than the stellar cast of players; many of these top-shelf musicians have been in the band for more than a decade, and they handle the diverse array of material with aplomb. One Child Left Behind doesn’t leave Zappa behind, but it makes a compelling case that the Palermo bandwagon can comfortably accommodate a wild and wooly menagerie.
"...the Ed Palermo Big Band has fashioned a career out of recasting the music of Frank Zappa in large-format jazz settings-according to Palermo’s website, some 300 arrangements of Zappa compositions in all. This time around, they’ve begun to back away, a little. Roughly half of the tunes on One Child Left Behind are drawn from the Zappa canon; the rest are Palermo originals and other covers (Neil Young, Peggy Lee, Giorgio Moroder’s theme from Scarface). You can’t always tell which are which without a cheat sheet, but that’s a good thing. It means that the EPBB can survive just fine beyond its initial inspiration.
Of the Zappa tunes, both “Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus” and “The Grand Wazoo” come from the 1972 album named after the latter. Here they are given bright, nearly effusive arrangements, the former newly distinguished by Ted Kooshian’s tack piano solo and Bill Straub’s tenor saxophone, the other afforded an accessible treatment that wouldn’t have raised eyebrows if Doc Severinsen had snuck it in one night during his Tonight Show tenure. Three tracks, the funkiest of the lot, feature the vocals of Zappa alumnus Napoleon Murphy Brock, but the true acolytes will likely be most curious about “Evelyn, A Modified Dog” and the band’s take on Los Lobos’ “Kiko and the Lavender Moon,” both sung capably but not memorably by Patrice “Candy” Zappa, Frank’s younger sister.
Palermo’s three originals more than hold their own. The title of “Dirty White Bucks” might suggest a nod to Zappa’s obsession with 1950s teen culture, but it’s not a Ruben & the Jets outtake; rather, it’s a real swinger of a tune, full of drama and animation. “Vengeance” projects a film-noir ambience while “The Goat Patrol” confirms that-to paraphrase an album title from the man-for this well-oiled 17-piece unit, one size doesn’t fit all." – JazzTimes April, 2019
released January 22, 2016
The Ed Palermo Big Band:
Ed Palermo - band leader, arranger, alto sax
Barbara Cifelli - baritone sax, Eb mutant clarinet
Matthew Ingman - bass trombone
Charles Gordon - lead trombone
Ronnie Buttacavoli - lead trumpet
Katie Jacoby - 6-string violin and regular violin as designed by God
John Bailey - trumpet, but not the lead trumpet
Clifford Lyons - lead alto sax, clarinet
Phil Chester - 2nd alto sax, flute, piccolo, soprano sax
Bill Straub - lead tenor sax, flute, clarinet
Ben Kono - 2nd tenor sax, flute, oboe
Michael Boschen - trombone, but not the lead trombone
Ray Marchica - drums
Paul Adamy - electric bass
Bob Quaranta - acoustic piano
Ted Kooshian - electric keyboards
Bruce McDaniel - guitar, vocals
Producer: Bruce McDaniel, with early production work on the initial sessions by Steve Jankowski
Executive Producer: Wifty Von Weasel
Recorded March 20-30 and July 28-30, 2014 at Jankland Recording, Wall Township, NJ.
Mixing, additional recording, and mastering by Bruce McDaniel.
Artwork: Nancy Palermo
Photos: All of the photos are so old that I think it’s safe to say that all of the photographers are long gone. They be dead now.
supported by 34 fans who also own “One Child Left Behind”
Fantastic opportunity to get an impression what MoonJune Records is about (fusion, prog rock, avantgarde from all around the world, with a special spotlight on Indonesia ...). Many great artists to be discovered (mostly) and rediscovered (sometimes)!
Also, watch out for their special offers due to their 15th birthday (this is why, in short time, many other MoonJune albums will appear here ;-} ). Carsten Pieper