Categories :

From rock to jazz with Frank Zappa

This new 67-track compilation retraces the making of "Hot Rats" by Frank Zappa, which would turn out to be a crucial album in the history of the jazz-rock fusion.

By Marc Zisman | Video of the Day | January 4, 2020

This colossal 7 hours and 18 minutes released this past December gathers all of the sessions Frank Zappa did for his Hot Rats album and offers a fascinating insight into every nook and cranny of the extraordinary musician’s brain, who sadly left us in 1993.

Recorded in 1969 in Los Angeles, these sessions signalled the (temporary) end of The Mothers of Invention (even if Ian Underwood is still present here); far from the stylistic patchwork of that unusual group, the Hot Rats Zappa emphasises the fusion between rock and jazz, with five in six tracks being instrumental. Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart takes to the mic alone on Willie the Pimp, showing that Zappa allows all of his invited solo artists to fully express themselves, including violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, guitarist Lowell George and bassist Shuggie Otis (only 15 years old at the time!)

This jazzy fusion keeps a certain narrative frame across the six volumes; extra-long jam sessions, endless solos, complicit dialogues between musicians, everything's in place to allow the listener to be transported to the Californian studio as a fly on the wall witnessing the conception of an album which would influence an entire generation. In the original album notes, Frank Zappa described this as a “movie for your ears”.

Interestingly, at the exact moment Hot Rats was being produced, another jazz-fusion album saw the light of day on the other side of the country, in New York: Bitches Brew by Miles Davis.


To stay up to date with everything happening at Qobuz, follow us on Facebook!

What you've been reading