Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of Zappa Plays Zappa, the virtuoso band guitarist Dweezil Zappa formed in 2005 to honor the mind-bending musical legacy of his legendary father, guitarist/composer Frank Zappa. The fact that most Zappa Plays Zappa members are too young to have ever attended a concert by Frank Zappa — who died 22 years ago last week — isn’t beside the point for Dweezil — it is the point.
“The whole purpose of this is to have musicians who had no previous affiliation with Frank,” he said, “and to show that with — dedication and application — you can play this music the way it was meant to be played.”
That is no easy matter.
Zappa, who lived in La Mesa and Pacific Beach for a few of his teenage years, created a dazzling body of work on the 62 albums he made during his lifetime. At least a dozen more posthumous releases have followed.
Like no one before or since, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee drew from a remarkably broad musical palette. It included blues, jazz, rock, country, chamber works, doo-wop, reggae, musique concrète, R&B, electronic music, contemporary classical and more.
Zappa was as comfortable writing orchestral scores as he was leading a jazzy big band or a hard-rocking group. His lyrics could be satirical or abstract one moment, snarky or scatological the next. And his music could, and often did, change course in a split second onstage, with Zappa employing a series of unique hand signals to cue his band.
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