Jazz From Hell

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Lindsay Planer
While Frank Zappa had ostensibly been "on his own" since the dissolution of the Mothers of Invention in 1969, never before had he used the term "solo artist" as literally as he does on the Grammy Award winning in the "Best Rock Instrumental Performance by an orchestra, group or soloist" category Jazz from Hell 1986. After two decades of depending on the skills, virtuosity, and temperament of other musicians, Zappa all but abandoned the human element in favor of the flexibility of what he could produce with his Synclavier Digital Music System. With the exception of the stunning closer "St. Etienne" -- which is a guitar solo taken from a live performance of "Drowning ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Lindsay Planer
While Frank Zappa had ostensibly been "on his own" since the dissolution of the Mothers of Invention in 1969, never before had he used the term "solo artist" as literally as he does on the Grammy Award winning in the "Best Rock Instrumental Performance by an orchestra, group or soloist" category Jazz from Hell 1986. After two decades of depending on the skills, virtuosity, and temperament of other musicians, Zappa all but abandoned the human element in favor of the flexibility of what he could produce with his Synclavier Digital Music System. With the exception of the stunning closer "St. Etienne" -- which is a guitar solo taken from a live performance of "Drowning Witch" at the Palais des Sports in St. Etienne, France on May 28, 1982 -- the remaining seven selections were composed, created, and executed by Zappa with help from his concurrent computer assistant Bob Rice and recording engineer Bob Stone. Far from being simply a synthesizer, the Synclavier combined the ability to sample and manipulate sounds before assigning them to the various notes on a piano-type keyboard. At the time of its release, many enthusiasts considered it a slick, emotionless effort. In retrospect, their conclusions seem to have been a gut reaction to the methodology, rather than the music itself. In fact, evidence to the contrary is apparent as it brims throughout the optimistic bounding melody and tricky time-signatures of "Night School." All the more affective is the frenetic sonic trajectory coursing through "G-Spot Tornado." Incidentally, Zappa would revisit the latter -- during one of his final projects -- when the Ensemble Modern worked up Ali N. Askin's arrangement for the Yellow Shark 1993. Another cut with a bit of history to it is "While You Were Art II," which is Zappa's Synclavier-rendered version of the Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar 1982 entry "While You Were Out." Speaking of guitar solos, as mentioned briefly above, "St. Etienne" is the only song on Jazz from Hell to feature a band and is a treat specifically for listeners craving a sampling of Zappa's inimitable fretwork. The six-plus minute instrumental also boats support from Steve Vai rhythm guitar, Ray White rhythm guitar, Tommy Mars keyboards, Bobby Martin keyboards, Ed Mann percussion, as well as the prominent rhythm section of Scott Thunes bass and Chad Wackerman drums. Zappa-philes should similarly note that excellent albeit amateur-shot footage of the number was included by Zappa on the companion Video from Hell 1987 home video.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/2/1995
  • Label: Zappa Records
  • UPC: 014431054921
  • Catalog Number: 310549

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Night School (4:47)
  2. 2 The Beltway Bandits (3:25)
  3. 3 While You Were Art II (7:17)
  4. 4 Jazz from Hell (2:58)
  5. 5 G-Spot Tornado (3:17)
  6. 6 Damp Ankles (3:45)
  7. 7 St. Etienne (6:26)
  8. 8 Massaggio Galore (2:31)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Frank Zappa Primary Artist, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Steve Vai Guitar
Bobby Martin Keyboards, Saxophone, Vocals
Ed Mann Percussion
Chad Wackerman Vocals
Ike Willis Guitar, Vocals
Tommy Mars Keyboards, Vocals
Scott Thunes Synthesizer, Bass, Vocals
Ray White Guitar
Technical Credits
Bob Stone Engineer
Frank Zappa Arranger, Composer, Producer, Contributor
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

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(0)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    The incredulity of Zappa...

    I feel the above review is very poor and scant so I feel I have to really comment on this magic album. This album should interest all Zappa fans. While purely instrumental, no one can deny his immense talent and proficiency in the field of boundary breaking for "rock artists". With this and other albums, he shed this tag with aplomb with compostions entirely unrelated to rock. The album sways from stately, grand backdrops to zany lines whose instrument changes from note to note, hooking your interest from curiousity at first and then reverence. "Night school" , "Jazz from Hell" and of course, the wonderful "G-spot tornado" are all brilliant. I'm only giving 4 stars though. For one, though its (in my opinion) easy to listen to, it isin't the most enjoyable Zappa album. For example, I find "Beltway bandits" the low point of the album-a little aimless and uninteresting- and "St Etienne" really dosen't let the band shine the way we know they can. Otherwise though, I adore this album for its originality, its scope and for the sound that only Zappa could have made. I mean, can anyone even name another album like it?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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