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4.7 out of 5 stars
17
4.7 out of 5 stars

on 18 January 2017
Incredible musicians and performances. Same band as "the best band you never heard..." Frank Zappa was a truly great composer. So why not 5 stars? Only because some of the versions of older pieces of music have a little too much of an 80's sound for me. That aside it's a great live album if a great band.
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on 25 March 2011
I highly recommend this -it's a beautifully collated group of live recordings by big-band and Frank;some marvelous musicianship as well as much musical humor
Eric Satie was often called "un blaguer" -a wise guy-and Frank is no less,in both senses of the word.
He interjects both Stravinsky and Bartok into the works -just because he can !
There's some great extended playing,on pieces like When Yuppies Go To Hell
,Big Swifty and King Kong and some wonderful individual playing by the horns.
And Frank's guitar playing has never sounded better-both original and fitting.

I find this album immensely satisfying both as a jazz fan and as pure enjoyment
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 11 November 2005
Few recording artists with a career of any length manage to go out on a definite high, but Zappa managed to buck the trend. Towards the end of his life he supervised a programme of re-releases, put the final polish on some unreleased material and, as here, released live recordings that demonstrated the awesome machine that the Frank Zappa touring band had become by 1988.
This for me is Zappa's greatest live recording, featuring a twelve-piece big band of musicians playing out of their skins on music that only genuine virtuosos could tackle. Zappa himself joked that the fact that the instrumentalists were good wouldn't make any difference to the sort of people who would want to listen to his music, but when a band is this tight, you just have to sit up and take notice. The sax solos on "Sinister Footwear" are blistering: "jazz noises", maybe, but you don't have to be a jazz fan to love them. The brass is rampant throughout the album, but there's also plenty of space for the bass, drums and, of course, Zappa's own electric guitar to shine.
The fact that most of these tracks are instrumental means that you both gain and lose by not having Zappa's lyrics. If you're primarily interested in Zappa the satirist, this album may sound too sterile to you. If, on the other hand, you are one of the many classical and jazz fans drawn to the complexity and wit of Zappa's melodies and harmonies, this is a firm recommendation.
Zappa's reputation is on the up again, with a number of tribute bands and classical ensembles taking up the considerable challenge of exploring music that often pushes the boundaries of performability. No matter how well they do, this is one set of performances that it will be virtually impossible to emulate.
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on 6 February 2009
A true masterpiece that mixes rock with jazz with fusion with classical with avant garde. The album is more instrumental than most of his other albums and therefore not many of the tracks will make it to "Zappa's Greatest Hits" though I do believe this is his finest and musically most challenging album and one that bears listening to again and again and and again....
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on 13 April 2013
Bear with me on this review; I will get to the actual album but, given Zappa had a few different and distinct strings to his musical bow (so to speak) I want to "contextualise" it first!

As I've got older I find that, not only have I run out of patience with Zappa's scatological side but I've begun to find it down right irritating. No Frank, I don't find it offensive, it's worse than that, I find it boring! They say the greatest trick the devil ever played was to convince us he doesn't exist. Well! The side of liberalism typified in the sixties and seventies-counter culture, which dictated that if you weren't comfortable screwing in the street you were, at best, repressed and, at worst, dishonest,- seems to me to have allowed a number of mistakes to occur: Frank can insist all he likes he was just a reporter, writting about what he saw, but the obvious obsessional relish he took in his writing about sexual mores has lead me to conlude that he actually didn't like women very much.

I was commenting to a friend recently whilst watching the scene with the naked female motorcycle rider in "Vanishing Point" that it was "interesting" that the ideas of countercultural Women's Liberation in the Sixties and Seventies suited men down to the ground. In this respect, and in comparison to pieces from this era such as Crosby's "Triad" (a great song but how about that for a piece of self serving nonsense?)and the like, which tended to romantisise male lust in order that it's aims be achieved, Zappa was at least more honest. However, at this remove, and stripped of the polemic of the "Age of Aquarius" this "honesty" just sounds like what I believe it to have been: puerile personal obsessions aired for the public.

I must make it clear, I don't believe myself to be a prude and I believe any one who could accuse me of being as such for rubbishing this particular aspect of Zappa's ouvre would be someone similar to the person who mocks you as not having a sense of humour because you haven't laughed at the terrible joke they've just told. This aspect of Zappa strikes me as having something akin with the British comedies of the late sixties and early seventies: the Carry On films of that era, On The Buses (promoting the idea that Reg Varney would be attractive to twenty year olds! UGH!), the Confessions films etc. The era's obsession with sex has, (particularly now, post Jimmy Saville) passed from quaint into sleazy and grubby. Zappa was very probably a genius but, like everyone, he had his flaws. You may expect me at this point to say Zappa's flaw was his sexual predilictions or his attitude to women but no! Whatever those predilictions and attitudes were (and as much as I may or may not agree with them)they were his predilictions and attitudes and this is just the point: to believe that these topics may be of any interest to anyone other than himself may, on one occassion,(just perhaps) be of some humourous value but twenty five years worth of it?? Come on! (particularly with the work rate and subsequent output Zappa had).

So... this brings me onto this album here (told you I'd get there!). I believe Zappa to truly have been a musical genius. If, like me, you find his scatology gets in the way of enjoying his music, trust me, there's plenty of his music left once you get rid of that part of his output. Albums like "Shut Up n Play Yr Guitar", "Uncle Meat", "Lumpy Gravy", "Burnt Weeny Sandwich", "Sleep Dirt" (2012 edition), "Waka Jawaka", "The Grand Wazoo" are great (largely) instrumental albums that defy strict catagorisation and should grace any serious music collection. There are, of course, "vocal based" albums that are excellent by Zappa also: "Bongo Fury", "Ship Arriving Too Late...", and large parts of "Sheik Yr Bouti" and "You Are What You Is" amongst certain select others. (N.B: I am aware that Frank's scatological side is in evidence in many places on these "vocal based" albums I've arbitarily listed here. I feel there is a distinction to be made however between songs such as "Broken Hearts..." and "Bobby Brown" for example - which have obviously been worked on and have very clear humourous intent - and songs like "Crew Slut" which seem merely nasty and puerile for puerile sake. It is material such as this last number mentioned here which I am criticising above). "Make a Jazz Noise Here" does have vocal sections but these are fairly limited with the instrumental sections being the central raison d'etre of this release.

And, by and large, it is marvelous!

A lot of Zappa albums feel like bit works of a larger whole: "Ship arriving..." and "Mothers of Prevention" sound like the same album for instance as does "Sheik..." and "You are...". Sometimes this sonic or thematic connection may be on releases years apart resulting in arbitary groupings of releases none dependent upon chronolgy but rather on sound and theme / approach. What is distinct about "Make a Jazz...", to my ear, is I can't really place it in any of the pre-existing "groupings" Zappa had developed over the previous twenty five years. Yes, it's a live album and he'd done these prior. Yes, it's largely instrumental and he'd done this prior.... but there's something I can't quite put my finger on here. Zappa was always a very poor self editor in my opinion (which was, in part, why he released so many albums) but this album feels, by and large (there is still bits of excess / self indulgence) trimmed of fat; this is not something I would normally expect Zappa to do. Even the vocal parts and chatter is kept to a minimum. So, if you're looking for scatology, this is not the album for you. I think that that aspect of Zappa's work will recede as time passes (although I'm sure fourteen year old boys will always like it!). If, on the other hand, you are interested in Zappa the musician then this is one of the albums you must own by him. It cannot be stressed enough that he was almost entirely unique in his approach to composing, arranging and producing music and it is this that will be his musical legacy. Although not perfect to my ear, a great example of his unique talent can be found on this record. It's just a pity he left so much chaff to dig through to find the wheat! Buy!!!!!
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VINE VOICEon 28 April 2008
Taken from live concerts shortly before Zappa's last touring band broke up in acrimony, this double CD features playing which can only be described as stupendous. The band are all hugely talented, the arrangements and the playing are as tight as can be, it mixes Zappa's compositions - both "classical" and rock - with snatches of Stravinsky and other composers, and on top of all that there are some extraordinarily fine guitar solos by FZ (City of Tiny Lites and Cruisin' for Burgers in particular).

Since I bought this several years ago, it has rarely been unplayed for long - there's just so much in it to marvel at (and regret that the band broke up prematurely and put Frank off touring ever again). Essential.
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on 7 February 2004
I borrowed this CD from a local library, expecting the usual mix of (mostly) odd, bizarre and hard-to-get-into tracks with the odd gem from FZ ... but this is outstanding stuff.
There is hardly a duff track on here, and it demands repeated listenings - and still sounds fresh upon each one.
Highly recommended.
Frank ... wherever you are ... Thanks!
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on 17 February 2013
Album of mostly instrumental awesomeness with a few great vocal numbers. Recorded very well. Frank on top form on his guitar with the whole band playing with extreme tightness (of course) Scott Thunes' bass work is inspirational with tone to die for ~ a demi-god of the P-bass. No, scrap that as that may suggest he's only half awesome. Thunes is all awesome. Ok?
My fave live album by Frank.
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on 15 March 2001
One of the criminal aspects of Frank Zappa's lack of superstardom on an Elton John level is that most people will never get to hear this album. The band is perfect, the sound quality is perfect, the music is perfect. Even the computer samples fit in well with the quality of the music. The highlights being 'When Yuppies Go To Hell', 'Dupree's Paradise', 'Big Swifty' and 'Cruising For Burgers'
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on 26 May 2014
From the start where he makes mention to Jimmy Swaggart transgressions to the very last track, this is technically superb and hugely entertaining. It's probably my favourite of Frank's albums. Magic.
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