Zappa Plays Zappa
The Concert Venue at Harrah's Resort Atlantic City
After taking more than three years off to study the physical performance and technical compositional techniques of his father, Frank Zappa, Dweezil Zappa began his search to create a combo that could, according to Dweezil, "accurately execute Frank's music in the most authentic way humanly possible." Rather than creating what he called a "circus" of Frank's former bandmates, Dweezil's focus was on providing an avenue for the elder Zappa's music to new generations of listeners. To that end, he personally selected members of the Zappa Plays Zappa septet after an arduous set of auditions. The process typically involved them having to transcribe assorted Zappa pieces and then play their specific parts while accompanied only by Joe Travers (drums) -- the latter having previously worked with Dweezil in his and brother Ahmet Zappa's Z. Travers is also the Zappa Family Trust archivist, which likewise meant he would be intimately familiar with the various distinct eras of Frank's music.
The band debuted in 2006 with shows in Europe, Canada and the United States during May and June (the tour was also known as Zappa Plays Zappa - Tour de Frank’). The shows presented a collection of Frank Zappa’s rock-oriented compositions from 1960s to 1980s. Apart from Dweezil Zappa on lead guitar, the band consisted of a mix of relatively unknown young musicians and older musicians who previously played with Frank Zappa. Among those, Napoleon Murphy Brock (sax, flute and vocals) was an integral part of the band, while drummer (and singer) Terry Bozzio and electric guitarist Steve Vai performed as guests in parts of the shows. At several shows Frank Zappa himself performed a song posthumously via synchronized audio/video technology, notedly solos in Chunga’s Revenge.
After a break, the band played again in the US during the Fall of 2006, including a show in New York on October 31. This revived Frank Zappa’s tradition of playing Halloween shows in New York. A DVD documenting the 2006 tour is planned for release in 2007. At the 51st Grammy Awards in February 2009, Zappa Plays Zappa won best rock instrumental performance for their performance of the Frank Zappa instrumental classic, "Peaches en Regalia." Band member Aaron Arntz's final performance with ZPZ was in Santa Rosa, CA on March 7, 2009. Guest performer Ray White unexpectedly left Zappa Plays Zappa April 1 of 2009. In May 2009, it was announced that Ben Thomas was to be the new lead singer for the American and European tours after a lengthy audition process. In May 2010, the band announced the addition of new keyboardist Chris Norton. Prior to joining Zappa Plays Zappa, he toured with alternative rock act September Hase.
DZPZ continued touring in 2010, closing out the year with another US tour, in which they played the classic Apostrophe release in its entirety and in order. The show also again featured audio/visually synchronized numbers with Frank Zappa singing and playing extended solos. DZPZ has announced a summer 2011 tour of the US, beginning on July 28 in Bearsville, NY and winding up with a Seattle show on September 24. DZPZ will be teaming with jazz-fusion supergroup Return to Forever on this tour, and the July 28 show is promised to feature Frank Zappa colleagues from the Mothers of Invention days, Flo and Eddie (Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, respectively). DZPZ also will conduct a tour of the United Kingdom in late 2011, opening in North Yorkshire on November 17 and concluding in Brighton on December 1. The UK tour has promised to reprise the "Apostrophe" US tour of late 2010. There have been no announced personnel lineup changes for either of these tours.
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