Frank Zappa: Blessed Relief
Frank Zappa & the Mothers
The Grand Wazoo (Rykodisc 10517)
Alex Dmochowski [aka ‘Erroneous’] (bass).
Composed by Frank Zappa.
Recorded: Hollywood, April-May, 1972
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
"Jazz is the music of unemployment," Zappa once quipped. But Miles Davis showed, with his 1969 Bitches Brew sessions, that the proper mixture of jazz and rock could produce a gold record. Zappa dug deeper and deeper into jazz-oriented material during the pre- and post-Bitches period, and though efforts such as The Grand Wazoo and Waka / Jawaka did not sell as well as Davis's or Hancock's fusion projects -- or even Zappa's own edgier, scatological efforts -- they have held up well with the passing years. "Blessed Relief" is a catchy jazz waltz that could almost pass for a Blue Note hard-bop chart. Sal Marquez and George Duke contribute first-rate solos, and Zappa follows with some tasty guitar lines that are very, very jazzy. If he had kept this up, Frank might have been applying for unemployment benefits. But just in the nick of time, Zappa ended his jazz period. The next year, he had his first charted single with "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow," which would not be appropriate for a hard-bop recording.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia