With this double-disc live album, prodigal son Dweezil Zappa isn’t just honoring his legendary father, Frank, as a guitarist. He’s following in his footsteps as a virtuoso bandleader, field-marshaling a formidable group of hotshot players who’ve been touring under the name “Zappa Plays Zappa” for the past five years. Among them is bassist Pete Griffin, a true-blue Zappa disciple and, as the disc reveals, just the guy for this demanding gig. Combining a thick, oldschool tone with modern technical facility (think Tom Fowler meets Patrick O’Hearn), Griffin navigates the tough Zappa unison runs and form in classics like “Inca Roads” and “Zomby Woof” as accurately as you’d expect. But an oft-overlooked part of the Zappa live experience is the sheer length of the guitar and other solos, requiring a near endless well of rhythm section stamina and creativity for two-hours-plus every night. Judging from the epic solo sections of “King Kong” and “The Torture Never Stops,” Griffin and drummer Joe Travers are in peak shape, forming a resilient and fertile foundation for Dweezil and his delightfully wacky (and often lyrically profane) musical compatriots to take flight again and again.
Derek Frank, Let The Games Begin [www.dfrank.net]
The trendsters say the ’80s are hot right now, but Los Angeles sideman vet Derek Frank is having none of that on his supergroovy debut album Let The Games Begin. Right from the bass-anddrums- only downbeat of disc opener “Breakout,” it’s an unapologetic, bassdrenched homage to everything cool about rhythm sections from the ’70s, and Frank’s ’63 Fender P-Bass (strung with flats, of course) is the star of the show, in front of the mix and carving fiercely. Games isn’t stuck in that era’s rut, either; there’s just enough modernity sprinkled about to avoid easy caricature, and today’s thumb stylists will appreciate the Marcus-influenced slapmelody approach to the Hall & Oates classic “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do).” But make no mistake—this is mostly a smorgasbord of vintage keys, unison horn lines, and filter-soaked funky bass that’s designed to make the booty move while the disco ball spins. Somewhere, the Brand New Heavi