Chicago Jazz Orchestra to Present Zappa Tribute
Posted 12/18/2012

The Chicago Jazz Orchestra will present an adventurous tribute to Frank Zappa at Chicago’s Park West (322 W. Armitage Ave.) venue on Saturday, Dec. 29. The event takes places eight days after what would have been Zappa’s 72nd birthday.

Conducted by CJO Artistic Director Jeff Lindberg, “The Grand Wazoo and Other Delights: A Tribute to Frank Zappa” will feature the 15-piece orchestra—the city’s oldest professional orchestra in continuous operation—alongside saxophonist Ernie Watts, who has firsthand knowledge of Zappa’s compositions and techniques. Watts played on 1973’s The Grand Wazoo album, and he has experience performing in more formal orchestral settings.

“I recorded The Grand Wazoo with Frank, and did numerous large orchestral concerts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta,” Watts said. “Also, I performed and recorded the music of Frank Zappa for [violinist] Jean-Luc Ponty's first U.S. project, called King Kong.”

The Dec. 29 concert will feature electric violinist Mark Wood of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, as well as electric bassist Dave Morgan. Morgan also created the arrangements for the tribute.

Looking back on his experience with the late composer/guitarist, Watts said Zappa’s music “was always very challenging and very enjoyable to play.”

“I'm really looking forward to the concert—great music for the new year," he said.

The CJO moved this event from its originally scheduled location at the Harris Theater.

Since its inception in 1978 by Lindberg and the late Steve Jenson, the orchestra regularly extracts from Lindberg’s vast library of jazz transcriptions, performing music by artists such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and Ray Charles. Upcoming artists who will be performing with CJO include trumpeter Randy Brecker, who will appear in a “Tribute to Art Farmer” on Feb. 9 at Evanston Township High School in Evanston, Ill.

For more information about the Zappa tribute performance at the Park West or to purchase tickets, visit the Park West website. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. CST.

Tickets and further information about the CJO’s 2012–2013 season can also be found on the Chicago Jazz Orchestra’s official website.


Ernie Watts


UCA Press


Lisa Hilton

Steve Webster—EC Barlow

Jody Jazz


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