KING KONG
Jean-Luc Ponty plays the music of Frank Zappa

Track listing* :
King Kong: Jean-Luc Ponty Plays the Music of Frank Zappa:
1. King Kong
2. Idiot Bastard Son
3. Twenty Small Cigars
4. How Would You Like to Have a Head Like That
5. Music for Electric Violin and Low Budget Orchestra
6. America Drinks and Goes Home.

For Canteloupe Island: CD2
The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with The George Duke Trio
1. Foosh
2. Pamukkale
3. Contact
4. Canteloupe Island
5. Starlight, Starbright.
Personnel* :
Jean-Luc Ponty: electric violin, baritone violectra (CD1); George Duke: electric piano, acoustic piano (CD1#5); Wilton Felder: Fender bass (CD1#2, CD1#3, CD1#4, CD1#6); Gene Estes: vibes and percussion (CD1#1); Buell Neidlinger: bass (CD1#1, CD1#5); Arthur D. Tripp, III: drums (CD1#1, CD1#5); Ian Underwood: tenor saxophone (CD1#1), conductor (CD1#5; John Guerin: drums (CD1#2-4, CD1#6); Ernie Watts: alto and tenor saxophones (CD1#2-4, CD1#6); Frank Zappa: guitar (CD1#4); Harold Bemko: cello (CD1#5); Milton Thomas: viola (CD1#5); Jonathan Meyer: flute (CD1#5); Donald Christlieb: bassoon (CD1#5); Gene Cipriano: oboe and English horn (CD1#5); Vincent de Rosa: French horn and descant (CD1#5); Arthur Maebe: French horn and tuben (CD1#5); John Heard: electric bass (CD2); Dick Berk: drums (CD2).

* opgave geldt voor Canteloupe Island 2cd

Enigszins terloops was het verschijnen van de cd King Kong; Jean-Luc Ponty plays the music of Frank Zappa (Blue Note Records!!!). Een opmerkelijke release, die volgens mij thuishoort in het standaard-oeuvre van FZ. Misschien is niet iedereen met deze lp/cd bekend (de lp-bespreking nooit gezien/te lang geleden - 1970), daarom korte aandacht voor deze in meerdere opzichten bijzonder release. Het is de eerste lp waarbij een externe muzikant - Ponty - werk van Zappa uitvoert. (n.b. Zappa werkte toen aan Hot Rats en had op dat moment geen vaste band). Met FZ' stijgende faam en het meer schrijven van klassieke composities is spelen door derden gebruikelijker geworden, maar in 1969 zeker nog niet. Tweede bijzonderheid is een tweetal primeurs: de compositie Music For ... (vul in - in dit geval electric violin) ... And Low Budget Orchestra en Twenty Small Cigars, die een half jaar later op Chunga's Revenge zou verschijnen (restje Hot Rats).

Music For ... verschijnt pas weer heel veel later als (zeer) Revised Music For Guitar and Low Budget Orchestra op de Warner-crisis lp Sleep Dirt en dan dus met de gitaar in de hoofdrol. Music For... bevat tal van verwijzingen naar en citaten uit ander (oud) werk van Zappa en heeft door de collage-achtige opbouw en qua klankkleur (klassiek ensemble -Ian Underwood als dirigent) nog het meeste weg van Lumpy Gravy. Daarmee staat het los van de andere tracks die, net als Twenty Small Cigars meer richting Hot Rats gaan: King Kong, Idiot Bastard Son en America Drinks and Goes Home. Alle vier getransformeerd tot doorgaans rustige, jazzy tracks; leuk om te horen voor het slapen gaan. Het enige nummer dat er wat snelheid betreft uitspringt (beetje rock-jazz) is How Could You Like To Have A Head Like That, een Ponty-compositie met een korte wah-wah gitaarsolo door FZ zelf.

Andere muzikanten op de lp/cd zijn o.a. George Duke (eerste kennismaking met FZ en later vast MOI-lid), Arthur Tripp III (laatste werk met FZ), Ian Underwood, John Guerin, Ernie Watts, Gene Estes, Buell Neidlinger.

King Kong is origineel uitgebracht op World Pacific Records, later op Liberty Records (hoes van deze lp is ook voor de cd gebruikt, die van World Pacific is anders) en nog later dan dubbel-lp op Blue Note onder de naam Canteloupe Island (de King Kong-lp met een lp van Ponty).

Het boekje bij de cd is wat slordig uitgevoerd; de drie foto's van de lp ontbreken. Desalniettemin: verplichte kost!
 

Back Cover Photos
The original issue back cover photos

New Back Cover Photos
The revised back cover photos


 

the other covers:



King Kong (German Release)


Original Liner Notes

If Zappa were writing the notes, he would surely warn you immediately of the total lack of commercial potential He is not alone in his awareness of the value of reverse psychology. I am so concerned about the success of this album that I wouldn't dream of recommending it.

Necessity was the mother of Jean-Luc Ponty. Nothing truly new had happened in jazz violin - well, nothing that made any impact - since Ray Dance joined Duke, almost 30 years ago. Dick Bock was the mother of collaboration. "I'd heard more and more about Frank Zappa in jazz circles. Then Frank played me some of the "Hot Rats" album, which he was still working on. It was hard to pigeonhole; just fascinating instrumental music. Then I took an acetate of Jean-Luc to Frank's house. A few days later Jean-Luc played on a "Hot Rats" track. (Not available at this counter; try Bizarre Records.}

As Ponty and Zappa promptly developed an interest in each other's music the concept of a collaborative project was born. Frank was particularly concerned) with the development of an extended orchestral work, a formal piece tied to no one idiom and allowing Ponty interludes of expressive freedom. Music For Electric Violin and Low Budget Orchestra (a title decided upon, one suspects, after Zappa had asked Bock for a 97-piece ensembles is illustrative of Zappa's mastery not only of composition and orchestration, but also of transition. It emerges not as a segmented series of ideas arbitrarily linked together, but as a securely integrated whole that moves with almost subliminal subtlety from one tempo, meter, mood or idiom to another, and from reading to blowing; from the opening bassoon figure to the demonic closing violin passages in 7/8, it sustains the validity throughout its multi-textured duration.

The long work was conducted by Ian Underwood, former alto saxophonist and keyboardist with the Mothers of Invention, possessor of a bachelor's from Yale and a master's from Berkeley in piano and composition.

"Don Christlieb is one of the best bassoonists around, especially for the avant garde," says F.Z. "He has played Stockhausen and does regular concerts of contemporary music." He is also the father of Pete Christlieb, one of Hollywood's brightest new jazz tenor saxes. .

Arthur D. Tripp, III, formerly the Mothers' percussionist, spent two years with the Cincinnati Symphony. {Zappa: "He really gets into those meters.") Buell Neidlinger, a premature jazz avantist, played with Cecil Taylor and Gil Evans in the 1950s. "He's with the Boston Symphony now N says Frank, "but I had to fly him out of there-he's the only man I can think of who could play the bass par' on the long piece."

Of the compositions on side one, it need only be said that they place Ponty in settings generally closer to jazz lit that term is still capable of definitions, the first three being basically in three and composed by Zappa. The Ponty number (composed by Jean- Luc, in four, arranged by Zappa} is the easiest blowing track, a G 7 vamp that provides a base for some of his most resourceful and unpredictable shifting of phrases, dissonant concepts and hard-swinging, post-Stuff Smith execution.

For me, the blowing on "How Would You Like To Have A Head" Like That constitute Ponty's best work in the album. For Zappa, Jean-Luc's peak is reached on "Idiot Bastard Son". For both of us, George Duke is a phenomenon throughout all tracks. "I'm only surprised N Frank comments That he didn't happen sooner." He certainly has happened now, with a little help from friends Bock and Ponty, on earlier collaborations, on records and in person.

Analyzing the overall performances, one could point out a number of details, like the ingenuity of the slowed-down pulse at the climatic point in "King Kong", the tight teamwork between Ponty and Ernie Watts on "Cigars," Ernie's solo and Zappa's wah-wah assertions on "Head." One would be wasting one's time, since they are all clearly enough recorded to be heard without lectures or blackboard illustrations.

A final word must be added, though, for the brief closing track on side 2, "America Drinks And Goes Home" has a put-on flavor, a quixotic rhythmic and melodic quality almost a touch of the Zeitgeist of Cabaret. John Guerin was allowed total freedom, George Duke gets into the feel of the piece, which, as Frank says, "suggests a bunch of drunks leaning up against a bar." The galloping finale brings the work to a disarmingly abrupt end. Like "idiot Bastard Son" and "King Kong," this was previously recorded by the Mothers. Just as it mirrors the growing unification of all musics, the Ponty-Zappa fusion shows that if you team a freaky French fiddler from over there with a master of the bizarre and the guitar from over here, what might seem to invite double jeopardy produces double sgenius.

Leonard Feather

words / text 1995 - 2008 Paul Lemmens