Waka/Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo

Frank Zappa's two 1972 studio albums contained nine tracks. Of these, only four were performed in concert in 1972 ("Big Swifty", "Waka/Jawaka", "Grand Wazoo", and "For Calvin"). One of these four ("Big Swifty") and one of the other five ("Eat That Question") were played in later tours. But four of the nine pieces introduced on these two albums were never performed live by FZ. In the case of the two rather quirky songs on Waka/Jawaka, that's not so surprising. But why didn't the Grand Wazoo Orchestra perform "Blessed Relief" or "Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus"? And why did the Petit Wazoo peform "Waka/Jawaka" so rarely? (Only one performance is known.) Fortunately, all three of these tunes have been performed live and/or recorded by other bands specializing in Zappa's music.

Robert Moog cited The Grand Wazoo as one of his favorite albums.

Waka/Jawaka

"Big Swifty"

Length: 17:22
Live FZ performances: Grand Wazoo, 1973, 10/31/74, 1988
Other FZ recordings: Make A Jazz Noise Here, YCDTOSA 1
Cover versions: Meridian Arts Ensemble, Smart Went Crazy (Channel Crossings, 1993)
Andy Emler (in concert, 1994)
Bogus Pomp (in concert, 1996)
Muffin Men, MufFinZ (Muffin Records, 1998)
Project/Object (in concert, 1999)
John Etheridge & the Zappatistas, Live In Leeds (Jazzprint, 2001)
Ensemble Ambrosius, The Zappa Album (BIS, 2000)
Zappa Cliniquez (in concert, date unknown)
Children Of Invention (mp3, date unknown)
Muffin Men and Ensemble 10:10 (in concert, 2003)
Paul Green School Of Rock (in concert, 2004)
Modern Art Orchestra with Mike Keneally and Ed Mann (in concert, 2007)
Wrong Object, Platform One (Jazzprint, 2007)
Glauco Venier (in concert, 2008)
Filthy Habits Ensemble (in concert, 2009)
The White Page (in concert, 2013)

This lengthy instrumental has been likened to Bitches Brew. I'm not that familiar with Miles Davis's work, but it's definitely true that a) "Big Swifty" features trumpet prominently, and b) the musicians keep playing during each other's solos. The track features an electric piano solo by Duke, a trumpet solo by Marquez, a guitar solo by Zappa, and a slide guitar solo by Duran.

"Your Mouth"

Length: 3:12
Live FZ performances: none
Other FZ recordings: none
Cover versions: The Voice of Cheez (in concert, 2000)
Deja Voo Doo (in concert, 2000)

Misogynistic blues sung by Sal Marquez and Kris Peterson. Busy arrangement, with various horns and guitars playing underneath the vocals.

"It Just Might Be A One Shot Deal"

Length: 4:16
Live FZ performances: none, although the title riff was incorporated into the arrangements of "Approximate" and "Greggery Peccary"
Other FZ recordings: Joe's Domage
Cover versions: none known

Aynsley Dunbar plays washboard on the first verse, which is sung by Janet Ferguson (double-tracked). Vocals on later verses are credited to Tony Duran, Jeff Simmons, Sal Marquez, and Erroneous, but I have no idea who's singing what. Though he is not credited for vocals, FZ recites the last line. Short trumpet solo by Marquez. Hilarious/beautiful pedal steel solo by Sneaky Pete Kleinow. After the pedal steel solo breaks down, FZ can be heard on electric bed-springs. Note the similarity between the storyline of this song and that of "The Perfect Stranger".

"Waka/Jawaka"

Length: 11:18
Live FZ performances: Petit Wazoo
Other FZ recordings: a different mix and edit of this recording appears on Quaudiophiliac
Cover versions: Zappa's Universe (Verve, 1993)
Harmonia, Harmonia Meets Zappa (Materiali Sonori, 1994)
Wagga Jawaka (in concert, 1995)
Ed Palermo Big Band, Plays The Music Of Frank Zappa (Astor Place, 1997)
Circus Harlekin, Die Band (private release, circa 1999)
Max Weinberg 7 (Conan O'Brien Show, 2000)
Colin Towns & NDR Big Band, Frank Zappa's Hot Licks (And Funny Smells) (Rent A Dog, 2005)

Flügelhorn solo by Marquez, long mini-moog solo by Don Preston, guitar solo by Zappa, drum solo by Dunbar. Lots of ensemble horns on this tune, played by Marquez, Byers, Shroyer, and Altschul, each playing at least two different instruments. Unlike in "Big Swifty", the musicians lay off during each other's solos.

A page from FZ's first sketch of "Waka Jawaka" (at Fred Banta's site).

Grand Wazoo

"Grand Wazoo" ("Think It Over")

Length: 13:19
Live performances: Grand Wazoo
Other FZ recordings: Joe's Domage
Cover versions: Ed Palermo Big Band (in concert, 1996)
John Etheridge & the Zappatistas, Live In Leeds (Jazzprint, 2001)
Bohuslän Big Band, BBB plays Zappa (Imogena, 2000)
LeBocal, Oh No!...Just Another Frank Zappa Memorial Barbecue (Le Chant du Monde, 2003)
MN e i Contenuti Speciali (in concert, 2008)
Glauco Venier (in concert, 2008)

Short guitar solo by FZ, bottle-neck guitar solo by Duran, trombone solo by Byers, muted trumpet solo by Marquez, mini-moog solo by Preston. The horns quote "Little Egypt" ("There's a place in France...", not the Leiber and Stoller song) about ten minutes into the tune. "The Grand Wazoo" is actually an instrumental performance of the song "Think It Over", which was to have been sung by Durk in Zappa's unproduced musical Hunchentoot.

"For Calvin (And His Next Two Hitch-Hikers)"

Length: 6:06
Live performances: Grand Wazoo
Other FZ recordings: none
Cover versions: Ed Palermo Big Band (in concert, 2002)
Glauco Venier (in concert, 2008)

Vocals by Janet Ferguson ("Where did they go?") and Sal Marquez ("How much was the leakage?"). The horns quote the "New Brown Clouds" section of "The Adventures of Greggery Peccary" halfway through the track.

"Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus"

Length: 2:57
Live performances: 1973
Other FZ recordings: none
Cover versions: Wagga Jawaka (in concert, 1995)
Muffin Men, Mülm (Muffin Records, 1995)
Muffin Men, Feel The Food (Muffin Records, 1996)
Zappa Instrumentaale, Live At "The Club", Part One (private release, 1996)
Zappa Instrumentaale, Zappaclause 2, Part One (private release, 1996)
Bogus Pomp (in concert, 1997)
Le Concert Impromptu, Prophetic Attitude (L'Empreinte Digitale, 1997)
Captain Klausi, My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama (private release, 1998)
Zappa Instrumentaale, The Final Fling (private release, 1999)
The Voice of Cheez (in concert, 2000)
John Etheridge & the Zappatistas (in concert, 2000)
whatchamacallit (in concert, 2002)
Ed Palermo Big Band (in concert, 2002)
The Diesel Experiment (in concert, 2003)
Metropolis Orchestra, Uncle Beat (Dot, 2004)
Modern Art Orchestra with Mike Keneally and Ed Mann (in concert, 2007)
MN e i Contenuti Speciali (in concert, 2008)
The Frank Zappa Ensemble (in concert, 2011)
Muze Jazz Orchestra (in concert, 2011)
Cosmik Playground (in concert, 2016)

Vocals by Chunky and George Duke (la la las), and by FZ (rum pum pums). Tack piano solo by George Duke, saxophone solo by Ernie Watts.

"Eat That Question"

Length: 6:42
Live FZ performances: 1973, 12/1/74, 1988
Other FZ recordings: Make A Jazz Noise Here
Cover versions: Meridian Arts Ensemble, Prime Meridian (Channel Crossings, 1995)
Andy Emler (in concert, 1994)
Wagga Jawaka (in concert, 1995)
Ed Palermo Big Band (in concert, 1996)
Bogus Pomp (in concert, 1996)
Zappa Instrumentaale, Live At "The Club", Part One (private release, 1996)
Zappa Instrumentaale, Zappaclause 2, Part One (private release, 1996)
Riccardo Fassi Tankio Band, Plays The Music Of Frank Zappa (SPLASC(H), 1997)
Fast & Bulbous, Memorial Barbecue (Play His Music Anyway, 1997)
PipCo, In Cerca Di Mr. Zappa (Pipcoville, 1998)
Burnt Weeny Sandwich (in concert, 2000)
John Etheridge & the Zappatistas, Live In Leeds (Jazzprint, 2001)
Muffin Men, More Songs From The Campfire (CD-ROM, 2001)
Children Of Invention (mp3, date unknown)
whatchamacallit (in concert, 2001)
Hot Rats (in concert, mp3, 2002)
The Diesel Experiment (in concert, 2003)
Colin Towns & NDR Big Band, Frank Zappa's Hot Licks (And Funny Smells) (Rent A Dog, 2005)
Wrong Object featuring Ed Mann, Live At Zappanale 2004 (Maximalist Records, 2005)
Pojama People (in concert, 2006)
MN e i Contenuti Speciali (in concert, 2008)
Filthy Habits Ensemble (in concert, 2009)
Mother People (in concert, 2009)
Tarentatec (in concert, 2011)
Zappnoise (in concert, 2013)
Stefano Bollani, Sheik Yer Zappa (Decca, 2014)

Unaccompanied electric piano introduction by Duke, another electric piano solo (but accompanied by other instruments this time) by Duke, guitar solo by FZ, ending with an unaccompanied restatement of the theme.

"Blessed Relief"

Length: 7:59
Live FZ performances: none
Other FZ recordings: Joe's Domage
Cover versions: Albie Donnelly's Supercharge, Between Music and Madness (Stag, 1974)
BRT Big Band, Plays Frank Zappa (BRT, 1990)
Muffin Men, Muffin Men (Muffin Records, 1993)
Un Poco Loco, Cary Mary Fuk! (Gallup Music, 1995)
Ed Palermo Big Band (in concert, 1996)
Mico Nissim Trio, Dragon des Mers (RDC, 1996)
Bogus Pomp (in concert, 1996)
Project/Object (in concert, 1997)
Uuden Musiikin Orkesteri (in concert, 1997)
Le Concert Impromptu, Prophetic Attitude (L'Empreinte Digitale, 1997)
Fast & Bulbous, Memorial Barbecue (Play His Music Anyway, 1997)
Cor Mutsers and Patrick van Gerven, If Only We Could Sing (Strictly Country, circa 1998)
Hein Pijnenburg (in concert, 1998-1999)
Dry Pack Emmendingen, Landeswettbewerb Baden-Württemberg Jugend Jazzt 1999 (Chaos, 1999)
Sina Keuning Quintet, Grien (private release, 1999)
Deja Voo Doo (in concert, 2000)
Jiant (in concert, 2000)
Friends of Frank (in concert, circa 2000)
Canus (in concert, date unknown)
whatchamacallit (in concert, 2001)
Sandro Fresi, Frank You, Thank! Vol. 2 (Il Manifesto, 2003)
LeBocal, Oh No!...Just Another Frank Zappa Memorial Barbecue (Le Chant du Monde, 2003)
The Diesel Experiment (in concert, 2003)
Metropolis Orchestra, Uncle Beat (Dot, 2004)
Jazzmosis, Jazzmosis (label and date unknown)
Mario Mariani (in concert, 2005)
Glauco Venier (in concert, 2007)
MN e i Contenuti Speciali (in concert, 2008)
Muzquitos (in concert, 2008)
Wrong Object (in concert, 2008)
Low Budget Orchestra (in concert, 2008)
Mother People (in concert, 2009)
Pojama People (in concert, 2010)
Muze Jazz Orchestra (in concert, 2011)
Det Norske Blåseensemble (in concert, 2012)
Brokkenfabriek (in concert, 2012)
Big Band Factorium Tilburg (in concert, 2013)
Commercial Interruption (in concert, 2014)
Stefano Bollani, Sheik Yer Zappa (Decca, 2014)

Trumpet solo by Marquez, electric piano solo by Duke, guitar solo by FZ. A great tune for late-night listening. It has probably been performed live by many other bands, since it is reportedly included in The Real Book, a popular fake book.


1972 Big Band Projects
The Planet Of My Dreams