Omnibus Wind Ensemble – Music By Frank Zappa (1995/2014)
DSF Stereo DSD128/5.64MHz | Time – 01:05:23 minutes | 5.17 GB | Genre: Avant-Garde, Jazz, Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: dsdfile.com | © Opus 3 Records
Recorded: June 1994 – June 1995; Mastered at Sony Music Studios, London
The Omnibus Wind Ensemble’s interest in Frank Zappa’s music dates back to the beginning of the 1980s, almost from the very beginning. Under the motto “From Mozart to Zappa”, which also became the title of their first, widely acclaimed CD under the Opus 3 label, they have had many of Frank Zappa’s compositions on their repertoire over the years.
The music of Frank Zappa has always defied classification, and those who have not studied it closely perhaps do not realize how much jazz and classical music it contains. (Zappa composed a percussion piece when he was only 15!) Arguably, Frank Zappa is one of this century’s most interesting composers and perhaps the best kept musical secret in the USA.
The Omnibus CD “Music By Frank Zappa” is a grand tour of his music – from the beautiful “Peaches En Regalia”, the highly complex “Revised Music For A Low Budget Orchestra”, the outstandingly humorous “Brown Shoes Don’t Make It” to the jazz-bluesy introduction etc. of “Inca Roads”, with all the fireworks that follow it!
Also included are: How Could I Be Such A Fool, Let’s Make The Water Turn Black, The Black Page No 2, No 7, Igor’s Boogie, Be-Bop Tango, Alien Orifice, Dog Breath Variations, Uncle Meat and Sinister Footwear and 2nd Movement. The CD ends with a piece which was not written by Frank Zappa, namely Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero” here in a big-band-influenced special arrangement inspired by Zappa’s own version from 1988. Classical, Jazz or Rock!?
Receiving from Sweden this and a second Opus 3 multichannel sampler was quite a surprise. I knew that producer-engineer Jan-Eric Persson had been recording just about everything for his label using two-channel analog tape equipment and purist stereo miking techniques. Yet here were his first multichannel SACD releases – before those of many of the major labels who have been recording classical and jazz for years using six or eight-channel media! I also noticed that most of the selections on the sampler were already in my library in standard stereo versions – on both LP and CD. Both SACDs are really best-sellers from the label’s back catalog.
Here’s the rational for this quandary: Since its inception years ago Opus 3 has recorded all of their LPs and CDs with a single-point Blumlein-type mike setup. The combination of the figure-eight transducer that is part of this system (initially developed in the early 1930’s) and companion forward-facing omni mike together preserve the ambient information of the recording space much more accurately than spaced forward-facing mikes of any type. So the ambient information that resulted from the carefully-chosen venues’ natural acoustics (Opus 3 never uses studios) is right there in the two-channel recording, in the L – R or difference information. This was merely extracted and fed to the two surround channels. The result is necessarily 4.0 rather than 5.1 or 6.0, without use of either the center channel or LFE subwoofer channel. As with the quad-derived Tubular Bells disc above, it would be wise to feed either the full range signals or just the below-80-or-100Hz L and R front signal to your one or two subwoofers.
Let’s not omit the music part of the review along with those channels: In the Classical section this month you’ll find a review of another Zappa classical collection, from a Finnish ensemble of amplified mostly Baroque instruments. There have also been entries from another ensemble in Holland giving serious attention to the music of the late rock icon. It all goes to show there’s something about the sardonic, offbeat composer/performer that applies to a certain type of open-minded classical musician. And here’s some more: Omnibus is a classical serenade ensemble usually found tooting away on Mozart, Schubert and such. Transcribing the often electronically-enhanced Zappa sounds to their acoustic wind instruments required four different arrangers, but the result is charming and not at all bizarre – at least not adding another layer of bizarreness to what Zappa already intended. There is a string bass and some added percussion instruments in the dozen-player ensemble. Some of the same instrumental Zappa hits as on the other CD are found here: Alien Orifice, Igor’s Boogie. Peaches En Regalia is one of his quirkiest and it closes out the 14 wild tracks. An astonishing, thankfully shortened version of Ravel’s Bolero continues the sardonic mood of the collection. The hall surround information is very subtle, but careful comparison with the separate stereo mix on the disc shows that the added two channels give the frontal soundstage a dimension, depth and clarity previously lacking. –John Sunier, Audiophile Audition
Frank Zappa (1940-1993)
1 Inca Roads 7:58
2 How Could I Be Such A Fool 2:21
3 Revised Music For A Low Budget Orchestra 8:35
4 Let’s Make The Water Turn Black 1:44
5 The Black Page # 2 5:13
6 No. 7 2:14
7 Igor’s Boogie 1:11
8 Be-Bop Tango 3:40
9 Alien Orifice 5:15
10 Dog Breath Variations 2:16
11 Uncle Meat 2:58
12 Sinister Footwear, 2nd Movement 4:33
13 Brown Shoes Don’t Make It 6:52
14 Peaches En Regalia 3:18
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
15 Bolero 5:42
Omnibus Wind Ensemble
Sarah Lindloff – Flute, Cymbals, Glockenspiel, Marimbas, Baritone Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Xylophone, Vibes, Temple Bells, Piccolo Flute
Per Erik Adamsson – Flute, Castanets, Cymbals, Tambourine, Tom-Tom, Vibraslap, cowbell, Temple Blocks, Grand Cassa
Arranged By – Gunnar Persson (#4, 12), Lars-Erik Lidström (#3, 6, 8, 9, 13 to 15), Leif Halldén (#10, 11), Per-Erik Adamsson (#1, 2, 5, 7)