Search - Frank Zappa :: Waka Jawaka

Waka Jawaka
Frank Zappa
Waka Jawaka
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
  •  Track Listings (4) - Disc #1

Japanese exclusive reissue of 1972 album, packaged in a miniature LP sleeve.


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CD Details

All Artists: Frank Zappa
Title: Waka Jawaka
Members Wishing: 13
Total Copies: 0
Label: Zappa Records
Release Date: 5/2/1995
Album Type: Original recording remastered
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
Styles: Jazz Fusion, Swing Jazz, Progressive, Progressive Rock, Album-Oriented Rock (AOR)
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 014431051623


Album Description
Japanese exclusive reissue of 1972 album, packaged in a miniature LP sleeve.

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CD Reviews

A blast of fusion that is quintessential Zappa
Richard Harrold | Chicago, IL | 08/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Within Zappa's catalog, this recording doesn't seem to get the respect it should. Often overshadowed by "The Grand Wazoo," the earlier "Waka/Jawaka" is relegated to a sort of second place within Zappa's fusion jazz experiments. Although on this site, users have overwhelmingly awarded this recording with five stars, other sites and bloggers give it three. But "Waka/Jawaka" is no less brilliant than "The Grand Wazoo."

You have the theme introduced quickly with "Big Swifty," and then the composition proceeds with the many variations on that theme, including the usual instrument solos common with jazz performances. The song bursts upon your ears and swiftly glides from one syncopated rhythm to another, returning an almost cosmic jazz sound with George Duke's first solo on the electric piano. Soon enters Sal Marquez on muted trumpet and the sound is complete, very reminiscent of Miles Davis in "Bitches Brew."

It's like Sal Marquez playing Miles Davis, but Marquez is doing more than recalling Davis' style. Rather, it sounds more like Sal Marquez playing Miles Davis who is playing Sal Marquez playing Zappa's "Big Swifty." And that is neat.

Zappa's guitar, which up till the end of Marquez's solo acted as a punctuation to the music, comes forward in quintessential Zappa style. It carries a bit of a Spanish flair to it as well that blends well with the overall feel of the piece.

And then the piece repeats the theme, which usually occurs at the end of compositions like this. But Zappa doesn't "end" the piece as neatly as that; hence the brain becomes engaged and begins to ask, "What is all this?" And what it is is Tony Duran's slide guitar solo. It is brilliant, because just as the listener's ear, conditioned by years and years of jazz compositions, and even classical compositions, is about to say "ahh, that was nice," the piece picks up and drolls on to a conclusion that is not only interesting, but suitable as well.

When the theme is reintroduced just after the 13-minute mark of this 17:22 song, there is a real sense of return and set up for the finale.

And then comes "Your Mouth." What is this? Not only is this tonally very different from the expansive "Big Swifty," it has lyrics! Someone is singing! From fusion, Zappa easily slips into a 12-bar blues piece that has just a hint of New Orleans gospel to my ear. We go Western with "It Just Might Be a One Shot Deal," complete with slide guitar and a short burst of music that recalls the themes from many a 1950's cowboy television show. And all the while the slide guitar is dreamily carrying on the tune toward the end, I can see graceful couples dancing to country swing.

The title track launches into an expansive intro with the theme laid out and reminiscent of, perhaps, a 1950s era Western movie, or maybe even a detective show from television, like "Hawaii Five-O." It just has this kitschy feel to it. Preston on the Mini-Moog seems to be dropping hints that are more strongly revealed in "The Grand Wazoo." Namely, hints at the future direction of Zappa's music. It's almost a prototype of "One Size Fits All."

Zappa's guitar solo at the end goes through some outrageous rhythm changes, but Ansley Dunbar's drumming effectively keeps pace, adjusting as needed, and when the horn section blasts in, Dunbar keeps the rhythm on track, then finishes with a respectful solo of his own. The theme returns with a thunderous "da-toom, da-toom, da-do-do-do- do-toom." The addition of flute at this point really a nice point, as well as the staccato piccolo accompanying the same staccato from the horns. The song fades to completion, recalling an image of a cowboy, perhaps, riding off into the desert, or if we go with the detective show theme, a helicopter shot looking down but fading back from the busy streets of L.A. I like the cowboy movie theme better myself.
Zappa shines again
B. E Jackson | Pennsylvania | 11/08/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Some VERY good jams are featured on this Frank Zappa masterpiece. So much creativity was involved in making these jams, and such special attention to make sure the listener is satisfied the entire way, that I'm completely at a loss for words when I hear the 20 minute "Big Swifty" jam. MAN is that some good stuff!

Let's talk more about "Big Swifty", since it takes up half the album. The first minute or so is some typical heavy fast-paced jazzy goofiness, which is what we've come to expect from Zappa. Then we get serious in a hurry, and these AWESOME keyboard swirls come in and this is probably my favorite part of the entire instrumental jam. Jazzy, melodic, and wonderful.

Around the six minute mark some of Zappa's very best guitar playing can be heard. These are NO ordinary guitar solos- they are played in such a way that demands the listener pay close attention to the different melodic ideas that constantly shift around. This is the kind of music that's so good it's IMPOSSIBLE to explain in words.

10 minutes in, everything changes again, and now we're treated to some Allman Brothers-like guitar jamming and it's really freakin' awesome. This is some of the most challenging stuff I've ever heard Zappa do (yes, even more challenging than the "Gumbo Variations").

I can't remember much about the last five minutes or so- the music is so challenging that I haven't been able to focus on the final few minutes at the moment, even after hearing the song 20 times so far!

Waka/Jawaka is just a highly experimental album with jazzy influences and I totally agree with the people who believe it's Hot Rats Part II. It feels so much like a continuation from that classic album. Frank Zappa is a musical genius, and here's your proof. The only complaint is that it's a pretty short album overall. Still, it's worth the price. In fact, it's worth a lot, because it's an album I believe I will be playing 20 years from now."