It's an old friend. I knew Ensemble Modern was performing arrangements of the music of Frank Zappa but it never occurred to me until I heard it that this included Zappa's classic Peaches En Regalia. I haven't heard the original in ages and if I remember correctly, it has more bite than this arrangement. But regardless, the recording captures the joy of the original and has the all-but-the-kitchen-sink instrumentation (wood blocks, harp, flute, etc.), reminiscent of an augmented jazz band. The melody is just so upbeat and the composition overall, albeit idiosyncratic, exudes warmth and verve. I could imagine this being played in a "Pops Concert for Hip People."
Erik Nelson describes the form used:
2 Theme A(theme A is repeated)
3 Theme B
4 Theme C
5 Transition to Theme D
6 Theme D
7 Transition back to Introduction and Theme A
9 Theme A '
Nelson also ties the piece to its era:
Peaches En Regalia was written during one of the most tumultuous times in American cultural history, the 1960's. The sixties were also called "The Age of Youth" because all the children born during the baby boom after World War II were now teenagers and young adults. The movement away from the conservative fifties continued and eventually resulted in revolutionary ways of thinking and real change in the cultural fabric of American life.
Michael Broyles includes Frank Zappa in his Mavericks and Other Traditions in American Music (now in paperback) and points out that, although a vernacular musician, the musician was influenced by Varèse, Stravinsky, and Webern, and used recording technology to overcome any lack of skill with traditional music notation.
My other pertinent Zappa memory is a live album, probably recorded in Berkeley, where he parodied via guitar other musicians, including jazz fusionist Al DiMeola, Conlon Nancarrow (!), and maybe Alvin Lee of the rock group Ten Years After. This was my first inkling of the music of Nancarrow. I found the quote of Zappa talking during the song:
FZ: Let's hear it for another great Italian, Conlon Nancarrow, ladies and gentlemen. Let's hear it for another great Italian, ladies and gentlemen, Warren Cuccurullo - work out, Warren. Let's hear it for another great Italian, Al DiMeola, ladies and gentlemen. Let's hear it for another great Italian, Alvin Lee, ladies and gentlemen . . . Vinnie, Butzis, Vinnie's girlfriend, Butzis' girlfriend, Patty, Denny, uh, Marty . . . forget your name, even though you've been in the crew for a while . . . David, Ike . . .
Ed: I'm flippin' out.
Ike: I'll flip you to see who gets the room tonight.
FZ: Ed, another Vinnie, Arthur, Al DiMeola, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks for coming to the show, hope you enjoyed it. On behalf of Alvin Lee, see you next time.
...but I am confused about which album this appears on. By the way, Ensemble Modern has of course also instrumented and recorded Nancarrow's music.
• Peaches En Regalia guitar tab.
• Amazon Real sample of the original and sample of the Ensemble Modern version.
• Phish has also covered the work. MP3.
• Singingfish search for Peaches MP3s.
• Poor Richard's Anorak points out a concert in
Tamba Tampa by the Bogus Pomp Orchestra of Zappa music.
• The Rest Is Noise describes the music of Wayne Siegel and relays that the composer likes Zappa and Captain Beefheart.
• Modwheel was the reminder to reaquaint myself with Frank Zappa. Cached link.
• Prior post mentioning Hot Rats and prior post about Ensemble Modern.