Zappa Plays Zappa In-depth Biography
After taking more than three years off to study the physical performance and technical compositional techniques of his father, Frank Zappa, Dweezil Zappa began his search to create a combo that could, according to Dweezil, "accurately execute Frank's music in the most authentic way humanly possible." Rather than creating what he called a "circus" of Frank's former bandmates, Dweezil's focus was on providing an avenue for the elder Zappa's music to new generations of listeners. To that end, he personally selected members of the Zappa Plays Zappa septet after an arduous set of auditions. The process typically involved them having to transcribe assorted Zappa pieces and then play their specific parts while accompanied only by Joe Travers (drums) -- the latter having previously worked with Dweezil in his and brother Ahmet Zappa's Z. Travers is also the Zappa Family Trust archivist, which likewise meant he would be intimately familiar with the various distinct eras of Frank's music.
After the dust had cleared, Dweezil chose Aaron Arntz (keyboards, trumpet, vocals), Sheila Gonzalez (saxophone, flute, keyboards, vocals), Pete Griffin (bass), Billy Hulting (marimba, mallets, percussion), Jamie Kime (guitar), and Travers to accompany him on guitar and vocals. In addition to Dweezil's unwitting role as Frank's progeny, another tether to the man and his music is the revolving-door "guest spot" incorporated into each Zappa Plays Zappa outing. During their inaugural excursions in 2006 that role was filled by three distinct talents: Napoleon Murphy Brock (flute, saxophone, vocals), Steve Vai (guitar), and Terry Bozzio (percussion, vocals). This incarnation was captured for posterity in high-definition video and Surround Sound during their December 21, 2006, gig in Portland, OR, at the Roseland Theater and the following night in Seattle, WA, at the Paramount Theater, highlights of which can be seen on the double-DVD Zappa Plays Zappa package. In 2007 and 2008 Ray White (guitar, vocals), previously an on-stage member of Frank Zappa's touring ensembles, joined the group. ~ Lindsay Planer, Rovi