Ed Palermo may have gained an international following with his ingenious orchestral arrangements of Frank Zappa tunes, but he’s hardly a one-trick pony. Earlier in the year, the saxophonist released an uproarious double album “The Great Un-American Songbook Volumes 1 & 2”, a project celebrating an expansive roster of songs by successive waves of British invaders, from the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Jeff Beck to King Crimson, Traffic, and Jethro Tull. With his new big band project, released on Cuneiform Records on October 6, 2017, Mr. Palermo is back on his home turf, but the landscape feels strange and uncanny. He is reclaiming the Zappa songbook, filtering Frank through the emotionally charged lens of the polymathic musical wizard Todd Rundgren in a wild and wooly transmogrification, “The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren”. Working once aGain with the same stellar cast of players, Mr. Palermo somehow captures the essence of these iconoclastic masters, making Zappa Zappier and Todd more Rundgrenian.
I had the pleasure of getting toGether with Ed to talk about the new release, how the two great tastes of Frank Zappa and Todd Rundgren were explored and puzzle-pieced with one another. We spoke in detail about Ed’s process for selection sounds to meld and how the feeling and flow of two songs, can make for a fantastic avenue when worked over just right. It was such a short time between the Ed Palermo Big Band’s last two releases and in our chat, we find out how these two albums (I barely finished sharing one before the next was in my ear room) were able to be let loose on the universe in such a quick way. This labor of love that Ed creates has always been such a special listen and feeling provider for me, but we learn how much hobby versus job this is for Ed…including a little love for the Cuneiform Records family. It isn’t easy for people with the same name (Zappa) to use this name while creating their own family namesake’s art, and it was not easy for Ed either. Find out a little more about his dealing with Gail Zappa on the usage of the family name with his creation. This conversation, is a journey I hope you’ll spend time digesting…… It, like Ed’s music…..is delicious.