Inheriting the legacy of his father’s music has been an overwhelming task for Dweezil Zappa. He shows rare emotion to the connection re-established over the past few years as his Zappa Plays Zappa collective has toured the world, and now receives the royal treatment via a lavish double DVD set.
Hardcore Frank Zappa enthusiasts will miss the leader of The Mothers of Invention. But, they have 28 of his best compositions to reflect upon with Zappa Plays Zappa, and the expert instrumentation of Dweezil and drummer Joe Travers brings a faithful set of anchors to the proceedings. Bassist Pete Griffin, guitarist Jamie Kime, keyboardist Aaron Arntz and Scheila Gonzalez on saxophone, flute and vocals stand out as well.
Zappa Plays Zappa whips through "Cosmik Debris," "Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow," and "St. Alphonso’s Pancake Breakfast" with equal parts respect and iron-willed dedication, bringing a newfound understanding to the late master’s work. And former Zappa band members Napoleon Murphy Brock, guitar whiz Steve Vai, and drummer Terry Bozzio show up to add spice and verve to nuggets "Peaches En Regalia" and "Montana."
Directors Pierre and Francois Lamourex even place a roving cam on the neck of Dweezil’s guitar, enhancing the dizzying difficulty in Zappa’s whirlwind rhythm structures. Yet, they also film the concerts with tight framing, allowing the viewer to feel connected as a part of the entire experience, laughing and dancing with audience members temporarily caught in the spotlight.
Zappa’s music still has not aged, and the Zappa Plays Zappa DVD leads one to believe it never will.
Zappa Plays Zappa is out now on Razor & Tie.