Palermo, Ed - One Child Left Behind
"Oh Yes!" – Culture Jazz
Over the past two decades Ed Palermo has earned an avid international following with his brilliantly executed, reverently irreverent arrangements of Frank Zappa’s tempestuous and wildly inventive music. On previous albums the New Jersey saxophonist, composer and arranger infused the world of Zappalogy with his own brand of incisive wit and bracing improvisation. He doesn’t neglect Zappa on his fourth Cuneiform dispatch One Child Left Behind, but instead of offering another full Frank immersion he turns his big band loose like it’s playing one of its regular gigs. Exploring an expansive array of moods and material, the band delivers an audaciously entertaining program that’s full of surprises.
Featuring the same formidable cast of players as on his last release, Oh No! Not Jazz!!, the 18-piece band interprets a fatalistic film theme and a gorgeous Neil Young ballad. They demolish an existential Leiber and Stoller hit and rhapsodize with an intoxicating Los Lobos classic. Palermo also throws in some beautifully crafted originals, and of course offers a generous helping of Zappa too. As he’s quick to acknowledge, One Child “is more of a mixed bag, where my past albums were more thematic. I’ve been wanting to mix it up like we do at our live shows. These pieces are all road tested, and it felt like a good time to document them.”
Longtime fans of the Palermo band can rest assured that Zappa is well represented on One Child, which features veteran Zappa vocalist Napoleon Murphy Brock on three compositions by Zappa. Speaking of authentic Zappalogy, Frank’s younger sister, Candy Zappa, provides vocals on two tracks.
At this point, the Ed Palermo Big Band has honed some 300 Zappa arrangements, while steadily expanding the band’s book with other composer's work and his originals, all featuring the kind of impressive arrangements and ensemble work that make One Child such a revelation. Nothing demonstrates the ensemble’s ongoing vitality better than the stellar cast of players; many of these top-shelf musicians have been in the band for more than a decade, and they handle the diverse array of material with aplomb. One Child Left Behind doesn’t leave Zappa behind, but it makes a compelling case that the Palermo bandwagon can comfortably accommodate a wild and wooly menagerie.