Fireworks recorded Frank Zappa's 'The Black Page No.2' on their debut album, "First Tracks".
Brian Coughlin ( Fireworks director)says:
Zappa is one of my most significant inspirations and models
for Fireworks and we love his music! Fireworks plays the B. P. #2 very often in
our concerts and it is one of our favorite encore pieces. We have also played
the Black Page #1 and the drum solo version, King Kong, and we have rehearsed
but never performed Peaches en Regalia and Brown Shoes Don't Make It. The
versions of King Kong and Brown shoes were my arrangements.
One of these days we want to put together a big project of Zappa's music.
The picture on the right is borrowed from the Fireworks website:
|fireworks: first tracks
(2001, cd, usa, fw012001) - incl.'the black page no.2' (frank zappa)
rite of spring
(2003, cd, usa, fw002)
from the december 2005 newsletter:
The 2006-07 Season already promises to be a very exciting one for us. The ensemble will begin touring more extensively, with concerts planned throughout the country, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Texas, Ohio, Maryland, and Kansas. On its home turf in New York City, the ensemble will initiate a new concert series at Symphony Space and present a portrait concert of the music of Frank Zappa at the Miller Theater. '06-'07 will also see the release of two new records, "Chimera," the music of Brian Coughlin, and "Dance Mix, Volume 2," featuring dance music from around the world.
|from the October 2006 newletter:
us as we kick off our new series at Symphony Space with a concert of
works written for and inspired by cartoons from the golden age of
animation. The program
spotlights the talents of master cartoon composers such as Raymond Scott
and Carl Stalling, and a collection of new pieces inspired by cartoons.
Fireworks will also perform live soundtracks to two classic
made the point in entertaining and musically vivid ways. Where else
could one have heard such richly varied and perfectly executed scores
where bits of classical, opera, jazz, folk and schmaltz combined with
such telling effects? The biggest laughs came at the end with Fireworks'
energetic and perfectly synchronized recreation of Milt Franklyn's
adaptation of Franz von Suppe's operatic airs for "Baton
Bunny" (1959), one of Bugs Bunny's bravura performances.
"Cartoon" was serious fun of the highest -- and funniest --
order. Bravo, Fireworks!"
Chuck Berg, Topeka Capital-Journal
ZAPPA COMPOSER PORTRAIT
"Fireworks is performing a portrait concert of Frank Zappa at the Miller Theater on February 2, 2007. Fireworks will join forces with some of their favorite musician friends to present a huge range of pieces from Zappa's output, including the very difficult and rarely-heard wind quintets and string quintets, a collection of chamber orchestra pieces, and of course, a set of Zappa's instrumental rock, just for Fireworks."
2007 02 02
illustration by Lou Beach
Here are the details of the performance (from DimeADozen, by punkjazz):
from the AFFZ newsgroup
Members of the Fireworks Ensemble playing works by Frank Zappa.
By ANNE MIDGETTE
Published: February 5, 2007
Frank Zappa was a kind of Rev. Howard Finster of music: an outsider artist eventually discovered and embraced by the establishment without ever losing his outsider cachet. A brilliant self-taught musician, Zappa needed to justify what he did as serious music at a time when rock was not seen as serious, and he produced a string of "classical" pieces that were taken up by European luminaries like Pierre Boulez and the Ensemble Modern.
The pieces are fiendishly difficult to execute, with lots of surface complexity to dazzle the ear, as was demonstrated at the composer portrait devoted to Zappa at the Miller Theater on Friday night, two weeks after another concert devoted to one of his idols, Edgard Varèse.
The program had three parts. First came music for smaller chamber ensembles,
played by Zephyros Winds and a string quintet, including music originally
written for the Aspen Wind Quintet ("Times Beach II" and "Times
Beach III") and the Kronos Quartet ("None of the Above").
Then came music for chamber orchestra, conducted by Jeffrey Milarsky, some of it, like "The Girl With the Magnesium Dress," arranged from pieces Zappa wrote on an instrument called the Synclavier. Finally there were arrangements of music for rock ensemble - including "G-Spot Tornado" - performed by the Fireworks Ensemble, the eight-member group that set up the whole concert.
Despite the program-note allegations that these pieces were equally just plain music, the sense that rock had to assume some kind of classical mantle to gain respect still lingered around the first two parts of the program, which felt like a dinner jacket pulled out of mothballs for a formal occasion, not least because the players seemed on their best, slightly subdued behavior. And while the music was filled with striking gestures - breathtakingly fast unison passages, moments when the supporting instruments held a note while a flute scampered off on a rapid phrase, plenty of adroit quotations echoing other composers - its complexities didn't weave together to make a coherent statement.
Epitomizing this tendency was "The Perfect Stranger," Zappa's longest work for chamber ensemble, an illustrative piece about a door-to-door vacuum-cleaner salesman (opening with the doorbell's ring) that disintegrated into a pile of isolated individual moments. Like an ornate frieze adorning a simple one-room house, the decoration was more sophisticated than the architecture.
But with the change of nomenclature and mood in the rock part of the show, a whole new feeling came into the auditorium, as if, formalities now concluded, everyone could kick off shoes and dance till dawn. Brian Coughlin, Fireworks' director and bass player, produced some hell-for-leather arrangements that the players, now relaxed and grooving, played the heck out of, down to show-stopping solos in "The Purple Lagoon/Approximate." Finally labels did indeed cease to matter: this was just music, and it sounded like music to keep.