The Petit Wazoo Tour
The Petit Wazoo was the nickname of Frank Zappa's band that toured in October, November, and December of 1972. It was not their official name; publicity for the tour billed the concerts as being performed by "Frank Zappa" and/or "The Mothers Of Invention". FZ did not refer to the band as the Petit Wazoo on any of the concert tapes I have heard. However, he did use the name in a 1989 interview.
For many years, no Petit Wazoo recordings were officially released.
Thirty-three years later, the Zappa Family Trust released a Petit Wazoo CD, entitled Imaginary Diseases! And there's also one Petit Wazoo track on One Shot Deal.
Petit, as in petit larceny or petit fours, is from the masculine form of the French adjective meaning "small". It rhymes with "Twisted Sister". Petite is from the feminine form of the French adjective. It rhymes with "nothing to eat".
The earliest known use of the name Petit Wazoo is by Craig Eldon Pinkus in a review of Over-nite Sensation in his zine Mother's Home Journal #7 (October 1973), p. 7:
Anyway, the Grand Wazoo, Petit Wazoo (my name), and current Mothers have meant a lot of music with no vocalist per se except Frank.
(Obviously, this was written before the fall 1973 tour with Napoleon Murphy Brock; "current Mothers" refers to the line-up that toured February-September 1973.) Pinkus is a lawyer, so it would be natural for him to coin the name Petit Wazoo on the model of grand/petit larceny.
Pinkus accompanied The Mothers on tour for two weeks in February-March 1973, as detailed in Mother's Home Journal #6. FZ apparently picked up the name from him and used it occasionally.
Petit Wazoo Personnel
After the brief tour of the twenty-piece Grand Wazoo, FZ whittled the band down to half its former size. He kept the core of the rhythm section: drummer Jim Gordon, bassist Dave Parlato, and slide guitarist Tony Duran, but not keyboard player Ian Underwood, cellist Jerry Kessler, or percussionists Ruth Underwood and Tom Raney. He kept half of the wind players, primarily the brass rather than the woodwinds, which had been difficult to keep in tune. In were trumpeter Malcolm McNab, trombonists Bruce Fowler and Glenn Ferris, multi-instrumentalist Tom Malone, and oboist Earle Dumler. Out were trombonist Ken Shroyer, saxophone player Charles Owen, multi-reed players Mike Altschul, Jay Migliori, and Ray Reed, and bassoonist Joanne Caldwell McNab. Trumpeter Sal Marquez was replaced by Gary Barone. (Since Marquez was back in 1973, I assume that his absence from the Petit Wazoo line-up was due to previous commitments.)
The Petit Wazoo line-up was thus:
Earle Dumler--oboe, etc.
Tom Malone--tuba, etc.
Tony Duran--slide guitar
FZ--lead guitar, vocals
None of these musicians had played with FZ before 1972, and only three (Dumler, McNab, and Duran) had played on either of the 1972 studio albums. Only two of them (Malone and Fowler) played for FZ after 1972.
A noteworthy fact about this band is that there were ten soloists. (I think. FZ usually did not announce soloists, so I can't be positive that both trumpeters and both trombonists played solos.) Zappa regularly soloed on "Cosmik Debris", "Duke Of Prunes", "Imaginary Diseases", and "Montana". Malone, Fowler, and Gordon regularly took solos on "Farther Oblivion". Parlato and Gordon regularly duetted on "Little Dots". Dumler regularly soloed on "Duke Of Prunes" and "Rollo", and Duran regularly soloed on "Rollo". "America Drinks", "Chunga's Revenge", and various one-time-only performances featured a variety of horn solos.
But the Petit Wazoo wasn't just about solos. There was also fine ensemble work from the six-piece horn section--larger than on any subsequent FZ tour. The rhythm section was also impeccable. And finally, for those American audiences with little patience for instrumental music, FZ sang on four songs.
Official Release #109
Catalog Number: ZR 20026
Original Recordings And Mixes Produced By Frank Zappa
Produced For Release By Ahmet Zappa & Joe Travers
Frank Zappa - Conductor, Guitar, Vocals
Malcolm McNab - Trumpet
Gary Barone - Trumpet
Tom Malone - Tuba/Saxes/Piccolo Trumpet/Trumpet
Earl Dumler - Woodwinds
Glenn Ferris - Trombone
Bruce Fowler - Trombone
Tony Duran - Slide Guitar
Dave Parlato - Bass
Jim Gordon - Drums, Steel Drum
Maury Baker - Drums, Steel Drum (Columbia, SC)
1972 4-Track ½-inch analog tape show masters recorded by Barry Keene
Mix Engineers: FZ, Michael Braunstein, Kerry McNabb
Mastering: Gavin Lurssen & Reuben Cohen at Lurssen Mastering, 2016
Audio Transfers and Compilation by Joe Travers, UMRK 2016
Liner Notes by Malcolm McNab and Maury Baker
Photos by Bernard Gardner
Package Design by Michael Mesker
Production Management by Melanie Starks
Special Thanks: Ahmet, Diva, Holland Greco, Charles Ulrich