Band members Related acts
- Paul Zaza -- keyboards, bass
- Contact (Paul Zaza)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Company: Baby Grand
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 5835
1977's "Zaza" was a release by Canadian composer Paul Zaza. I'm sure Mr. Zaza wouldn't object to my recapping his biography:
This versatile Canadian composer began his career as a classically trained pianist, completing a degree at the esteemed Toronto Conservatory of Music. He has also always had a deep love of rock music, playing bass with the hit musical Hair and touring with the Fifth Dimension in the 1970s. After establishing himself in the world of film and television scoring, Zaza has now over 175 feature films, television series and specials to date to his credit, including Porky's, Meatballs III, A Christmas Story, Prom Night, Derby, Baby Geniuses, Murder By Decree, The Fourth Angel and Grizzly Falls. Zaza is the recipient of many Film and Television Awards including Canada's prestigious Genie Award as well as fourteen SOCAN awards.
So before making in big time in the film business Zaza somehow got involved with the small Los Angeles-based Baby Grand label, releasing this Carl Zittrer produced album to what was instantly obscurity. Part of the problem was Baby Grand was apparently a tax scam label so there was never an intent for Baby Grand albums to be sold in an large quantities. The emphasis was clearly on Zaza's lead guitar and judging by these numbers, the man was quite a talent. Featuring six instrumental numbers, the set found Zaza exploring a number of genres. If I had to slap a label on this material, exemplified by tracks like 'Midway Rock' and 'Ridin' High' I guess jazz-rock fusion would be a good tag. This set certainly won't appeal to mainstream rock fans, but anyone into strong lead guitar and jazz-rock moves will likely find it of interest.
Baby Grand had a habit of doing this, but "Zaza" was an example where they released the album with two different covers - exact same album other than the cover art.
1.) Jump, Hop 'n' Rock (instrumental) (Paul Zaza) - 2:45 rating: *** stars
Jump, Hop 'n' Rock' started the album off with an interesting, mildly rockabilly instrumental. Driven by a tasty electric guitar (telecaster?), it actually sounded like something the late Danny Gatton might have recorded. As a big Gatton fan that was intended as a complement.
2.) Gravy Boat Man (instrumental) (Paul Zaza - P. Farnon) - 5:06 rating: **** stars
Another guitar powered instrumental, 'Gravy Boat Man' started out with a nice Stax-flavored groove, before morphing into a more rock oriented number with some killer twin lead guitar moves that any Allman Brothers fan would enjoy. One of the album highlights.
3.) Blues for a Sunday (instrumental) (Paul Zaza) - 7:00 rating: ** stars
Yeah, a great case of truth in advertising, most of 'Blues for a Sunday' was a standard electric blues number. The performance was certainly professional, but to my ears it wasn't anything particularly impressive; imagine a standard cut on a Roy Buchanan album and you'd know what to expect. That said, towards the end of the seven minute track things got a little more experimental with some unexpected jazzy touches. Nice poppin' bass and slide guitar in the final section which was abruptly faded.
Midway Rock' opened side two with the album's most conventional and commercial outing. Great melody and some excellent slightly jazz-tinged lead guitar. Another album highlight.
2.) Punky Pepper (instrumental) (Paul Zaza - P. Farnon) - 6:00 rating: *** stars
With punchy horns and lots of percussion, 'Punky Pepper' added a bit of Latin flavor to the mix. Not quite disco-ish, but close and I have to admit to being surprised by how likeable it was. Again, the song sported some first rate lead guitar.
3.) Ridin' High (instrumental) (Paul Zaza - P. Farnon) - 8:10 rating: *** stars
Another guitar showcase, 'Ridin' High' bounced all over the musical spectrum including some fantastic rock and jazz moves scattered across the eight minutes.
Zaza was actually kind enough to send me a brief email on the LP:
this was one of many albums I wrote/produced for that label. The label was
based out of Los Angeles in the 70's and seemed to specialize in fusion/jazz
style genres. However, one of their downfalls was that they weren't strong
in the advertising/promotion department. Consequently, most, if not all, of
their product sat on the shelves unknown to the jazz fans of the era.
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