“Frank Zappa Presents Edgard Varèse” — a poem by Martin Agee

November 14th, 2022

.

.

Heinrich Klaffs, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

 Heinrich Klaffs/CC-BY-SA

Frank Zappa; December, 1971

.

___

.

 

 

.
Frank Zappa Presents Edgard Varèse

Inspired by Alan Dugan’s “On Flowers. On Negative Evolution.”
Based on actual events

In the winter of 1981 we were hired to play Downtown—
a performance in Greenwich Village billed “Frank Zappa Presents:
a Musical Tribute to Edgard Varèse.” I sat on stage,
wearing black, tuning my violin, warming up,
looking out at the audience milling around, most of them
covered in tattoos and piercings of every body part
waiting for Frank to take the stage while the smell of weed
wafted through the hall from somewhere in the back. Frank
was nowhere to be seen, but we started playing Offrandes:
avant-garde music for Soprano and Chamber Orchestra
that Varèse wrote in 1921. Some think it sounds less like music
and more like noise, and our audience wasn’t having it.

They were there to see Frank on stage belting out
Who are the Brain Police or some other Mothers
of Invention tune and what was this classical bullshit
we were playing? Three minutes in, the smell of pot
getting thicker, they started—boos, catcalls, heckling,
bellowing: Frank! we want Frank!
Well, out walks Frank in a black tuxedo and the crowd goes nuts.
He cuts us off right in the middle of it and turns to them,
yelling back: You’re all a bunch of fucking assholes!

No Varèse, no jazz; no jazz, no Elvis; no Elvis, no Dylan;
no Dylan, no Beatles: none of us would be shit without them.
No Beatles, no Frank Zappa; no Zappa, no Mothers of Invention:
you fuckers wouldn’t have nothin’ to listen to but church hymns—
sit your loser asses down and listen to some real fucking music
with the same reverence you’d pay your own mother
for the day she labored to give birth to your sorry ass!

.

.

___

.

.

Martin  Agee’s career as a professional violinist has brought him to the major concert venues, recording studios, and theatres of New York City for over thirty-five years. During his years as a professional musician, he has remained active as a writer of poetry, fiction and critical essays. His works have appeared in  Belle Ombre,  Idle Ink  and  Allegro, among others.

.

.

Listen to the 1981 recording of Edgard Varèse’s 1921 composition of Offrandes, which Frank Zappa introduces.  The piece was written for soprano voice and chamber orchestra, which is performed here by Maureen McNalley and the Orchestra of Our Time.

 

 

.

.

___

.

.

Click here to learn how to submit your poetry

Click here to subscribe to the Jerry Jazz Musician quarterly newsletter

Click here to help support the work of Jerry Jazz Musician

.

.

.

 

Share this:

One comments on ““Frank Zappa Presents Edgard Varèse” — a poem by Martin Agee”

  1. I attended this gig. FZ didn’t wear a tux,just a suit.Mrs Varese was also in attendance.it was a great show.

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In This Issue

"Nina" by Marsha Hammel
A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Winter, 2024 Edition...One-third of the Winter, 2024 collection of jazz poetry is made up of poets who have only come to my attention since the publication of the Summer, 2023 collection. What this says about jazz music and jazz poetry – and this community – is that the connection between the two art forms is inspirational and enduring, and that poets are finding a place for their voice within the pages of this website. (Featuring the art of Marsha Hammel)

The Sunday Poem

photo by Mel Levine/pinelife, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
“Lady Day and Prez” by Henry Wolstat

Click here to read previous editions of The Sunday Poem

Poetry

Proceeding From Behind: A collection of poems grounded in the rhythmic, relating to the remarkable, by Terrance Underwood...A relaxed, familiar comfort emerges from the poet Terrance Underwood’s language of intellectual acuity, wit, and space – a feeling similar to one gets while listening to Monk, or Jamal, or Miles. I have long wanted to share his gifts as a poet on an expanded platform, and this 33-poem collection – woven among his audio readings, music he considers significant to his story, and brief personal comments – fulfills my desire to do so.

Publisher’s Notes

photo by Rhonda Dorsett
A very brief three-dot update…Where I’ve been, and an update on what is coming up on Jerry Jazz Musician

Poetry

Photographer uncredited, but the photo was almost certainly taken by Chuck Stewart. Published by ABC/Impulse! Records.. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
“And I’m Not Even Here” – a poem by Connie Johnson

Click here to read more poetry published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Essay

"Lester Leaps In" by Tad Richards
"Jazz and American Poetry," an essay by Tad Richards...In an essay that first appeared in the Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poetry in 2005, Tad Richards - a prolific visual artist, poet, novelist, and nonfiction writer who has been active for over four decades – writes about the history of the connection of jazz and American poetry.

Interview

photo of Pepper Adams/courtesy of Pepper Adams Estate
Interview with Gary Carner, author of Pepper Adams: Saxophone Trailblazer...The author speaks with Bob Hecht about his book and his decades-long dedication to the genius of Pepper Adams, the stellar baritone saxophonist whose hard-swinging bebop style inspired many of the top-tier modern baritone players.

Click here to read more interviews published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Poetry

Three poets and Sketches of Spain

Interview

IISG, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Interview with Judith Tick, author of Becoming Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song...The author discusses her book, a rich, emotionally stirring, exceptional work that explores every element of Ella’s legacy in great depth, reminding readers that she was not only a great singing artist, but also a musical visionary and social activist.

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole is an occasional series of the writer’s poetic interpretations of jazz recordings and film. This edition is influenced by Stillpoint, the 2021 album by Zen practitioner Barrett Martin

Review

Jason Innocent, on “3”, Abdullah Ibrahim’s latest album... Album reviews are rarely published on Jerry Jazz Musician, but Jason Innocent’s experience with the pianist Abdullah Ibrahim’s new recording captures the essence of this artist’s creative brilliance.

Short Fiction

Christerajet, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #64 — “The Old Casino” by J.B. Marlow...The author's award-winning story takes place over the course of a young man's life, looking at all the women he's loved and how the presence of a derelict building informs those relationships.

Click here to read more short fiction published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Book Excerpt

Book excerpt from Jazz with a Beat: Small Group Swing 1940 – 1960, by Tad Richards

Click here to read more book excerpts published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Poetry

"Jazz Trio" by Samuel Dixon
A collection of jazz haiku, Vol. 2...The 19 poets included in this collection effectively share their reverence for jazz music and its culture with passion and brevity.

Jazz History Quiz #170

photo of Dexter Gordon by Brian McMillen
This bassist played with (among others) Charlie Parker, Erroll Garner, Nat King Cole and Dexter Gordon (pictured), was one of the earliest modern jazz tuba soloists, and was the only player to turn down offers to join both Duke Ellington’s Orchestra and the Louis Armstrong All-Stars. Who is he?

Community

photo via Picryl.com
.“Community Bookshelf, #2"...a twice-yearly space where writers who have been published on Jerry Jazz Musician can share news about their recently authored books. This edition includes information about books published within the last six months or so…

Contributing Writers

Click the image to view the writers, poets and artists whose work has been published on Jerry Jazz Musician, and find links to their work

Coming Soon

An interview with Tad Richards, author of Jazz With a Beat: Small Group Swing, 1940 - 1960;  an interview with Laura Flam and Emily Sieu Liebowitz, authors of But Will You Love Me Tomorrow? An Oral History of the 60's Girl Groups;  a new collection of jazz poetry; a collection of jazz haiku; a new Jazz History Quiz; short fiction; poetry; photography; interviews; playlists; and lots more in the works...

Interview Archive

Eubie Blake
Click to view the complete 22 year archive of Jerry Jazz Musician interviews, including those recently published with Richard Carlin and Ken Bloom on Eubie Blake (pictured); Richard Brent Turner on jazz and Islam; Alyn Shipton on the art of jazz; Shawn Levy on the original queens of standup comedy; Travis Atria on the expatriate trumpeter Arthur Briggs; Kitt Shapiro on her life with her mother, Eartha Kitt; Will Friedwald on Nat King Cole; Wayne Enstice on the drummer Dottie Dodgion; the drummer Joe La Barbera on Bill Evans; Philip Clark on Dave Brubeck; Nicholas Buccola on James Baldwin and William F. Buckley; Ricky Riccardi on Louis Armstrong; Dan Morgenstern and Christian Sands on Erroll Garner; Maria Golia on Ornette Coleman.

Site Archive