"Jazz is not dead," Frank Zappa once said. "It just smells funny." Unfortunately for Zappa, as well as his many fans around the world, the eccentric and iconoclastic composer and musician is emphatically and irrevocably dead, having succumbed to cancer in 1993.
But his music lives on. Zappa left dozens of albums and hundreds of songs behind, some of which now sound dated and others that are more relevant than ever. (Someone should release a single of the Freak Out! track "Who Are the Brain Police?" with a photo of John Ashcroft on the cover, for example.) There are still-active musicians such as Mike Keneally, Warren Cuccurullo, Terry Bozzio and Steve Vai whose careers flourished thanks to their association with Zappa.
His body of work is there for examination and performance, too. For nearly a decade, Project/Object has been keeping Zappa's music where it belongs -- in front of live audiences. Not a tribute band per se -- mercifully, no one attempts to impersonate Frank or his forbidding facial hair -- Project/Object is concerned only with faithfully reproducing his music. Call them the Mothers of Reinvention. Adding more than a touch of authenticity to their performance, the group is joined onstage by longtime Zappa alums Ike Willis (guitar/vocals) and Napoleon Murphy Brock (sax/flute/vocals). For dedicated Frankophiles who never got to see the real thing, this is as close as you're gonna get.