Rock News: Music's high and low notes

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International  |  Feb. 10, 2003 at 3:00 AM
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Project/Object, the Mother of Frank Zappa Reinvention, is returning to the road with 22 years of authentic Zappa history on board. After two extraordinary national tours in 2002 with the maestro's two most beloved vocalists, Ike Willis and Napoleon Murphy Brock, Project/Object has expanded its entourage to include synth and keyboard genius Don Preston for the winter-spring 2003 tour. This is the first time the band has included three key Zappa band

alumni in its crusade to keep alive the music of one of the 20th century's most important and influential composers.

With the 10th anniversary of Zappa's death arriving at year's end, the tour takes on added significance as the crown jewel of the band's ongoing mission to perpetuate his music. The tour will see the band performing some of the classic 1960s "Mothers of Invention" material and revisiting the legendary electronic improvisational style that Preston brought to the Mothers from 1966 to 1974. The band also will be recreating the unique fun, excitement and political humor of the Frank Zappa concert experience. The tour kicks off March 6 in Northampton, Mass, and includes two-nighters in Chicago and Pittsburgh, ending April 5 at B.B. King's in New York.

"Ike and Napoleon are just sounding better and better together," said Project/Object ringleader Andre Cholmondeley. "And Don is basically one of the pillars of electronic music and modern composition. The guy has done so much in so many areas, we are especially honored and excited to add him to our nutty band. Every night is going to be unique."


SPV records is mounting an extensive reissue band for the Canadian progressive rock band Saga, a Canadian institution that has sold more than 8 million copies of its records worldwide. The classic lineup of lead vocalist/keyboardist Michael Sadler, guitarist/background vocalist Ian Crichton, bass guitarist/keyboardist Jim Crichton, lead keyboardist/vocalist Jim Gilmour and drummer/percussionist Steve Negu is a superstar act in Canada and Europe -- particularly Germany -- and is best known in the United States for hits "On the Loose" and "Wind Him Up" from the 1982 album "Worlds Apart." The "On the Loose" video was an MTV cornerstone during the channel's formative years. SPV Records plans to reissue all the CDs in the Toronto band's catalog with remastered sound, bonus tracks, original artwork, new artwork, liner notes and new photos.

Titles include "Behavior," "Detours," "Heads or Tales," "House of Cards," "Images at Twilight," "In Transit," "Pleasure and The Pain," "Saga," "Security of Illusion," "SilentKnight," "Soft Works," "Steel Umbrellas" and "Worlds Apart." The next reissues, set for release May 20, are "Full Circle," "Generation 13," "The Beginners Guide to Throwing Shapes" and "Phase I." They follow the release of the new studio album "Marathon" April 8.


Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has scheduled a Feb. 25 release date for "Classic Blues from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings," the latest installment in the label's highly successful series of "Classic" collections. As "Classic

Mountain Songs" and "Classic Bluegrass" did for their respective genres, "Classic Blues from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings" delivers a compelling collection of rare recordings by the some of the blues' most important early

performers while illustrating the role Moses Asch and his Folkways label played in preserving this vital piece of American history. The set includes essential material from Son House, Lead Belly, Memphis Slim, Willie Dixon, the Rev. Gary Davis and Etta Baker among others.


Tiger Mountain, one of the best new bands in New York City's thriving underground scene, is playing a one-month residency at the lower East Side club Arlene Grocery during February. The band, named after the classic Eno album "Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy," is promoting its recently released debut CD "Analog Heads Gone French." The group, which consists of singers/guitarists Tyler Lenane and Mike Jackson, both formerly of Girltoucher, ex-Murphy's Law bassist Dean Rispler and ex-Nada Surf drummer Aaron Conte, will perform every Wednesday during February; showtime is 9 p.m. Feb. 12 and 19, and 10 p.m. Feb. 26. Arlene Grocery is located at 95 Stanton St. -- -- or for more information on Tiger Mountain log on to


Stella Chiweshe, the undisputed queen of mbira ("thumb piano"), is on a solo tour this month that includes a showcase at Joe's Pub in New York Monday. Singing songs of personal and spiritual liberation, in her hauntingly delicate voice, Chiweshe traverses the valleys of mourning, loss, despair and finally redemption. Playing the millennium-old mbira, Zimbabwe's indigenous instrument used to summon spirits and spiritual guardians, Chiweshe's masterful technique, regal stage presence and deep spiritual intimacy provides her audience with a transformative experience. In addition to the New York gig, Chiweshe's tour includes stops at the Folk Alliance Festival in Nashville, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, and six New Mexico dates before wrapping up Feb. 21 in Cambridge, Mass., at the First Church in Cambridge Congregational.

The Mbira has between 22 and 28 metal keys mounted on a wooden soundboard that has been used by the Shona people of Zimbabwe for more than 1,000 years to call upon their ancestors and spiritual guardians for advice, blessings and protection. Chiweshe's eighth album, "Talking Mbira-Spirits of Liberation," demonstrates her versatility from the powerful song "Musandifungise" to the high energy marimba/mbira combination "Manja."

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