Zappanation Compositional Process

Chapter 3 Journal from Zappanation Rock Opera

The final Compositional Process has been completed where we have tracked the entire ensemble in the recording studio and I am in the final stages where I treat studio production and editing as a part of the process.  Editing is only used to exploit the most interesting and unique moments which often happens during improvisation.  I am currently working on this and hope to share with you the final result next year.  You can read about the libretto storyline here

Here are some Live Concert Excerpts


Chapter 2 Journal from Zappanation Tour @Sant'anna Arresi Jazz Festival

Today when I awoke in London it felt like it was all a dream but it wasn't and the 5 day residence at the Sant'anna Arresi Jazz Festival brought a total transformation to the Zappanation Rock Opera in so many intricate ways I could never of predicted.  Firstly the 13 musicians I invited to be part of this unique project added more dimensions and character than I could ever expect.  I want to thank everyone who put so much positive energy into each musical note and the moments we spent making music and hanging together.  So a big hug and round of applause to Johnny Richards (keyboards), Michael Bardon (bass), Norbert Bürger from the hell (guitar), Professore Saltzman (saxophone), the Ligeti String Quartet that includes Valerie Welbanks, Mandhira De Saram, Richard Jones, Patrick Dawkins, and Sardinia Vocal Choir featuring Alice Madeddu, Marta Melis, Matteo Siddi, and Manuel Cossu, and Monika Figel our road manager who took these photos!  But I quickly realized when we met just after an hour in Sardinia that everyone all wanted to be part of our Swinger Club Team.  Below we are in full character and heading out to perform Sept 2nd.I choose purposely each of these musicians because of their cultural diversity and how their musical backgrounds would allowed me to present numerous genres ranging from Opera, Music Theater, Cabaret, Comedy, Modern Classical Music, and Jazz Rock. The Opera was composed in a way to feature everyone and all the talents everyone possessed. Over the course of communally creating the libretto all kind of characters were created, in the end we had Pussy Cats, Dogs, Blow up dolls, and even Norbert Buerger acted as my estranged father who conceived and abandoned Me (his son) in a swinger club after the war. Below is our first meeting discussing the score and concept of the opera for the first time together!  

What really made the premiere so magical and dynamic was how all the musicians bonded together spiritually and by the end I saw a group of people who made friendships that would continue together. We went swimming together and dined and danced together.
Each day and every morning at 9am sharp we ate breakfast together and by 10 am started to practice at this beautiful hotel in our own practice room that felt like paradise, isolated from all the chaos from the outside world.  Free from distractions we could focus how to balance the dynamics of a high energy Rhythm section with delicate fragile movements with a SATB choir with a string quartet. 
                                                                                    Below we are making our sound check at the venue
                                           Stay tuned and the next Chapter of the blog I will share stories about the Libretto

Chapter 1

Since last Spring when I worked on how to conceive my next project Zappanation, a large ensemble rock opera, the compositional process has evolved through many separate but connected developmental stages such as how the form and libretto dictate the duration of time, rhythm and use of space.  The 13 musicians in the ensemble and combination of different choirs from the various different instruments allow for so many textures and unique characteristics. As a result the band allows for almost a sense of limitless boundaries and it is such a pleasure for me to compose and direct a great eclectic array of musicians who over the years have become some of my best friends such as cabaret star Buerger from the Hell and new additions to my trio rhythm section from Shatner's Bassoon I think of the band like a series of different solo, duo, trio, quartet and quintet combinations.  The string quartet remains in my ear as an extension of the drum set and developed this concept in A Gambler's Hand and from those experiences I really explored how each of the 4 voices of the quartet is mirrored from my 4 limps on the drum set. 

In Zappanation we have other instrumental extensions I will explore such as how to play drums and orchestrate a Sardinian Vocal Choir called, CoroCum  a mixed SATB 4 person choir that can sing and make narrations in 3 different languages English, Italian and Sardinian dialect.  It will be my first time going into world of having more vocals in my music and it is so great to play drums behind all the great harmonies and operatic satire with a bit of theatre in between throughout the rock opera since it does take place in swinger club on some remote tropical island somewhere someone once told me.  I plan to make more chapters to this Blog about how Zappanation evolves in the rehearsal, performance and recording process but for now you can read more about it HERE