bruce fowler

Son of famous jazz educator Dr. William L. Fowler, Bruce Fowler is an extraordinary trombonist whose jazz credits are based in L.A. studios.

Bruce Fowler was part of Zappa's Mothers from September 1972 (The Grand Wazoo Orchestra) until May 1975.

After being a Mother, Bruce Fowler joined Captain Beefheart's Magic Band, with whom he recorded two albums: "Shiny Beast" and "Doc At The Radar Station".

Bruce Fowler re-joined Zappa for the 1988 world tour.

He can be heard on quite a number of Frank Zappa & Mothers recordings: "Over-Nite Sensation", "Apostrophe' ", "Roxy & Elsewhere" and "Bongo Fury"; also on the "Lather" albums: "Studio Tan", "Sleep Dirt" and "Orchestral Favorites"; on "The Guitar World According To Frank Zappa", on a couple of "Stage" albums and on all the albums from the 1988 tour.
Besides that, there's also a couple of albums in the "Beat The Boots" series, "The Lost Episodes" and the "Imaginary Diseases" album.

Since 1994, Bruce Fowler has been a part of The Band From Utopia, and he has performed with the Ebony Band and with the Metropole Orkest performing Frank Zappa's music.

Bruce Fowler has released a number of impressive albums, both as a solo artists as with the Fowler Brothers.





  the one o'clock lab band: lab '68
    (1968, lp, usa, century records) - feat.sal marquez, tom malone, bruce fowler, lou marini


the mothers: over-nite sensation
   (1973, lp, usa, discreet)


frank zappa: apostrophe (')
   (1974, lp, usa, discreet)


zappa / mothers: roxy & elsewhere
   (1974, 2lp, usa, discreet)


zappa / beefheart / mothers: bongo fury
   (1975, lp, usa, discreet)
  george duke: i love the blues, she heard my cry (7)
    (1976, lp, usa, mps) - feat.bruce fowler, johnny "guitar" watson, ruth underwood
  air pocket: fly on
    (1976, lp, ??, ??) - feat. fowler brothers, albert wing, mike miller, chester thompson  //  reissued on cd in 2002

  1977 Meighan, Bob Band- Mr Hun   
  1977 Stallion- Stallion   


frank zappa: studio tan (24)
   (1978, lp, usa, discreet)

  captain beefheart and the magic band: shiny beast (bat chain puller)
    (1978, lp, usa, warner)

  1978 White, Michael [Violin]- X Factor   


frank zappa: sleep dirt
   (1979, lp, usa, discreet)

27 frank zappa: orchestral favorites
   (1979, lp, usa, discreet)

  1979 Watson, Johnny Guitar- What the Hell Is This (Trumpet)   
  captain beefheart and the magic band: doc at the radar station
    (1980, lp, usa, virgin)

  1981 Siberry, Jane- Jane Siberry (Synthesizer)   
  robert williams: buy my record
    (1981, 12", usa, a & m records  sp-12401) - feat. various zappa & beefheart alumni

  robert williams: late one night
    (1982, lp, usa, a & m records  amlh 64889) - feat.bruce fowler, arthur barrow, denny walley


bruce fowler & phil teele : synthetic division
    (1984, lp, usa, fossil records  fo2t-01)

  1984 That's the Way I Feel Now: Tribute (Arranger)  
  1984 Watson, Johnny Guitar- Strike on Computers   
  1985 Ridgway, Stan- Big Heat   
  fowler brothers airpocket: hunter
    (1985, lp, usa, fossil records fbr 001) - feat. albert wing, chester thompson  //  reissued on cd in 1993

  1985 Tribute to Kurt Weill: Lost in the (Trombone, Arranger, vocals)  
  frank zappa: the guitar world according to frank zappa
    (1987, mc, usa, ??)
  steve fowler: captured  (1)
    (1987, lp, usa, eclipse music)
 - feat.walt and bruce fowler

  1987 Oingo Boingo- Boi-ngo   
51 frank zappa: you can't do that on stage anymore vol.1
   (1988, 2cd, usa, ryko)


frank zappa: broadway the hard way
   (1988, 2lp, usa, barking pumpkin)

54 frank zappa: you can't do that on stage anymore vol.3
   (1989, 2cd, usa, ryko)
  fowler brothers: breakfast for dinosaurs
(1988, cd, usa, fossil fbr 1002) - feat. albert wing, chester thompson, vinnie colaiuta, ike willis

  1988 Oingo Boingo- Boingo Alive  
  1988 Fields, Brandon- Traveler  
  ed mann: get up (1)
    (1989, cd, ger, cmp cd 38) - feat.bruce & walt fowler, chad wackerman

  1989 Slack- Bigger Than Breakfast  
  1989 Oingo Boingo- Skeletons in the Closet (Best of)   
  1989 Ridgway, Stan- Mosquitos   
  bruce fowler: ants can count (2)
    (1990, cd, us, terra nova tnd-9002) - inside cover art by don van vliet  /  feat.
various zappa alumni
  1990 Oingo Boingo- Dark at the End of the Tunnel   
  ed mann: perfect world  (2)
    (1990, cd, ger, cmp  cd 45) - feat.bruce & walt fowler, chad wackerman

  1990 Pacific Heights- Pacific Heights (Orchestration)1990 Mateos, Miguel- Obsession   
55 frank zappa: the best band you never heard in your life
   (1991, 2cd, usa, barking pumpkin)

56 frank zappa: make a jazz noise here
   (1991, 2cd, usa, barking pumpkin)


frank zappa: you can't do that on stage anymore vol.4
   (1991, 2cd, usa, ryko)  
  billy childs: his april touch
    (1991, cd, usa, ??) - feat. walt fowler, bruce fowler 

billychilds_hisapriltouch.jpg (35180 bytes)

  1991 Sellers, Joey- Pastels, Ashes   
  arthur barrow: music for listening (1)
    (1991, cd, usa, tom&slev's new masters green 01) - feat.walt fowler, bruce fowler, tom fowler, robert williams

  1991 Golia, Vinny- Commemoration   
  1991 Rippingtons- Curves Ahead   
  1991 McIntosh, Ladd- Bulbous Garlic Blues   
  zappa / mothers: unmitigated audacity
    (1991, cd, usa, rhino foo-eee records r2 70540)
  frank zappa: piquantique
    (1991, cd, usa, rhino foo-eee records r2 70544)
  chester thompson: a joyful noise
    (1991, cd, usa, blue moon / moo records r2 79341) - feat.charles owens, walt fowler, steve fowler, bruce fowler and george duke
  1992 Fields, Brandon- Other Places   
  1992 One O'Clock Lab Band- Best of One O'Clock   
  1992 Cmpler 2- Cmpler 2   
  tom fowler: heartscapes
    (1992, cd, usa, fossil records) - feat. lots of zappa alumni

59 frank zappa: you can't do that on stage anymore vol.6
   (1992, 2cd, usa, ryko)
  1992 Fibonaccis- Best Of: Repressed   
  1992 Golia, Vinny- Decennium Dans Axlan   
  1992 Oingo Boingo- Best O' Boingo   
  1992 Lawrence, Doc- Doc Lawrence   
  1992 Morris, Jim Brass Plus- Montage  
  steve fowler: the last blue sky  (2)
    (1992, cd, usa, fossil records) - feat.walt, bruce and tom fowler, albert wing, chester thompson and ed mann

  bruce fowler: entropy (3)
   (1993, cd, us, fossil records fbr 1005) - feat.steve, tom & walt fowler, a.wing, ch.thompson, k.mcgettrick

  jack bruce: somethin' else
    (1993, cd, usa, ??) - feat. bruce & walt fowler

jackbruce_somethinels.jpg (14649 bytes)

  1993 Ross, Annie- Short Cuts  
  1993 World of Contemporary Jazz Groups   
  1993 McDonald, Michael- Blink of an Eye   
  1993 Connick, Harry Jr.- When My Heart Finds Christmas  
  don preston: vile foamy ectoplasm (1)
    (1993, cd, ger, muffin records muffin cdmr 003) - feat. ex-moi and ex-zappa bandmembers 
  1994 Weisgall- Six Characters in Search of an Auth   
  1994 Setzer, Brian- Brian Setzer Orchestra   
  1994 Duke, George- Three Originals   
  1994 Orchestra of the Americ- Wild, Wild Westerns  (Orchestration)  
  1994 El Rey Leon- El Rey Leon  (Vocal Arrangements, Orchestration)  
  the band from utopia: a tribute to the music of frank zappa - live vol.1 & 2
    (1994, cd-pro, muffin records) - all compositions by frank zappa, feat. lots of zappa alumni

  1995 Lofgren, Bruce- Heart of the Night  
  the band from utopia: the band from utopia (1)
    (1995, cd, usa, muffin records productions)  - all compositions by frank zappa, feat. lots of zappa alumni

  arthur barrow: eyebrow razor (2)
(1995, cd, usa, muffin records productions mrp 024) - feat.various zappa alumni


frank zappa: the lost episodes
   (1996, cd, usa, ryko)


frank zappa: lšther
   (1996, 3cd, usa, ryko)
  1996 Hollywood Bowl Orchestr- Always and Forever: Movies Greatest  (Arranger)   
  1996 Fan- Fan  (Orchestration)  
  1996 Divididos- Divididos   
  1996 Goldfinger- Goldfinger  
  1996 Rimitti- Cheika   
  1997 Duke, George- Is Love Enough   
  1997 Connick, Harry Jr.- To See You   
  robert williams: date with the devilís daughter
    (1998, cd, us, casual tonalities) - feat.jeff morris tepper, bruce fowler, arthur barrow, wild man fischer
  arthur barrow: ab3 (3)
    (1999, cd, usa, cydonian music 1003) - feat.tommy mars, bruce fowler, robert williams
  neil sadler: theory of forms
    (1999, cd, usa, bleeding arts ba 10012) - feat.m.keneally, walt, steve and bruce fowler and kurt mcgettrick

  1999 Matthew Sweet- In Reverse (reverse trombone, trombone, euphonium)  
  1999 Randy Newman- Bad Love  
  captain beefheart: i'm going to do what i wanno do: live at my father's place 1978
    (2000, cd, usa, rhino)
  the persuasions: the persuasions sing zappa - frankly a capella
    (2000, cd, usa, earthbeat r2 79832) - all compositions by f.zappa, feat.b.fowler, mike keneally, robert martin
       "Drop Dead Gorgeous"- orchestrator/conductor, music by Mark Mothersbaugh  
  the band from utopia: a tribute to the music of frank zappa
    (2001, dvd, ger, ??) - all compositions by frank zappa


mike miller: save the moon
    (2001, cd, usa, marsis jazz pgi / mj 1097) - feat.bruce fowler
  captain beefheart: magnetic hands
    (2002, cd, uk, viper cd 011)
  the banned from utopia: so yuh don't like modern art  (2)
    (2002, cd, usa, favored nations) - various compositions by frank zappa; feat.various zappa alumni

  captain beefheart: railroadism
    (2003, cd, uk, viper cd 015)

  arthur barrow: on time
    (2003, cdr, usa, private release) - feat.vinnie colaiuta, tommy mars, bruce fowler, robert williams and d. preston


frank zappa: imaginary diseases
    (2006, cd, usa, zappa records)


frank zappa: trance-fusion
    (2006, cd, usa, zappa records)

  various artists: the frank zappa aaafnraa birthday bundle
    (2006, itunes, -) - feat. frank, moon, dweezil, ahmet & diva zappa

  malcolm mcnab: exquisite - the artistry of malcolm mcnab
    (2006, cd, usa, kinnell house records 1001) - incl. 'the be-bop tango' (frank zappa)
  rosanne cash: black cadillac
    (2006, cd, usa, capitol) - feat. bruce fowler & albert wing
  don preston: vile foamy ectoplasm
    (2007, cd, usa, crossfire publications) - feat. frank zappa, ex-moi and ex-zappa bandmembers
  jon larsen: strange news from mars
    (2007, cd, norway, zonic entertainment) - feat.various ex-zappa bandmembers


frank zappa: wazoo
    (2007, 2cd, usa, vaulternative records)

  lucinda williams: little honey
    (2008, cd, usa, lost highway) - feat. bruce fowler, walt fowler, albert wing


frank zappa: one shot deal
    (2008, cd, usa, zappa records)

  various artists: the frank zappa aaafnraaa birthday bundle 21 dec 2008
    (2008, itunes, -) - feat. frank, dweezil, ahmet & diva zappa

aaafnraaa2008.jpg (24142 bytes)


the mar vista philharmonic: no forest fire
    (2009, cd, norway, zonic entertainment) - feat. t.mars, w.fowler, b.fowler, k.mcgettrick, a.barrow, v.colaiuta

marvista_noforestfire.jpg (24335 bytes)

robby krieger: singularity
    (2010, cd, usa, oglio ogl89160-2) - feat. bruce fowler, sal marquez, arthur barrow, vinnie colaiuta, walt fowler, tommy mars and albert wing

krieger_singularity.jpg (28504 bytes)

  various artists: the frank zappa aaafnraaaa birthday bundle 21 dec 2010
    (2010, itunes, -) - feat. frank, dweezil, ahmet zappa

aaafnraaaa_2010.jpg (22223 bytes)

  jon larsen: a portrait of jon larsen
    (2010, cd, norway, zonic entertainment)
= compilation / feat. jimmy carl black; rommy mars and bruce fowler

hcrcd_224.jpg (19611 bytes)

  frank zappa: penguin in bondage - the little known history of the mothers of invention
    (2011, download, usa, zappa records)
fz_penguin2011dl.jpg (32087 bytes)
taxxi: traxx
    (2011, cd, usa, melorirock records) - feat. arthur barrow, the fowler brothers

taxxi_traxx.jpg (16435 bytes)

  bradford, dresser & ferris: live in l.a.
    (2011 cd, usa, ??) - recorded at tom fowler's house


frank zappa: road tapes - finlandia hall, helsinki, finland 23, 24 august 1973
    (2013, cd, usa, vaulternative records)
fz_roadtapes02.jpg (29253 bytes)

don preston: out of the vault
    (2014, cd, usa, brain records) - feat. bunk gardner, dave parlato, arthur barrow, bruce fowler, walt fowler, tom fowler  //  incl. 'eric dolphy' (frank zappa)

donpreston_outofthevault.jpg (30269 bytes)


frank zappa & the mothers: roxy the movie
    (2015, cd+dvd, eu, eagle vision eagdv050)
fz_roxythemovie.jpg (36036 bytes)
102 frank zappa & the mothers: roxy the movie
    (2015, dvd, eur, eagle vision)
zappa_roxy_dvd.jpg (54282 bytes)
102 frank zappa & the mothers: roxy the movie
    (2015, blu-ray, eur, eagle vision)
zappa_roxy_br.jpg (43508 bytes)


frank zappa: the crux of the biscuit
    (2016, cd, usa, zappa records zr20020)

fz_cruxofthebiscuit.jpg (32468 bytes)


frank zappa: frank zappa for president
    (2016, cd, usa, zappa records zr 20021)
fz_fzforpresident.jpg (31217 bytes)


frank zappa: little dots
    (2016, cd, usa, zappa records zr20026)
fz_littledots.jpg (37773 bytes)
  frank zappa: rollo / portland improvisation
    (2017, 10", usa, zappa records bpr1230) - record store day release
zappa_rollo_2017.jpg (30915 bytes)
  documentary: frank zappa - eat that question
    (2017, dvd, ger, arsenal filmverleih) - includes interviews with frank zappa, tommy mars, arthur barrow, bruce fowler, tom fowler, ed mann, kurt mcgettrick, chad wackerman and robert martin

fz_eatthatquestion_dvd_ger.jpg (36144 bytes)

  msm schmidt: life
    (2017, cd, germany, laika records) - feat. mike miller, bruce fowler, walt fowler

msm_schmidt_life.jpg (15912 bytes)



semi-official releases

  frank zappa and captain beefheart: providence college, rhode island, april 26, 1975
    (2014, 2cd, uk, keyhole kh2cd9028)
fz_cb_19750426_keyhole.jpg (37765 bytes)
  frank zappa: the muffin man goes to college (live)
    (2015, spotify, --, sonic boom) = 1975/04/26 providence concert
fz_muffinmangoestocollege_spotify.jpg (14171 bytes)


concerts, radio- & tv-appearances



1991 psycho iv- the beginning (tv)
1991 backdraft- backdraft  (orchestration)
1992 radio flyer- radio flyer  (orchestration)
1992 toys (orchestration)
1992 the power of one (orchestration)
1992 a league of their own  (orchestration)
1994 speed  (orchestration)
1994 flintstones [ost]  orchestration
1994 i'll do anything
1994 the lion king
1994 renaissance man  (orchestrator)
1995 man of the house (orchestrator)
1996 broken arrow  (conductor)
1996 the rock  (orchestrator, conductor)
1996 twister  (orchestrator)
1996 all dogs go to heaven 2  (orchestration)
1996 short cuts
1996 the fan (orchestrator)
1997 smila's sense for snow  (orchestration)
1997 crimson tide (conudctor, orchestration)
1997 face off [ost]  (orchestration)
1997 conspiracy theory
1997 dante's peak (orchestrator)
1997 con air (orchestrator)
1997 as good as it gets  (orchestrator)
1998 antz- (orchestrator)
1998 the prince of egypt
1998 the thin red line
1998 the rugrats movie
1998 almost heroes  (music supervisor)
2000 the adventures of rocky and bullwinkle (orchestration)
2000 chicken run (orchestration)
2001 hannibal ("musical consultant" and "lead trombonist")
2001 shrek (orchestration)
2001 the royal tenenbaums (trombone)


random notes

Son of famous jazz educator Dr. William L. Fowler, Bruce is an extraordinary trombonist whose jazz credits are based in L.A. studios. Played well with Frank Zappa, and as a member of the raucous Fowler Brothers Band.

-- Michael G. Nastos

Bruce is currently a member of Banned From Utopia.

Bruce Fowler plays on:
   Woody Herman -- Somewhere, 1969 w/ Bill Chase, Sal Nistico, Ronnie Cuber (who is on FZ's "Zappa In New York")
   Joey Sellars -- Something for Nothing, 1989 w/ Kei Akagi

I remembered the title to the Bruce Fowler/Phil Teele LP (soon to be CD).
It's called 'Synthetic Division'. Jolly odd it is too...

 Bruce has two solo CDs:

  "Entropy", 1993
     Straight-ahead jazz-rock.  First, the one that really knocked my socks off is the one that you (DH) already have - "Entropy". Did ya notice that Tom is on acoustic bass all the way on this. In fact there is no electric anything; no guitar, no synths.. 
HEY!  *Its the Fowler Brothers Unpluged*. The song "A Bash Fit For a King" is worth the whole price of the disk. Try sitting through that  one without moving. (For extra credit: What old American TV show theme song  gets quoted by the piano at the beginning of the last section of this tune?). This disk goes on my top shelf.

       Bruce Fowler: Trombone and Words
       Steve Fowler: Also Sax, Flute
       Tom Fowler: Acoustic Bass, Violin
       Walt Fowler: Trumpet, Flugelhorn
       Albert Wing: Tenor Sax
       Chester Thompson: Drums
       Billy Childs: Piano
       Kei Akagi: Piano
       Kurt McGettrick: Baritone Sax, Eb Contrabass Clarinet
       Phil Teele: Bass Trombone
       Suzette Moriarty: French Horn

  "Ants Can Count" , 1990
     This baby to me comes across as more of a collection of brass chamber ensemble pieces than a jazz thing. Eight out of the eleven cuts are sans rhythm section and feature, besides Bruce and his brothers, Steve only plays sax on one tune and sticks to flute elsewhere.
     If you were to get me in a headlock and not let go till I said something critical about this CD then maybe after a while I'd blurt out that the production could have been better and that a couple of tunes end a tad abruptly. Otherwise, to my ears this is a good listen.  Check out Bruce doing circular breathing on the solo number called "One Man One Bone". 
     I will never understand how anybody can do that.

       Bruce Fowler: trombone
       Walt Fowler: trumpet
       Steve Fowler: flute & alto sax
       Suzette Moriarty: horn
       Phil Teele: bass trombone
       Ed Fowler: piano & bass
       Tom Fowler: bass
       Ed Mann: percussion (two tracks)
       Billy Mintz: drums  (two tracks)
       Chester Thompson: drums  (one track)
       Clark Woodard: drums  (one track)

Bruce Fowler appears in the Robert Altman film Short Cuts, which is currently showing, at least in NYC.  Bruce has the part of the trombone player, oddly enough, in a small jazz combo in an LA nightclub called the Low Note.  He's in quite a few scenes throughout the movie, and is seen and heard playing the trombone, but has no spoken lines.  The movie has an all-star cast; among the other musicians in the film are Tom Waits and Huey Lewis, who both have substantial speaking roles. That band also included Greg Cohen on bass and NRBQ's Terry Adams on piano.

Bruce is credited with orchestration on the sound track for the soon-to-be-released Lion King (this is a Disney animation with music by Elton John, who also sings the title cut, and lyrics by Tim Rice).

For those of you interested in obscure session work by former Zappa sidemen here's a new one for you to check out.
"Rhythm of the Pride Lands", "Music inspired by Disney's The Lion King"
"Warthog Rhapsody"
Arranged by Hans Zimmer and Bruce Fowler

  Alto Sax: Steve Fowler
  Tenor Sax: Albert Wing
  Trumpet: Walter Fowler
  Clarinet: Kurt McGettrick

That's not the only thing he's been up to. This film thing seems to be Bruce's new trend---he was also responsible for orchestrating a musak-style version of "Superfreak" for the movie "Batman Returns" a couple of years ago.

I saw his name in the credits of "Speed" last night. I think he was one of three orchestrators/musical directors/soloists, I can't remember exactly.

I saw Bruce playing in Vinnie Golea's (sp?) band at the L.A. Art museum a couple weeks back.  The music was interesting space-jazz that I enjoyed, but my jazz-fan (and Fowler/Zappa fan) friend who came along, was not as receptive.  Very long pieces.  In fact, I think the last set may have been one long song.

Bruce Fowler also did some work with Oingo Boingo in the '80s.  Check out the "Boingo Alive" and "Dead Man's Party" CDs.  There may be others, but since my collection is small, I cant' say for sure.

When I saw the movie 'Shortcuts', Altman's film, the trombone player in the jazz band reminded me of Bruce Fowler -- and he really was it.

One thing it doesn't mention is Bruce Fowler's appearance on a couple of episodes of "Chicago Hope" last year.  He didn't appear in the credits, but he played a trombone player in a band consisting of mental patients.

     kevin schMidt said:
Bruce Fowler played on Captain Beefheart's album, "Doc at the Radar Station".

     From:  Patrick Neve (
I've got an LP by a Portland group called "Slack" featuring Bruce's playing. They were a good funk/punk outfit circa '89.  I saw them a few times, but Bruce wasn't with them for the gigs.  The album has some good songs on it, and it's called "Bigger Than Breakfast."

He also plays on two tracks of Arthur Barrow's "Music For Listening" CD, and  a cut from "Eyebrow Razor."

     Date: Wed, 06 May 1998
I'm feeling fine now that Bruce Fowler has just been nominated for a Tony award in orchestration for the Broadway show "The Lion King."
Go, Frank's former members!

     From: Dan Watkins (
Bruce Fowler is credited for playing horns on three songs on the 1996 debut, self-titled album by a relatively new punk/ska band called Goldfinger.
The band has made a second album too, but unfortunately, Bruce doesn't appear on it.

A few years ago I saw Bruce on the Chicago Hope show. He was playing a trombone player in a band of mental patients

Bruce's brother, Tom, was the bass player in that Chicago Hope show.

     From: Lewis Saul (
     Subject: Re: TV Guide Award Show Music
So -- did anyone see who the musical director was?

Bruce Fowler was the music arranger.  And he played the rock trombone solo when the gal from the Angel show went up to get her award.
The Theremin player was none other than Bob Moog, inventor of the synthesizer!!!  He was in town for the NAMM show.  Bruce's brother, Walt, was also in the band.
Zappa alumni do get around...
Dad Bill

     From: "georges m. bouhey" (
I played in a band called "Ocean of Air" w/Tom and Bruce in early seventies, in Salt Lake City. We had a fusion band with Tom and Bruce (Drums, Bass, Guitar, Trombone) and we also had "club" band that played Park City most of the winter.

additional informants:
  J. van Kemenade
  Brian A. Miller
  Charles Ulrich
  Johannes Wijffels
  Jonathan Kay
  John Scialli
  Jonathan Kay

frank zappa  / musicians timeline



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soundtracks various artists