the meridian arts ensemble
The Meridian Arts Ensemble was formed in NYC in 1987 as a standard brass quintet chamber ensemble. The band has recorded quite a number of Frank Zappa compositions, as well as a Don Van Vliet one.
meridian arts ensemble: smart
(1993, cd, nl, channel crossings ccs 4192) - incl. various frank zappa compositions
meridian arts ensemble: collection
(1995, cd-pro, nl, channel crossings mae 001) - incl. ‘big swifty’ (frank zappa)
meridian arts ensemble: prime
(1995, cd, nl, channel crossings ccs 8195) - incl.van vliet & zappa compositions
meridian arts ensemble: anxiety
(1996, cd, nl, channel crossings ccs 9796) - incl. various frank zappa compositions
meridian arts ensemble: collection 2
(1997, cd-pro, nl, channel crossings mae 002) - incl.‘echidna’s arf’ (frank zappa)
meridian arts ensemble: ear mind i
(1998, cd, nl, channel crossings ccs 11898) - incl.various frank zappa compositions
klasyka - july 1998
(1998, magazine + cd, pol, ??) – incl. meridian arts ensemble: 'run home slow, the little march' (frank zappa)
They have full FZ-authorization. They visited FZ to play him their arrangements of his pieces and he liked it, except he told them to put the eyebrows in.
For those who haven't heard: the Meridian Arts Ensemble is a very talented and innovative brass quintet, intent on expanding the repertoire, often commissioning new works. The MAE released an album called "Smart Went Crazy" which contains eleven or so minutes of FZ. This is a brass quintet with a drummer/percussionist added. The disk is 72 minutes long. (DDD)
So... What are you waiting for? Log out and go find it! Comparison to the Kronos Quartet is inevitable, especially now that MAE has thrown their rendition of "Purple Haze" into the ring. Those of you searching for this tasty little morsel, keep looking. I found it at a local Tower Records under Misc Brass in the Classical section. The Zappa tunes are: Big Swifty, Harry, You're a Beast, The Orange County Lumber Truck, T'mershi Duween, and Dupree's Paradise. These are just the first 5 out of 20 cuts on the disk. It took me a while to hear the rest of the tunes on account of I had to play this delightful suite about six times before going on. It is GREAT! The following quote is from the liner notes: "On March 12,1993 the Meridian Arts Ensemble performed these pieces for Mr. Zappa at his home in Los Angeles. The composer worked with us by critiquing the performance, making corrections in the arrangements, and giving suggestions for further interpretations. We feel very fortunate to have worked with him, and to have received his support for our continuing to adapt his work for this ensemble."
From: Raymond G. Stewart, tuba player of the Meridian Arts Ensemble
The Meridian Arts Ensemble was formed in NYC in 1987 as a standard brass quintet chamber ensemble. In 1988, when Frank played at the Beacon we all were ignorant to his music. I think I had to run home (right past the theater) and watch Cagney and Lacey that night. I'm surprised at myself still because of any of the MAE members I had the most FZ background. I owned BONGO FURY on 8-track in high school and saw him on tour in the late seventies in my hometown of Carbondale, IL. I was a musician then and his music still just overwhelmed me, but I was more concerned about other
things at that time anyway....
The members of MAE take great pleasure in bringing genres together. This also includes you, the listener. If we can turn on the blue-hair crowd to a rowsing set of FZ music and maybe some Babbitt, then we're halfway there. We also want the 818PUMPKIN-junkie to come to our concerts and perhaps discover the way Johann Hermann Schein's psalm settings influenced JS Bach, even though the two never met.
We are not a band which plays the man's music exclusively. Never will be.
Our FORMER manager wanted us to do this. It's not for us. We're also very "by the book" when asked to perform Frank's music. If it smells funny, we're gone. Gail is very helpful in this way. A few other people have really helped us out: Gary Titone, Rob Samler, John Scialli, Frans Goddijn. I'm sure Jon Nelson could add a few names to this list.
To dispell a rumor, our next CD will not be all FZ. It will be recorded Feb '95 in Holland and probably contain Peaches en Regalia, Let's Make The Water Turn Black, Oh No, Igor's Boogie, Eat That Question, and Echidna's Arf (of you). We also took Run Home Slow/Little March, Little House I Used to Live In, and three versions of The Black Page on tour to Europe last summer.
The Meridian Arts Ensemble has established itself as one of America's finest
chamber ensembles through its innovative repertoire and critically acclaimed
performances, Praised by the Los Angeles Times for their "near symphonic
richness and depths, this brass quintet, which first came to the attention of
the music community as First Prize Winner of the 1990 Concert
Artists Guild New York Competition, has won special acclaim for its performances of a provocative array of composers, ranging from J. S. Bach to Frank Zappa.
The Meridian Arts Ensemble has commissioned numerous works, and has also collaborated with or premiered works by Elliott Carter, Frank Zappa, Kirk Nurock, Ira Taxin, Phillip Johnston, David Sampson and others. Future projects include premieres of commissioned works from Milton Babbitt and jazz composer Tom Pierson, and a work for quintet and drums by Stephen Barber.
The Ensemble's interest in expanding the horizons of concert repertoire has been further demonstrated through performances of works from such diverse sources as Renaissance vocal settings, Baroque key-board music, Afro/Cuban dance pieces, jazz and rock.
Harry You're A Beast
The Orange County Lumber Truck
On March 12, 1993 the Meridian Arts Ensemble performed these pieces for Mr. Zappa at his home in Los Angeles. The composer worked with us by critiquing the performance, making corrections in the arrangements, and giving suggestions for future interpretations. As is the case with all modern music performed by the MAE, this composer/performer collaboration
has allowed us to function as a direct link between Frank Zappa's music and audiences around the world. We feel very fortunate to have worked with him, and to have received his support for our continuing to adapt his work for this ensemble.
Frank Zappa (born 1940) is probably the most prolific and well known American artist of our time. Recognized internationally as a composer and guitarist, he is also an accomplished filmmaker, producer, author, and advocate of First Amendment Rights. He has composed for his own bands, as well as orchestras and chamber ensembles.
He has had his music performed and recorded by Pierre Boulez, the London Symphony, and most recently Ensemble Modern. With over sixty recordings currently available, his body of work is larger than that of any other living American composer. His work in the numerous media in which he creates encompasses political satire, social commentary, and 'road lore', using theatre, animation, prose, concert footage and unusually challenging musical composition. An extremely well informed artist, Frank Zappa has spoken out on behalf of creative people across America, against censorship of music, art, and the printed word. His statements on this are extremely important to members of the art community in the U.s., whose existence here is often precarious at best.
From: Bill Lantz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I hope they still even do FZ. Raymond Stewart the tuba player is gone, Jon Nelson is gone, Daniel Grabois is gone (or going), but Ben Harrington and Joe Burgstaller are still there. I really wonder what they are playing these days. The are still an ensemble I understand with some new recruits.
Jon Nelson is teaching a Zappa class at a university! He ought to, if there's one guy on the planet that truly understands Frank's methodolgy of composing, it's Jon.
Here is their website:
And here is an excellent interview with Jon Nelson, conducted by Debra Kadabra magazine:
Sent: Sunday, April 11, 2004
Subject: Jon Nelson
I noticed that you don't have this updated information about Jon Nelson, of the Meridian Arts Ensemble. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Music Department of the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Here's an article about him:
Here's his faculty webpage: