This December, Frank Zappa vocalist and 2008 Grammy Award recipient Napoleon Murphy Brock plans to release This Is What Frank Zappa Heard - Just In Case You Were Wondering - Live At The Red Noodle In Waikiki, Hawaii, a CD of vintage live recordings.
Zappa fans are only too aware of Brock's vocals, sax and flute on Zappa albums like Roxy & Elsewhere, One Size Fits All, Bongo Fury and Thing Fish, not to mention his work with keyboardist and fellow Zappa alumni George Duke, as well as the recent incarnation of the Grande Mothers Re-invented.
On August 8th, 1973, Zappa was in Hawaii and alerted by his road manager Marty Perellis that a local band with an incredible lead singer was performing to standing room only audiences, and that it might be wise that he come and see this for himself. When Zappa went to the club and watched the show, he witnessed a young talent singing, dancing, playing sax, flute and keyboards, in a manner that made it appear he was having more fun than even the other patrons in the club. After two hours of observing and listening to this young man and his very disciplined band of musicians, he introduced himself as Frank Zappa, and the young man introduced himself as Napoleon Murphy Brock. The next words out of Zappa’s mouth were, "You are my new lead vocalist."
"As I understand it, he had just finished touring Australia, and they were getting ready to go to Europe a week or two after that," recalls Brock. "And he was taking a little break. He stopped off in Hawaii for a week or so. And his road manager Marty Perellis set Frank up in a hotel and then went out walking around in Hawaii probably to see if he could get lucky or something! If you want a good time, what better place to do it than in Hawaii? Hawaii is literally paradise."
"Marty came into the club and saw us playing but didn't recognize us, because no one knew about us except the club owners that hired us and the people who came to see us," Brock continues. "He ran back to the hotel, woke Frank up and said, 'Hey, get your clothes on, I just found your new lead vocalist.'"
Brock joined Zappa's group in October 1973 and remained until 1976.
This Is What Frank Zappa Heard - Just In Case You Were Wondering - Live At The Red Noodle In Waikiki, Hawaii was taped on on August 8th, 1973, and has been digitally enhanced with the final mix completed in Hamburg, Germany. Some of the songs covered include Harry Nilsson's "Coconut", Carole King's "So Far Away", James Brown's "Make It Funky" and Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage." The CD is currently available for pre-order from Napoleon Brock's official Web site.
Napoleon Brock will be playing with keyboardist and fellow Zappa alumni George Duke on October 31 at the Amsterdam Jazz Festival. The ensemble will be backed by the Metropole Orchestra. The music will consist of original compositions written by Duke and Murphy. For more information, go to the Amsterdam Jazz Festival Web site.