Norwegian guitarist Jon Larsen is recognized for his Django-influenced jazz artistry and founding of Hot Club Records. Yet on the flip side, he’s also an advocate of Frank Zappa’s legacy, signified on his second release highlighting Mother’s of Invention drummer and co-founder Jimmy Carl Black. Always the [Cheyenne] "Indian of the group," via his now signature declarations with Zappa and retorted here within his voice overlays on various tracks, Black plays the comedic role of a surrealistic space traveler. Yet sadly, the artist passed away on November 1, 2008, 24 days prior to the official street date of this CD.
Larsen’s previously issued Strange News from Mars commenced the tongue-in-cheek space odyssey wrapped around Black’s witty voice dubs. The plot continues here with similar musical propensities derived from Zappa and, of course, Black’s musical background. However, those expecting typical Zappa complexities might be disappointed since much of this album hovers around early Mothers blues-rock origins, spruced up with airy swing vamps, feisty jazz-rock jaunts and soaring solos.
Larsen generally comps and resides more within the rhythmic element while Rob Waring’s marimba work often serves as the lead voice, which is an element that correlates to original Mothers vibist Ruth Underwood. Nonetheless, the ensemble abides by a solid groove amid some knotty time signatures and superb solos by violinist Ola Kvernberg. Moreover, none of Zappa or Black’s compositions are performed. Therefore, Larsen who also penned the accompanying text that pertains to Black’s sojourn to Mars, is also credited with the musical content.
The second CD is where Black recounts his life story and it’s a hoot! Iterated like a seasoned vet who weathered the psychedelic age, the artist tells it like it is. Anecdotes about Zappa’s disdain for hippies and drugs along with comments that Captain Beefheart seemed like an alien from another planet represent some of his more humorous reminisces. He then elaborates upon his first LSD trip with the late Mama Cass during time spent in Hawaii with the Mothers. Black’s casual reflections are also quite interesting as he recounts his 1982 move to Austin, Texas and trips to Europe.
Towards the end of the interview Black says that he always wanted to perform with John Lennon while bestowing the virtues of Ringo Starr’s drumming. Overall, the interview is something that you’ll want your friends to hear, whether or not they were staunch Zappa followers. Black closes out his bio stating that he feels fortunate to have been blessed with music, even though he never enjoyed the financial rewards that sometimes follow suit.