The Purple Lagoon/Approximate

Notes and Comments

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  Here is a interesting FZ comments on Approximate from Grand Wazoo's tour programme ( Sept. 1972).
  From Viva Zappa by p.113
  In this selection each musician can choose the tone pitch they want to play. In the whole piece, there are only a few bars in which pitch is indicated (and these are introduced for the sake of contrast). The rest of the score is made up of triplets and crotchets linked by little X's. These are markers that show by their positions the approximate register for each instrument. The piece can be performed by ahy number of musicians greater than four. The general pattern is a single part that corresponds to all the instruments in C and F (including percussion). To this, another single part is added for instruments in B flat and E flat. The electric bass and bass drum have separate parts which are nonetheless linked to the others."
From: (Charles Ulrich)
  crotchets (i.e. quarter notes)
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The special arrangement of a piece we played on the "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE"
tv show in December (featuring John Belushi as a Samurai Be-Bop musician).
Two themes are played against each other... "The Purple Lagoon" versus
"Approximate" (an unreleased composition dating from the days of The Grand
The first solo is Mike Brecker on tenor sax, the second is FZ on guitar
(over-dubbed, since there was no guitar solo played during the concert in
this tune, anbd the quiet little percussion track in the background was
sort of boring so it became a case of inevitable insertionism), followed
by a transition featuring the steaming re-processed grunts of Ronnie Cuber
on baritone sax, leading to a piquant protruberance of a bass solo by
Patrick O'Hearn, culminating in the mystery and spellbinding grandeur
insinuated by the
bionically modified trumpet solo of Randy Brecker.
From: Mark Edmonds wrote:
  The "bionically modified trumpet" That is how FZ described Randy Brecker's trumpet sound in the final track. My only guess is that it has been fed through a harmoniser but did these devices exist in 1976?
From: Biffyshrew (
  Yes, that was a harmonizer; it was a "new toy" at the time which explains its enthusiastic overuse on this track...
From: Jon Naurin (
  I should have done the complete analysis of the medley last time, but I was in a hurry, and my CD player's fast forward function is screwed up. :) Anyway, here we go:
  • [00.00 - 00.17] Intro
  • [00.17 - 00.37] Purple Lagoon
  • [00.37 - 01.17] Approximate (bass keeps playing PL)
  • [01.17 - 15.23] Solos (Pound for a Brown, see below)
  • [15.23 - 15.55] Purple Lagoon, with some variations.
  • [15.55 - 16.40] Outro & crowd noises
  As for the solo vamp: I have two live versions, and on both, the bass starts playing the Pound for a Brown vamp right after Approximate (both version starts with trombone solos, BTW). As time goes (and Patrick O'Hearn gets tired/his fingers get stuck), the vamp turns into the simple one that can be heard on ZINY. Compare this vamp to the second part of Pound for a Brown on the same CD - same chords, same time (7/8). So, I guess you could say that there's no musical connection between the head and the solo part of the song. This song is not unique in this aspect though, I can think of many other FZ songs where the music changes drasticly during the solo section. Hope this brought some clarification to my previous post!
  Also, at 10:03, Patrick plays one bar from Thelonious Monk's "Blue Monk".

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