Phos Duo - The Lost Sessions: The Black Page - Ballad version (F. Zappa, arr. S. Amiris)





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Published on Aug 24, 2014

****** THE LOST SESSIONS ******

This video is a part of a series which was planned to be done with a professional studio recording along with two CD releases; however, when humans make plans, Gods laugh, as they say. A very unfortunate accident left a good part of the studio recordings damaged beyond repair, and the project was pretty much killed. However, we - Phos Duo, who are Antonis Ladopoulos on Saxophone and yours truly (Sami Amiris) on piano - decided to salvage anything salvagable and post it here on Youtube, as a way to keep something alive out of all this, no matter how little. Thus the lost sessions were born, and they truly are lost.

The only audio available is the audio from the two cameras we used, and we did everything we could from that. So you will hear all sorts of sounds, cracks from my poor, suffering piano stool, etc., but we assure you they are all innocent sounds! So, these are not perfect recordings. They are a small and very raw sample of what would have been. Still, we present it here for your pleasure, and hope that the poor sound quality won't irritate you too much.

We do plan to re-record everything soon.


Some background info from Wikipedia:

~'' "The Black Page" is a piece by American composer Frank Zappa known for being extraordinarily difficult to play. Originally written for the drum kit and melodic percussion, the piece was later rearranged in several versions.

Terry Bozzio: 'He wrote it, because we had done this 40-piece orchestra gig together and he was always hearing the studio musicians in LA, that he was musing on that, talking about the fear of going into sessions some morning and being faced with 'the black page'. So he decided to write his "Black Page". Then he gave it to me, and I could play parts of it right away. But it wasn't a pressure thing, it just sat on my music stand and for about 15 minutes every day for 2 weeks, before we would rehearse, I would work on it. And after 2 weeks I had it together and I played it for him. And he said, "Great!", took it home, wrote the melody and the chord changes, brought it back in. And we all started playing it.' ''~

This version here of the Black Page would not have existed if it weren't for my long-time friend and musical collaborator in NUKeLEUS, Yannis Stavropoulos, who of course is a huge Frank Zappa fan - so am I, by the way, I absolutely love Frank Zappa! - and who of course has been playing the Black Page in many different drum intepretations for years. Yannis told me that he always wanted to play this piece in a combo, but in a yet different way from the existing versions, more "open" than it is usually played, of course without compromising the rhythms and all, just in a different mood. Well, I heard the piece and its various versions by Zappa St and Jr (as well as a few adaptations by others), then I found some sheet music that both Yannis and I found was wrong at places - Yannis of course, having that ridiculous ear and memory, could both identify any mistake as well as correct it, while soloing over it on the drums! Then I did a transcription myself, and played the melody a few times. Unfortunately, the whole project did not continue due to the mundane realities of everyday life, for some time.

Fast forward a few months. One day, as I was doing some chores, I played it in my head, and for the first time I "heard" a completely different set of chords, which opened up new ways of expressing this God-sent melody. But these chords demanded a slower tempo - which of course makes the already hard rhythms even harder. So I went home, and the arrangement you hear here is the result.

To make a long story short, I presented this version to Antonis. He also knew the original, and liked the way that this was radically different from the more groove-oriented versions that exist (To me, this is closer to the "#1" version, the drum solo, if this can make any sense). Anyway, he said "why not play it as a duo!", and the result is this video.

I don't have to say anything about the rhythmic difficulties of the song, these are well known. Nor do I have anything to say about the composer Frank Zappa, he is amongst the Gods of music. The only thing I can say is that Antonis gave a new dimension to the song, a drama, that to me is an essential part of the emotional depth of this piece. Needless to say, this piece is now one of my most favorite ballads to play.

I don't know if this is any close to what Yannis has in mind, but we'll find that out in the forthcoming NUKeLEUS releases! ;-)

Thank you, and I do hope you enjoy it!

-Sami Amiris -

Disclaimer: No copyright infringement of Frank Zappa intended..


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