A little Zappa and coffee to welcome the afternoon, and give me the jolt I need. Waka Jawaka, is on the Shindo 301 player system now, spinning away. ‘Big Swifty’, on side one, is a juggernaut that doesn’t let up until the last note trails off. It is a touch under 18 minutes of thick, brass tinged jazz fusion and is full of expressive, rolling, vivid playing to awaken the senses. It will give your hifi a nice workout, for sure. Waka Jawaka was released in ’72, a few years after Zappa’s popular Hot Rats album, which has been recently re-released by Classic Records on vinyl. Of course, you could do what I do, and scope out a sweet original.
Coincidently, the album artwork for this record was illustrated by Marvin Mattelson, who was my illustration instructor at School of Visual arts (class of ’93). From what I recall, Marvin was a big Zappa fan and was ecstatic when Frank asked him to do the cover for Waka Jawaka. Marvin went on to do some major Advertising Campaign Illustrations, such as Plug Head, for MTV. He also painted the album artwork for Chant, which went triple platinum.
Marvin was extremely inspirational to me when I was doing time in art school, as well as after graduation, when I was a Free-Lance Illustrator, painting realistic illustrations, like this, for New York City book publishers. Listening to vintage WNEW-FM crackle through the airwaves, late at night, kept me going during those long, cold, morning hours finishing art commissions to meet the deadline the following day.
That was another chapter in my life, a natural progression having taking over from there, slowly morphing into my current profession. I do still keep busy in the arts, painting and enjoying photography. I tend to think of what I do now, is align my design and artistic sensibilities with my love of music (and of course, the gear that produces it) together, through my company, Pitch Perfect Audio. By the way, Marvin Mattelson is still busy in the art world, painting superb portraits. I sell the best audio equipment in the world. I’m happy.