Be-Bop Tango

FZ album(s) in which song has appeared


Tour(s) on which song is known to have been performed (main source: FZShows, v. 7.1)



Foggy G, "The Songs That Were Played," We're Only In It For The Touring

1972 (See Farther Oblivion)

1973 Aug-Sep: During the final show of the tour, Frank announces that the band is going to play "Part 2 of 'Farther O'Blivion'", and minutes later, "The Bebop Tango" makes it solo debut. It is essentially performed as on "Roxy and Elsewhere", allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation, and with the standard deviation coming in the parade of solos that we get. Bruce goes first, taking his "let me blow your mind with my trombone" solo, followed by a "damn is he good on this tour" Ponty solo, and concluding with the dynamic Ruth. We do not get an ending this time round, only a smooth yet odd segue into "Cosmik Debris".
BEBOP TANGO REPRISE—During the drum/percussion duet of "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?" at the final show of the tour, the band begins playing the opening "Bebop Tango" vamp. The drummers continue to fight it out for awhile, with the rest of the band maintaining the "Bebop" vamp. After approximately a minute of this, the band reprises the main theme of the "Bebop Tango", which eventually dissolves into yet another drum/percussion duet. Finally, in a continuation of the madness, this duet evolves into the "T'Mershi Duween" drum intro (which is not present on any released recording), which then leads right into a "T'Mershi Duween" reprise. Simply great!

1973 Oct-Dec: Up until this tour, "Bebop Tango" existed as part two of the three part medley known as "Farther O'Blivion". The first part consisted of the Steno Pool section from "Greggary Peccary", part two was the head of "Bebop Tango", and part three was an instrumental version of "Cucamonga" (an example of this medley can be heard on "Piquantique" from Beat the Boots Volume I). For this tour, however, "Bebop Tango" comes in to its own, developing tiny little notes, a desire to dance, and occasional audience participation. The original "Farther o'Blivion" medley is only performed once—on 10/26—yet even within the context of "Farther O'Blivion", "Bebop Tango" now resembles the monster we have on "Roxy and Elsewhere". After this performance, it truly becomes its own song, essentially performed as on "Roxy and Elsewhere", with the standard deviation coming in Fowler's trombone workout, Ruth's short but typically brilliant percussion showcase, and the "why-was-this-faded-out-on-the-album?" feel good outro. We also get our standard audience participation, which not only involved dancing but also the challenge to actually sing all those tiny little notes.

"The Malcolm McNab"

ttuerf (October 4, 2007)

Apparently, as McNab explains in the notes [of his Exquisite CD], the original title of "BBT" was "The Malcolm McNab."

Frank Zappa—A Pioneer Of Future Music—Part 2 (2007)

A Pioneer Of Future Music Part 2

Malcolm McNab, interviewed by Chris Wade, Zappateers, May 6, 2016

One of those evenings in 1972, Frank called me to come up to his house and said to remember to bring my D trumpet. I showed up with my D trumpet; the "Pixie Trumpet" as Frank called the smaller trumpets like the D and the piccolo trumpet. On the music stand there was a sheet of music that he had composed on his guitar. The title on the music said "The Malcolm McNab". Frank said, "Can you play this?" "I hope so" was the only thing I could say as I perused one of the most difficult lines of music I had ever seen. He advised me that the solo was played to a tango beat. I struggled through it and did the best I could in reading it for the first time. He was so excited about it and I just felt like I was "on the ropes" all the way through the piece. I left his house that night with my work really cut out for me. I had no idea at that time that he would eventually include this piece on the road with the Petite Wazoo as part of a larger piece entitled Further Oblivion. I could not believe it when he asked if I could dance while playing it. I think that Bruce Fowler spoiled Frank with his great dancing on the road.


Conceptual Continuity

Herb Cohen:


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This page updated: 2023-11-16