One of Frank Zappa’s many musical talents, aside from his humor and lyrical savvy, was crafting punishingly technical tunes. Songs like “The Black Page #1” skip keys like rope and have the rhythmic complexity of a high-level math problem. It’s a drum and percussion piece that goes hard decades after its creation—and whether a diehard Mothers of Invention fan or Zappa newcomer, you can enjoy it in Paste’s exclusive clip from Zappa, the new documentary devoted to the idiosyncratic musician.
Directed by Alex Winter, the Bill & Ted actor who’s spent the last decade cranking out savvy documentaries, Zappa blends archival footage and new interviews with musicians and family to paint an intimate portrait of the man behind the music. But the entry point was always the progressive, intriguing music. That’s why, in the clip below, watching Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention’s Ruth Underwood absolutely rock “The Black Page” (intercut with interviews, of course) is such a gripping way into the film.
Take a look:
Those fingers are flying. Underwood, who played basically every percussion instrument under the sun for Zappa’s band (including the melodic ones like xylophone that he wrote “The Black Page” for), teaches that piano who’s boss.
“There was no doubt that there was a person who could write music. Fantastic music. Who cared that it be played properly. And what I’m hearing was put on this Earth for me,” Underwood says of Zappa’s songs. “That music is there for as long as we have any kind of appreciation for the arts. The music that Frank made will last.”
The touching final moments of the clip cut between Underwood’s smile at completing the song and an archival photo of that same smile, decades before, on stage with Zappa.
Zappa hits VOD on November 27.