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Katie Jacoby, Ed Palermo

Barb Cifelli

Ben Kono

Photos by Rudy Lu

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The Falcon
Marlboro, NY
January 20, 2012

by Rudy Lu

When “Big Band” is mentioned. One will instantly think of Benny Goodman, Count Basie and Duke Ellington and the sounds of the 30s and 40s. This is not exactly the music that the Ed Palermo Big Band plays. They play the music of the late composer and rock musician Frank Zappa. The band has been playing a repertoire of Frank Zappa’s music mixed with Ed Palermo’s originals, mashed up with the progressive/classic rock that baby boomers have grown up with for over 15 years.

This big band also features unusual instrumentation and voicing with 2 keyboard players, an electric fiddle, electric guitar and electric bass along with drums and a 10 member horn and woodwind section that is at times augmented by the leader playing alto.

The band rocked the standing room only crowd with 2 sets featuring Frank Zappa compositions. There were many compositions from Zappa’s film soundtrack for “200 Motels”. Ed explained that many of these compositions could only be played live and never recorded due to copyright issues associated with film music.

Other outstanding band performances were a mash up of Santana’s “Jingo," Duke Ellington’s “Caravan" and Frank Zappa’s “G Spot"; a medley of Zappa’s "King Kong" with King Crimson’s "21st Schizoid Man", a cover of early 70’s Beach Boys song “Sail on Sailor" and the Beatle’s “I am a Walrus” complete with sing along.

Ed Palermo’s frenetic energy and enthusiasm ignited the band, which sounded like it was going to fly off the stage.

All band members were outstanding soloists. The interplay between electric fiddle player Katie Jacoby and guitarist Bruce McDaniel was most interesting. Keyboard player Ted Kooshian provided interesting textures for all the music. Other outstanding soloists included Phil Chester on sax, Ronnie Buttacavoli on trumpet and Charlie Gordon on trumpet. It should also be noted that former Capital District musicians Cliff Lyons and John Hines are also members of the band.

The band’s outstanding performance and the warm vibe at the Falcon certainly made this 3-hour road trip a great way to spend a cold winter evening.

Rudy Lu is a safety consultant by day , fine arts photographer nights and weekends and an occasional music critic. He has had a passion for jazz since his college days when he was a dj for WRUC (Radio Union College). He is a frequent contributor to as well as His work has been exhibited locally and has been featured by both nationally known and local musicians. He lives in Niskayuna, NY.