Zappa's Keyboards-Tommy Mars

Zappa's keyboards have been manned by professional piano players Peter Wolf and Tommy Mars, names that may be less familiar. Starting in 1977, they've toured with Zappa and recorded with him, contributing to the considerable success of Sheik Yerbouti and Joe's Garage, Acts I, II & III. They also appear in Frank's new movie, Baby Snakes, which is currently going through final edits and distribution negotiations.....
....  Tommy Mars (whose real name is Thomas Mariano, he wants us to know) would probably agree with Peter that the emotional context of the music is its most important component -- but, oddly enough for a man who claims to have developed a "tremendous rapport" with Zappa's E-mu, he feels that synthesizers are somewhat "dehumanizing." When quizzed about the music he writes on his own, he replies, "If I was going to do a solo album and wanted a violin to play, I wouldn't synthesize it. The way I look at it, no matter how well you synthesize a sound, big deal, it's only an electrical wave. It's not the real thing. I'd sooner hire somebody, waste myself bucks-wise, and get real people playing on the album. But I'm old-fashioned; what can I say?"....
Tommy Mars
....FZ: When we first went into the studio, Pete was back in Vienna and Tommy started the album off. He was always jamming around. We had so much trouble trying to make him behave like a studio musician and get down to business that when Peter came back from Vienna, I tried him for a couple of days and it was a lot more efficient. With Tommy, we worked for several days and wound up with two tracks, whereas with Peter, we could do two or three tracks a day. They're equipped differently. Tommy is definitely a creative keyboard player with a good musical mind, but in the discipline department we had some problems. He just can't control himself to sit down and play something simple that's required for a simple song. So Tommy plays on only two songs on all six sides of Joe's Garage; the rest of the keyboard work is Peter. For other things that I do, Tommy is probably better qualified than Peter. Tommy reads a lot better and has a totally different kind of musical ear. It just turned out that he wasn't what I needed for Joe's Garage. You see, there's very little keyboard work on it. What was needed was vocal accompaniment, because it's basically a vocal album. We needed some tracks laid down on a Wurlitzer electric piano, without any jazz motives or cadenzas. That's all I wanted. There are a lot of keyboard players in the world who cannot imagine that that would be fun to do. Tommy is one of'em. Peter wasn't all that thrilled about it either, because he's basically a jazz guy too, but in his case you can say, "Now, Peter, stop playing the jazz and just play this," and he'll do it. You have to tell Tommy 18 times. The first few sessions were very chaotic. I hate to have to act like an umpire or referee and go scream at everybody because they're jamming. I don't pay 200 dollars an hour studio time to have guys go in there and jazz out. If you want to practice, do it at home; don't do it in the studio. The studio is the time to make the record. .....

After his work with Zappa, Mars alternated between teaching and touring with Steve Vai or Stuart Hamm. In mid 1990s, Mars formed The Band From Utopia, a group consisting of 10 Zappa band alumni, performing Zappa's music as a tribute band.

Tommy Mars Performed In Zappa's Albums:

Sheik Yerbouti
Joe's Garage Act I
Joe's Garage Acts II & III
Tinseltown Rebellion
Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar (The Series)
You Are What You Is
Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch
The Man From Utopia
Baby Snakes
Them Or Us
Frank Zappa Meets The Mothers Of Prevention
Uncle Meat '87 re-release
Jazz From Hell
As An Am (BTB)
Anyway The Wind Blows (BTB)
Saarbrücken 1978 (BTB)
At The Circus (BTB)
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 1
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 3
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 4
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 5
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 6
The Lost Episodes
Frank Zappa Plays The Music Of Frank Zappa
The Dub Room Special

Tommy Mars in Zappa's Films:

Baby Snakes (The Film)
Dub Room Special
Video From Hell
Zappa's Keyboards-Tommy Mars Zappa's Keyboards-Tommy Mars Reviewed by frank zappa newspaper on 10:08 Rating: 5

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