If any rock musician's body of work deserves to be approached like the oeuvre of a classical composer, it's the dense and often labyrinthine music of satirist and guitar genius Frank Zappa. Though the deceased maestro's heir, Dweezil -- along with a number of high-powered Zappa alumni, including stunt guitarist Steve Vai and drummer Terry Bozzio -- finally embarked on a tour last year, the New Jersey tribute group Project/Object has been offering up its faithful interpretations of Zappa's music for over a decade now.
Founded in the early '90s, the outfit draws from an impressive pool of East Coast jazz and rock virtuosos dedicated to executing their hero's twisting, odd-metered material in all its esoteric and demented glory. Project/Object has worked with a number of principal players from various Zappa bands over the years: vocalist and saxophonist Napoleon Murphy Brock, guitar player Ray White, and original Mothers of Invention freaks Jimmy Carl Black, Don Preston, and Bunk Gardner. But no Zappa alumnus has logged more time on the road with the group than singer and guitar wizard Ike Willis. The legendary voice of Joe in the hilarious, Scientology-bashing rock opera Joe's Garage Acts I, II & III and a mainstay of Zappa's band from the late '70s onward, Willis deservedly gets top billing when he and Project/Object swing through Cleveland on their current Staying the Course for Zappa Winter Tour.