VAC to host screening of ‘Zappa U,’ performance by jazz orchestra

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald file photo

    The University of Hawaii at Hilo Jazz Orchestra during rehearsal Nov. 29 at UH-Hilo.

“Zappa U,” a documentary film about Frank Zappa tribute concerts performed by the University of Hawaii at Hilo Jazz Orchestra, will be screened followed by a set by the orchestra at 4 p.m. Jan. 14 at Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village.

The film’s producer, Steve Roby, also will be present for a Q&A session after the film.


Since 2013, the UH-Hilo Jazz Orchestra has performed annual Zappa tribute shows. In 2016, professor Trever Veilleux and his students in the jazz orchestra presented their fourth concert event, “Zappa4Ever.” Along with archival footage, the film tracks the students’ 12 weeks of rehearsals, their thoughts on Zappa’s complex compositions, and what they take away from the final concert hall experience.

The documentary also features commentary from Cheryl “Quack” Moore, a former “Saturday Night Live” music director, sax legend Lou Marini, who appeared on several Zappa albums, and photographer Chiu “Ray” Leong, who shot the cover for the seminal Mothers of Invention record “Freak Out!” The film concludes with the students performing several Zappa pieces in concert.


Roby is a respected rock music historian, archivist and best-selling author. Roby moved to the Big Island in 2015 and quickly immersed himself in the Big Island’s unique contemporary culture. In addition to “Zappa U,” Roby also produced the documentary “Western Week in Honokaa” for Snap Judgement Films. His third film, “Livin’ On a Rock: A Big Island Music Story,” will be released in 2018. Roby also is the managing editor of bigislandmusic.net, an online magazine about Hawaii Island’s music scene.

The event, a fundraiser for the UH-Hilo Jazz Orchestra, will take place at the Niaulani Campus Hale Ho`omana Building, 19-4074 Old Volcano Road. A $10 donation is requested. For more information, call 967-8222 or visit www.volcanoartcenter.org.