Frank Zappa composer Dr Allan Zavod dies

Dr Allan Zavod
Dr Allan Zavod

Composer Dr Allan Zavod, who worked with artists including Frank Zappa and Eric Clapton in his career, has died at home aged 71 after being diagnosed with brain cancer last year.

Born in Melbourne, Australia, the renowned jazz pianist also worked with Duke Ellington, Jean-Luc Ponty, Cab Calloway, George Benson, James Morrisson and many more throughout his career. He also composed more than 30 movie and TV soundtracks – including 1989 movie Communion with Clapton.

Zavod achieved a music degree from the Conservatorium at the University Of Melbourne in 1969. At the recommendation of Ellington, who watched him perform, he furthered his studies at Berklee College Of Music in Boston, US – where he later became a professor.

In 2009, the University of Melbourne awarded Zavod the Degree of Doctor of Music in recognition of his international achievements as a composer. In later life he pioneered a classical-jazz music fusion for symphony orchestras – with a Zavod Jazz Fusion Scholarship currently in development at the university.

Zavod said: “I’m at a point now where I write major works that combine my history and experience in both worlds. Classical and jazz styles come together in a marriage.

“Duke loved to have a problem to solve and, in the end, that’s what came together for me. It’s so exciting to see classical musicians share the same concert platform – the trumpet’s out front, the jazz trio is behind him and the full symphony orchestra is the backdrop.”

Zavod is survived by his mother, wife Christine and son Zak.

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Former TeamRock news desk member Christina joined our team in late 2015, and although her time working on online rock news was fairly brief, she made a huge impact by contributing close to 1500 stories. Christina also interviewed artists including Deftones frontman Chino Moreno and worked at the Download festival. In late 2016, Christina left rock journalism to pursue a career in current affairs. In 2021, she was named Local Weekly Feature Writer of the Year at the Scottish Press Awards.