The Yellow Shark is an album of orchestral music by Frank Zappa, released in 1993. It features live recordings from the Ensemble Modern's 1992 performances of Zappa's compositions. It was the last Zappa album released before his death. In the album's notes, Zappa describes The Yellow Shark as one of the most fulfilling projects of his career, and as the best representation of his orchestral works.
Singer Tom Waits has listed it as one of his favourite albums, commenting: "The ensemble is awe-inspiring. It is a rich pageant of texture in colour. It's the clarity of his perfect madness, and mastery. Frank governs with Elmore James on his left and Stravinsky on his right. Frank reigns and rules with the strangest tools."
In 1991, Zappa was chosen to be one of four featured composers at the Frankfurt Festival in 1992 (the others were John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Alexander Knaifel). Zappa was approached by the German chamber ensemble, Ensemble Modern, which was interested in playing his music for the event. Although ill, Zappa invited them to Los Angeles for rehearsals of new compositions and new arrangements of older material. In addition to being satisfied with the ensemble's performances of his music, Zappa also got along with the musicians, and the concerts in Germany and Austria were set up for the fall. The choreographer Édouard Lock and his company La La La Human Steps were part of the show. In September 1992, the concerts went ahead as scheduled, but Zappa could only appear at two in Frankfurt due to illness. At the first concert, he conducted the opening "Overture", and the final "G-Spot Tornado" as well as the theatrical "Food Gathering in Post-Industrial America, 1992" and "Welcome to the United States" (the remainder of the program was conducted by the ensemble's regular conductor Peter Rundel). Zappa received a 20-minute ovation. It would become his last professional public appearance, as the cancer was spreading to such an extent that he was in too much pain to enjoy an event that he otherwise found "exhilarating". Recordings from the concerts appeared on The Yellow Shark, Zappa's last release during his lifetime.
The posthumous album Everything Is Healing Nicely, released in 1999, contains recordings from around the same time, made in preparation for the performances documented on The Yellow Shark.
^Menn, Don, ed. (1992). "Andreas Mölich-Zebhauser — Preparing the Ensemble Modern for the Frankfurt Festival". Zappa! Guitar Player Presents. San Francisco, CA: Miller Freeman. pp. 12–13. ISSN1063-4533
^Zappa intended to mean "These fucking pigeons," a concept conveyed in Italian using a slang term for penis, but his title is grammatically incorrect, mixing plural penises with a single pigeon. The correct Italian would be "Questi Cazzo Di Piccioni."
^bass oboe uncredited, but visible on ARTE TV broadcast ("Get Whitey" segment)