Improvijazzation Nation, Issue # 114


Here’s our  fifth issue for 2011, # 114. There are just over 100 CD’s (still) in queue, which I expect to clear out soon… but then, each time I produce a new review, I get 2 or 3 more CD’s in… life’s grand, isn’t it? Ha! Ha!

When the links below are SHADED, they already have content – if not, you’ll need to come back to check it for content (of course, I’ll also be posting the updates on FB, if you prefer to use that method):

REVIEWS – Clocked in another 30 reviews for # 113, & you will see many new artists and products in the queue (if you haven’t seen it yet, you may want to look at my ZZAJ REVIEW QUEUE page, which will show you what’s coming up… this can really be handy for promoters and artists who have sent me review material too); brand-new and exciting music to learn about!

INTERVIEW – for this issue isn’t finalized yet (because I’ve been spending too much time on the road), but check this page – I’ll post the announcement here about who our next interviewee will be soon!

ZZAJRANT – Hey – if YOU would like to rant a bit, shoot me a copy of your RANT… if it’s something I like, I may publish it… all material should be emailed to

HAPPENINGS – use this page (always on) to check the latest and greatest happenings… in fact, if YOU have music or poetry events you’d like announced, just REGISTER for our site… just hit the REGISTER button – at the TOP RIGHT side of the page; as a registered user – you can POST gig announcements, commentaries – the list goes on & on – so please consider REGISTERING with us – ok? It’s FREE – no charges or hidden fees! If your post is significant enough to me, I may add it into the HAPPENINGS page!

Our latest reviews for your reading and listening pleasure!

Mercury Falls – QUADRANGLE: This is some of the most sensitive and beautiful experimental work I’ve heard in years… listen to “Spring Pools“, the opener, to hear why I’m so enchanted with the talent displayed here! Patrick Cress’s sax/composition is full-bodied and somewhere in the “mystery zone”… the rest of the group (Ryan Francesconi’s guitar, Eric Perney’s upright bass and Tim Bulkley’s drums) work together seamlessly to wrap you into the 7-song spell they weave.  The whole CD is only 38:49 (on my player, anyway), but it’s some of the most memorable music you’ll hear in 2011.  My favorite composition on the CD, partly because of the title, was “Insurance Rep“… dreamy and strange music that’s not intrusive at all… these guys will have your ears for the entire time!  I give them my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj


Matthew Meadows – MATTHEW MEADOWS: My first encounter with Matthews’ splendid guitar work was at his REVERBNATION site on an acoustic instrumental titled “Circles“, which is one of my favorite guitar instrumentals of all time!  After talking with him via FB & so forth, he sent me 5 or so more songs, & I got to hear his quite interesting vocal/guitar style on “Falling“… pretty, pretty!  You’ll see when you visit him that he has lots of fingers in the artistic pie, even though advertising his music as “metal-ish”… lol; check him out!  My favorite tune, though, was the dark & swirling “The Mistress“… absolutely power-packed high talent for your ears (jazz fans may not like this, but so what)!  I give Matthew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & look forward to more of his work in the near future.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.95.  Visit him at to learn more.    Rotcod Zzaj

Carlo De Lorenzi – FOUR SEASONS IN ONE RECESS: Carlo’s ten originals on this solo project absolutely RAWK!  He’s joined by others, but essentially this is pure De Lorenzi… just get a hold on the groove he has goin’ down on “Edge of the Rainstorm“; the vocals by Jessie Lefebvre are fantastic!  The funky drums on “Baked Potato” clearly take me back to Ramsey Lewis days & plays – far cool!  There are several styles represented in the compositions, all of them executed with perfect form & feel for the soul of the song!  I loved the mood Carlo creates on “Rocky Harbour“, and have no doubt you’ll be slip-slidin’ right along as he plays this one… excellent bass from Mike Scardamaglia on this one, too – it’s my favorite on the CD, by the way.  I give Carlos & krew a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who demand a bit of variety in their listening… “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.96.  Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj



Mad Romance – AIM HIGH: Vocal jazz these days is often restricted to a lead & a couple of backup singers, but this group brings back a whole lot of 1950′s mem’ries for my ears.  A full quartet of singers who know how to have fun as they sing in all blends and varieties of jazz.  I remember some grand musical movies during those years that featured songs similar to Mad Romance’s version of “How Long Has This Been Going On“… high spirit with high talent are a combo that can’t be beat.  I also enjoyed “Time Of The Season” which had some real “McFerrin” (or “Jarreau”) moments on the intro & some superb vocal effects through the tune, too; my favorite, by the way.  A very enjoyable CD that many will love… I give the group a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj





Brian Landrus Quartet – TRAVERSE: Brian’s mighty mellow reeds (baritone sax) start this jazz adventure off with the title cut, “Traverse“, & it’s a laid-back tune you won’t soon forget… in addition to his great sax work, Brian has piano by Michael Cain, bass from Lonnie Plaxico and drums from Billy Hart.  The other “big hit” track of the eight on the CD was the next-to-last cut, the oddly titled “Creeper“… what was most impressive about this 10:02 piece is the clear affinity the players demonstrate for listening to each others’ movements and ministrations (it’s definitely my favorite on the CD).   You’ll want to listen to this with headphones on for the first couple rounds, to get the full weight of the jazz power the quartet projects!  I give them a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & predict that you’ll be hearing much more from them over the next two years… they get an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 (near the top, to be sure).  Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj




Atsuko Hashimoto – UNTIL THE SUN COMES UP: If there’s any kind of jazz that keep me up from moonset to sunrise, it’s well-played Hammond B3 – & that’s something that goes without saying on Atsuko’s excellent CD.  She’s joined by guitarist Graham Dechter and top-flite drummer Jeff Hamilton (both have been reviewed here before, of course); tunes like the opener, “All Or Nothing At All” will make you fall in love with Atsuko’s high-energy keyboard style right away.  The trio’s upbeat & swingin’ version of “Moon River” is quite unlike any you’ve heard lately – every note is “on time”!  It was the silky-smooth “The Good Life” that got my vote for favorite track, though!   This high-talent trio gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Atsuko’s web site.      Rotcod Zzaj





Frank Piombo – SMOOTH REMINISCENCE: It was the opener on this very interesting 10-song CD, Frank’s rendition of “Europa“, that drew my ears right to him… raw power and high-talent in his playing, you’ll agree without doubt.  I also dug the laid-back ambiance of “Angelic Eyes“… this is what jazz guitar is s’posed to be all about, folks!  Some nice traditional pieces, mixed with a bit o’ funk & jazz, make for a nice 3o-or-so minute listen… I would like to see the songs last a tad longer (the longest was 4:18) on the next album.  Any way you listen to Frank’s dedicated playing, though, his CD certainly merits my HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating… “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.95.  Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj





Kronomorfic – MICRO TEMPORAL INFUNDIBULA: Some of the most prolific improvisors you’ll ever hear find a home on the pfmentum label… I’ve reviewed many of their artists over the last 25 years… reedist David Borgo (tenor, soprano & sopranino saxophones on this outing) was most recently reviewed in issue # 106 with high praise, I might add.  The 9 tracks on this (ever so slightly) hard to pronounce CD are definitely in a jazz vein, but with an “edge” some listeners (those who demand only the traditional, I mean) may have to get used to.  One tune both sides of the (jazz) fence will love is “Repolarization“… the harmonica adds some nice shades too.  My personal favorite was “Ossuary“, a gentle 6:28 adventure that has some of the best rhythm/counter-rhythm experiences I’ve heard in the last 3 years!  For those listeners looking for something different, but jazz-oriented enough to keep your interest, this CD gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, & an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at the PFMENTUM site.    Rotcod Zzaj



Mary Jenson – BEYOND: There are a few times when I open up a CD from an artist I’ve not heard before and find a kindred spirit… it’s just like magic.  The second track, “Say My Name” certainly struck me that way… I can’t say exactly why, except to say that Mary has been associated with some of the same kind of “world-trekking” I’ve engaged in these last 40 years; but she clearly knows how to harness her talent and channel the power into something most enjoyable and inspiring.  Her rendition of “Come Together” is certainly remarkable… unlike any artist’s way of doing it… I loved this one!  My favorite of the 11 tunes, though, was “Moon At The Window“… smooth, but full of the kind of vocal soul that makes for classic singers!  I give Mary my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & predict that you’ll be hearing much more from this young lady in the years to come.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at I think you’ll love the following video of her performance earlier this year at Yoshi’s, too Rotcod Zzaj




Frank Butrey – MALICIOUS DELICIOUS: Though I detected nothing truly “malicious” in Frank’s playing, there IS an “edge” on it (as well as the 5 others that join him)… even on tunes like “Boisterous Voiceterous“, the opener.  What is (like, totally, people) orb-vious, though, is some of the highest energy for jazz guitar playing that I’ve heard in the last year.  I’ve listened to this CD (at least) 20 times now – it stays on my playlist… & that means something, as not too many CD’s get to stay there for longer than a couple of weeks.  If you’re looking for tuneage that’s a bit more laid back, you’ll dig the 5:04 “Little Workshops“… totally pretty!  Since I’m always lookin’ for the “most” energy in a new release, I found my favorite of the 9 tracks to be the 13:21 “This End Up“… so hot it’ll melt lava down even more!  I give this superb CD a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Additionally, Frank gets the “PICK” of this issue for “best guitar-based jazz”!   Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj




Elizabeth Woodbury Kasius & Heard – KARIBU: As I first listened to Elizabeth’s infectiously joyful keyboards, with strong percussion backing, I knew there was something “familiar” about her playing… it turns out she went to school in my state, Washington (Seattle).  The cast of players is far too large to itemize here; suffice it to say that she has some genuine “stars” in her orbit… 8 songs that will give your ears pleasure for a long time to come… check out the lilting “Angel Door“… the woodwinds on this one make it well worth the purchase of the CD!  The title track, “Karibu“, is the clear winner for my pick as favorite… I just love the arrangement and the heavy doses of percussion on this tune – this one will make you get on up & dance!  Elizabeth’s music belongs at the front of the jazz racks – she gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj




Two Guitars – BENDING TIME: Gus (Wieland) and Brian (Conigliaro) are the two players here, & just like the cut-sheet notes say, they’ve put together a most pleasurable listening experience for guitar lovers the world ’round!  I sunk my ears right into the opener, “Black Magic Woman“, & have no doubt yours (ears, that is) will follow suit.  The down & jazzy sounds on “Only Boy Living In New York“, as well as nice slinky vocals from Gus, make this more than “just another guitar album”.  It was the laid-back groove of the 5:13 “Overjoyed” that captured my vote for favorite, though… these two gents have their act together, and you’ll hear it right away.  What’s crystal clear is that Gus & Brian have the “key ingredient” in their playing – they like to have FUN with it!  They get a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.95.  Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj



Ken Thomson and Slow-Fast – IT WOULD BE EASIER IF: It usually takes me a few bars to be impressed (or depressed, I s’pose) with a new band)… Ken’s wild antics on reeds, along with Russ Johnson on trumpet, Nir Felder’s guitar, Adam Armstrong’s bass & drums from Fred Kennedy made this exciting CD fall out in the former category!  Those inclined towards improvised jazz will find no equal in their listening this year… the changes on the 11:01 “No, No No” make this one song worth purchasing the CD… every little nuance of each player’s instrument is captured in excellence!  The opener, “Kleine Helmet“, though, is what blew my socks off… it’s definitely my favorite of the five tracks… the tune isn’t for novice listeners, though… you must be experienced enough to realize the value of immersing yourself in the music!  I give these folks a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at - there’s a nice interview with Ken there, too!     Rotcod Zzaj




Josh Johnston – THE SHAPE OF THINGS: Despite my penchant for jumpin’ jazz, I always have a place in my ears for music that is beautiful and uses the piano to convey the artists’ inner talent… Josh has created a very powerful listen here, with 13 wonderful solo pieces here that project power and understanding of the world around him.. just listen to one of my favorites, “FVX” – wraps you right into the way he feels & won’t let go!  The fine left-hand bass notes on “Guest” made it a keeper (that will remain high on my playlists), too.  It was the beautiful chords on “Saving A Life” (the closer) that made it my favorite on the CD… simple, yet fully engaging.  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for piano lovers everywhere, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj





Renée Manning – ALL GROWN UP: The title of Renee’s CD very much reflects the quality of her jazz vocal work… you can hear that this is a lady who is totally confident and who has a mature style that pulls no punches.  Just listen to the svelte (yet husky) tones of her singing on “The Only Thing You Need (Is Me) - of course, it doesn’t hurt that she has high-energy players backing her, but it’s clear that she’s “running this song” – very cool!  It was the jumpin’ bass-driven “Wow” that made me an instant fan, though… she’s “got it”, to be sure, & you’ll fall instantly in love with her vocals, too.  A few of the tunes were shorter than I’m used to (just under 3 minutes), but it all works out fine in the final analysis.  I give Renee & krew a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for this groove-filled vocal adventure, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.95.  Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj





Eddie Mendenhall, featuring Mark Sherman, Akira Tana and John Schifflett – COSINE MEETS TANGENT: Eddie’s splendid CD features one of the artists we have reviewed a lot over the last many years, Mark Sherman, but Eddie’s piano clearly is in charge here!  “Protocol“, the opener, is among the most dazzling jazz singles I’ve heard yet this year… crisp and full-bodied, you’ll love this tune – I guarantee it!  I also loved “Blues for Yokohama“… Mark’s vibes just shine on this one.  Though Eddie’s piano playing has been “on the scene” for years now, this is his first recording… ten tracks that will all spin over & over on your playlists – they’re all keepers. The upbeat energy of “The Great Triplet” made it my favorite… great rhythms throughout!  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for lovers of fine quartet jazz, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96. All the way from waltz to wild (sort of), this is one fine little jazz CD.   Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj




András László Weil Fischer diPalotta – LA STRADA: There are deep/dark undercurrents in Andras music, especially on pieces like “Wett Dreams“… while this isn’t jazz, it’s in the same highly creative and mystifying realm!  You’ll hear some strong rock influences, with clear tastes of funky psychedelia to turn yer’ krank & rawk yer’ world!  I especially enjoyed the throbbing gristle of “Thoughts“, which will transport you back to a realm you might have thought (get it – ha! ha!) you left behind you.  Actually, after strolling the back alleys & canals of A-Dam back in another generation is where it takes me… you can almost see the same junkies I did back in the late ’60′s being hosed off the statues in the early morning (they did it with gigantic fire hoses).  This cat is a legitimate poet as well as an “on” performer – I give him a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at & be sure to tell him Rotcod Zzaj sent you!








Delfeayo Marsalis – SUCH SWEET THUNDER: Delfeayo’s trombone work on here is far above the cut of normal, to be sure!  His tribute to Duke (and Shakespeare, no less) includes such gems as the jumpin’ “Sonnet To Hank Cinq“, one rollicking tune that will stay embedded in your head for days (if not months) to come!  His brothers Branford & Jason join him with a whole host of other top talent players to treat your ears… scope out one of my favorites, the grand “Sonnet In Search Of A Moor” to hear music that is as timeless as the great master’s poems and plays (the changes on this 8:11 epic make it worth the purchase price).  It was the closer, “Circle of Fourths” that got my vote for favorite track, though… this is one of the most vibrant trombone-led pieces I’ve ever heard – it just doesn’t stop moving!  I give this my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for trombone jazz fans around the globe, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj




Aimee Allen – WINTERS & MAYS: Some lady jazz singers just “try too hard”… others “think” they’ve “got that swing” (but don’t)… in Aimee’s case, none of the above apply… she’s totally a natural!  Just scope out her mighty mellow & sultry vocal on “Stardust Reunited” to get an idea how quickly you’ll fall in love with her talent and shining spirit!  The CD is slated for release o/a 7 June 2011, so get in queue right now for a splendid listening experience.  My favorite piece of the even dozen she presents for you is “That Day“; though it only clocks in at 4:21, it features all her players (Peter McCann’s guitar, Toru Dodo’s piano, Craig Akin’s bass, Jacob Melchoir’s drums and percussion & Victor Prieto’s accordion) in most splendid support of her stellar talent.  I listen to a lot of female jazz vocalists – this lady is right at the TOP of her game!  I rate her CD as MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information on Aimee’s FB page. Rotcod Zzaj




Harlan Mark Vale – Eternus Conscienta: Listening to this fantastic electronic ride without headphones on (at least for the first journey) would be doing a severe disservice to your aural appendages.  Many may know that Mark has been one of my main collaborators since the late 1970′s, others may not; but it is music like this that sets players apart – just listen to the serenely beautiful opener, “Light Of The Divine Inheritance” to get a taste of Mark’s creative inner spirit – I loved this one!  This certainly can’t be “classified” in any pigeonhole & that’s been true of all the music I’ve reviewed from Harlan since the early 21st Century to now.  Another clear winner is the totally soothing “Manifest From The Formless” – my absolute favorite of the six long compositions offered on this album.  Mark gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as the “PICK” of this issue for “most creative sonic expression”.  My “EQ” (energy quotient) rating for it is 4.99.  Get more information at the Harlan Mark Vale site.  & be sure to tell him Zzaj sent you his way.     Rotcod Zzaj




David Lopato – MANY MOONS: There will be some listeners who aren’t as much (as I am) into solo piano, but after listening through David’s dozen tracks at least that many times, especially on pieces like the opener “Swing Trades“, it would be their loss!  David’s stride boogie is extremely attractive to my ears, especially since that’s where I got my start on playing so many years ago.  Another cool piece was “Unrequited Love“… stride with swing & high spirit, no doubt.  David’s played with many names, not the least being David Liebman, Wadada Leo Smith & Dewey Redman, so he’s got the qualifications.  My all-round favorite track on this great little CD was the jumpin’ “African Village“… one of the finest piano tunes I’ve listened to (yet) in 2011!  I give this a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all listeners attracted to solo ivories… it gets an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj





Nicholas Urie – MY GARDEN: I’ll tell you right now, folks, this CD is almost too much for any listener (even experienced reviewers) to take in one sitting… the keyword here is – AMAZING!  Nicholas’ compositions and arrangements include swirling big-band epics with spoken/sung-word woven through the pieces… check out the opener, “Winter – 44th Year” to get an aural glimpse into a world you’ve not heard before.  As that tune bends away from the spoken word into the second piece, “Round and Round“, I realize I’ve already found my favorite track!  The vocal by Christine Correa, combined with the high-energy instrumentation of the host of other players, is just superb… I was especially impressed with the keyboard on this one (Frank Carlberg), & you will be too!  All 8 tracks are gems, and this CD gets an immediate MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for adventuresome jazz listeners of all persuasions… “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  This is an album you won’t soon forget!  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj




Uwe Gronau – MIDSUMMER: There is truly “something for all tastes” on Uwe’s fantastically entertaining double-CD set.  He uses piano, synth, organ, bass & acoustic guitar to weave you into his deeply satisfying sonic pictures… I particularly liked tunes like “Schritte im Schnee” (Steps in Snow), though I’m not sure how that plays well with the theme of midsummer (unless he performed this at the top of the Alps, where I imagine there would be a bit of white stuff)… very soothing, yet energetic, synth work here!  If you want something a little more beat-influenced, try “Konigsweg“- I’m just LOVING that organ/electronic pulse.  35 splendid compositions that will keep you enchanted for hours… I give Uwe my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for tunes like my favorite, “Sonnenwende“, a definite winner!  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj





Brad Dutz, Emily Hay, Motoko Honda with guest Wayne Peet – POLARITY TASKMASTERS: I’ve been reviewing many of these folks (Brad and Emily in particular) for quite some time now… the one track (the opener) I could find for download was “Transaction:  Scooter“… hmmm… a dope deal (on a scooter) gone wrong?  Some beautiful improvised wand’ring, to be sure & some excellent vocals scats hovering at the edge of your consciousness!  8 long tracks featuring Emily on flute, vocal and piano, with Brad’s precision percussion & Motoko Honda’s keyboards, as well as guest Wayne Peet’s piano work will be the dream any fan of improvisation wants to have.  The page that has the above song link also has two or three other splendid video performances, so you’ll have a grand time watching as well as listening.  My favorite piece on the CD was “Biting Ants”… you’ll never have a clearer picture of what that would feel like than through listening to this sweet (but dangerous) little piece.  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all who love improvised music; “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.96.  Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj



Matthew Schoening – LIVE AND UNCUT: One of the things I’ve been blessed with (in music, anyway) is the ability to “pick” the “stars”… & Matthew’s electric cello mastery, as well as his vibrant sense of timing (especially considering that this is indeed – LIVE & not chopped up with dubs) make this CD fall in that category – I predict that you WILL be hearing much, MUCH more from this shining artist!  As I listen to the 10:52 opener, “Water“, it’s very easy to hear just how “charged up” Matthew’s solo work was and imagine why the audience pictured on the CD inner sleeve was smiling so heartily!  For something with a deeper vibe, you will love “Earth“, no doubt in my mind… the overtones this cat achieves on this gem are worth the purchase price of the CD.  Matthew easily wins a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) of 4.99… he is my “PICK” of this issue for “most exciting new artist”… keep your ears open for more of his playing, as you will surely be hearing it!  Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj




Sanda – GYPSY IN A TREE: The cut-sheet that came with this interesting CD proclaims Sanda to be all the way from R&R to Gypsy Music Evangelist… & actually, that’s a pretty apt description.  If there’s one thing she has “down pat”, it’s style with variety.  There are even sections that reminded me of beer-tents during Fasching (WAY back in the day)… but this music is clearly not of that $1.00-cheap-album rack type… Ms. Weigl apparently infects everything she does with the sorts of energy that you seldom hear any more!  Just check out one of my favorite tracks, “Un Tivan Avea O Casa“… I swear, you’ll hear shades of Zappa (maybe she channeled him somehow… ha! ha!).  For something with a bit more experimental flavor, you’ll want to listen to “Jandarmul” from beginning to end (this one was, by the way, my favorite of the 11 songs Sanda did on this album).  Sanda demonstrates a clear talent here for giving the listener something more than they thought they were going to get – in a most positive way!  I give her a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj



Bones & Tones – BONES & TONES: The 8 tracks on this decidedly “world jazz” CD are both attractive and invigorating – to the max!  Marimba, bells & percussion from Lloyd Haber are joined by vibraphone/percussion by Warren Smith in a most pleasant journey for the listener.  Abdou Mboup joins in with vocals & percussion, along with Jaibu Shahid on bass & percussion; check out the totally moving beats on the 8:55 “228“…. only one word for this – SWEET… GREAT changes all the way through the tune, too.  If you want something with a little more bass in it, try “Dance For Suwoo“; some of the most fun-filled and joyful music I’ve listened to (yet) in 2011!  It was “In the Valley of Dreams” that captured my vote for favorite, though… percussion-intensive with more joy than you can handle.  I give these folks a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj




Alekos Galas – MEDITERRANEAN BREEZE: Music that conveys a joy for live & the living is always welcome in my listening zone, no matter where the breezes are blowing from.  This is my first listen to Alekos’ fine music & I can assure you it won’t be my last… the opener, “Bouzouki Spice” is vibrant and swirling, a sonic whirlpool that will carry your spirit to the edges of the ether!  11 beautiful tunes featuring nearly as many players, with Alekos’ on Bouzouki (an instrument I’ve not heard before)… the percussion intro on “Cielo” leads right into another tune that you can easily imagine gypsy ladies dancing to by a moonlit fire.  This December 2010 self-produced release earns a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for those who want a taste of “world” in their sonic adventures.  Truly stunning production and some of the finest sense of wonderment I’ve heard yet this year!  It gets an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj




Troy Roberts – NU JIVE: Though saxophonist Troy is a veteran recording artist, we hadn’t been exposed to his particular brand of high-energy jazz until this newest CD release… & it KICKS!  Just scope out one of my favorite of the 9 tracks, “Brotherlation“… in addition to his bright (yet throaty) reed work, there is some fantastic electric keyboard work that’s definitely the envy of my ear (being a keyboardist myself).  His co-artists (Silvano Monasterios on keys, Eric England on bass and David Chiverton on drums) show some of the highest talent I’ve heard yet this year, by the way!  My absolute favorite on the album was the peppy “Shavon“, 8:33 minutes of pure aural pleasure for jazz fans of all persuasions.  These players are TIGHT together, & I predict you’ll be hearing much more from them in the next couple of years!   I give this CD a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj




Melvin Jones – PIVOT: Brass is always invigorating in jazz, and Melvin’s prowess as a horn-man is right up there at the top, no doubt! Though the players he has with him are new to my ears (Marlon Patton’s drums, Mace Hibbard on woodwinds, Louis Heriveaux’s piano and Craig Shaw on bass), this CD is among the best debut albums I’ve heard (yet) in 2011.  Listen to the splendid energy on “Angels” to hear just how tight they are together… nearly seamless!  The totally upbeat “Inception” is truly a jazz standout, waiting to be nominated for “hall of fame” somewhere – you’ll find yourself spinning this one over & over again (as I did), I’ve no doubt.  The tastiest morsel on the CD (for my ears, anyway) was th’ groovin’ “Philly Time Zone“… this tune is packed with raw energy in a most urban mood.  I give Melvin & krew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj


I’ve been soliciting poems “about” music, but hadn’t thought about poems “set to” music.  Our first submission for this concept is from Obi Kaye, a really cool percussionist I met (last year) on the net.  Enjoy – & tell ALL your player friends to send me their poems that are set to music… just click on the text to listen to the tune!  Thanks, Obi!


So Far Away:

You are so far away,
That I can only touch you
in my dreams…

And I wonder,
when you close your eyes at night,
Do you feel your body
next to mine?

Only a god so cruel,
would allow me to feel this way,
and never let me touch you.

Obi Kaye









If it weren’t for music, our lives would be droll, drab and (often) “lifeless”.  There are, unfortunately, many souls ’round this ol’ world who haven’t a clue that is the case, yet I see (and, of course, hear) evidence of it every new day I rise! If we left our lives up to the politicians, and the ones who “run them”, we would have our minds focused on the pablum they’ve fed us via TV (I don’t EVER watch TV any more), or (even) in the Hollywood claptrap that’s so prevalent these days… some folks ask me what we can do to avoid the coming onslaught of gov-i-mint into the very core(s) of our lives… the first thing, which you have total control of, is:  TURN THAT IDIOT BOX OFF!  No matter how much (or how little) you realize it, the TV is their “control device”… they program you with it, tell you what to think about your neighbors, and (biggest of all) make you AFRAID OF THE WORLD AROUND YOU with it! Immerse yourself in music, or whatever art form takes your fancy… think through everything you do (without making a religion of it, of course)… take CONTROL of your life… it IS yours, not THEIRS (whether they think so or not).  Teach your children to enjoy the music in the breeze, immerse them, too… do NOT let others (government or elsewise) tell you what you should think, who you should like.  Whether there are really conspiracies out there is a moot point if we each live our own individual lives… but the MORE who “conform”, who let themselves be told what to wear, what to eat, etc., etc., ad nauseum, the larger the chance these monsters will win the fight for human minds & souls!  TAKE it BACK from them – then LAUGH in their faces! Think about it… til’ next time:   Zzaj out!