Visit Zzaj Energy Channel


Issue # 104 REVIEWS

New! New! New!  Zzaj PODCAST!

We now have 3 TOTALLY FREE CD's (with free cover art) available for download at our NETLABEL site!  The only thing we ask is that you scroll to the bottom of the page(s) & give us a REVIEW!  Please ADVERTISE this to ALL your friends... tell them we are GIVING AWAY music!




Edoardo Marraffa and Tonino Miano- EDUS TONUS:  Tonino sent this adventurous CD my way some time ago, & due to world moves & relocations, I'm only now getting 'round to listening through it again for review.  The keyword for what this duo does is "excitement"... Edoardo's tenor/sopranino sax work is full-bodied & meshes perfectly with the very exploratory piano from Tonino.  On the reeds, I'm certainly reminded of some sessions I've heard Jeffrey Morgan do, though Marraffa punches out some really challenging sequences of his own - to be sure!  To hear them at their best, check out "Edus Tonus"; slow-moving intro, very nicely paced & with a clear tone of mystery!  For something a little more upbeat, check out "Mr. Bronck"... tasty licks indeed, & Tonino's piano goes 'round in circles, kind of chasing itself, if you will... ha! ha!   There's some real intensity on this CD, and if you're listening leans more towards the "comforting", you may move on to the next room... on the other hand, if (like me), you want a little pandemonium - GET this one!  I give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with more to follow from Miano, no doubt.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Satoko Fujii and Carla Kihlstedt (Minamo) - KUROI KAWA - BLACK RIVER:  Readers who frequent these pages will know that I often review works from Satoko... one reason is because she is a monster creator... one of the most prolific composers/improvisors I've ever met.  She's joined by violinist Carla Kihlstedt on this forward-looking CD, and what a joining it is!  A double CD (24 songs total) that will enchant both "regular" jazzists and will even find a place in the hearts & ears of classicists, too.  There are sections ("Scarab") where you will think you're in a chamber music recital, and other tracks ("East") that will make you feel as though you've stumbled into one of those wacked-out improv sessions that last forever.  The main thing that shines through as these two experts play their hearts out, though, is that you have the privilege of listening to a private conversation between the duo... for that's just what this is like - a spirited dialogue of fine musical minds that won't soon leave your memory & will surely leave you as impressed as I was.  I give this my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as the "PICK" of this issue for "best jazz adventure".  It also receives an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at  or    Rotcod Zzaj

Kaspar Torn - KASPAR TORN:  This is a DDR (digital download review); the music Kaspar linked us to is totally unique and full of energy... no tired electronic clichés here... full-bodied compositions that will have you on the edge of your seat for hours (if not days) to come. Just listen to the 6:01 epic "Acid" to absorb something that represents what I'm talking about here.  OTOH, if you want something more danceable, try the moving "Android Mia" on for size.  I especially liked the opening synth lines on "Codex", but it was Kaspar's heavy guitar work in "Pole Shift" that really got my motor running... the fact that it's fairly long (4:47) doesn't hurt matters, either... in fact, I'd actually have liked it to be longer.  The biggest statement you'll be able to make after listening to this album is that it is (truly) unique... we've all heard snatches of what Kaspar is doing here, but never assembled in such attractive aural fashion.  I just LOVE the energy he puts into his playing, & do expect we'll be hearing more from this gent... for rock/jazz lovers, this gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) of 4.97.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Tony Foster - IN BETWEEN MOODS:  Tony's excellent piano is joined by Joe Poole's drums and Russell Botten's bass on this superb jazz trio CD.  I'm sure one of the reasons I "hear" what he says so easily is because he's from the same neck of the woods I am (up Seattle way), though originally he was from Vancouver BC, Canada.  Back to the music - the opener is a 5:23 rendition of "Take The A Train" that will have you boppin' right along, no doubt.  If you want something a little more upbeat, try "Mr. J." - definitely from hip city, & with a ton of energy for your aural enjoyment.  I found the title track, "in between moods" (a Foster original composition) to be my favorite, though... it strides right along, but isn't in the least bit overbearing... leaves you with a great taste in your ears - you'll play this one over & over again.  Though this is our first listen to Tony's works, I expect to be hearing much, much more!  I give this CD a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Ullmann-Swell 4 - NEWS? NO NEWS!:  If you're looking for "full-bore" jazz, this killer album with Gebhard Ullman (tenor sax & bass clarinet), Steve Swell (trombone), Hilliard Greene (double bass) & Barry Altschul (drums) will ring yer' chimes, no doubt!  On the opener, "More Hello", every instrument is totally engaged, and you instantly know you're in for a musical treat that won't quit anytime soon!  For something a bit slower (but no less intense), check out "Kleine Figuren #2"... the recording on this track is just EXCELLENT, capturing every little nuance, nook & cranny.  My absolute favorite, though, was "Planet Hopping On A Thursday Afternoon" (for which I couldn't find a free sample)... for one thing, it's just over 7 minutes long, giving the listener plenty of time to absorb their direction... more importantly, though, it's a FINE "straight-ahead" piece that will leave more traditional jazz fans a comfort level they might not have had.  In the overall, this is among the best jazz albums I've listened to this year.  I give this splendid CD a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, along with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at or    Rotcod Zzaj

Tierra Negra and Muriel Anderson - NEW WORLD FLAMENCO:  There are 15 excellent songs, many of which you'll fall in love with, on this wonderful CD (released early this year, on January 1st, to be exact) from Tierra Negra/Muriel.  The keyword that shines through for all they compositions & playing is "JOY"; unbounded & pure, they will transport you from the depths of whatever sorrow you're experiencing right now & elevate your spirit!  There were many tunes I liked, especially those like "Cafe Au Lait", which will have you on your feet & dancing 'round the room in a matter of seconds.  Raughi Ebert (flamenco guitar), Leo Henrichs (flamenco guitar) & Muriel Anderson (classical harp & guitar) are joined by special guests Danny Gottlieb (drums), Mark Egan, Victor Wooten & Helmuth Fass (bass), & other players in a true celebration.  If your tastes run towards something more ballad-like, try out "En El Bosque De Cristal" - the strings are wonderful on this one.  My all-around favorite track, though, was "View From Space" - excellent atmospheric piece, with depth beyond belief.  I give these folks a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & predict that we'll be hearing much more from them in the coming years.  They get an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

RG Royal Sound Orchestra - IMPACT:  Though the cut-sheet says to file it under "jazz", it's on a grander scale than that word might convey... this is indeed an orchestral experience, with lots of heavy horns & dynamite arrangements.  An even dozen Latin-oriented pieces (or at least the arrangements make them come across as Latin; when you look at the player list, you'll see why).  There are a lot of influences at work here - big band, dance band, you name it... the talent assembled is diverse and completely UP for what they are doing.  When you listen to "That's The Way", you'll find your fingers snappin' & your toes tappin' - to be sure!  The main component here is FUN, & as I always say - "if it ain't FUN - it ain't MUSIC!"  Try out my favorite track, the closer, "Macarena"... totally full of life & the joy of living it... the vocals add a whole new dimension to the song, & the lead guitar just KICKS out the jam.  I give these folks a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.95.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

The Kevin Hays Trio - YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND:  Every once in a while I wind up with a CD that gets "stuck" in the queue, & unfortunately this beautiful little album (street date was May 1 2009) fell in that stack.  The trio features piano by Kevin, bass by Doug Weiss & drums from Bill Stewart, and it will bring a few tears to your eyes, especially if you love older tunes like the album title, or stuff like "Fool On A Hill", one of my absolute favorites from the 7 on the album.  Recording is crisp & clear, & the trio's playing is precision that your ears/heart/mind/soul will fall in love with right away.  "Nothing Like You" is also an outstanding track - Kevin's piano work just shines, and the bass & drums are totally in (& on) time.  Very, very impressive jazz that will stay at the top of your playlists for a long time to come.  We reviewed him last in issue # 84, and are just as hepped on this one as we were then... this gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from these old ears, as well as an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.95!  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Matthew LaBarge - OCTOBER:  If ever you've been haunted by overtones and supremely expressive keyboard playing, you'll know what Matthew's saying in a matter of seconds from the opening bars of "first light".  When he moves to the deep chords on "Sunrise", you'll know immediately why the piano was my first-choice instrument - ever SO expressive & full of life!  There are 13 wonderful and inspiring solo piano tracks that will capture your ears and won't let go, well-recorded and full of the joy of living life - particularly Matthew's composition of "Over Such Beauty", my absolute favorite on the CD... it moves at a nice pace, flowing from note to note, and leaves you with one of the most favorable impressions you'll ever have of outstanding keyboard artistry.  I'm most highly impressed & give him a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj 

Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls - SEIZE THE TIME:  When you give this CD a thorough listen, the "serious" jazzheads in this readership will probably be "offended"... Ted's drums keep punchy time sequences to tenor & soprano sax & bass clarinet from Geof Bradfield, alto sax by Greg Ward, great guitar from Dave Miller & bass by Jake Vinsel on some astounding original jazz that just won't "go away".  This is the kind of jazz that leaves it's imprint on you for long periods of time... an even dozen high-spirited and moving pieces that remind you of what the words "originality" and "creative" are supposed to be all about.  I was especially impressed by the percussion into to "13 de Maio", which will have you up & dancing only moments after it starts.  First listen is guaranteed to be fine if you do this with headphones, but you'll find yourself krankin' th' volume up to max levels, especially on tracks like my favorite, "Killa Dilla"  - there are lots of nice surprises here.  Sirota & krew have managed to capture the true rebellious time signatures that jazz was first based on & they know HOW to funkify it to the point that you won't be able to put it down anytime soon.  I give this my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.97 (very high on the Zzaj scale).  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Sarah Corman - HAPPY LITTLE TUNE:  This is my first listen to Sarah's spirited jazz vocalizing & I can tell you it won't be my last... in some part that is because she's joined by a jazz cast so full of talent that their jazz joy just explodes all 'round your ears.  The joy that shines through is also (in great part) because of the spirit Ms. Corman's vocals wrap 'round your ears... impressive indeed.  Especially on tracks like the title & opening track, "Happy Little Tune"... the image your ears will come away with is "bubbly lil' girl", no doubt!  There's no doubt in my mind that you'll dig on "Such Sweet Thunder" as much as I did - in fact, it's my favorite on the CD.  An even dozen tracks you will visit & revisit frequently.  I give Sarah's efforts on this 'round my HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.94.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

The Dom Minasi String Quartet - DISSONANCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER:  Whether or not the CD title is accurate about "fonder", these are certainly some "different" sounds than I've heard from Dom before (my latest review of his works was in issue # 77)... he's joined by some of the "regular" jazz folks, like Tomas Ulrich on cello & Ken Filiano doing contrabass, but it's Jason Kao Hwang's violin (our last review of Jason's inspiring work was in issue # 78) that makes this aural adventure from Dom shine out in it's dissonance.  7 journeys that clock in from just over 6 to just over 10 minutes; each of them as challenging a listen as you can find today... the difference between this set of sonics & all the rest of the claptrap out there, though, is the high degree of professionalism evidenced here.  Supreme talent joining sonic forces to remind you of guitar masterpieces like those of (one of my heroes) Davey Williams, as well as Davey's partner in string-crime LaDonna Smith... these folks in Dom's quartet have GOT IT DOWN.  Of course if your ears are hidebound in "tradition", you'll find this unbearable... it is NOT "straight jazz" in any sense of the word... but it sure is FUN!  I give this one my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

The Reese Project - EASTERN STANDARD TIME:  This January 2010 release languished (unfortunately) in my review queue for far too long, even though I'd listened to the CD (at least) 6 or 7 times already.  The outstanding flute work by Tom Reese is complimented by Bobby Brewer's guitar, cello by Laurie Haines Reese, drums from Aaron Walker & a percussion guest shot from Johnny "Bravo" Acevedo.  Good solid jazz that has genuine spirit and a full-funk energy that you'll love.  That's especially true on tunes like the bouncy original by Tom, "Heads-Up & Gone"... every instrument is "on the money", in time and inspiring.  If you want something a little more laid-back, in a blues vein, you'll surely dig Aaron's original, "Blue Dali".  This is my first listen to this tasty jazz group, but I can assure you it won't be my last... to truly hear why, listen to my favorite track on the CD, "Somethin's Brewin'", another original cut by Tom.... every note is tight, & you won't be able to stay outta' th' fray for even one second.  This is the kind of solid jazz (with flavorings of rock) that made me fall in love with jazz & blues some 45 years ago.  I give these folks a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  They also get the "PICK" of this issue for "highest jazz energy".  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Lin McPhillips - MY SHINING HOUR:  I can tell you right now that you haven't heard a female vocalist quite as exciting as Lin in a while... my impression of her vocal skills was superbly positive from the opening bar of "The Wind"... it certainly doesn't hurt that she's joined by a cast of thousands (well, not quite, but the player list is long!) of very talented jazz players.  When you check her scat (at about 2:10) on "Devil May Care", you'll know right away why she's among my favorite jazz vocalists on the scene today... breathy, but with just the kind of earthy tones this tune needs!  It turns out my favorite track on the album is "I'm Old Fashioned" - not exactly an inspiring title for a cool jazz tune, but it's one of the most balanced (between players & vocalist) I've heard in 2010.  Though this is my first listen to Ms. McPhillips, I've no doubt I'll be hearing more... I give "My Shining Hour" a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.96 (very high for a vocal album here)... she also gets the "PICK" of this issue for "most exciting jazz vocals".  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Mostly Other People Do The Killing - FORTY FORT:  It's been awhile (issue # 78) since we reviewed this wild & zany jazz ensemble.  What they understand, far above most other groups I listen to these days, is that "if it ain't FUN, it ain't MUSIC"!  The music is totally original; all 8 compositions by Moppa Elliott romp & rollick through turf that often sounds like something you've heard before, but then as the tune progresses, you realize that they're building on recognized forms and improvising as they go.  A tune that exemplifies MOPDTK's off-cuff approach to rockin' jazz is "Rough and Ready" - nearly 7 minutes of pure pandemonium; of course if you're a hidebound traditionalist, you'll find this out of your range.  It's the 8:31 title track, "Forty Fort", that disturbed me most - ergo, it was my favorite... be-bop madness that never "holds true to form", and will spin your head 'round like a top... if you're unused to hard turns and twisty terrain, you'll skip this one, but it was solid performance through & through.  I give these gents another MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Cesar Bolanos - PERUVIAN ELECTROACOUSTIC AND EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC CD 1 & 2:  I seriously doubt most folks in our readership have heard Cesar's astounding work before, except perhaps for folks like our compadre Ernesto Diaz-Infante... the flavor of experimental pervades all 9 tracks on both CD's.  I was especially attracted to "Interpolaciones"... this 9 minute guitar-based adventure captures all elements of experimentation, and changes moods/directions at every other bar.  "Divertimento I" (5:55)  and "Divertimento III" (9:18) had some excellent moments, too, with little flurries of strings whipping in/out/down/under/through, but it was the epic (20:47) "Nacahuasu" (which closed out the second CD) that captured my ears & made it my favorite.  A truly revolutionary and inspired experimental player whose efforts here get a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - but only for those listeners already initiated in the joys of the unexpected... if you're a "normal" jazz listener, you'll probably find this out of your realm.  The "EQ" (energy quotient) rating is 4.98, very high on my scale of 1-5.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Timothy Crane - DRAGONFLY:  I'm reminded (somewhat) of pianists/composers like Suzanne Ciani as I listen to Timothy's 11 instrumental pieces on this wonderfully inspiring CD. Originals like "Sylvan Grove" will capture your ears quickly and move you into a peaceful land where you'll want to stay for long years to come.  It was actually a synth-opened piece called "Play" that got my vote for favorite, though... Timothy weaves sounds deeply in & around his solid piano playing that will swirl your heartstrings and make you understand what "playing" is truly all about.  This is a wonderful indie effort that will stay at the top of your playlists if you're at all in favor of solo piano works... is it jazz?  Not exactly, but it isn't "new age" (in the bad sense of that word), either.  Is it good music?  You BET... I'm impressed enough to give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for anyone who seeks well composed piano music that is totally unique and heartfelt.  I also give this one an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.96 (very high for a solo piano CD, at least in my rating zone).  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

New England Conservatory - ART-I-FACTS:  40 years of the music program at NEC captured digitally to thrill those of you who used to wear spats & such... that may not sound terribly exciting for some in our readership, but if you love jazz energy, the 13 tracks on this astounding variety of jazz styles & voices will (I guarantee it) thrill your ears!  The player list is far too long to itemize here, so you'll have to check the CD notes out.  In the meantime, check out tunes like "Thelonius" - it will definitely have you nodding along to the reeds.  For jazz with real "body", try out "Cameo"... 't'will grab your heartstrings and won't let go for a long while.  The most impressive tune, for these well jazzified ears, anyway, was "India", a 10:55 journey of jazz inspiration and high energy all around... this track will be staying at the top of my playlists for a long time to come.  I'm not always highly impressed with "collections" from anyone, but "ART-i-facts" gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me for jazz lovers of all stripes and persuasions - definitely high talent and energy!  The "EQ" (energy quotient) rating is a cool 4.96.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Raquel Bitton - BOLEROS:  This March 2010 release features some amazing French/Latin jazz vocal work from Raquel... though it's our first listen to her great works, it certainly won't be our last.  Yes, she's that good... and the band behind her features talent galore, making this one of those memorable multi-lingual experiences that won't soon be forgotten.  As you listen to the vibrant energy on tunes like "Guitare d'Amour", you'll hear what I mean... nice evenly paced works that sing the language of love in ways that will remind you of better days.  If it's Latin guitar that you love, just check out "Adoro" - this one will stay at the top of your playlists for months (even years) to come. Raquel's vocals are both enchanting and inspiring, & cross any language boundaries you might have thought would be there.  My absolute favorite on the CD, though, was the leadout track, "Un tour je te dirai"... full-bodied and spirit filled, to be sure.  I give this one a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.95.  Get more information at CITY HALL RECORDS!   Rotcod Zzaj

Frank Dibussolo - AVERAGE WHITE CATS:  An absolutely cool quintet revolving 'round Frank's oh-so-smooth jazz guitar... he's joined by Greg Edwards on woodwinds, Chicago Carl Snyder doing keyboards, Greg Eicher's double bass & Sean Kennedy doing drums & latin percussion.  High talent to be sure, and great energy that doesn't rush you into any decisions... but it sure will get you groovin', no doubt about it.  Just listen to the opening track, "Blue Heron", to get an idea of what high-energy at a truly laid-back pace is all about... all the players are right together on every note - no slouching & no over-competition for your ears.  To get a real idea of where those sneakin', slinkin' alleycats are comin' from, you'll want to groove along with the title track, "Average White Cats"... definitely a "prowl" tune.  It was the beautiful "Una Samba Pequena" that got my vote as absolute favorite, though... there isn't any better Latin jazz around that this track.  I give the CD my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, as well as an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  This one also get the "PICK" of this issue for "best Latin jazz".  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Ingo Gabriel - INGO GABRIEL:  Ingo says he plays "chilled electronical music"... a pretty apt description, I would say... some superb horn work, much of it reminiscent of Miles (who he says is one of his heroes).  These tracks came via digital download (I originally spotted him on REVERBNATION), which pleases me a great deal, as I see many more artists taking advantage of this slick method of getting the music out.  But I digress... back to the music... as indicated earlier, lots of horn, both straight & muted, with a clear focus on strong rhythm elements that don't sound at all "mechanical"... smooth flow & full of funky licks that will move you & keep it "fun" at the same time!  All in all, a very pleasant & meandering kind of jazz that could make great "road music", though I recommend you do your first listen using headphones to make sure you've wrapped yourself up in it.  I give this outing a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for jazzheads everywhere.  He gets an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.96, too.  Get more information at  Rotcod Zzaj

Shota Osabe with Margie Baker - A BIT OF JAZZ (AND MORE):  What an absolutely pleasant surprise this CD is... it's the first time I've listened to Shota, though I've reviewed Margie before (issue # 74) - in fact, she got a "PICK" as "best female jazz vocalist" in that review!  Osabe's keyboard/synth work is laid-back, yet totally soulful & full of the spirit of jazz... "East River Drive", the opener features some mighty mellow synth/electric piano instrumental work that totally deserves the label of "professional"; when Margie chimes in on the second track, "At Last", you'll find yourself in jazz heaven.  These two must have played together in former lives, because Osabe's keyboard work & Baker's vocals are truly "joined at the hip"... there's not a note out of place, or any sequence that drops out.  Being a keyboard player (of sorts) myself, I was simply astounded as I listened to the intro on "Useless Landscape"... it's definitely my favorite track, & demonstrates the abundance of talent this duo has in fresh new ways.  I give this a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

George Cotsirilos Trio - PAST PRESENT:  One of the nicest things about having established relationships with music promoters is that I'm always getting pleasant musical surprises... George's guitar works on this fine CD is among the most pleasant of those experiences in recent memory.  This takes me back many years to my first jazz guitar experiences... players like Gabor Szabo, Wes (of course) & others come to mind, but George shows composition skills far in advance of most.  The rest of the trio is Robb Fisher (bass) and drummer Ron Marabuto.  The ten tracks on this CD combine covers with (at least) 5 originals... as per usua, it was the originals that knocked my socks off... check out the opener, "Good Wood", and you'll realize right away why my ears were so captivated by Cotsirilos talent.  It was the 6:32 (original) "Cual Problema?" that got my vote as favorite, though... the trio is totally tight on this one - the right word is "seamless".  If you love well-played jazz guitar, you won't be able to do without this CD, & will certainly agree when I declare it MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED... "EQ" (energy quotient) rating is 4.98 (definitely right up at the top of my energy scale).  Get more information at  Rotcod Zzaj

Doubt - NEVER PET A BURNING DOG:  I can guarantee you have NEVER heard jazz like this - the liners proclaim it to be "Jazz, Progressive Rock", & though it leans heavily in the direction of progressive, especially on tunes like the opener, "Corale di San Luca"... when it shifts over to the second track, simply titled "Laughter", you'll know (right away) why they called it jazz... "terror jazz", perhaps... & all this coming from a power TRIO... Alex Maguire (Rhodes, keyboard, Hammond organ, Mellotron & synth) Michel Delville (electric guitar, Roland GR-09) & Tony Bianco (drums) whip this thing up to max-frenzy, nearing psychotic.  Actually, I've played in groupings that were approaching these levels, but these guys are RIGHT ON NOTE, never dropping a beat, almost like they're reading each other's minds.  Alex's mellow keyboard intro on "Passing Cloud", and the beautiful chord changes will have you floating off into the ether sooner than you might have thought.  The track that bowled me over, though, was "Aeon"... it clocks in at 7:28, with fantastic guitar build that leads (once again) to the far corners of the universe.  You MUST listen to this with headphones, else you're shortchanging your ears.  I not only give this my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, it also gets the "PICK" of this issue for "best progressive jazz".  The "EQ" (energy quotient) is a top-of-the-line 5.00... doesn't get any better than this, folks.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

August Virga Sextet - AUGUST VIRGA SEXTET:  Some very nice "cool jazz" here on this Digital Download Review (DDR) from Phil Kearny... I wouldn't classify it as "smooth", because he has some very nice changes going for him... in other words, it's not just the same repetitive chords over & over.  To hear some of the best talent Phil displays, listen to "Magician"... good energy here, and nice tone shifts throughout the piece... I would have liked it to be a bit longer, actually.  My favorite composition was "Intermezzo"... solid energy, nice rhythms and a melody that will stick in your ears for a while.  I give this one a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for those with ears that want to hear something fresh & new.  It gets an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.94.  Get more information at   (be sure to tell Phil that Zzaj sent you, 'k?).  Rotcod Zzaj

Ben Woolman - MANY MOODS:  An album title that is right on target, since that's clearly what Ben's beautiful acoustic works take you through... all the way from the opener, "One Afternoon" through the 11th closeout, "Legends of the Fall", you'll hear his talent shining through clear and purposeful picking.  The thing I found most impressive is his work with overtones - it gets to the point of being a total orchestra... not "just another guitar strummer" by any stretch, you will find yourself listening over & over again to his masterful touch and total creative spirit.   In any other players hands, this wouldn't have come off as polished and full of recording perfection, but Woolman is a creator of magic who loves his instrument & the freedom it gives him to express himself for your enjoyment... listen to my favorite track, "Salamander Swing", and you'll realize (right away) why he gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this seasoned reviewer's ears.  Solo players often get a lower "EQ" (energy quotient) rating from me, but Ben clocks in with a (definite) 4.98.  Get more information or purchase the CD at     Rotcod Zzaj






Guideline for artists SUBMITTING to us:  We do NOT generally review .mp3 files/sites.  Being an active artist myself, though, I understand the need for the use of Internet sites as a "staging ground" for reviews!  You are encouraged to email us your .mp3 links... we will visit the site/link, & if we like your energies, we will contact YOU!  (We will NOT respond to followup inquiries about .mp3 files, though!!!  p.s.  If you EVER e-mail me .mp3 files that I haven't requested, you will be BLACKLISTED on this site!!!)

Here are a few tunes of MINE for you to listen to - it's from my latest CD release, "AC not PC" (Alphabetically Correct, not Politically Correct)




Search this site or the web powered by FreeFind

Site search Web search

RETURN to Zzaj Productions MAIN page!

'k, alla' you hardcore D.I.Y'er's!  We've added a D.I.Y. forum board!  Simply click on the lil' button below to TELL US wot' you think...