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Improvijazzation Nation - Issue # 41


Global Lo-Fi Underground - VOLUME 3:  Our friends up Seattle way, Duckweed Records scored B-I-G with this one!  This is the best example of how far D.I.Y. recording & distribution has come in the last 15 years a listener could ask for.  All 20 tracks come across with "pro" recording levels, no hop/skip/jump crapola to get in the way of the excitement.  & excitement IS the secret word of the day... the talent represented here clearly illustrates a high point in the evolution of HOMEMADE music.  Some of the early D.I.Y. tapes we started out reviewing (way back in 1988) were pretty rough around the edges... nunna' that here!  Artists you'll recognize (if you're at all familiar with the "underground" scenery)... Ray Carmen, Lord Litter, even a cut from "The Imaginary Band" (who'n'l is THAT, eh? - check it OUT); there are also names you won't have heard before, but that's really the biggest joy of compilations like this - the new discoveries!  I particularly enjoyed Bill Foreman's "Invisible Man", a really slinky, low-down & dirty bass-supported riff thang!  This CD is GREAT & gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those with adventurous earz!  It's also the "pick" of this issue for "best compilation CD".  Contact at 2442 NW Market St., #354, Seattle, WA USA 98107, or via e-mail to   There are also liner notes & some samples at   Rotcod Zzaj

Chris Dahlgren - BEST INTENTIONS:  If you like bass-centric jazz, this quartet will RAWK ya'!  Chris plays double bass, a steady counterpoint to the saxophone works of Rob Brown & Peter Epstein.  Another very interesting part of the quartet was the unique percussion of Satoshi Takeishi.  I'm not entirely sure why his drumming was so intriguing, but I suspect it's because it reminded me of some of the traditional Korean drumming I heard during my many years over there.  The compositions are all original (Dahlgren) & have a strong "traditional", or "roots jazz" kind of feel, but there's no kludge or "smooth" jazz pabulum on any of the tunes.  On the other digit, it's a totally accessible, high energy & enjoyable listen through & through.  Just th' kind of jazz we used to yearn for in the dark caverns of Europe, creativity spawning juggernaut stuph... music that stimulates & makes for visions of how great diversity can be.  This is (as far as I can remember) my first listen to Dahlgren's music, but it gets an immediate HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.   Hope we'll hear MORE soon!  Just GREAT!  Contact at B&K Communications, 411A Highland Ave., Suite 353, Somerville, MA 02144, or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

BusyDitch -  ACID HOLE:  You must BE  in thee "acid zone" to hear all th' intricate sonic implications on BusyDitch's latest CD.  John Hajeski (aka BusyDitch, of course) has been sending us synth-based music on tape & CD for some many years now... "ACID HOLE" is his best (& most dense) effort yet!  I swear, I could hear little gremlins eating away at the innards of John's synths - it would be totally frightening if you were on one of those "unguided" trips!  I particularly enjoyed track 3, "Rock Scissors Paper", which features some great percussion & bass work mixed in with those visions of hungry green hemorrhoid eaterz.  There are a couple of more "standard" synth pieces on here, but in the overall, you'll find this a challenging listen that leaves little to be desired for the true sonic explorer.  Listeners who lean in the direction of "normal" (i.e., pattern) will either love or HATE th' BusyDitch sound... but, I'll tell you, this gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those in need of a "trip" that can be experienced over & over.  & if ya' really are on acid, you'll FREEK!!!  Get it at 11 Rose St., East Rutherford, NJ 07073.  You can also contact John via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

The Puma-Sutras - THE PUMA SUTRAS:  Ain't life great?  Music from across the waters (of the Atlantic in this instance).  This EP came from a 3-piece slow-rawker that is somewhat guitar-centric... NICE bass underpinnings on the ballad intros remind me (in some ways) of early CSNY, in an odd sort o' way.  Track 1, "Somebody for Everyone", is probably the most attractive from the standpoint of what you might have expected.  There is a good mix for what I expect was a home-produced effort - & that's a RECOMMENDATION, not a slam!  It might have been nice to include a cut that kicked out th' JAMZ a lil' more, but they've got a nice lilting lyrical style that I'd recommend for a lazy afternoon.  Only REAL drawback was that there should have been at least 6 more tracks on there.  In retrospect, this was a very pleasant listen that gets a RECOMMENDED for those who want to hear new energy in a laid-back kinda' ballad-rockin' style.  Contact at POB 132, Lancaster La1 5gw, or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

Heads Up - SMOOTH AFRICA:  Very recognizable names on this cool jazz (multimedia) CD released at the end of March (28th to be specific) 2000... Hugh Masakela's trumpet is a standout, of course, & Joe McBride's piano just KICKS!  The title might throw you for a loop, as it (surely) makes it sound like it's going to be in that icky "slow jazz" camp.  It IS true that this is not jazz improv in the "freewheeling" sense, but the creativity flows like the rush of a giant river!  There are some hidden vocals that are very hard to discern unless you've got th' volume on HIGH position - so TURN THAT SUCKA' UP!  The multimedia presentation is a nice touch & comes with a little program that'll run it on both MACS & PC's.   Very relaxing to review the band pictures & listen to the CD, too.  Cut 4, "Mpule", is a rawkin' phunk-ee lil' number that I fell in love with right away... title trak had me thinkin' (for some reason) of way back - when Ramsey Lewis was at th' top o' th' heap!  "Tazara Express" is the cut that features Masakela's horn, in combo with some heavy emphasis on African rhythm instruments.  This is one of the most enjoyable jazz CD's I've listened to in some time; gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who love jazz that stirs the soul!  Contact through Debra J. Harner Media Relations, at 4220 Tosca Rd., Woodland Hills, CA 91364, or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

Discord Aggregate - THE ATTACK OF THE ABSOLUTE ZEROS:  A highly creative CD that Pamela Zero made/released in 1997.  Rock/jazz opera?  Wack-city wierdness?  Spontaneous spoken-word discombobulation?  My impression is "all of the above".  Some would take that to mean that I'm "dissing" Ms. Zero... not at ALL - in fact, that's a (very STRONG) recommendation!  A nice quintet twists & turns betwixt riffs & randoms (with particular emphasis on the saxophones, tho' they're somewhat subdued in the mix) to provide a platform for tasty voicings from Pamela & (many) others.  You really need to do this with headphones & the (full) text in front of you.  Alternates between a "narrator" (S.B. Reda) & various spoken/sung vox.  There are moments when the disconnects come crystal clear, others where it's somewhat akin to amoebas on acid.  Through & thru, however, is a pervasive sense of ENERGY unbounded!  Very enJOYable, gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us for those who most enjoy an aural challenge!  Contact at Pamela's website,  or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

Jean-Pierre Saccomani - THE FOUR SEASONS:  A (sort of) techno CD in from Paris, France.  Apparently, Jean-Pierre is friends with another artist, TALES (Jean-Luc H. Berthelot), who has been reviewed very favorably in these pages in the past couple of years.  Jean-Pierre lists him in the credits.  Slow, orchestral synthesizer pieces that can enchant, but have moments when there is too much lack of motion.  I think that may have to do with the thematic nature, particularly as regards the length of the pieces; hard to hold a listeners attention for 16:45 (the longest cut), unless they're stoned or comatose.  OTOH, Saccomani is fully capable of wrapping you in his "envelope", pulling you in.  That was especially true on cut 2, "Summer", which takes a while to build to the integration of other sounds... once he makes that transition, his talent begins to shine through clearly.  I also liked "Autumn", though "Summer" was my favorite.  On the next outing, recommend a bit speedier seque to the changes, maybe some additional undercurrents, too.  What is most apparent is that Jean-Pierre has a clear vision of the sounds he wants to paint for you & is most effective at using the synthesizer to help you see it.  Gets a RECOMMENDED from us!  The only contact info I saw was his e-mail,   Rotcod Zzaj

Andy Narell - FIRE IN THE ENGINE ROOM: Here's a beautiful CD in from steel pannist (& excellent pianist) Narell.  It's a multimedia CD, with nice clips from other albums, photos, biography & much more.  Nice & easy jazz, but with high enough energy/creativity that it could never be called "standard".  Since it features Andy's pans, most of the pieces have a decidedly latin flavor, but holds firm roots in jazz as well.  My favorite cut, ballad intro that slides easily into a riff situation, is cut 6, "Tabanca".  Very relaxing, & the pans interact so cleanly with the piano & percussives that often you find yourself having to "listen" for them.  I guess my enchantment with "homemade music" keeps me out of touch with artists who have been around in the (more) mainstream scene... Mr. Narell has 11 CD's to his credit already.  Though it's my first listen to his music (in the sense of writing a review of it, anyway), I can tell you that if you love well composed & recorded jazz with leanings towards the latin, you'll agree with me when I declare this MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  If you're strictly into improvised, you may not agree, but those not so in to "out" will find this an immeidate "keeper".  Contact through Debra J. Harner Media Relations, at 4220 Tosca Rd., Woodland Hills, CA 91364, or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

Ken Field - PICTURES OF MOTION:  Ken's performances at the Ucross Foundation (Wyoming, where our friend Ernesto Diaz-Infante has also recorded) with solo saxes, trios & quartets (along with several other instrument groupings) are captured here.  The title is a very apt description of the music(s), too.  All the way from sadslow ballads to near hip-hop jazz will have YOU in motion!  Far too many artists join Mr. Field to itemize here, but one name you'll recognize was Amy Denio, our long-time friend from up Seattle way.  Her alto sax is (as ever) total enchantment for your ears, & when combined with the other star-level players featured here, it's sheer RAW energy!  Couple of very NICE percussion-based compz on here, too... track 6, "Pass Along", was grand (but too short, only 2:02).  For a nice contrast, try cut 5, "Tensleep", featuring the creep-bass lines of John Styklunas (as an intro to a really SHAKIN'/MOVIN' comp).. nice, nice!  This gets the PICK of this issue for "BEST IMPROVISED JAZZ", along (of course) with our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating!  This one will spin for many years to come in thee Zzaj camp!  Contact at sfz Recordings, POB 465, Middlebourough MA 02346, on their website at or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

Lauri des Marais/Erik Lindgren - STIMULI:  If you can't be stimulated by the improvised music on this CD (even if your roots are in the deepest bowels of conservatism), yer' DEAD awready!  Spoken word works mixed with an orchestral sounding techno sort of mix.  When done with headphones, it's an experience you won't soon forget.  Lindgren seems to have strong ties to classical music, & it shines through in his compositions... this is not "dime a dozen" amateur fluff, it's REAL music.  As with any work that touches on the "sub levels", some of this requires concentration, so if you're looking for background for your next coke par-tee, you'll havta' spin something else.  Sections where this WOULD work for an "acid party".  It's designed as a whole musical experience, to be listened to all the way from start to finish.  There are a few "answering machine" loops which fit fairly well, but I'm not a fan of that stuff, so that lowers the mark a bit.  In the overall, there's no question that this will stimulate some part of your brain.  For those listeners who rave over a bit o' random, this gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Others, looking for music that goes with beer nuts & brew-skis, will decline.  Contact at sfz Recordings, POB 465, Middlebourough MA 02346, on their website at or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

AO - GROW WILD:  It is infrequently that I come across (musical) energy this exciting!  This CD (in from Creative Service Company) features a duo, Nahoo & JoJo.  There are some reviewers/listeners who might lump this in with some broad category like "worldbeat", or "new age", I suppose.  What an absolute disservice they would be doing to the public.  This is, quite simply, some of the most astonishing & beautiful music I have heard in years!  If you came across the package in store racks, you might miss it, as it's a fairly nondescript insert.  Once you open it, though, & begin reading their liners & history, you'd quickly realize that this IS the music of "light", with the potential to illuminate (& energize) millions who are living the life of the lost.  Each piece is superbly crafted from various cultures around the world to raise your awareness of the connectivity we all share (whether we're prepared to deal with that or not).  Lyrical mastery contributes, of course, but the composition is the key here, & AO have that down PAT, people!  It's not just an aimless swirl of rhythmic pabulum, either, this music ROCKS (no matter what the pace of the tune is).  I'm impressed enough (& that takes something these days) to declare it the PICK of this issue for "best all around music"!  No matter what your musical background/preference, I'm confident you'll agree that this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Let yourself GO... get wild... natural... free!  Contact at 4360 Emerald
Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918 (e-mail to ) Rotcod Zzaj

Green Hill Instrumental Classic - WORLDBEAT:  This CD more closely resembles what you might "expect" from something with a title like that.  Higher energy than Enya (thanks be), but still tied to the tribal fires that are memories in all of us (whether we admit to it or not).  David Lyndon Huff, formerly of "Giant" fame (& other groups), arranged the pieces.  It wasn't really clear from the liners how much of the music he "played", what was sampled, etc.  That would have been nice to know.  There is some beautiful flute work (once again, I'd like to know who is playing it), and some excellent percussion.  Orchestral mixes are rich and full of varying textures, and the vocals/chants approach the haunting.  This (probably) won't win any top-end awards, but it's energetic enough to be far more than "background"!  Lush recording techniques and clear movements/changes (mixed with some crystal clear water sounds) stir the emotions and take you on a trip 'round the world that many still haven't achieved.  All for the price of one CD.  Hardcore jazz improvised music fans won't find this terribly attractive, but if you enjoy full bodied music with high creative spirit, you'll agree when I declare it HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Contact at 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918 (e-mail to ) Rotcod Zzaj

Annie Humphrey - THE HERON SMILED:  The integration of Jovino-Santos Neto's keyboards with many of the Makoche label's new artists has (over the past year or 2) produced some of the most memorable music you'll ever hear.  Annie's vocals just SHINE on this wonderful CD... husky tones express volumes of emotion that few other folk-oriented singers can these days!  The other notable difference (for me, anyway) is that the orientation is clearly not what you might expect from an Ojibwe native singer.  She's been around the world & back to her homeland, & learned her lessons (as a light-keeper & light-giver) well.  She wants to express what she's absorbed in her OWN way (without conforming to the sterotypes you might think of, or others might want to lay on her)... & I'll tell you, people, she DOES it!  All original tracks (except one, "Falling Down & Falling Apart") that can bring a tear to your ears on occasion.   Her acoustic guitar playing is impeccable & ALL HERS, I'll guarantee you!  If you enjoy music that expresses the sadness and the joy that life can be at times, you'll (like, TOTALLY) agree that this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Gourd, we hope Creative Services Company (and/or Makoche) will send us ANY new releases she puts out for review.   This is a singer to KEEP YOUR EARS on!  She'll be around for a L-O-N-G time to come!   Contact at 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918 (e-mail to )  You can also get more information at 208 N. 4th St., Bismarck, ND 58502, on the Makoche WWW site,  or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

Hong Kong Dragon Club - TAKE OUT:  As you might infer from the group name, this CD is from the Far East.  Liners explain that the name was affixed to a group of players who got together in H.K. for jam sessions... tho' I'm hard-pressed to believe that this was only jam stuph!  Much too well recorded to be just off-the-cuff.  Oriental jazz, without question - which provides for a kind of unique experience.  The common phrasings of smooth jazz are there, but the rhythms & tempos change in different ways than your ears are ready for.  Now, in my mind, that's a GOOD thing... 'coz if that wasn't a part of the mix, this would likely come across as just another "smooth jazz" session.  High talent & energy abound (far too many players to itemize here), & ancient traditions are clearly reflected... new ways of hearing the undercurrents, new emotions peek through the layers.  David Packer's piano on track 4, "Watering Flowers", was a standout... clean execution, firm touch & a clear love of playing!  The more I listen, the more I'm impressed - which may have something to do with the 15 years I spent in Korea, getting accustomed to the beauty that is inherent in (some) Oriental structures.  In the overall, anyone who enjoys jazz with a "twist" will agree with my declaration that it's HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Contact at 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918 (e-mail to ) Rotcod Zzaj

Tony Stoufer -  ONE SWELL FOOP:  One of the joys of doing this magazine over the last decade (or so) has been the discovery (through my contacts in the D.I.Y./HOMEMADE music scene) of talent others haven't heard yet... so that I'm, like, in CONTACT before the "movement" arrives.  Guys my age are often mired in biz-nezz muck to th' level that they don't even realize there ARE exciting new talents out there.  Well, Tony Stoufer is one of THOSE, people!  Title track is a KICKER, electronic swirling, beat-centric rawkin' that'll have you tappin' yer' fingers AND yer' toesie-wosies!  This is HEALTHY electronic music, draws immediate comparisons (for me) to my long-time musical partner Harlan Mark Vale.  Tony has an intimate knowledge of various rhythmic structures, clearly expressed in nods to various genres, but these original toonz' are ALL his.  Though there are ballad sequences, his playing is HIGH ENERGY all the way through.  Many of the tracks are danceable, as well, but equally suitable to just kick back & listen to.  Didn't spot a bit of drony stuff.  If you enjoy music that comes from a soul at ease with itself, you'll followup on my recommendation - this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Contact at Absolute Obscurity, 1616 Brandee Lane, Santa Rosa, CA 95403, on the WWW at  or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zza

Mamelang - ZULU HEARTBEAT:  This (all) African CD is some of the most JOYous music I've ever listened to - & that's saying a LOT, because I listen to TONS of music from all over the world!  The music & it's intent easily transcend the fact that it's totally in the Zulu language... there's not a moment where it lapses into lethargy, or a bar where it's banal.  As with most albums from this region of the world, there is a stronger emphasis on group voicings & (of course) rhythms that will challenge most listeners from this country - which is a GOOD thing.  Actually, when I think back to my childhood, I can remember some W.A.S.P. (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) attempts at harmonies this enchanting, but they were usually based so strongly on European forms (and resistance to the idea that "the natural" is a good thing) that they fail(ed) miserably.  Conversely, if you're yearning for chunka-chunka rap simplicity, you'll have to move on down the road... complex vocal & rhythm arrangements that use the natural spirit of the singers to bring joy to LIFE!  Many of the selections are singing about struggle & battle preparation, but you'd never know it from the light that SHINES through... a cultural difference, to be sure, but one that we (here) can certainly LEARN from.  Anyway, enough of my philosophizing.  This gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & the PICK of this issue for "best World Music"!  Contact at Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e-mail is    ) Rotcod Zzaj

Terry Oldfield - SPIRIT OF THE WORLD:  Many will recognize the Oldfield name... Terry's brother Mike created the by now famous "TUBULAR BELLS" (in fact, Terry played the panpipes on that one, something I didn't know, or didn't remember, anyway).  This is his 6th CD for New World Music, & it's a winner, without doubt.  It is sort of like a mini-tour through six cultures of the world (anything to do with it being the 6th CD, I wonder?).  Doesn't matter, though... the music will absorb any listener with enough patience to enjoy true beauty.  The mixture of high-tech synthesizers, pipes and ancient chants from all around the world is both unique and enchanting.  The pace often evokes visions of journeys taken through sad territory and uncompromising terrain that could only have been completed by those charged up with the energy of relentless spirit.  It is this spirit that clearly reminds us from whence we came, & keeps us moving forward, expertly conveyed by Oldfield's arrangements and delivery throughout the album.  To enjoy this album thoroughly, you must listen to it in the context of the whole album, or you will easily miss the strength that his vision passes on.  Some listeners will find that difficult, being used to the tripe forced upon their ears by (most) conventional radio (& TV) stations... those willing to venture into the depths will come away with more of a sense of purpose, survival & SPIRIT than they ever had before.  Comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by this listener!  Contact at Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e-mail is    ) Rotcod Zzaj

James Rohr/Nate McBride/John Mclellan - THEY SENT THREE HENCHMEN:  I reviewed another CD of James for "the Improvisor" a couple of months back.  This one is almost the same players, except for John Mclellan on drums (Curt Newton played on the other one I reviewed, "Riot Trio").  This CD was a live set at Willow Jazz, every bit as frenetic, fast-paced & FUN!  It's a tightly integrated trio (their timing is impeccable - of course, it HAS to be to stay intelligible at this pace) that seems to focus around James' distinctive (& somewhat zany) piano style.  You will have to be a jazz fanatic (not just a casual listener) to enjoy this, as it zooms in fast & doesn't stop the WHOLE way through.  This set seemed to space the solos out a bit more, some NICE bass statements, solid but not overbearing at all.  It's difficult to tell if these are actual "compositions", or primarily improvised, but don't let that stop you from enjoying the sheer and unbounded ENERGY that they project.  Mclellan's drums seemed to be a bit "crisper" (somehow) than the other CD, but that may have been the recording.  Any way you look at it, folks, this is HIGH CALIBER jazz, with enough "roots" for anyone with a jazz ear to grab hold of & devour with gusto.  It gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially if you're listening for something a bit out of the ordinary.  No "smooth crud jazz" to be found, & not a lame stretch anywhere!  Contact via phone to 617-734-4908 or direct via e-mail to James, at jrohr@netzero.netRotcod Zzaj

Ernesto Diaz-Infante - SOLUS:  Now HERE is a change of pace for our friend from California.  You've seen many CD's by Ernesto reviewed in these pages over the last couple of years, some solo piano (which this is), some improvised guitar... just a wealth of playing styles!  I'm so highly impressed by SOLUS, I suppose, because, while improvised, it features pieces that move at a much faster pace than his last 2 or 3 piano solo collections.  Super clean execution (as we've grown to expect from him), and still somehow relaxed, but the mood is very playful and "out there".  As you might expect (particularly if you play improvised piano yourself), there's more emphasis on bass that walks, with the upper registers sorta' doin' th' speaking, if you will.  I believe that this kind of playing requires even more focus than slower compositions... easy to make misteaks... but you won't find any of THAT here... clearly professional, no slack or "bent" notes (to cover up errors).  Rawk-ON, Ernesto!  My own collabs with him over the last couple of years have been inclined more in this direction, & it's GREAT to hear his interpretations in a sort of "mad scientist" solo piano vein!  For those with true love of well-played piano & a sense of adventure, this comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Contact at Pax Recordings, POB 697, Pacific Grove, CA 93950 or e-mail to Ernesto at   Rotcod ZzaJ

Cyanosis - GALLOWSDANCE:  Some interesting improvisations in from Roger Hayes (up around Portland, Oregon) on this CD.  As so often happens, I fled the area before we got a chance to hook up.  Too bad, because Roger's guitar works on here would have made for some healthy improvisation jam/live sets, I'm sure.  There are sections on here that remind me (strongly) of way-early works by Bret Hart, though Roger's acoustic somehow takes on a more buzz-oriented approach.  There also seems to be a sort of "irish" or "celtic" undercurrent on some of the pieces... that's not a very apt description, but somehow I got an image of smoked-up pagans sitting under/in/around the columns of Stonehenge, albeit electronically.  Strange twists & turns, nothing like you have heard lately... sparse percussion adds depth & breadth (sounds like a Chinese gong in there on cut 4, but it may be the synth/sampler).  Roger has performed with some folks up in Seattle, too... surprised he didn't make it up to the Olympia Experimental Music Festival (will there BE one this year?)... some of the music on this CD would have fit nicely.  You must be an ACTIVE listener to enjoy this kind of experimental music - but if you ARE, you'll agree when I declare it HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  We'll be reviewing more of Roger's works in the future.   Contact at 788 Frankin, Astoria, OR 97103, or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

Zola Moon - ALMOST CRAZY:  It's not often that we get a (female) blues singer that has th' pizazz & ballsy style this lady demonstrates on this CD.  TOTALLY original, in a small group format that jus' RAWKS, people!!!  Quite amazing to hear such energy fer' 'da blooz these days... I'm reminded of live sessions I used to watch down in Huntspatch, Alabummer, with LaDonna Smith beltin' out that natural gut-wrench stuff!  No doubt this kind of music comes STRAIGHT from th' gut... it's got to, or it comes off really weak.  There are comparisons that could be made to Janis (in fact, th' tearsheets in th' promo packet are full of 'em), but I'd think th' reason for such is 'coz of Zola's ability to B-E-L-T & S-L-A-M them toonz' out.  What makes her different is this seems to be a much less "complicated" style; now, she may be able to slug down J.D. (or whatever th' trend is these days), but her singing makes it feel like she's able to do it without havin' to "go down" first - no mean feat!  Her harp is kewl, but you won't be thinkin' Paul Butterfield... simple & straightforward, no glitz.  The 4-piece works really well, GREAT bass (from Ron Battle) & a few KICKIN' lead stretches from the electric guitar (Kim Allison) & drums (Jerry Olson).  "The Well" (track 4) is my favorite track, with "I'm Mad" (last track, cut 11) runnin' a close second!  If ya' love hot&heavy blues with GUTS, you'll agree with me when I declare this to be MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Contact at 4553 West 171st St., Lawndale, CA 90260, visit the WWW site at  or e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

Marcelle Gauvin - FACES OF LOVE:  Pretty much trad-jazz from this inspired female vocalist.  Michael Monagan's tenor sax on the opening cut sets the tone for a club-like atmosphere that'll make you think yer' sippin' Cuba Libre's with th' coolest of katz.  John Harrison's piano does much to help that mood, though in a more subtle framework.  This is Marcelle's first CD, & if you dig on high energy vox - you'll fall in love with this immediately.  There were times when the instruments felt like they were mixed a little high; not OBTRUSIVELY so, but some passages seemed to steal thunder from Gauvin's vocals.  She's a stellar performer, clearly in possession of talent and a love of expressing herself through her voice.  Many moods for you to sample on this even dozen set of tunes.  She seems to be as comfortable in scat mode as on the ballads & moves the changes where she wants them to go.  I suspect you'll hear much more from this young lady in the years to come... we certainly hope she'll honor us with review copies of her next CD!  No doubt her vocals on that next one will take us even further back in memory, to a golden age (of jazz) when vocals really WERE cool!  Unless yer' just plain deadset against pleasant music that wraps you in the illusion of love, you'll agree with me - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Contact at 20 Lockmere Rd., Cranston, RI 02910, or via e-mail to  or at Whaling City Sound, 1178 Tucker Rd., North Dartmouth, MA 02747; also at their WWW site,   Rotcod Zzaj

Kevin Kendle - CLOUDS:  As the name might make you expect, this is highly ambient music.  Very healing & soothing.  There are (probably) some who would "label" it & lump it in with all the rest of the "new age"... &, to be sure, if you just HAD to classify it, it would fit there.  If you give it a deeper, more introspective, listening, you'll realize it has stronger values, though.  Mr. Kendle has produced 7 albums to date, this is his first on the New World Music label.  In the pre-staged interview that accompanied the package, it's clear that he was influenced by Oldfield's Tubular Bells, most positively so.  His synthesizer work is highly energized and will inspire all but the totally jaded listener.  Even if you've never been inclined towards musical experiences that are in the "gentle" realm, you should try this on for size.  It's somehow (nearly) psychedelic, take you UP there with the angels!  For the general listener, those who wouldn't enjoy beauty unless you somehow forced them to (& then it wouldn't BE beautiful), this won't be exactly a smash hit - but it gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me!  Contact at Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e-mail is    )   Rotcod Zzaj

Matt Borghi - FOR RUNNING TIME:  Many record store bins would file this CD in their ambient section, & while they wouldn't be far off the mark, this debut sonic outing from Matt contains some unique surprises and enjoyable moments.  The lead-in piece (titled, what else... "Opening") has a wonderfully simple guitar riding sweetly on top of some unobtrusive atmospherics - in fact, it's one of my favorite cuts.  I don't know if Matt, a Detroit/Michigan native, is aware of it or not, but there are certain of his pieces where the sound(s) of "motor city" are exposed... Track 2, "Probably Somewhere" made me imagine long barges hauling iron ore to dump in the hoppers (?somewhere?) to build cars & other gigantic machines... that's probably about as far from what Matt had in mind as you could imagine... but that's allright - because his music PAINTS images you can feel comfortable interpreting after your own designs.  Cut 4, "Autumnal Space" comes closest to the ambient realm, moving sorta' like a slow rattlesnake through your mind's eye.  It's also the longest track on the CD, clocking in nicely at 27:11.  The tracks which I enjoyed most were those that used Matt's gentle guitar touch... he has a unique ability to weave his guitar sounds in with his other sounds, where others would "intrude".  This is a very enjoyable listening adventure, not the "norm" for ambient... it gets our HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating.  We'll be looking for your next release, Matt!  Contact at POB 181, New Hudson, MI 48165-0181, or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

David Cortopassi - THE SILICON JUNGLE:  A sonic trip through the (slightly) warped circuits burned into David's wafers... California-based, his arrangements remind me STRONGLY of Thomas Dolby!  No compromizez here, some way-kewl jazz-funk-rawk-based energy that keeps yer' earz on their toez.  If you freek when the changes aren't familiar, you'll have a terrible time with this - but I LOVED it!  The title trak is my favorite excursion, tellin' th' tale of a jungle-boy/man wrapt in th' horrors of th' Silicon valley... ya' know, how it pulls 'im away from th' natural thangs - & anybody snagged in th' biz-nez of computers will be able to relate to this.  Rhythmically, it's quite simple, but his vocal weaves & sonic artistry are not often found on CD's of this nature... a VALIANT musical journey that will be enjoyable to all but the (severely) musically challenged.  The 5th trak in, "Casamba", is one of the most pleasant instrumentals I've listened to this year... it feels (how shall I describe it)... cool - not ice-cube cool, more like iced-tea on a hot afternoon.  Flawless recording & excellent chops make it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those with adventure in their blood/bones (& those who truly love INDIE music)!  Contact (as quickly as you can) at POB 3953, Napa, CA 94558, preview a trak or 2 at  or via e-mail to    Rotcod Zzaj

Intonarumori - INTONARUMORI:  One thing that makes this 'zine interesting (at least to this writer) is the wide variety of styles (of music)  we are fortunate enough to receive for review.  If one were to read back through the last 20 issues, it would be quickly evident that many of the groups (across the genre spectrum) "in the news" today were reviewed in these very pages when they were being birthed.  Intonarumori is one such group, and this debut CD (previous submissions were on tape) clearly shows a love for (and of) music oriented towards what man will be doing in the 30th (or the 40th) century... traveling through space!  Strange bass tones, insights from other planets (mostly auf Deutsch) & awe-inspiring orchestral backgrounds that will transport you to new highs.  It's not all instrumental majesty, either... vocal shadings woven in will make you feel like it's a space (dirge) opera.  If you're thirsting after a unique musical experience with a variety of instruments assembled/arranged without making you feel like it's some kinda' improv "hodgepodge", this is your BEST BET.  Don't mistake my intent... this isn't, like, easy listening... it's a challenge, but one you'll be glad you took on.  Very satisfying... gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating for those who crave the outer limits.  Contact at Unit Circle Rekkids, POB 20352, Seattle, WA 98102, or at   Rotcod Zzaj


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