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Improvijazzation Nation - Issue # 42


Thomas Ferella/Kevin Schaefer - EFFIGY:  This is one of the "thickest" CD's I've heard.  It can't be lumped into a category like ambient, either... too much character and undercurrent for such groupings.  It merits a headphone warning, too... if you listen without headphones, you'll be doing your mind a disservice.  Find an afternoon (preferably a Saturday or Sunday) on which you have little to do (or need to work out some of the stresses of the previous week), indulge in your favorite stimulant/relaxer, kick back & GROOVE.  There is no doubt that these sound sculptures could be found in the (background of the) latest sci-fi thriller, but they clearly merit a separate listen.  My favorite cut was track 3, "Drumlin" - slow build to a vision of the forces (percussive & reedwise) that power thee UNIVERSE!  If your mind is shallow, you won't gain a thing from these images, but if you are an initiate, this is KEY to your journeys - & MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Contact through   Rotcod Zzaj

The Paul Broadnax Quartet, featuring Fred Haas - STRIKE UP THE BAND:  Paul's piano is superb (really STRONG chops), but his scat/vox add a dimension most jazz quartets can only aspire towards.  Haas' sax is deep-throated & sultry at the same time.  The other 2 players (Dave Trefethen on guitar & Peter Kontrimas on bass) contribute notably throughout (they are especially present on track 3, "Love Dance", with latino leanings).  Broadnax' original cuts were the standouts (as they usually are for this reviewer's ears)... I just LOVED "Dwike and Willie", an upbeat walkin' bass romp.  The last (original) track, "Hawthorn Street Blues" does a wonderful job of closing the CD out.  If you're looking for wack-city, far-out improv, this won't fill the bill, but "true" jazz lovers will find this one a keeper for years to come... it gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us.  Contact through Mixed Media, 28 Lockmere Road, Cranston, RI 02910, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

The Nerve Centre - ENERGY FIELDS:  In from Ireland, this rawkin' CD is way above average!  Multimedia format (they said somethin' was incompatible with WIN 98, & they were right, but if you click on the tracks under video, the WIN Media Player works just fine).  Some excellent shooting on each of the 5 tracks (5 separate bands represented), great themes & fine music behind, under, 'round & thru.  My view/listen rated McFly as th' best group all-round.  Th' toon was "Don't Let Them Take You Down", strong lyrics, great playing, & the video contributes a great deal to painting a picture that reminds me (in a most encouraging fashion) of the spirit of the early '60's.  Really SOLID image-weave, it's th' kind of thing worth watchin' over & over.  Kaleidoscope was another solid group/tune/vid, too... a haunting piece, somewhat reminiscent (rhythmically) of Chatahoochee Bridge, but much meatier in substance.  Wonderful electric guitar leads, some nice harmonics goin' on there, too.  The other groups were just fine, too.  If yer' in th' mood for some raw energy representative (in a youthful, forward-lookin' way) of TODAY - this is yer' TICKET!  I enjoyed it immensely, in fact I want MORE (they've got 6 more CD's comin' out over the next coupla' years or so)... gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me!  Contact The Nerve Centre,7/8 Magazine Street,Derry,BT48 6HJ. Tel:(01504)260562 Fax:(01504)371738 email:  web:   Rotcod Zzaj

Joseph Fire Crow - CHEYENNE NATION:  This Makoche CD release is another amazing marriage of musical cultures.  We have reviewed Joseph's music for some years now, & always been favorably impressed, but this round carries his music to new heights.  He (& the other formidable artists who share the spotlight with him - Gary Stroutsos on percussion, Jon Nyborg on guitar & (of course) Jovino Santos Neto's piano) literally SOARS in the energy generated by his beautiful flute playing.  I believe this label has really HIT on something... weaving the ancient (musical) traditions of Greece, South & North America (& others) together results in a sonic reunion of sorts!  This union brings all the sensibilities (& sadnesses) together in a mix that yields pure & unadulterated JOY!  Joseph's playing is immaculate (as it always has been when I've listened to his CD's) & full of heart.  Teachers, PLAY this music for your students... parents, you owe it to your children to let them hear the crystal-clear visions painted by Mr. Fire Crow.  This gets the PICK of this issue for "most forward-looking Native American music", as well as a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us.  Contact at 208 N. 4th St., Bismarck, ND 58502, on the Makoche WWW site,  or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

Real Modern Jazz Band - DJAMRA:  This pre-release CD contains some of the most "far-reaching" jazz you'll ever hear!  6 cutz o' fury & flurry that will knock yer' SAWKZ-ovv!  Mood swings, straight-ahead improv & high energies that bring back aural visions of Sharrock (& other totally competent "out" players of thee '90's).  If this is pre-release, I can hardly WAIT ta' hear th' RELEASE version.  's a quintet that imagines itself to be "big band", through & through!  Dai Akhani's trumpet stands out in a big way, but th' rest of the group takes their turns at pandemonium as well.  Since this was produced in Japan, I'll assume the players are (mostly) Japanese, tho' one of the names made me think Vietnamese (or Thai)... not sure why.  At any rate, this is one of the best jazz/rock/improv sets I've heard in quite some time... gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me.  Contact on their site, at or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

Butterfly Messiah - BUTTERFLY MESSIAH:  Hea-vee dance track mix material on this CD of 3 singles (a prelude to a full length CD release that is tentatively titled "Machines").  Enchanting, hypnotic & syntho-pop orientations that will hold your attention.  Since it was a sorta' demo only type thang, I guess I can forgive 'em for a press kit that didn't seem to expand clearly on Shannon & Robert... guess they decided to let the music speak for them.  Shannon's vox are clean, & the trax are well recorded.  It wasn't clear from the liners who was playing what - I'm assuming that the CD release will have much more/better info.  There are some great percussive moments, & the vocal overlays are professionally woven into the construct.  We DO want to review the production release... even these trax merit a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who love music they can dance to (& get lost in at the same time).  I'm sure the final release will clock in with an even higher rating.  Contact at 11691 Chapman Ave., Bonita Springs, FL 34135-5980, at their site (  ) or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

North Star - TEMPEST:  Kevin Leonard has been reviewed in our pages frequently over these last 12 or 13 years.  With this CD, he's achieved new respect in our ears.  This prog-rock outing lives up to the album title, truly a STORM of musical activity that will have you tossin' & turnin' from the first bar to the last.  Not only that, but Dave Johnson's high-end lead guitar sections will have you playin' air guitar for YEARS to come.  Kevin's keyboards don't slouch, nor does the succinct percussion offered up by Glenn Leonard.  Moves, grooves & straight-out rawkin' SPACE OPERA that will warm thee cockles of yer' progressive heart.  One of the best composed CD's I've heard in many years, this merits our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED without doubt (especially for the fan of rock that reaches out into the universe).  Contact (like, TODAY, people) at Space Monster Optional Entertainment, POB 43, Glen Mills, PA 19342, via email to  or visit the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Chiwoniso - ANCIENT VOICES:  WHAT a sweet CD... African oriented vocals, performed in English by "Chi" (her nickname) with the conviction & intensity of spirit that signifies world-class as soon as you hear her first note (of course, the enlightened know that's because she was born in the magickland of Olywa, where Native Americans say they have "magic rocks").   She plays thumb piano (mbira) as well, contributing significantly to the rhythm & tone of this splendid musical adventure.  Reviewers who are desperate to "lump" albums into categories will have an AWFUL time with this one... it combines so many elements of music(s) from around the world (while holding true to it's roots in African traditions) that it just can NOT be classified in any one "hole"!  Any way you listen to it, Chiwoniso is a shining spirit who has such joy in her voice that her soul shines through - all the way to your ears.  This gets the "pick" of this issue for "best female vocal" & (of course) our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating - no matter what your musical preference(s), you'll find something to enjoy on this album.  Contact at Tinder Records, 80 Mark Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903, or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

Techno Unit 30 - AUDIOCHROME:  We have always enjoyed listening to Larry Kucharz's compositions, having reviewed (nearly) all 7 of his CD's.  This outing focuses on Techno with a twist, Dance with a difference... Larry actually KNOWS how to compose.  This is no amateur "knobbin' around" - there's substance here that brings his classical influences to bear on the "Detroit Techno" sound.  I s'pose it's only right that 3 months after I move (to Detroit), he's experimenting (in full force) with "different" rhythms than on his earlier albums.  In FACT, that's what's always turned me on about Kucharz' works... they are ALWAYS different than the last... not drastically so, just enough so you must LISTEN to hear the nuances.  A true MASTER of electronic composition, you will hear his works in your head long after you've listened on the first spin.  Gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us!  Contact at POB 1068, Rye, NY 10530,   Rotcod Zzaj

visionEar - digThesis:  Grrrr-ooo-ve CIT-ee, mon'!  W-O-W, what a pleasant diversion this is!  I contacted visionEar (aka Jim Konen) from a link on the Metro Times Detroit pages (go HERE for th' goods), advocating that he & I hook up & figure out some way to institute "Operation Wreak Havoc" on good ole' Motor City.  He sent this highly energetic & forward-looking CD (samples of which you can hear at the Metro Times page link above).  Using a machine that he invented (which he calls the Realtime Performance Module - ROLAND based), he swirls through highly original constructs over self-generated (& very POWERful) rhythm layers that clearly demonstrate talent far beyond the normal scope for techno-based music(s).  He intersperses his fully qualified electric guitar playing with little "tweaks" of odd overlays that will keep you guessing.  This isn't a "play & throw away" CD, you'll keep it spinning for years to come... nuances galore in a frame of reference that is very accessible.  Gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Bryan Baker (at is gonna' LOVE this stuff)!  Ain't NO doubt but what Zzaj & visionEar will TRULY be twistin' some aural appendages at some point inna' future, volkz!).  Contact at 23 W. Lawrence, Pontiac, MI 48342, via e-mail to or on .mp3 at   Rotcod Zzaj


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