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Improvijazzation Nation 

Issue # 47 REVIEWS:


Chichi Peralta - DE VUELTA AL BARRIO:  This CD has some latino adventures for your earz.  You must (without doubt) enjoy this kind of music, & it wouldn't hurt to know the language.  Rhythmically & stylistically S-T-R-O-N-G, blending the musics of Cuba with Brazilian rhythms that are upbeat & persuasive.  There is actually a little more vocal work in the mix than I enjoy for this kind of music - but that's probably because I DON'T speak the langauge.  It's clear that understanding the words would make this have an even stronger emotional impact that it does (& it DOES have impact).  There is some beautiful guitar work & well-crafted bass underpinnings... all 'round I rate this a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for lovers of latin music(s).  Contact at Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e-mail is    ) Rotcod Zzaj

Riley Lee - POSTCARDS FROM BUNDANON:  Quiet, introspective and full of wonder... that's the immediate thought as I listen (first exposure) to Riley's shakuhachi playing on this beautiful CD.  Those looking for "heavy" instrumentation and backing tracks will have to move on to the next CD, as this features solo compositions, with some oriental stringed instruments.  That should not be a drawback for anyone interested in exploring new mental landscapes, however.  Mr. Lee is from Australia, but has done much to attract listeners the world over to the shakuhachi.  This is a highly impressive listening experience that will draw you in quickly and you'll find new and wonderful sonic adventures here.  Highly charged emotional experiences, with a hint of the sadness often found in the human condition.  For the listener who is attracted to inspiration, this gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!   Contact at Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e-mail is    ) Rotcod Zzaj

Mark Kissinger/Bret Hart - DUETS (Volume 1):  This is the closest I've heard Bret come to the music he was playing when I first met him (back in '88 or so, over in Korea).  The teaming with Kissinger (who, as many of you know, I've collaborated with on quite a few occasions) is pure genius.  Mark has been pretty active this last year, having done a couple with me, some (I believe) with Ernesto Diaz-Infante & now hooks up in phantasmagoric guitar madness (if the foo shits, yer' know...) with Hart.  Fresh directions through & through... nice "bell" sounding areas, totally non-linear & MEANT to enchant the listener... DO note that I say LISTENER.  If you think you can "slide by", trying to put this on as background at yer' next prom party - put the thought DOWN... you will go to JAIL for infecting young minds!  I've been really impressed with Mark's prepared guitar compositions ever since I heard them (in all grand glory) last year.  It's a totally different side to his playing & (from an improv standpoint) brings out the truth of his artistic stylings.  Bret (as any guee-tar freekz will know) is a MASTER in the improvised music arena... he displays it clearly & forcefully in many different ways, using hairbushes, Taiwanese kweng & tons of other paraphernalia to enhance yer' trance.  If you love improvised music, you MUST add this to your collection.... it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & the PICK of this issue for "best guitar improv" I've heard yet this year.  Contact at InstrumenTales Records, 609 Morehead St., Eden, NC 27288, via email to  or through the distributor, Open Circuit, POB 11453 1001 GL Amsterdam, The Netherlands... their email is   Rotcod Zzaj

Aaron Bennett - LIVE AT LUGGAGE:  I can almost visualize my friend Ernesto Diaz-Infante sitting there in the "Luggage Gallery" (apparently a "H-O-T spot" for improvised musics over the last few months... Ernesto plays there quite often, too), absorbed in this penetrating and inspired performance of improvised saxophone.  I know how enchanting it can be, having watched master improvisors like Wally Shoup & Jeffrey Morgan (along with scores of other players over the years) for hours on end.  Aaron is clearly in love with the solo mode, & has a depth in his playing (even at the most frenetic moments) that few but the masters CAN achieve or (even) hope for.  It's one of the highest quality recordings I've ever heard for a live/gallery performance (with only a few "street noises" peeking through).  Bennett's soprano is penetrating but not "screeching", with high spirit!  The CD features an interesting vocal segment (Katt Sammon), as well as the audience playing toy instruments.  A very well-rounded album, this gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all who enjoy improvised reeds.  Contact at ABDSound Records, 476 59th Street, Oakland, CA 94609, or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Bret Hart/Ernesto Diaz-Infante - DUETS (Volume 1):  There really IS a "label" for it... "guim-prov"... minimalist prepared & improvised guitar with the ability to haunt you.  It's (in my mind) much like the "hook" that Carole King & all the writers in the early '60's were lookin' for when they were writing songs... as you listen to DUETS, you may think that it's sort of inconsequential... that it will melt in the creases in your cranium & dissolve into nothingness.  What you don't realize (& this is NOT hype) is that it will come BACK (when you least expect it to) & creep UP on you... while you're riding the bus to work or flying out to L.A. in yer' Lear jet!  I don't care if the major reviewers hear this or not... I'm predicting that the enchantment that intricate and focused music like Bret & Ernesto are playing will BE (if it isn't already) the top-40 of tomorrow.  PLUS which, it's definitely a home-production... Bret learned that kind of packaging way BACK when & he's got it down to a SCIENCE by now.  There needs to be a bit more attention to levels/fidelity, but I've no doubt that will happen on the "DUETS 2", eh.. first mixes (especially with the prepared guitar stuff) are always a bit difficult, I think.  I had to turn the speakers up LOUD to hear all the intricate rhythms going on.  Apart from that, however, this is one HIGHLY RECOMMENDED listen that will excite even the most JADED of listeners.  Contact at InstrumenTales Records, 609 Morehead St., Eden, NC 27288, via email to  or through the distributor, Open Circuit, POB 11453 1001 GL Amsterdam, The Netherlands... their email is   Rotcod Zzaj

Sound - DRUNK ON CONFUSION:  The aliens escaped from (wherever) their planet (was) & have landed in your speakers (or headphones, if you dare).  This is another FANTASTIC release from Tekito.  I sometimes think (when listening to the music on this CD) that they have had a few (?too many?) seances with Zappa (in his afterlife) & are our mediums for what he's seeing/hearing on the other side.  Some conventional guitar elements are woven through & throughout, but aside from that, this is music that will THRILL the sonic adventurer, th' sorta' stuph (I imagine) the SILVER SURFER listens to at the outer edges of the universes he travels in & out of.  This IS best listened to with headphones, but only the brave need try it!  There is NO genre it can be attached to, or defined by & any reviewer who tried would be ORF hiz'/her RAWK-er.  They keep the energy FLYING, though, so yer' not bored to deaf with DRONE nonsense.  I'm amazed, & you will be too.  For those who DEMAND different, this gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as the "PICK" of this issue for "best totally new sound" (thus farly) in 2001!  This IS the stuph that Hal was listening to when he took over thee ship!   Contact at Tekito Communications, PMB # 432, 828 Royal St., New Orleans, LA 70116, via email to  or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Karen Ashbrook & Paul Oorts - CELTIC CAFE:  As the promo pack notes - "Just in time for St. Patrick's & March 2001 Celtic Promotions".  If you love music full of raw energy & cultural diversity (Irish, French & Flemish), you won't be able to eject this CD.  Bright and full of a range of emotions not often stirred by the "pop" music you'll hear these days, "Celtic Cafe" will expand your mental boundaries.  The pipes (Mark Hillman) & woodwinds (Bobby Read) add an element of enchantment that will stay in your mind for days (even years, I'd imagine).  Rappers may not find it terribly enjoyable, but people who do love life & the living will cherish this unique album for many listens to come.  Joy is clearly expressed in Bonnie Rideout's scottish fiddle playing.  It's the kind of music that you can get up & dance to without having to "put on airs".  I fell in love with it right away... it's a "keeper"!  I rate it MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for ears thirsting for true musical adventure.  Contact at Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e-mail is    ) Rotcod Zzaj

The Joel Futterman/Ike Levin Trio, with Randall Hunt - INTERVIEW:  While it's not scratchy or raw, or terribly new in format, this CD provides some VERY solid moments for those who love improvised music that can inspire the listener to new creative heights.  Joel's keyboards are strong, but don't (in any way) overshadow the other players.  A PERFECT mesh of exploratory (sonic) oratory with it's highlight being the spontaneity that can only come from players whose ears (& hearts, I rather imagine) are open to each other.  Levin's tenor doesn't ramble, but it can (at times) SCORCH your ears!  Randall's contrabass provides a foundation, in a sense, for the other players, only rising to the fore when truly necessary.  The music on this production is based on crystal clarity & a vision of the spontaneous that few players achieve... it gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating!  Contact at Drimala Records, POB 69044, Hampton, VA 23669-9344, online at  or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

John Polito - CROSSING THE LINE:  A strange combo... a piano player (& studio engineer) who finds inspiration in musics as mundane as (the evil) "smooth jazz" (jk, volkz) & the wacked-out compstylez of dearly departed Unka Frank (Zappa, that is).  What attracted me to him (in the liner notes) is his enjoyment of Zappa "because his creative process was constantly experimental and boundless"... talk about understatement!  Polito displays a great amount of creativity in many of his selections... I particularly enjoyed track 7, "In Motion", probably because it's founded in the polyrhythmic wonderment that stirs the heart & soul!  As you might deduce from the title, the intent is to display a broad range of styles... & cut 4, "Aurora Alegre" provides some wonderful guitar moments (Andy Abad) in a spirited Latin tradition.  In a certain sense, there's almost too much variety, but Polito's strong skills in arrangement/composition and boundless ENERGY pull the album out of the doldrums of dime-store drudgery.  All in all, for those who enjoy music with broad appeal, this rates a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (in my ears).  Contact through Creative Service Company, 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918... also via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

Eckhart Seeber - ECKLECTICA:  Heavy-electronic world music orientations on this unpredictable CD release from Seeber, whose credits are about 14 miles long in the accompanying bio sheets.  He has a strong control of the rhythmic elements (as one would expect for a worldbeat artist, I'd think).  I particularly enjoy the South American sections.  His attempts at Shakuhachi weren't quite as enjoyable... but the other flutes were fantastick!  An even dozen tracks with strong emphasis on percussives... lots of pieces that sound like a movie's background music - which really makes sense, because Eckhart has done a GREAT deal of work with soundtracks!  The reason I say he's unpredictable is because his compositions don't stay in any one "genre"... &, to my ears, that's a strong recommendation.  In fact, he gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us, especially for listeners who want to focus on the driving beats & high energy he generates with his musical visions.   Contact at Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e-mail is    ) Rotcod Zzaj

Ed Littman (featuring Mark Egan & Danny Gottlieb) - MY WINDOW:  Down & slinky git-ar bloozy/boozy kind o' stuph on this great CD in from "YeahMan Records".  This ain't no formula krap, Ed's GOT th' feel fer' real!  He'll BLOW yer' sockzoff from th' opening bar to th' last twisted & bent note!  'nuff form to keep th' attention of listeners who can't keep up with the "out" stretches, but with enuff zest & high-energy originality to keep it (almost) in the league of high experimental!  This IS kewl music & I enjoyed it thoroughly, especially from the standpoint of the communication Littman keeps going with the listener.  It's a constant dialogue, no double-speak, just "from-the-gut" jazzy blues that will amaze & please your ears.  Over 72 minutes of highly entertaining music for listeners who enjoy challenge & comfortable listening (at the same time).  Gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (with a note to collectors everywhere... this one is BOUND to become an ITEM)!!!   Contact at 250 W. 10th St., # GF1, New York, NY 10014, via email to or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Nikkos - ANGELS DREAMING:  Nikkos' flute is the stuff that angels' dreams are made of.  Light & airy, clearly enunciated & skillfully played.  Many who are in to more adventurous music(s) will shy away from this music, but if you enjoy the quiet moments that musical introspection can bring, this will BE your ticket to angelic bliss.  In addition to beautiful solo works, there are some very nice interactions with piano, acoustic bass & percussion as well... I particularly enjoyed cut 9, "West east"... the piano was highly expressive, with nice counterpoint to Nikkos flute lead.  If you're looking (only) for high-energy "out there" kinda' music, this won't be your cup of tea, but listeners with an ear for sonic beauty will agree with me when I declare this HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Contact at Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e-mail is    ) Rotcod Zzaj

Greg Ribot & Cumbia Del Norte - THE INTERNATIONAL CONSPIRACY:  This CD contains music in the Latin tradition of pure JOY!  The DIFFERENCE is that Ribot's compositions/arrangements are his & HIS alone... though the more recognizable elements of South American music are there (especially the rhythms), his colorings & expressions will lift you HIGHER than you've ever been before.  The music falls in that "timeless" category - it's a KEEPER, folks!  Greg's flute plays a prominent part in the energy, but doesn't "steal the show"... well integrated (& recorded) through & through!  I didn't feel any "dark" elements of conspiracy here... only a conspiracy to get you up offa' yer' tail & out there onna' FLOOR!  This is clearly a plot without poison... a plot to make SURE you have PHUN!  The percussives (as you might expect) are also a high point on the album, extremely upbeat & joyous.  This one gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for those who want to hear something (ever so slightly) NEW in their latin-based music!   Contact at Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e-mail is    ) Rotcod Zzaj

East October - ONE:  "East" is a member of the "Automatic Music" team (who have been reviewed in this publication quite a bit over the last couple of years).  This is his first "solo" release... tho' it's not truly solo, as he's joined by "Gentlemaniac" (another long-time contributor to our 'zine) on several of the pieces.  This is NOT music for the faint of heart... tho' it starts off with a beautiful lil' piece called "wheatfield" (which is cute & cuddly), it rapidly moves in to the experimental zone... different instruments, different sounds & different IDEAS than you've ever heard.  Almost like the (mental) leap/transition from Neanderthal to Cro-Magnon (if you can relate to that).  One of my favorite pieces (as he might have expected) is "NEWS", which uses snatches o' this & that to innundate you with more than you can (possibly) absorb (much like "the" news, yah?).  You certainly can't classify this as a "rawk" album.. it's definitely not "new age"... in fact, I believe you'll find it IMPOSSIBLE to classify... music for FUN, & that's 'nuff said!  Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer!  Contact at Sheperd, 504 Liberty Pl., Archdale, NC 27263, or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Automatic Music - CARNIVAL OF LIGHT:  This collective ensemble effort makes music that is (like totally, man) UNpredictable (to say the least).  They seem (with each album) to be getting better & better at going in directions that even THEY didn't anticipate.  Now, that COULD be a real D-R-A-G, if they were musicians who were aimless... letting the group format become an excuse for going NOwhere.... but it isn't that way at all.  I have a sneaking suspicion (from having played a lot with him before) that Bret Hart's membership in the group has a lot to do with why the directions they take always impress me... but he's not (like) the "group leader".  It's clearly a contribution from each member of the collective that makes the total experience come across.  What (you ask) is the MUSIC like?  Like what the muffler on your car would sound like if you could (somehow) suspend yourself under the car as it moved through town... like what you'd hear if you could BE Jonah, ridin' inside that whale's stomach... in OTHER WORDS, it's like nothing you've EVER heard!  & that's a COMPLIMENT, I can tell you... it is DIFFERENT music that will give the adventurous listener hours of pleasure.  Is it something YOU will enjoy?  Doubtful... only the (mentally) STRONG will "get it".  In that light, it gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating.  (...but boyz' - yer' GOTta' get that gourd-am H-U-M outta' that guitar when yer' recording it).   Contact at Sheperd, 504 Liberty Pl., Archdale, NC 27263, or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Llewellyn/Lillian Verner-Bonds - COLOUR HEALING:  This album is part of a "Mind, Body, Soul" collection, used as therapeutic music.  If you spied it in a stack on the rack(s) at your local store, you might find yourself overlooking it... in which case, you'd be denying yourself some wonderful listening experiences!  We have listened to and reviewed much of Mr. Llewellyn's music over the last couple of years... & this is one of the best we've heard yet.  Titles are what you might expect them to be... all related to color, so they don't (necessarily) give you much hint of what to expect.  "Brilliance" may be obvious, but how do you anticipate what "Red" will be, unless (like myself) you've been exposed (through therapy) to color as a magnificent means to relate to the states your body/mind may be in at a particular time.  This is glorious music, with the power of healing evident from the first bar!  You don't even have to be in a meditative state (though it may help) to appreciate the vibrant energy of the spectrum(s) being painted (sonically) for your ears.  A great CD, it gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all types of listeners!  Contact at Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e-mail is    ) Rotcod Zzaj

Julie Kelly - INTO THE LIGHT:  Those who dig high voltage vocal jazz will find that "the thrill is back" when they listen to Julie's totally spontaneous renditions on this fine CD!  Far too many players backing her up to note each one - BUT, Bill Cunliffe's keyboards & arrangements are the works of a wizard!  Kelly's vocals are "on" all the time, spontaneous to thee MAX, volkz!  So put yer' bachelor pad ragz on, curl up with a pipe 'na conc & groove on th' lilting romantic tales she crafts for you!  You can almost FEEL the energy she's radiating as she sings... magikal qualities that few artists are able to project, especially on a recording.  She's originally an Oakland native & had plenty of opportunity (in that area) to soak up the richness of jazz & blues around here there.  Whether it's a straight-ahead jazz standard, or the upbeat latino "Flor de Lis" (track 4), she's GOT style down to a "t"!  She gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED  from my ears, & you'll agree (wholeheartedly) when you hear "INTO THE LIGHT".  Contact through Braithwaite & Katz Communications, 2400 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140, email to them at  or to CMG, POB 11178, Glendale, CA 91226.   Rotcod Zzaj

Mental Anguish & noMuZic - FLAMINGO ROAD:  Those who follow underground artists will recognize the "Mental Anguish" (Chris Phinney) moniker right away... that "noMuzic" has been on the scene for a L-O-N-G time as well.  All NEW music on this synth-based CD.  Very interesting, lots of rhythmic changes for you to explore.  It's an intricate sound, tons of "little" things going on in the background(s), always good for a re-listen... you'll ALWAYS find something you hadn't realized was there before.  Chris has been a mainstay in the D.I.Y. scene for many years... this album is still hard-core D.I.Y., but it comes a lot closer (I'd say) towards "marketable/accessible", if you will.  Now, that's NOT a "slam"... I'm just saying that the recording quality is exceptionally high, artwork is VERY nice & all around, it's something you'd GIVE an adventurous musical friend as a gift.  I doubt you'd give it to yer' MOM, but then what IS there you listen to that you'd give to momma'?  I was particularly impressed with the last cut, "crying & praying", for it's robotic rhythms & haunting overlays.  GET this... if you enjoy dangerous listening/living, you'll agree en toto with me... this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!   Contact at Harsh Reality Music, POB 38124-1667, or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Duf Davis & The Book Club - MURDERTAINMENT:   Our friends at Orange Entropy Records have assembled another interesting group of D.I.Y. recordings for yer' aural pleasure(s).  Despite the title of this CD, it's not (in the least) dark!   Some very energetic guitar chord movements with strings very noticeable (arranged by Tim).  I'm assuming that the vox (on several of the trax) were done by Duf Davis, but unfortunately, the liners on the CD jacket didn't make that totally clear.  The players (far too many to list here) are definitely IN to what they're doing, & are able to communicate that clearly... OTOH, there were a few cuts where the vocals made it come across without all the strength they could have had.  One of my favorite tracks is "When Hollywood Came and Burned It All Down", nice convoluted rhythm with a truly jazzy feel.  High production values on the recording, all in all a pleasant listen.  Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us!  Contact at Orange Entropy Records, POB 1314, Burbank, CA 91507, or on their site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Medwyn Goodall - ESSENCE OF MAGIC:  There are few artists (these days) who can evoke the magic through their music as artfully as Mr. Goodall.  We have reviewed several of his CD's in the last 2 or 3 years, & each experience gets better.  You will visualize wide-open vistas, spells cast & woven through his sensitive compositional skills.  The most notable part of the sonic paintings he renders for you is the sense of having BEEN there... musical memories that are buried deep in the human psyche (from the cave days, actually) are re-etched on your ears.  It matters not a whit how jaded your tastes are - you will enJOY this music!  I think of him as a sort of sonic sorcerer, orchestral vistas of the deepest sensitivity rendered for your enjoyment and cultural enhancement... this gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Contact at Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e-mail is    ) Rotcod Zzaj


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