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Improvijazzation Nation 

Issue # 54 REVIEWS


Nicholas Hoffman -  JAZZY'S DANCE:  We first fell in love with Nicholas' superb jazz work(s) several years ago (& reviewed it, of course... if you want to find it, go to the main Zzaj page & use our new SEARCH utility...).  Hoffman plays some of th' jumpingest jazz guitar you'll ever hear.  On this CD, he does it with some organ GIANTS... Joey DeFrancesco & Dave Mathews!  There is also some scorching tenor sax work by jazz veteran Hadley Caliman & some kickin' percussion by Mark Ivester!  I keep promising myself that I'm going to get off my duff & get ON UP to Bellingham (which is where Nicholas home bases from)... but, after listening to this sonic adventure - I have no CHOICE but to DO it now!  This reminds me of some of the hottest sessions I witnessed in the jazzkeller's of Germany - way back in th' '60's - but with a 21st century clean energy that makes th' music ever more attractive.  Th' title track (a composition by Hoffman's wife, Debra Chang) takes a bit to get "in th' groove", but once it does... crisp & clear jazz with a guitar that (as th' title implies) just dances; my favorite cut on th' album!  For jazz that JUMPS, this comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us!  Contact at Jazz Friends Productions, 2500 H St., Bellingham, WA 98225, via e-mail to    or on the webpage at   Rotcod Zzaj

Stinkhorn - tunguska:  My, how th' years melt away... we reviewed these guys way back in issue # 32, as a part of the Olympia Experimental Music Festival submissions.  They were great then (or we wouldn't have given 'em our HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating), but they're VOLCANIC now (maybe they were somewhere near Nisqually when th' great quake happened?)!  Brian Heaney's fantasic (Sharrock-like) guitar opens up in (pleasant) scream mode, but th' compz are totally varied as they move on through th' 15 tracks on th' CD.  You'll hear Michael Monhart's unbounded energy on sax, as well as Howard Ouchi's crisp/throbbing percussion.  Bass from John Morris rounds the quartet out.  The group seems more "mature" (somehow), but not at th' expense of any energy on their part - nothing suffers.  They are equally comfortable with slower-paced tunes, able to use the quiet moments to fully express their feelings... "Psalm X" is a beautiful example of how relaxed the group can make you feel!  For out&out thrash-jazz, you'll wanna' listen over & over to "Summer Salt" (cut 7)... shades of Mahavishnu, Sonny & a whole buncha' other rawkin' groups - it brought back some might-ee high memories fer' me, verzure!  This isn't just MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for jazz listeners of all persuasions, it gets the "PICK" of this issue for "best jazz variety"!  Contact at 12516 12th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98125, on their site at (after March, it will also be available at, or via email to    Rotcod Zzaj

Hellborg/Lane/Sipe - PERSONAE:  Shades of yesteryear keep poppin' up in these CD's as I open them!  We reviewed an album from Jonas (Hellborg) in issue # 45... they had a different drummer on that one, but on both groups, Jonas' timeless electric bass is featured prominently.  Shawn Lane's guitar was on that last album, too... he hasn't done anything in the ensuing years... except GET BETTER!  His lead solos are cosmic, definitely in "space" territory... there are times when I can (definitely) make comparisons with my friend Jim Konen's (aka VisionEar) magickal guitars!  Drummer Jeff Sipe rounds the trio out - & he's a scorcher in his own right!  This was recorded live in Mainz, Germany... & you can feel th' blue smoke risin' to th' ceiling... of course, you can also hear th' surge of energy that this classic group inspires, every time a song ends... th' audience is ecstatic to be a part of this high energy show (lawd knows, anyone except a phroggin' zombie WOULD BE)!  This is without a doubt one of the best bands you'll ever hear... so together that it's hard to believe they're such distinct musical personalities.  I am firmly convinced that the only way this kind of music can happen is when the communication is on a (near) subliminal level.  This gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & th' "PICK" of the year for "album that will be most played"!  Just GREAT rockin' jazz!  Contact at 532 La Guardia plc, #421, New York, NY, or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Dinosaur Construction Unit - FROM THE CAVES, VOLUME 1:  Our readers have often read liner note claims about the band(s) being "the most unique", or "different than anything you've ever heard"... well, in the case of DCU, it's believable.  Not that I've never heard anything like it (hell, I've PLAYED like it...), but they most assuredly have their own unique stamp on "jam"!  It takes a few bars (about 16, as I remember) for them to get into "high" gear, but once they start movin', itz' high energy all th' way.  Trio, basic lead, bass & drums, but they're right ON top of each others' next move/direction (without steppin' on each other, I might add).  If you're driving Route 66, or a Harley all th' way from Seattle to San Francisco for that matter - this will make perfect road music!  Thelonious Rex' lead guitar solos/jams are scorchers, with Dragonfly furnishing some slip/slidin' fretless bass underpinnings & Pipe Man perc'in away like a madman.  This is th' first in what they (& we) hope to be a long series of live CD's... they get a RECOMMENDED from us for anyone who digs on rock-based music that's got an undercurrent of adventure throughout!  Contact at Bad News Records, 11420 Fortune Cr., I-17, West Palm Beach, FL 33414,, on the site at  or via email to jazznow@shadow,net   Rotcod Zzaj

EM - 2:  I shouldn't be surprised (at all) that our friend "VisionEar" is turning out new and exciting sounds (nearly) every month.  As (some) of you (may) know, VisionEar is my friend Jim Konen from Pontiac, Michigan.  Though we've played together before (as the Detroit Improv Duo), Jim has several musical personalities, & "EM" is one of them.  In fact, one of them I like best... this outing features some really laid back & relaxed guitar improvisations that fall somewhere between techno/trance & freejazz (if you can feature that).  As always, there is plenty of beat&rhythm in his undercurrents, not to mention some masterful guitar leads... but on this album, his approach is nearly "west coast" - the energy is there (in spades), but it's not frenetic.  I really love th' pacing, & you will too!  Another (definite) attraction for listeners whose keyword is adventure is that Jim is constantly exploring new sounds, new styles - th' vocal blends on track 3, "21st Century" are one of the best examples of that diversity!  His (great) personality sorta' comin' out thru th' instruments, in a high-energy (but calm) aural excursion to new heights!  This is the best "EM" we've heard thus farly, & get a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us!  Contact Jim via email to, or on his website at    Rotcod Zzaj

Justin Morell Quintet - THE MUSIC OF STEELY DAN:  Th' title might not sound like it lends itself (muchly) to jazz... but if you grew up in th' era that I did (tp-roll bongs & all), you'll know that (a lot of) Donald Fagen's compositions were classics that borrowed muchly from th' American jazz experience.  Morell's quintet (Justin on guitar, John Guerin on drums, Tom Peterson on saxes, with trumpeter John Daversa & bassist Todd Sickafoose) plays/pays tribute in a manner that no doubt would make Fagen quite happy!  Easy & loose (tho' not "smooth jazz syrupy") but with appropriate gusto!  There is a really nice mesh of instruments, no one tryin' to steal the show; sounds like they've done a pretty fair amount of playing & communicating together!  Morell's guitar stylings tend to help that communication, I thought... but th' players are all excellent on this very well recorded album.  If you're lusting after some wack-out improv, you'll put this one down... but if you appreciate great jazz played with high spirit - GET THIS!  It gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer!  Contact at 351 Lester Ave., # 3D, Oakland, CA 94606, via email to or on their site at   Rotcod Zzaj

So Kalmery - BENDERA:  Our friends at Musik International continue to (really) mix it up for us... making sure we are never without variety.  This outing features wonderfully energetic African music from So, who has played all over the world (but now resides in Paris & Guadeloupe).  The 9 players on this outing support Kalmery in beautiful fashion, letting him speak his soul through his vocals - tho' his guitars are outstanding, too!  This music integrates many styles, all of them with the kind of energy that makes musicians become popular with the people, because the people can hear/know that the singer/players have their interests at heart!  Lotsa' rockin', lil' bit o' balladry, even a taste o' blooz'... but you can hear Kalmery's African roots comin' through... this is music that will make you move, & we all need to do some o' that!  GREAT music, very nice listen - gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all fans of music that speaks volumes!  Contact at 4380 Redwood Hwy, Suite B10, San Rafael, CA 94903, via email to  or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Bruce Arnold - GIVE 'EM SOME:  A trio featuring Bruce's fantastic guitar works (along with Ratso B. Harris on bass & Tony Moreno on drums/percz).  Images of late '70's rockfests come to (my) mind's ears, & it seems I am transported back to a (sorta') golden era of music (tho' only us hippies remember how "golden" it was, I s'pose).  This is actually one of the better jazz/rock/fusion albums I've listened to in (let's say) the last 10 years.  Something interesting occurs after you've listened through it for the 2nd or 3rd time, though... it becomes clear that though much sounds familiar (as in McGlaughlin/Mahavishnu), this is new energy... no kopykat stuff, no rehash!  Yummy stuff that sticks to yer' ribs, a real musical treat!  Arnold's solo work is a highlight, to be sure, but all 3 players have the green light on, & are in high gear (energy-wise) on all 7 compositions... even the ones that are slower paced!  From a "classification" standpoint, this is nearly impossible... it doesn't fit neatly in any pigeonhole... elements of fusion, to be sure... plenty of jazz/blues leanings... but what shines through is that it is original playing!  Anyone with a taste for well-crafted music will groove with this - and agree with me when I declare it MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED... as well as the "PICK" of this issue for "most enjoyable music"!   Contact at Muse Eek Recordings, 201 East 12th Street, Suite 102, New York, NY, via email to or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Thomas Buckner/Tom Hamilton - JUMP THE CIRCLE, JUMP THE LINE:  A brand-new release from "mutablemusic" (a label we are rapidly becoming acquainted with, due to the package of 3 CD's they just sent).  On this disc, an exploration of vocal sounds & electronics takes place... & it's one you're not likely to soon forget.  This is the kind of music that backs my dreams (& occasionally my nitemares) up!  A totally different (but quality) musical adventure.  Buckner's vox are fluid, not at all boring & challenging to listen to, especially in combo with the electronic wizardries that Hamilton pulls off.  Though they have segmented the album in to "tracks", it appears (sonically) to be 59 or so minutes of pure fun for them!  The real shifts seem to come with the electronics as they "move" into different shades on the palette... Buckner is right there on the changes, using his voice at one point as a thunderstorm to back up a particularly dark passage... or (almost) singing a lullaby when the instruments play little bell-like sounds that (may) take the listener all the way back to the nursery.  For listeners unaccustomed to sounds that don't "fit the patterns", this WILL be strange... but if your ears are tired of the normal claptrap on the waves today - you will agree with me when I declare this to be HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Great stuff!   Contact at 109 W. 27th St., Seventh floor, New York, NY 10001, via email to or on their site at    Rotcod Zzaj

Ernesto Diaz-Infante & Bob Marsh - RAGS AND STONES:  Our first review of "Public Eyesore" (label) discs.  Orb-viously, th' reason I picked this particular CD to review is because I've played together with Ernesto for some many years now... and because I've heard many of the CD's that Bob has put out from San Francisco (where they are both based).  Diaz-Infante's prepared guitar work (as always) is in fine form, as is Marsh's violin & cello playing.  In fact, the intricate dynamics of their improvisations are captured almost flawlessly on "Rags and Stones".  You must be dedicated to the listening experience... no dawdling here.... this isn't background music for swanky uptown parties.  If you reserve an hour (or so) with your headphones, you will enjoy it even more.  The pieces are not (at all) "screech&whistle", they are more like string symphonies... detailed but not overbearing.  One of the most attractive parts of their work together (especially on this album), for this listener anyway, is that there are open spaces... leaving much room for the imagination of the listener.  I am reminded of some of the early vinyl efforts from LaDonna Smith on the TransMuseq label back in the mid-eighties.  For anyone who wants something new and adventurous to listen to, this is IT!  Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us!   Contact through Public Eysore, at 605 Sunrise Blvd., Decorah, IA 5210, on the site at  or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

East October - INFINITY & BEYOND:  "East" might have known that I would really dig on trak 5, I'm not sure... but I genuinely DID!  Rhythm beats that POUND, but (at th' same time) FADE in & out... very psych, very kewl!  That's not to disparage any of the other pieces, either... the opener, "Airplane 910", is a drone that will make you feel high in th' sky!  Th' key to this whole listening experience is - DON'T EXPECT anything... as it WILL be different than you thought... & that is a GREAT thing for those who want experimental listening.  This is a real collage of sonic weaves that will amaze yer' ears!  We have reviewed quite a bit of October's work in the last 2 or 3 years... lots of it with "Automatic Music", on the Szum label.  From the standpoint of experimental/different (& often difficult) listening, this is one of the better sonic adventures he has pulled off yet.  Gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating for discerning listeners everywhere.  (Hmm... I keep going back to that opening track... I LIKE that one a lot)!  Contact at Sheperd, 504 Liberty Pl., Archdale, NC 27263, or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Beegie Adair (with the Jeff Steinberg Orchestra) - I'LL TAKE ROMANCE:  Our friends from Creative Services Company sent this CD in... very pleasant music, though I doubt too many improv fans will get into th' groove with it.  Beegie's keyboards are beautiful, & in the style of the '50's/'60's, she is backed by a full orchestra.  All standards based on romantic themes (ergo thee title, I expect) that will make many (of us) Boomers wax nostalgic.  Candlelight dinners, garden parties & th' stuff that Doris Day movies were made of... Adair's music could make a very effective soundtrack for any of those movies, no doubt.  If you "left your heart in San Francisco" many years back, or can't stand th' thot of a moment or two without Perry Como playin' in th' background -  you will HAVE to have this album.  For those enchanted with mood musics of the past, this gets a RECOMMENDED from us.  Contact at  or by calling 1-800-972-5900 or emailing   Rotcod Zzaj

Big Black/Anthony Wheaton - ETHNIC FUSION:  The (seemingly) bottomless pit of music that's "regular", "ordinary" & (even in the improvised world) "mundane" STOPS right here - just like Harry S.'s BUCK!   This CD, in from "mutablemusic" (a label we haven't reviewed before, but they're a MOST welcome change of pace), makes a simple combination that I certainly hadn't thought of before (classical guitar (Anthony) & African drumworks (Black))... & REALLY makes it work!  Of course, if it's the kind of listener who looks at th' cover, sees the 2 indisputably Afro-American faces & sez' to him/her self - RAP, man... they will be sorely disappointed.  This is African/American music; NOT sickeningly-sweet jazz; NOT pump&thump rap that should be backin' up a porno flick - it is simple & natural music played by two masters of their instruments who happen to be both African & American.  Let us hope that there is MUCH more coming from them.  It IS a strange listen... Wheaton's guitar chording & strumming with classical abandon as an intro... then comes the deep T-H-R-O-M of Big's rhythms (in various tasty flavors, all the way from deepest/darkest Africa to Cuban latino) - & the listener is saying (to himself)... what in HECK is this!  After the second cut, it is no longer strange - it just MAKES SENSE.  A joyous album, full of hope & promise for a future that is NOT WRAPPED in crap (music)!  Just LOVED this one... gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for creative listeners everywhere. It also gets the "PICK" of this issue for "most natural music"!   Contact at 109 W. 27th St., Seventh floor, New York, NY 10001, via email to or on their site at    Rotcod Zzaj

Nicholas Hoffman - BLUES FOR EDDIE:  This is the second CD in the packet (this month) from Nicholas.... & as you read earlier, I'm a big fan of his beautiful jazz guitar.  The title/opening track is one of 2 blues cuts, & what's missing this album (that's often there) is the Hammond organ(isms); Hans Brehmer makes up for that, though, with fantastic piano work.  NO loss of continuity, tho'... shining jazz through & through!  Peter Axelsson's bass is SOLID, & (far) more than just a "background" instrument... he sets the tone for many of the tunes.  Hadley Caliman's tenor speaks to (& through) you as well, & Mark Ivester's drums stir up quite some dust!  Hoffman's guitar playing is (as always) smooth, but with more'n enuff energy to keep it from (ever) being relegated to th' "smooth jazz" heap.  One of the things I've always loved about his groupings is that the players all (seem to) get an equal share... true balance is achieved.  From a "that's th' way I grew up on jazz" standpoint, my favorite track on this go-round is cut 4, "Gala", a Caliman composition... prob'ly takes me back to the many hours of listening to Cannonball & all those cats (many years ago).  Jazz lovers in every part of the world will want this album... gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us!  Contact at Jazz Friends Productions, 2500 H St., Bellingham, WA 98225, via e-mail to    or on the webpage at   Rotcod Zzaj

Bret Hart/Tom Nunn - DUETS:  Another in the very interesting series of duet CD's that Bret's been doing.... he & I did one early this year, so I'm quite familiar with how it's done.  One player an initiator, the second a contributor... very much like the way we did tapes way back when... the difference is in the sonics & quality of recording.  This DUET album is among the best I've heard in the series.  Totally unique sounds, strangeness everywhere.... MUCH like many of the earliest Hart-works I heard (in the mid-to-late '80's).  If you expect to sit back & reminisce about sounds you used to hear "way back when" - GET OVER IT!  Nunn plays (according to the liners) "T-Rodimba", "nailboard" & "Bug-Arp".... I can't (quite) tell from the narrative, but it appears that Bret recorded source tracks (ergo, was the initiator), then sent them to Nunn, who performed over them in a performance/show setting that was recorded by (another underground stalwart) Doug Carroll.  No matter whether I've got thee sequence exactly right or not... this is THE best DUET CD I've heard yet!  It (unquestionably) merits a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any listener who loves a musical challenge & gets the "PICK" of this issue for "best weirdnesses".  I really LIKED this one, & you will too!   Contact through the WWW pages at (where you can purchase the CD with your credit card) or at InstrumenTales Records, 609 Morehead St., Eden, NC 27288, USA   Rotcod Zzaj

The Frock - THE LATEST SITUATION:  Strange & funky rawkin', to be sure... in from Orange Entropy, so that's no big surprise!  This has a really gutsy feel to it, very much in-yer'-face, could fall in th' "punk" pigeonhole, I s'pose.  I can't quite get a handle on whether they're playin' over loops, but that doesn't really matter... they've got a real "Captain Beefheart" smell... "funny", but not "dead" (yet).  Trak 2 ("Doin' Dishes") starts off with some nice blues guitar, but quickly degenerates (appropriately, I think) into a kitchen food fight.  Bass strides do double duty, keepin' time, as well as some fairly well accomplished pickin'!  "Stalking The Midnight Brisk" is my favorite cut, comin' th' closest to a "tune" as anything on th' album does.  You'll have to be wanting some "bent" rock (as in Zappa) to dig this, but don't write it off... for rockers who are bored, this will provide a few hours of distraction & (perhaps) delusion... gets a RECOMMENDED from us!  Contact at 327 Evanston Drive, East Windsor, NJ 08520, via email to  or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Sun Palace - INTO HEAVEN:  Star studded cast in this alternate rock group from New York... Tony Geballie (King Crimson) as well as John Rokosny's (Smithereens) guitars, Billy Idol's drummer Mark Brotter in a backup role for the wonderful vocals of Andriette Redmann!  There are far too many others to itemize here, but all contribute to a very enjoyable sound.  Redmann's voice has a haunting quality that sometimes makes it sound as though she is singing through a spirit... & that is a GOOD thing!  This isn't a genre we are greatly familiar with, as it comes close to what's (probably) playing on your FM station in your car as you're buzzing down th' road; but the energy is there!  I mean, it's not that lowdown & dirty R&B sound that will make you get up & dance, but it's got spirit & soul that will capitalize on your pensive moments & or bring back mem'ries from past lives.  The musicianship is excellent (& not just because of all those names, either...), strong compositions anchored in solid rhythmic patterns.  For any & all listeners who love great lyrics & song, this gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us... OTOH, if yer' lookin' for somethin' that goes OUT, you'll prob'ly go elsewhere.  Contact at Drake Entertainment, 20 Avenue A, Suite #5E, New York, NY 10009or through the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Cornelia Glynn and Medwyn Goodall - MEDITATION & VISUALISATION:  This CD is part of a series (by New World Music) called "Mind, Body, Soul".  We have reviewed Goodall's independent works before, very favorably I might add.  Since this music was/is specifically composed for this series, it is more focused on the meditative aspects of the listening experience than on the artist's compositional or playing skills.  Having been through some (pretty extensive) therapy myself (long, long ago in another world), I can say that this would "meet the need".  The strings express "deep" sounds, but with bright, rather than dark, imagery.  Ms. Glynn penned some very appropriate words to accompany each of the tracks... she describes the music beautifully, & proper settings (low lighting, perhaps headphone for each person in the room), when combined with her words & Medwyn's beautiful music(s), will allow a mind to escape the terrors of today.  You should remember that the compositions are introspective & enchanting.  They should be used to enhance contemplation of life & the living.  I give them a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, particularly for therapists (in any discipline) needing something that will relax a patient to the point where the inner beauty can be easily explored.  GREAT music!  Contact through Musik International, 154 Betasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 or on the site at    Rotcod Zzaj

Tin Ear - SYMPHONY IN 3 MOVEMENTS:  Very interesting (symphonic) keyboard work by Allan Loucks (with percussion furnished by Robert Geddes) on this CD (we reviewed an earlier work, "Name That Mood", in issue # 32).  We apologize to Allan for having taken so long to get to the review on this one (buried under a stack, you know?).  At any rate, there are some amazing displays of compositional/orchestral skill in the 3 movements.  I was especially impressed with his string work, though the sections that feature horn sounds are nearly as gigantic!  It is cut 3 (the 3rd movement, naturally) where Allan pulls out all the symphonic tricks in the book... gentle builds, flights of fancy & full fledged string attacks... a great adventure for the listener.  While this can't be "classified" as improvisation, the compositional skills he shows have much to do with good improv... this gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us, especially for those who want to hear how great a symphony CAN sound!   Contact at ADGL Productions, POB 99282, Seattle, WA 98199, or via e-mail to    Rotcod Zzaj

John Blum - NAKED MIRROR:  This is a DRIMALA RECORDS release, featuring John's solo piano works.  Do NOT be sitting there (as you're reading this) saying, "Oh no, not another "new age drivel" CD".  Blum is able to express moods your ears will find hard to believe through his fingers/keyboards.  His improvised pieces have a real sense of "heard that", so they are accessible, even though they are just as "out" as the weirdest stuph you've ever heard.  I am highly impressed!  This isn't just "crash/burn" playing, either... Blum is fully "trained", which (to me) makes his often mad-dash (all up & down the keyboards) improvisational composition even more amazing!  There was an artist (I believe his name was Greg Goodman) we reviewed many years ago... this is what (much of) John's wizardry reminds me of.  There are a couple of more "laid back" & "introspective" pieces, too... track 7, "Silence Trickle", stands out for this, as does the title track (cut 8).  Every song on this album is a winner, though, no deadbeats anywhere.  Highly energetic & creative, Blum is an artist with nowhere to go but UP... he gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us!  If you enjoy piano with a dash of creative madness, GET this one!  Contact at POB 69044, Hampton, VA 23669, via email to  or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Mike - O, GREENLAND:  If this is th' kinda' stuph they play in Greenland, it must be where they send all th' volkz' that are deemed to have "no redeeming value". Actually, in researching it, we reviewed another "Mike" release in issue # 48, with (about) th' same take... TOTAL absurdity, th' stuph that Zalnikor Zundorum (of Rotton Kids) calls "ugly music".  Heh! Heh!  An Orange Entropy release, it was clearly (to my ear, anyway) recorded "for fun".  If th' players took this too seriously, they would soon wind up in the "D" ward at Bellevue Horse-pistol!  Appears to based (ever how loosely) on an Eskimo whale hunt on the shores of Greenland... lots of reminders similar to Zappa's "Yellow Snow" diatribes.  Guitars are reasonable throughout, lots of strumming & a bit o' thrashing.  The vocalist needs a tracheal lobotomy (if there is such a thang).  You'll havta' groove on nutso ta' dig this... but, if ya' DO, it gets a RECOMMENDED from us!  Contact at 327 Evanston Drive, East Windsor, NJ 08520, via email to  or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Whirled Jazz - MUKILTEO:  Tom Bergeron has cut his first release for (one of our favorite jazz labels) "Louie Records".  His alto sax & flute work are featured, of course, & backup artists (if you can consider them "backup"... 'coz they ALL share a place on each of the tunes) are Keller Coker (trombone), Page Hundemer on bass & Dave Storrs on drums.  If you read this 'zine at all, you'll realize that we have reviewed quite a few "Louie Records" releases of late.  Why so many?  Because they be GREAT STOPH!  Hundemer has beautiful style, unobtrusively providing foundation for some ingenious horn duets betwixt Tom & Keller.  The pieces are all Bergeron originals with high energy!  My favorite cut is track 5, "Frunkin'", prob'ly just 'coz I'm not sure what it means!  Actually, it is because Bergeron has the tempo changing every 10 to 15 seconds... it is not an "improvised" piece, rather a complex rhythmic puzzle to tease th' listener's brain... SMASHING!  The hornplays between Bergeron & Coker are clear, cute & engaging all the way through the tune.  This album is a must have for any jazz collector serious about the history of jazz... keep yer' EARZ' on Bergeron & th' rest of th' "Louie" crew... they're gonna' go FAR - QUICK!  This gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for actively listening fans of jazz with attitude!  Contact at Louie Records (which has Mr. Storrs at the helm, actually), 644 SW 5th St.,  Corvalis, OR 97333, on their WWW pages, at  or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Wayne Wesley Johnson & Ruben Romero - HYPNOTIC SAFARI:  This is a beautiful (guitar oriented) CD that holds true to the title... very laid-back (but high energy) musical journeys... Wayne & Ruben are clearly in love with the playing, & completely in tune with the rhythms they are exploring.  Both acoustic & electric (& some guitar synthworks) from Wayne, with Ruben furnishing flamenco style guitars and keyboard synths.  They are aided by bass from Ben Lucero, latin percussion by Joel Martinez & sax from Rusty Crutcher.  Listeners who are looking for "out" music won't be attracted to this, as it stays pretty much within the patterns.  That is NOT a bad thing for listeners who enjoy quality music with great energy... this is very satisfying music!  It is very easy to (mentally) add the dancer with the castanets clicking as you listen to this.  The flavor that is achieved is definitely Latino & their music easily inspires passion!  I enjoyed this a great deal & give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who want a listening adventure that doesn't stray too far to the "outside".  Contact at Wayne Wesley Johnson  / Freda Ruiz  (aka  Wannadu, LLC)
7 Avenida Vista Grande B-260, Santa Fe, N.M. 87508, on the site at   or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Present - HIGH INFIDELITY:  Keith Macksoud, who played bass on this CD, sent this wonderful sonic adventure our way for review.  How happy we are that he chose us!  The lineup of musicians is far too long to list here, but they have put together a VERY intense improv/rock-oriented orchestra that (at times) can overwhelm the listener.  Deep beats & heavy punctuation throughout, the sonic sense that is created is of POWER!  On "Souls For Sale", dark vocals ride the undercurrents (in some sections), to focus the listener on some vortex whirling down below.  "Strychnine For Christmas" has a more string-oriented sound, but with random bits of sound invading the edges, to form a collage that will shock.  The album was (apparently) mixed in studios 'round Europe & the Middle East, & they used the Internet to assist with production & mixing.  This album won't be for everyone, certainly, but those who want music that digs deeper into the psyche & the terrors of today will agree with me when I declare it HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  I enjoyed this & would welcome their next release for review.  VERY interesting!  Contact at 71 rue Joseph WAUTERS, B-1030, Brussels, Belgium, via email to  or on the official site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Planet 0 - SET THE CONTROLS TO PLANET NONE:  Spacefare for those who stay in warpdrive as a constant on this unique & interesting CD in from Chris Phinney's "Harsh Reality" label.  Vets of the underground scene will recognize some of the player names (besides Chris, of course).... Roger Moneymaker (guitars), Robert Hinson (bass), Richard Mccracken (things that go boom) & (of course), Carl Howard (synthesizers).  Don't expect "grooves & licks"... this is more like an adventure on a cruise to the outer edges of the galaxy!  You can see the huge (mechanical) drives propelling gargantuan masses at (near) light speed.  Slow builds & wide sonic panoramas are what your ears will see as you move majestically past moons you had forgotten were there.  This definitely isn't "metal" music, & doesn't qualify as "rock", either... much closer to space music than anything... the key is that it is a unique listen!  Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us... I'm thinking that those who visit Mr. Kranitz' "AURAL INNOVATIONS" would fall in love with this CD only a few bars in!  Contact via Chris's site, at  or reach him via email to     Rotcod Zzaj

Anthony Joseph - FLYING AT THE SPEED OF EMOTION:  "Power Pop" is what's advertised in th' promo sheet for this debut CD release by Anthony... pretty apt description.  Rhythmically I'm reminded (somewhat) of some of the Henry Gross stuff, though there's a lot "heavier" guitar sound.  This is basically a trio effort, with Anthony on lead guitars (excellent sounds, excellent talent), Paul Gold's bass & drums by Matt Ryan.  Track 5, "Father", is my favorite cut... HIGH energy with a lotta' PUNCH & some really RAWK-in guitar leads, with track 7, ""Catch Me" comin' in a close second (it woulda' been first, but th' cut is only 2:31... left me wantin' another minute or 2).   Improv freekz won't get on this train, but since variety is the lice of spife, I believe it's important to listen to this youngblood ev'ry once in a while.  This album is a great first effort... enough so to get it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who GOTTA' ride that rawk-in emotional roller coaster that life often is!  Contact at Malkin Records, 1100 Gough St., Suite 7#, San Francisco, CA 94109, via email to or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Poopan Hooligan - BREAK YOURSELF:  I kinda' dig this lil' rap'n'jazz CD in from Burbank, California.  It's like "The Last Poets" (precursors of black rap from early '60's L.A.) on jazz steroids!  What sets their music apart from all th' rest of th' hip-hop/groove stuff floatin' around these days is the instrumentation; I mean, they can actually PLAY... but their lyrics still got th' BITE you need to bring you back to reality.  Th' other notable thing is that (even on th' raps), itza' FUN kinda' thang... you GOT to check out my favorite cut (track 6, "Where Is The Ganja?")... I mean they hadda' be smoked to come up with those lyrics, eh?  :-)   There is a solid undercurrent of straight (albeit rap-i-cized & quite-a-bit-twisted) jazz running through many of their compositions that I suspect has a lot to do with why I like this group so much.  "Funky Sounds" on track 2, is a great piece... rappin' as Gourd meant it to be.  Takes me way back to some of Gil Scott-Heron's best albums, too!  Believe it or not, it's well enough produced/played/performed to merit a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & (I think) that's a first for an album that's founded on rap (here at I.N., anyway).  You OUGHT ta' check this one OUT, people!  Contact  via email to, or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Phil Thornton - DREAMSCAPES:  Pour yourself a carrot juice, lay back on th' divan & get ready to dream... or, more accurately, to follow Phil's well orchestrated & magickal dreams.  We have reviewed him before, in issue # 40, which was an excursion based on pagan rituals.  He doesn't let us down this time (nor did we expect him to), displaying a real affinity for rhythmic compositions that pull at the heartstrings.  There are probably some who will lump this in with "New Age", but this stands apart, because he is clearly in tune with the voices of all the ages... relaxing, but full of the life and energy that can only come from talent that is visionary.  He is joined by several other players, a list far too long to itemize here... but you can read it for yourself at Phil's site; once there, just click on DISCOGRAPHY, then on DREAMSCAPES.  Having been through some significant amount of therapy (that involved music as a healing tool), I can say that this beautiful set of dream interpretations could easily be used for such musical healing.  It gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us for those who want (both) beauty and meditative high energy in their music.  VERY nice work!  Contact at Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e- mail is  )   Rotcod Zzaj

Natsuki Tamura/Satoko Fujii - CLOUDS:  You've never heard clouds like these, I can assure you!  We have been listening to & reviewing this musical couple (from Japan, of course) for many years now.  They have always provided refreshing & creative adventures for our ears, & this CD is (for the listener) another shared "walk down the pathway to oblivion".  Natsuki's horn on track 3, "Stratus", is probably the clearest playing I've ever heard him do... Satoko's keyboard improv on this one are as relaxing as laying in a field on a warm day doing what comes natural when in that posture - what else?  Watching the clouds drift by.  It is my favorite piece on the CD!  I just love the deep tones she gets from her piano!  What is most striking (I think) about each of these pieces (named for the different types of clouds/layers) is that they really DO "explore new territory"... & that is very difficult to do when so many players are doing the same kind(s) of music.  Raw & natural talent, something you shouldn't envy, rather should try to emulate.  A wonderful improvised excursion to start 2002 off with... this gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us for any listener who doesn't want to hear what's already been played!  Contact Ewe Records, 3-4-7, #301, Minami Aoyamu, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan 107-0062, via email to  or on their site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Godboy - SOFT JAWS, SWEET TEETH:  "Orange Entropy" label has scored big by picking "Godboy" up!  We first heard (& reviewed) them in issue # 36, quite some time back.  What was striking then & still is, is the flamboyant blending of electric & acoustic guitars this group is able to pull off.  It's sort of a folk-tinged punk-rock kinda' thang, if you will.  They have a HEAVY energy that gets yer' blood UP, & won't let it come back down, though, not "run-of-the-mill" by any stretch of the imagination.  There's an almost '60's sound on many of the trax, comes across as very "homespun", but not (at all) unprofessional.  You can't be hung up on "out" music, because this "sounds like" rock... some real groovin' goin' on.  Our second listen to the band ups their ante a bit... we give them a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for anyone who wants some GREAT road music (& plenty of it, there are 20 tracks on the CD).  Fresh spirit, great energy & a good musical experience await your ears here.  Contact at 327 Evanston Drive, East Windsor, NJ 08520, via email to  or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Wade Coldwater - MINOTAUR ON TOAST:  Just th' kinda' folk guitar thee dinosaurs would have preferred, I'm sure!  Of course, only our acoustic playin' friend Bret Hart could (sonically) visualize (for you) what musta' been goin' thru that Mino's mind when th' toast approached.  Th' guitars & strange sounds hearken back to many of thee more ancient albums by Hart, in that th' strings are often plucked rather'n strummed... this album is the sound of a mind creating sounds as it moves through life.  Some very interesting samples weave in & out amongst the strings - almost like this was a (sorta') "industrial" dinosaur!    My personal favorite on the CD is cut 16, "A Community Of Sound", prob'ly 'coz it's (just) a great tune with a RAWK-in undercurrent & (somehow) snatches o' Zappa on th' guitar leads!  There are 17 cuts, though many of them are only between 30 & 60 seconds long.  Long-time fans of Hart will enjoy this more than novice listeners, as it'll give 'em a hit o' nostalgia with more kick than a DOLLAR ball o' coca... but any others out there with lust for well played acoustic guitar(s) with sounds comin' out of them that you have NOT heard before will concur when I declare this to be HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!   Contact through the WWW pages at   (where you can purchase the CD with your credit card) or at InstrumenTales Records, 609 Morehead St., Eden, NC 27288, USA    Rotcod Zzaj


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