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CALL for SUBMISSIONS!!!
ALL artists! I am very, VERY happy to announce that IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION is ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS again. I have been granted a (possibly long-term) stay of execution for my trip to Iraq. I will still be traveling all over the U.S., so new issues may be a little less timely, but (as always), we will review your materials as soon as possible after we receive them. Look at the guidelines for submission below, please:
MUSIC: All formats accepted. Snail mail to: Zzaj Productions, c/o Dick Metcalf, 5308 65th Avenue, Lacey, WA 98513 The only criteria for music you submit is that it MUST HAVE high performance energy... if you submit lacklustre material, it will be reviewed accordingly
POETRY: Poems are accepted for publication ONLY via e-mail. Poems submitted in any other fashion will NOT be published. Poetry that includes some reference to music is granted first priority for publication.
BOOKS: We will review some books; books about music are PREFERRED. We will NOT return any books submitted for review. Snail them to the address listed above for MUSIC.
DIY Announcements: We will post your (e-mailed) ad about DIY projects, regardless of genre or medium... HOWEVER, this is ONLY for INDEPENDENTS... if you are a corporation, don't even BOTHER sending stuff... it will be marked and reported as SPAM!
Issue # 66 REVIEWS
FEATURED Zzaj Productions album samples -
Alien Tongues - Features guitars by Jake Berry & strangeness by Zzaj
Belinda Subraman - This poet will tickle your funny-bone
Zee Zzaj Zinger - Eric Wallack joined Zzaj on this RAWK-in outing (all Zzaj vocals)
Check out th' "new" Zzaj "diary"
Jamie Baum Septet - MOVING FORWARD, STANDING STILL: Many listens, many nuances... this (very) intriguing jazz CD features a cast of (seemingly) thousands (well, OK, it's really 7 players, as "septet" would imply), with Ms. Baum's flute at the forefront! Compositional talent literally shines through on songs based on Igor Stravinsky's "Rite Of Spring". Energy flows like lava from a volcano, but in a (much) smoother stream. No "dead zones" in evidence, this is one "H-O-T" little jazz CD that will reveal new depths, tones & shadings each time you listen to it again. Doug Yates reed work is prominent also, but the way Jamie has put the sections together, it comes off seamlessly, & without error! A spirit of discovery will tap in to the strings of your soul within moments of the title track startup, & like a good reading book, you won't be able to "put it down" until th' last note. Jazz listeners around the globe will agree with my rating of MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED... be sure to file this one as a "keeper"! Contact at OmniTone Inc., 39 Plaza St. W. Ste M1, Brooklyn, NY 11217, on the site at www.omnitone.com/ or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Franco Degrassi/Gianni Lenoci - 16: Pay close attention to that title as you "assume th' position" (with yer' headphones on, of course)... if you haven't listened closely to our insect friends recently, this is what they are saying! Mixed tapes from Franco, piano & sax from Gianni, blended in a most fascinating manner.... but, you NEED to be the kind of listener who goes deep into sonic tapestries in order to appreciate what they've done here. There is only one comp on the CD, "16". Very sensitive interplay, making careful use of the "silent spaces" to emphasize the ebb and flow of their aural adventures. I would not expect that you'll be playing this at your next lawn party (unless all the guests are on blue-dot), or for your grandmother's wedding... but it would go exceedingly well as an instrument for wrecking the political machines around the world (heh! heh!). Listeners who get extreme satisfaction from music that delves deep into the psyche will agree with my rating of HIGHLY RECOMMENDED... those with ears that can't accept challenge may not. GREAT CD! Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Andrew Octopus - TIME TRAVEL IS POSSIBLE: Well, uh, only for those of us who have "been out there" already, I s'pose. Lotsa' drum machine beats, drones radio noise & plenty of tasty spoken-word tendrils to ponder. Definitely a "do-it-yourself" project, in the strongest sense... & that's not a "dig", it's coming from a player/writer who started with Casio & Yamaha el cheapo keyboards to "get th' message out". Yeah, sure, .MP3 freeks will hit ht' panic button, 'coz this isn't exactly "hit" material... but, then, who asked for "clean" music, anyway? Great fun & with a bit o' "pun" tossed in fer' good measure. I certainly got a kick out of it over th' last 2 weeks, kept changing back to this one in my hep lil' Honda Civic. As I said, you'll have to understand that in order to hear new sounds, you've got to have a bit o' danger in yer' ears... but, you'll be rewarded (as was I) with a feeling that D.I.Y. is still ALIVE & WELL! Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us, for listeners who aren't afraid to tackle the unknown! Contact at h www.creativegoals.com/andrewoctopus or via e-mail to DrFrankn1@aol.com Rotcod Zzaj
Jeff Johnson & Brian Dunning (with John Fitzpatrick, Jozef Luptak & Janet Chvatal) - THE KATURRAN ODYSSEY: Kick back, relax & get yourself prepared for a journey into Celtic storytelling & musical excellence that is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Johnson & Dunning arrange some of the most beautiful & inspiring music I've heard... unless your soul is already deadened by sauce or smack, you will find yourself as deeply captivated as I was! The album opens with a wonderful sequence of spoken-word/musical underweave, then elevates into purely instrumental pieces that will waken the spirit of any natural man to dreams that were formed 'round tale-telling campfires in dark forests in the isles eons ago. Leprechauns leaping over logs will be the least of your concerns... the fire-breath dragons that lurk behind the trees and gigantic stones will come alive behind the winds created under those violins and haunting angelic voices. What I'm trying to tell you here is that if you listen to this carefully, you will hear stories that have not been told yet... highly inspiring and totally effective at stirring the listeners' emotions, this CD gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating for listeners who know the value of immersing themselves in the musical vision. This is a wonderful musical experience... play it for the next 100 years (at least). Contact at Valley Entertainment, 333 W. 52nd St., 9th Floor, New York, NY 10019, or on the site at www.valley-entertainment.com Rotcod Zzaj
Joel Krutt - WHAT NEXT: There's probably no better place for a compilation/re-mix CD to come from than th' host of "Pushing The Envelope"... a radio show Joel hosts (he's played a lil' "Zzaj" before, too) that features "edge" art/music. I didn't realize how long Joel had been hosting this show until he said (in the press sheet) that it'd been 14 years; no question but what he would be one of the few in the world who would have ears jaded enough to mix down th' "best of th' weirdest"! & what a fine job he's done. His weave doesn't actually take the listener quite as far out on th' precipice as (f'r'instance) I might... it's actually kinda' relaxing to listen (with yer' headphones) through a Walkman as you (?What Else?) WALK. Very even keel, pro sound that listeners with a penchant for electronic will enjoy a GREAT deal... Mr. Krutt has definitely painted a sonic picture of pleasant moments for th' listener. I enjoyed it enough to rate it as MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Contact at email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Jaap Blonk, Koichi Makigami, Paul Dutton, Phil Minton, David Moss - FIVE MEN SINGING: It goes without saying (he writes, sorta chongue-in-teekly)... this CD will (like totally, man) twist your perception of what music is & where it comes from. Most listeners will be terrified when they hear these masters USE (only) their voices to dredge up a primal skew that has been long-banished by many... I had the distinct pleasure of hearing Paul Dutton perform these vocal acrobatics at this year's Olympia Experimental Music Festival... if you take Paul's standup moments of mayhem & multiply it out to make this total of five.. it will be enough to overwhelm YOU... hell, I'm a veteran of this scene, & my ears could only take 1/2 the album at a sitting! Don't get me wrong, I believe getting this album is an absolute requirement for those who (say they) want to know about all aspects of music. Sure, you've heard th' Tuva singers... & you've heard lots of spoken-word... you consider yourself a connoisseur of th' craft, right? Well, you ain't heard nuthin' yet! If yer' ears were born (again) Baptist, you'll detect devils in there... if yer' a student of strange, you'll revel in th' spontaneity... but, no matter where you come out in that spectrum, you will find yourself intrigued (unless you're the kind of listener who hides your ears in sonic sand when challenged). Utterly interesting, this CD gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, as well as the "PICK" of this issue for "true odd-istry". Contact on th' site at www.victo.qc.ca or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Jeffrey Michael - AFTER THE STORM: It's been a while since we enjoyed a solo keyboard CD with this level of continuity. Jeffrey skirts the edge(s) of new age a bit closely, but still retains enough of his own signature that the compositions come through with personal passion. As is true with most (good) pianists, I especially enjoy his travels through the lower registers... his touch is firm and inspired, but he continuously "brings it back to bright", so that it doesn't overwhelm you with darkness or melancholy. The title track opens with (just) the "space" & interlude you would expect in such a mood, then slowly expands to the clean air environment you would want to breathe in as you moved away from the darkness. There are sections where the left hand comes across (especially on the intros) with a bit too much "carousel" effect, but he puts the resonance back in (usually) after the second round. Overall, this is a highly pleasant listen, & those who relish well-played keyboards that don't get lost in too much pattern will agree with me in declaring this HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Contact through the site at www.fireheartmusic.com or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj.
Matt Turner - PATINA: One of th' things you do when you begin to approach 60 is forget things... I'm not usually afflicted that way, but in digging through th' review box, I realize I (apparently) skipped over this fantastic CD! Readers who have been with us for a long time may realize that we have a long history with Matt... I first encountered his music through cellist Jeff Song (many, many years ago)... a few years later, Ernesto Diaz-Infante & I joined Mr. Turner on a wild romp through sounds of insects on "Entomological Etudes". This CD features Matt on something I have never heard before (nor have you, I suspect) - a "silent cello"? Huh? "Wot?", you zay? Turns out that is a Yamaha SVC-100... it is a very interesting work, truly a "crossover" between acoustic & electronic style(s) that the listener will either "get" right away, or "turn off" right away. That Yamaha Silent Cello records really well, & Turner shows high creativity & dexterity throughout the album. This is not for listeners who want a "top-40 fix", or a jazz journey down mem'ry lane... there ain't no "nostalgia" here, but for those with adventuresome ears, this sonic experience will be as shiny and brilliant as th' title implies. GREAT album that gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us! Contact via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or TurnMatt@aol.com Rotcod Zzaj
Amy Denio & Martin Hayes - VIVIAN GIRLS: You can never accuse Ms. Denio of being too "conventional", or "stuck in a rut". Her musical mind is constantly moving in directions (that seem to be) light years ahead of other composers. It should not be a surprise to any of you have followed Denio's career these last 20 years (or so) that track 2, "Alison Solo" would be my favorite cut on the album. The opener, though, with Hayes on violin (& simply titled "Opening 1") is haunting as well. As is often true, Amy lends her talents to an interpretation of folk artist Henry Darger's paintings (if you want to learn more about the project, CLICK HERE). My first exposure to Amy's works had her doing fantastic vocals, & "Vivian Girls" hearkens back to those earlier days, but with a much more "mature" approach. You should plan this listen... give yourself at least a couple of hours to absorb the first couple of listens. Another winner, & those listeners who love well-crafted vocal pieces that raise the bar to blur th' lines between our earthly abodes & th' angelic choirs will agree when I give this a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & declare it th' "PICK" of this issue for "best vocal works". Superb! Contact at Amy's SPOOT MUSIC site, or via e-mail to email@example.com ! Rotcod Zzaj
Cynthia Hart - LET ME MAKE MUSIC IN YOUR LIFE: We seldom review music like Cynthia's... probably because we don't often get music like hers; songs like my own grandmother used to sing on Sunday afternoons. Her idea seems (to me) to be that she can "inspire" the listener through her music & her voice. What a novel idea, eh? Well, it works, though th' hardcore improvisers in our readership may not elect to partake. Strains of jazz (mostly because of Bob Bevins' beautiful sax - track 4, "Time To Let You Go", I think), with heavy strings & nice floating guitars. What Cynthia's really got going for her is the force... the power in her vocals does indeed reach out & touch your emotions. Is it music that will rock today's world? Only th' folks who watch ev'ry rerun of "Touched By An Angel", perhaps... but, there is a place for her music... in th' mind(s) of any listener who wants life to be better, & without th' violence that infects (nearly) ev'ry corner of the globe today. I give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those ears that grew up during th' '60's, when hope was more than just a dream. Contact at www.cynthiahartsongs.com or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
CRG III/Don Campau - REUPHOLSTERED VINYL: 2 masters of D.I.Y. home-recording join forces to produce a "covers" CD that goes all th' way from David Bowie's "Kooks" to "Epistle To dippy" (Donovan) to Peter Gabriel's "Mother of Violence". Sound quality is excellent, I mean you can pop this zucker right in to your car CD player & rock on down th' ro-ad! Th' more these 2 perform together, the better they get! They're joined (on "Kooks") by Don's wife, Robin O'Brien, for backing vocals. '60's retro with new life in th' 21st, verzure... I especially liked th' remake of Gabriel's tune, as well as the last track, "Kill For Peace" (from The Fugs). Th' message is th' same, throughout the ages... POLITICIANS twist the truth to suit their own purposes - EVERY time! This is not a "political" album, tho'... in th' strongest traditions of D.I.Y., just a few guys gettin' 'round a recorder & showin' that we can do it too! Great FUN, great music, a good time for everyone's ears... gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us for listeners who demand different! Contact at PO Box 146, Lawrence, KS 66044, www.geocities.com/padukem or POB 9162, Santa Rosa, CA 95405, or http://lonelywhistle.tripod.com Rotcod Zzaj
Frank Gingeleit - TOY ISLAND: This CD is the last in a "trilogy" Frank did... I chose it (probably) because (as my nick implies), I like to work "sdrawkcab"... heh! heh! Actually, I picked this one to review first because the name of the album & the picture of the island of toys caught my eyes first. Heavy variance in the approaches & combinations of rhythms, this definitely achieves his goal of blending synth-electronique into a sound that's more "accessible" for today's listeners. I really liked "Counting Sheep"... Mr. Gingeleit wrings an "alarm clock" sound out of his synth that puts the listener in a state of electronique hypnotique... you've GOT to do this one with the headphones on. My favorite track on this one is "Free And Easy", probably because of th' relaxed bass lines... lots of nice random sounds, but focused enough so it sounds like a song you "might" (some day, far in the future) hear on the radio... after "payola" & "big company" record deals are a thing of the past, I suppose. VERY nice tune that allows you (if you let it) to get at least as "far out" as Jupiter - & if you're in the right mood, kicked back with a brew, maybe Sirius. What I'm telling you, dear reader, is that this is an interesting musical experience through and through! Expect several more reviews of Frank's sonic adventures, as he sent me a rather large packet of his compositions. Though there are some hints of style that might spur a thought of "techno", or "Krautrock", this player has a distinctive and artistic touch in his compositional style that makes his music stick in your mind... keep your ears on this gent! "Toy Island" gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us for listeners who want their music(s) to take them into orbit. Contact at http://frankgingeleit.beep.de or e-mail Frank at email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj\
Print 'zine - MOONHEAD: Ach du leiber! Mein Gott! This exceptionally well laid-out print magazine was sent along with a package of CD's by German journalist Frank Gingeleit (who has one of his own CD's reviewed in this issue, too). Though my skills in the German language have deteriorated quite a bit since I left there in the late 1970's, the 'zine makes it clear that there is a totally healthy interest in music(s) that span the globe. Lots of psych, plenty of space-rock, even an artikel on "The Spirit & The Music of Pink Floyd". This particular issue had (from what I could read) very well written and insightful reviews of bands that are (all) well worth having your ears investigate. The CD insert that came with the 'zine gives you a nice little taste of many of the groups that were reviewed - with the case insert available for you to put in your own jewel case... SLICK, man! There was only one thing I was a bit disappointed in... the reviews didn't (appear to) print any contact information.... unless I just missed it, I'd recommend that they print this kind of information. All in all, though, this is a very professional looking publication that gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me! Contact at www.moonhead-music.de or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Danny Gatton - FUNHOUSE: When I've got a Jones fo' 'da blooz, I always look up (or in this case, "hunt down") BIG MO Records (at http://bigmo.com/ ). We had reviewed some really great blues artists in their catalog a few years back... folks like Tommy Lepson, Johnny Neel & Rod Piazza. We kind of fell out of touch for a while, but I recently got in contact with them again... only (about) 2 days later, this rockin' live-show CD featuring Danny comes poppin' thru th' mail-slot. This was a music unit (+, this is the only release by Danny to feature "Funhouse"). Gatton played with live in 1988, in Alexandria, Virginia, & it has some very refreshing sounds on it! Have you ever heard pedal steel (Buddy Emmons) on a blues/jazz album before? Well, you will here... & when Danny trades licks with Emmons on "A Train", you won't believe your ears... not only HOPS - this stuff smokes, people! Super high-energy & horn backing that rocks th' house. Another really nice feature is that, while those good ol' blues roots are plainly evident, Gatton's guitar playing has a jazz touch that will be attractive to th' "cool" among us, too! My favorite cut on the album is "Pretty Blue"...a Gatton original with "uptown" blue/jazz hip & a "down home" feeling that will make yer' lazy days fly by! We're really impressed, & lookin' forward to mo' from Big Mo! This CD is a KEEPER for blues & jazz fans alike, & gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from our aural appendages. Contact at the URL above, or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Thollem Mcdonas - THIRTEEN COMPROVISATIONS: Only ears of privilege will grasp Mcdonas' talent, if they haven't watched him perform live on keyboards. I have watched him for 2 (or is it 3) years in a row at "The Olympia Experimental Music Festival"... the keyboard is more than just a canvas for him to dabble on - he jumps into the sonic schema & becomes the illustration that forms before your ears. Thollem displays high (yet friendly) energy in everything he does. As with (so many) other solo artists, he has a slightly warped sense of humor, but it's not so "out there" that you can't comprehend what he says with his fingers. In fact, I think he's created his own "language", or at least his own dialect. On this wonder-mous CD, he uses ev'ry little bit of sonic real estate to amaze you... he's not afraid to let silence be silence, but he always connect the dots in a way that leads you on to the next plane. I believe listeners who love solo piano with "an edge" will agree when I declare this MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Way cool stuff! Get it at www.thollem.com or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
The Tiptons - TSUNAMI: Sometimes wonder why artists name their albums after huge water events? I suspect, in this case, it's because of the band's proximity to the Puget Sound. The other (most obvious) reason is because they are playing the wave... & this CD will take you on a wild ride of great magnitude. If you haven't heard (or watched) this group before, you're in for a real treat... & if you have heard them before, you're still in for a new experience. The combination of well-thought electronic percussion makes the sonic saxophone surf roil with changes, & you'd better have your feet firmly planted when you listen to this adventure. This isn't exactly "improvised", more like a rockin' jazz/sax combo that will transport you to that great land of "surfin' safari" on wave after wave! A quartet of saxophones (Amy Deno, Jessica Lurie, Sue Orfield & Tobi Stone) grabs hold of your mind from the introductory bar & puts you in th' same transitory state that th' wildest surfer experiences. This gets an immediate MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us! Contact at Amy's SPOOT MUSIC site, or via e-mail to email@example.com ! Rotcod Zzaj
Trummerflora - RUBBLE 1: If yer ears've never had th' good fortune to catch th' artistic flourish on the Accretions label, this CD will give you a great introduction to their bands. Lots of folks we've reviewed in the last couple of years... Nathan Hubbard, Cosmologic, Donkey & more... all packed tightly into an album that will dredge up th' "caveman" in yer white cells (& prob'ly destroy a few other cells, too). Though I often don't care for "re"-assemblages, in the form of "best of", this is an hex-ception, no doubt. All th' way from heavy rhythm/beats to gentle piano to deconstructionist mayhem, you will truly be taken on a trip 'round th' world for about an hour. Don't get me wrong - th' shy need not apply... much of the music here is definitely in the "outer" zone, & will scare off all but the devoted. It plays will in th' car player, probably because of th' beat-oriented pieces - an added bonus. If you're looking for great experimental variety & something that isn't boring, this comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Contact at Accretions, P.O. Box 81973, San Diego, CA 92138, via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or on the site at www.accretions.com There's also info at http://circumventionmusic.com/ Rotcod Zzaj
Rawk Dawg - WE ONLY CAME TO RAWK: & they ain't lyin', peeole! Edgy stuff here that'll keep yer' earz' on their toes! I only had to listen to the 9 tracks once to know this is a cracker-jack top-rawker! Thrum-hard drums crackle like thunder under (& sometimes in front of) guitars that bring to mind Robin Trower on steroids... on "Hook Up" (my favorite track), there are pea-gravel vocals that grate against your "nice" tendencies & reveal your inner emotions for what they (really) are - raw & sore! Another great cut is track 5, "Did I Get Lucky"... about th' early onset of Parkinson's, perhaps? Heh! Heh! Pretty rough when you can't even remember what yer' GOT last night, but I remember LOTS of nites when I couldn't remember (in th' BAD ol' daze, o' course). I still think these guys ought to put some CREDITS on th' jacket somewhere, but maybe they're on th' run from George W. Bush, or somethin'. This second CD (we reviewed their first one over HERE), earns them a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all greased-lightning rock fans... GREAT album, folks... keep 'em coming! You can contact them at POB 219, Redondo Beach, CA 90277, via e-mail to mrpStudio@aol.com or on their sites at (either) www.rawkdawg.com or www.rawkdawg.us Rotcod Zzaj
Josh Workman - JUMPIN' AT THE BORDER: Your toes will be jumpin', without doubt, when you groove back to Mr. Workman's excellent jazz guitar stylings. As ever, it's the original cuts that will really grab your attention (if your ears are anything like mine, that is). I especially liked th' title track, & it's right where it belongs - the FIRST CUT. Whoever arranged these pieces (I'm assuming it was Josh), knows how to give "equal time" to each player... without detracting from the overall experience, or from Workman's solo stretches. I guess this thang I have about originals is related to th' ENERGY... just always seems like there are higher levels when it's th' player's own music. Some great sax work by Noel Jewkes on Miles' "Sippin' At Bell's", too... make you feel like more'n a sip or two. Josh has "liquid touch" throughout, but it's not so "syrupy" that it will drive you to distraction... he's got a style that will "stick to yer' ribs", & I found myself remembering little snatches of his tunes days later. If you're a jazz fan (or even if you just enjoy good, well-played music), you should watch this player... he's got a l-o-n-g career ahead of him! This definitely gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us! Contact via his site at www.joshworkman.com or e-mail email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Guideline for artists SUBMITTING to us: We do NOT generally review .mp3 files/sites. Being an active artist myself, though, I understand the need for the use of Internet sites as a "staging ground" for reviews! You are encouraged to email us your .mp3 links... we will visit the site/link, & if we like your energies, we will contact YOU! (We will NOT respond to followup inquiries about .mp3 files, though!!!)
PLEASE VISIT our SAMPLES page to listen to FULL-SONG samples... then tell ALL your friends about our fantastic variety of improvised and spontaneous music(s)!!!!!!!!
NOTE: You can also purchase any of these CD's (use your credit card) by going to our HOMEMADEMUSIC catalog page!
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