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Improvijazzation Nation

Issue # 75 REVIEWS

An ANNOUNCEMENT about IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION!!! I've been tagged as a replacement for someone (over) in Iraq... I'll be leaving (sometime) in late December or early January!!!  For that reason - please SUSPEND ALL SUBMISSIONS to us... but, DO NOT "write us off"!!!  I'll be back sometime early summer 2006, & will notify all of you when we're able to take your submissions again!  Please SPREAD THE WORD to folks you know who send us review material, too... I will NOT BE REVIEWING material until after I get back in summer, 2006!!!!

FEATURED Zzaj Productions album samples -

We now have 3 TOTALLY FREE CD's (with free cover art) available for download at our NETLABEL site!  The only thing we ask is that you scroll to the bottom of the page(s) & give us a REVIEW!  Please ADVERTISE this to ALL your friends... tell them we are GIVING AWAY music!


Margie Adam - PORTAL:  Lay back easy in your big cushioned office chair (or th' "beanbag" thang, if you're still in '60's "hippie mode")... either way, as you watch the integrated slide show that rolls across your screen (from the DVD), you'll be taken back years & years to an earlier time (as in Stonehenge, Scotland, etc.).  Pleasant is the word that comes to mind in the immediate, though other descriptive phrases/words will come a-floating as well... "Leprechaun", "Celtic" & all the others you've heard that pertains to the majick of those yesteryears.  Also included in this set is a full-length audio CD that features Ms. Adam's absolutely stunning keyboards... introspective, yet vibrant, I'm easily reminded of one of my favorite American piano composers, John Alkins.  Margie paints rich sonic images that will (both) relax and inspire you... and your soul.  I really enjoyed her simple, yet talented, approach to playing... many solo piano compositions tend to "rush" the listener with "too much" content, if you know what I mean... Margie's pieces help you to relax, mainly because she (clearly) knows that (often) "less is better".  I am highly impressed... enough so that I rate this as (not only) MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, but also give it the "PICK" of this issue for "best solo piano"!  Get more information at her site - ...& tell her "Zzaj" sent you, of course!      Rotcod Zzaj

Ed Drury & Mental Anguish - ELECTRONIC AMERICAN:  One of the best things about having written this review 'zine for so many years is that I frequently get to hear "old friends" (like Chris Phinney, aka Mental Anguish) paired up with new sounds/players.  I'd been admiring Ed Drury's music over at for some many months before I realized that he'd done a lot of collaborations with Chris, & (so) asked Chris to send me some of their work together.  It's the title track that holds my ears most firmly... great electronique (from Chris) woven together seamlessly with Ed's flute magicks.  Very, very accessible, yet with shadows of ancient rhythms & tribal rites that offer up "visions" of our past (and future).  The other beauty of their music(s) together is that it's so unique and creative... you haven't heard music like this before, & unless you keep on spinning this CD, you're unlikely to.  "Terrible Mistake" is my favorite cut on the album, featuring some haunting spoken-word snippets & sound byte integrations (especially the stuff from "Shrubbie" & "Adolf")... really paints a clear picture of where the revolution will come from!  If you haven't found the holy (musical) grail yet this year - GET THIS... it is indeed MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Get more information via or     Rotcod Zzaj

Knitting By Twilight - SOMEONE TO BREAK THE SILENCE:  A very "odd" CD... doesn't "fit" into any clean little niche... difficult to classify for the prospective listener... but that does NOT mean that it's not great - in fact, it IS, just because it's different.  Starts off with a very interesting guitar rhythm, flows (ever so gently) into the drum beats down under & paints a very calming sonic picture for your mind.  Track 2 opens with the beats & then weaves violin/string/synths into an almost psychedelic piece with (some) overspeak.  That's what this most reminds me of, actually.. a "head" album from the late '60's or early '70's... & that's a good thang... highly creative & well crafted music that will transport you beyond the norm & make you think!  I'm loving the fact that this all-original music would fit for listening out on the road, as well as in your home aural chamber.  The more I listen, the stranger it gets, in a semi-rock vein - with the focus on strong (& crystal-clear) percussion.  A GREAT little CD that gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us, especially for those listeners who demand "different".  Get more information via     Rotcod Zzaj

Wayne Peet Quartet - LIVE AT AL'S BAR:  Live sets are very difficult to record, but this CD captures it perfectly... Peet's (Hammond) organ is the centerpiece, but the hot/scorching guitar works of Nels Cline & G.E. Stinson, along with the superb drums of Russell Bizzett, will smoke yer' ears!  3 very, very long sets (the longest clocks in at 16:35) that will make you feel like these guys are right there in yer' living room... all original, which makes it even better for the dedicated listener.  My favorite piece is the 3rd track, "Inner Funkdom", mainly because of the "roots" funk bass sounds that Peet keeps running with his left hand.  This album takes me way, WAY back... early-to-mid '60's feel, with guitars on the right & left side of yer' headphones (just) screamin' in yer' ears at full tilt!  You can't classify this as "jazz", per se, nor can you call it "just jam", because the organ keeps it in the realm of accessible.  I'd recommend headphones for your first listen, to be sure... you need to be totally focused for this kind of music, or you won't catch all the little nuances that are going on.... something new each time you listen back through.  Total fun & great musicianship make me rate this as HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for folks who love extended-set high energy (almost nuclear) jams.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Alexander McCabe - THE ROUND:  There is (literally) nothing more pleasant than a great jazz CD like Alexander has produced on this release... through one's ears, into the brain & right on down into th' deepest parts of th' soul, McCabe's alto sax reaches out & touches your spirit with the stuff that jazz dreams are made of!  He's joined by Joe Barbato (piano/accordion), bassist Ugonna Okegwo & drummer Steve Johns - perfect quartet!  All original tracks, which helps to elevate the sense of involvement the listener has with the music... 'coz listeners who are truly into jazz will always pick originals over covers (no matter how well performed, or exciting they are).  This is Alexander's first national release (due out in the racks on October 11th)... & it's a "smash hit" here in th' Zzaj inner sanctum.  All th' way from the beautiful lead-in track, "Floating", to the high-energy (& most innovative title track, which features Barbato's accordion), you'll find yourself on a voyage of jazz discovery that will sate even the most jaded jazz listener.  This is one of the most fantastic listens I've had this year, & this CD will be in my racks for years & years to come (in the front of the stack).  I give this one a seriously deserving MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Craig Schumacher - NEW SHOES:  Kick back, light up somethin' relaxing & think about where "the blues" really comes from... all original tunes, with Craig doing both vocals & some wonderful acoustic guitar pieces that will transport you beyond the realm of "regular", as you find yourself arriving at that smoky lil' after-hours joint that's always in your dreams.  Gary Berg's harp & sax work contribute a lot to that "feel", too, but all the players (Dean Granros on electric guitar, Kenny Horst on drums, Chris Bates doing bass & Donnie LaMarca's piano) have interpreted Mr. Shumacher's sweet aural visions perfectly for your ears - they're tight through & through.  This kinda' music is what I refer to as "slinky"... I always get a vision of a snake slithering when I hear this kind of music... not sure why... it just kind of sneaks up on you & grabs you right where your soul is.  My favorite track (from that standpoint, anyway) is cut 6, "The Right Thing"... pure slithery FONK, volkz!  A highly creative CD that will entertain you for hours on end, with th' 'phones on, or out on th' road, this one gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from our ears!  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

ZeroOne - ULTRA ZONE:  This is some of the strangest music I've heard (yet) from our pal Jim Konen, out in Pontiac, Michigan.  I've recorded with him before, on some more "straight-ahead" jazz & blues type(s) of music, but this solo outing as ZeroOne is much more in the "space music" realm.  All relatively short pieces that will remind you of aural images you would have when reading a juicy remote-galaxy space adventure... think alien, think plowing through comet's tails, think gigantic clanging, banging spacecraft plowing through asteroid belts, & you'll have a pretty good idea of just how "far out" Jim's guitar antics will take you on "Ultra Zone".  As always, the driving rhythms that exist "down under" his guitar layers will take you into "zones" you never knew existed before... probably 'coz they didn't... these are very unique "Konen Kreations".  I have constantly been impressed with Jim's work, & this CD is no exception... travelers who only want to travel in a "comfort zone" need not apply, but listeners who thrive on "different" & "new" will agree en toto when I declare this to be MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Get more information via e-mail to     Rotcod Zzaj

The Rick Ray Band - TEMPORARY WORLD:  Anyone who has heard Rick's bands before will know (already) that they ARE th' "smokers" of rock today... carrying on a rock tradition that seems to have been lost for many of today's young listeners.  We've reviewed a LOT of Rick's CD's, but I didn't realize that he's all the way up near 30... this album is # 28.  It's clear as you listen to the excellent band he's assembled (Chuck Abraham, vocals; bass by Jack Ambrose; great reeds from Rick Schultz, drums by Sam P.J. Glorioso & guitar/keyboards by Frank Pellino) to play against/with/around & alongside his own scorching guitars, that Rick just loves the music... anyone who can't hear that shouldn't even listen to the rooster in the morning.  This is one of his most vibrant albums, with superb recording & strong music through & through.  We're REALLY impressed - AGAIN!  This get a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for rock listeners the world 'round!  Contact him on his site via email to or snail to Neurosis Records, 4020 Logan's Way, Perry, OH 44081 !!  & do it TODAY!!!!    Rotcod Zzaj

Jim Mcauley - GONGFARMER 18:  If it's solo improvised (acoustic) guitar you love, you won't be able to do without this debut release from Jim.  It probably won't be everyone's "cup of tea", but for those in our readership who can't do without some "originality" & some "new", this IS the TICKET.  He's totally talented at weaving your mind into the mix, often to the point that you'll forget where you are, or what you were doing... "acoustic amnesia"?  One reason Jim is so successful at this is that he knows how to use the "open spaces" between notes... he's not afraid to leave a note hanging open, but totally capable of inserting a tone you had no idea would be there... either rhythmically, or melody-wise.  Prepare yourself by making sure you'll have no interruptions, then put th' headphones on & cruise off into the dream(s) Mr. Mcauley paints for you.  I was highly will be too... Jim "has the magic"!  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all but the "non adventurous" among us.  Get more information at, or send e-mail to      Rotcod Zzaj

Moodfood - ICE:  If that group name had come from any other than the "Soulfood" label, I doubt it would have gotten reviewed for a while.  Since we've reviewed quite a bit of stuff from "Soulfood", though, I suspected this would be great... & my ears certainly weren't disappointed.  The opener, "Kaif Kun", reminds me (somehow) of early "Sting", probably from the rhythmic persuasions & vocal echo effects.  DJ Free & Peter Schimke have joined forces to astound your ears with up-to-date & non-cliché beats that often approach somethin' you might call "World Jazz".  It's danceable as well, & has flawless execution of rhythm.  Some very pleasing synthesizer works... my favorite cut is "Martini House", which takes my ears way back to bands like Spyro Gyra, & keyboardists like Joe Zawinul (Weather Report).  This is an excellent album through & through, with something for every listener's ears.  I give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Paula Lammers - A BLANKET OF BLUE:  & that is what it IS, folks!  Definitely laid-back, pleasant vocals that will wrap you up & make ya' warm (in your heart).  Debut releases are always fun, 'coz th' energies are KICKIN', & that certainly holds true for Paula's "on" vocal style.  What you'll notice right away is how clear the words she sings are... & not in a "high style", either... you know, some singers kind of "affect" their language & come across sounding really phony... that's not true with Ms. Lammers at all!  She's purely original in her presentation & performance.  Most of the tracks are covers... so, for her next outing, hope she'll include (at least) a few more originals... the one she does include - "Goodbye - Again" - is my favorite cut on the CD, in fact.  She'll reach right out & touch your soul, to be sure... excellent singer, excellent music, excellent album.  This one gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any listener who wants to get "wrapped up" in Paula's beautiful "blanket of blue".  I'm impressed, & you will be too!  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Jim Wilson - A PLACE IN MY HEART:  This is a very pretty piano CD, featuring Jim on his 5th album.  We've reviewed his works before & have been truly impressed with the beauty he's able to express.  As you might glean from the title, this isn't "hard-edged" or improvised... very much like what you'd hear on a PBS special with Yanni, or someone like that.  If your ears are thirsting for well composed music that is both relaxing & inspiring, this will be your ticket to Nirvana.  It's a totally professional recording, with track titles & author info burned right onto the CD... very handy if you don't want to dig through liners & jackets to find out who composed the piece.  Of course, these are all Wilson originals, which makes the pieces ever more attractive to me... originals always have (much) more fire, methinks.  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any listener who wants something to be inspired by.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Thelonious Octopus - SOME GLAD MORNING:  Our first listen to Jeff Stoneking's works as "T.O." is most interesting... high-end sculpted electronics in compliment to a sermonette in re:  "The Greatest Of These" leads off... & on into lots & lots of other religious-overspeak wonderments that feature some very interesting electronic beat thangs.  The title track is something entirely different than you may have imagined... certainly not a "quiet" piece of "solitude", suffice it to say... little strange snippets of voices, heavy pounding beats & aliens in disco mode (or something like that).  My only critique (& it's a frequent one these days) is that the titles aren't "burned" into the CD... use "Nero", or some other burning tool that permits the titles, author info, etc., to be permanently burned on the CD, next time.  That is no "detractor", however, for the seriously dedicated listener... if you're looking for well-recorded D.I.Y., with great quality & high energy, this one comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  File under "strange", to be sure!  Get more information, or purchase the CD, at     Rotcod Zzaj

Picoso - PICOSO:  I first listened to Izaak Mills a couple of years back, at the Olympia Experimental Music Festival... that set was (as you might imagine) significantly more in the "outer zone" than this fine lil' Latin-based CD.  When Izaak's dad handed "Picoso" to me for review, he made note of that, saying that it was more "accessible" than that earlier stuff.  Well, he was right... 11 high-energy pieces that take me (way) back to mem'ries of Astrud & Joao (Gilberto), along with Stan Getz... those with Spanish language skills will find the vocals exciting & full of life (but those (like me) who are limited in that arena, are taken care of, too... the singer does an English-language version on some of the tracks, too).  "Puerto Rico - (Yeah! Yeah!)" is my favorite track... decidedly Cubano, but with a big-band be-bop flavor... a very cool tune!   The recording is excellent, pulling out the conga & percussive sounds better than most albums you'll hear anywhere (I suspect that may have something to do with the fact that our friend Doug Haire was involved with the recording).  I would recommend that the track titles be "burned" onto the CD next time, as most folks don't want to have to keep running back & forth between the track playing & the jacket, just to see what the title is.  A very pleasant listen that gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from these ancient ears.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Patty & Abigail - HERE WE GO AGAIN:  Well, now, this CD is a change of pace, to be sure.  Lil' bit o' this, lil' bit o' that, stylewise.  My ears hear is as having solid roots in modern country, but their vocals tend to keep it in the pop realm.  Nice acoustic & electric guitar compositions that will appeal to all different kinds of listeners.  The most intriguing tune (for me) was "Run Away" (track 8), probably because the instrumentation has a "haunted" feel... the vocal extends that feeling to "sad" as well as ghostly.  These ladies show high energy for their music, as well as well honed skill.  This music won't appeal to hard-core jazzers, or those who want skulls & crosses in their trax... but anyone with (even a slight) sensitivity & heart will find this quite enjoyable.  Very pretty music that will give you hours of listening pleasure.  I give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for lovers of soft-rockin' pop music everywhere!  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Ezra Weiss - PERSEPHONE:  Some of the finest (& most intricate/inspiring) jazz you'll hear in 2005 is on this new CD, which hit the streets on 20 September, 2005.  Weiss's keyboards are superb, involved without being overbearing.  9 totally original tracks that display great talent (on the part of all members of the sextet)... even without reading the liners, where they talk about Ezra's fascination with Greek mythology, you'll know (right away) that this is music that will be near/dear to the Gods!  What really happens here (as with creative music anywhere) is that Weiss creates his own musical stories... & though the sextet format is (nearly) too close to "big band" to qualify as "intimate", they pull it off... one reason for that is skillful use of silent space, as well as full-bore playing... some of the bass interludes are excellent.  My ears were mightily impressed, as will be yours... Mr. Weiss "digs deep", exploring territory that blues may once have inhabited, but keeps his compositions firmly rooted in jazz forms!  I rate this as MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for anyone who wants to hear what "tomorrow's music" is going to sound like.  Get more information through     Rotcod Zzaj

Nicholas D'Amato's Royal Society - NULLIUS IN VERBA:  I'm not exactly sure what Nicholas' music can be classified as... or, if it even should be... what I can say, without qualification, is that it's highly original, & full of great energies!  All original tracks, featuring D'Amato's bass, drums by John O'Reilly & great galloping guitars by Wayne Krantz, these compositions will thrill jazz fans who've been lookin' for something "more" than standard.  Every tune is rock-solid, anchored in bass & drum works that keep the listener wondering where they're going next... what my ears dug on the most was the improvised aspects of each of the tracks - they go much further than "just jam", plumbing the depths of a particular rhythm for all of it's nuances.  "Smooth jazz" fans probably won't like the music here much, because this kind of music challenges the listener to actually comprehend what the players are saying with their music... but those with (even a bit of) adventure in their ears will "get this" right away.  This CD will be a "treasure" in the collections of those who enjoy something "different" in their listening.  I rate it as MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED... in addition to giving it the "PICK" of this issue for "best improvised jazz trio"!  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Suzanne Ciani - SILVER SHIP:  It's been quite some time since we received a CD for this splendid artist... you can check back issues for reviews we've done of her (issues # 21,& 25, for instance)... what you'll find is that we hear her musical talent as occupying a "special" place.  Suzanne doesn't restrict her vision to one "genre", or even one "instrument", for instance... while it's true that her main instrument is keyboards, she seems to be equally at home with acoustic or electronic.  On "Silver Ship", she's joined by a whole host of players, too long to itemize here... the main thing to point out is that she has integrated their sounds flawlessly, and with great energy coming across to the listener.  If you're not fully enchanted after you listen to the beautiful title track (which includes magical vocals), you probably have little vision yourself.  You can't "classify" Ms. Ciani's music easily... there are certainly elements of "new age" here, but she easily transcends the limitations of that classification... what she composes/plays is pure joy for your ears - and your heart!  We've missed hearing Suzanne's all original wonders, but I can tell you - she's back in full force, folks!  This gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, without another moments' thought!  Get more information, or purchase at     Rotcod Zzaj

Michael Pagán Big Band - PAG'S GROOVE:  If it's "Big Band" jazz you love, this CD will be one of your favorites for a while to come!  It takes a little while for Michael's wonderful keyboard chops to come in as the lead instrument... which is what you'd expect, since th' rest of the "big band" kind of "sets it up" for his leads.  He's clearly a very talented player, & easily able to convey a sense of excitement & high-energy to the listener through his fingers!  We've reviewed him before, tho' not as leader... check issue # 65 1/2.  The title track is my favorite piece on the album, & I suspect it will be yours, too... good ol' 12 bar blues in tribute to "Bag's Groove", of course, with great solos from Garner Pruitt (trumpet), John Hines (trombone) & Greg Harris (vibraphone).  The arrangements are superb & the recording is among the best I've heard this year.  True jazz fans will want to hit th' racks 'round September 13th, when this one is released... get your own, NOW!  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for those who want full-bodied "Big Band" jazz!  Get more info on the label site, at     Rotcod Zzaj

Patrick Ryan - KNOWLEDGE:  Highly energetic & vibrant tropically-flavored musical "punch" that will get yer' feet (& your soul) movin'... heavily influenced by the lyrics Ryan pens for tunes that infuse "world" with meaning for your ears.  It's an odd mix of styles, nothing you can pigeonhole easily, & of course that (alone) makes it get a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears.  If you had to "peg" it, you would have to chop it up into sections... a little rock, a little "art-house", a little "reggae" & that.  The cut-outs from "Reefer Madness" in the title track make that one my favorite cut on the album... funny, FUNNY!  There are sections on this cut (& others) where I hear a bit of "Talking Heads" floating through, too.  This Ryan dude is a long LONG way from where he grew up in Iowa... been down a few roads since those days, & you'll hear that clearly in his music.  Patrick has done a great job of (both) performance & composition, & any listener who likes a lil' bit of "strange" in their R&R will dig DOW-un on this CD.  Well done, Mr. Ryan!  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Gini Wilson - SFCJQ:  That stands for "The San Francisco Chamber Jazz Quartet", & jazz is the keyword, to be sure.  We reviewed Steve Heckman (soprano & alto sax, clarinet & flute on this outing) in issue # 74, & were highly impressed... as we are here.  Gini's piano, along with superb bass from Pat Klobas, drums from Ron Marabuto & a vocal guest shot from Jackie Ryan & Badr Karram playing Dumbek, congeal into one of the tightest jazz quartets we've heard in a while.  The CD features a whole array of original pieces by Ms. Wilson, not the least of which is "Lucky Monkey" (the instrumental version), my fave track on the album... it just rocks & jumps!  Heckman has a couple of originals featured, too... I'm especially fond of "O Town Blues", which blends Gini's sweet keyboards with a really full-throat sax sound, & kicks right along... perfect music for th' road!  If you're looking for a jazz album that will take you along for a joyride - GET this one... it's MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for jazz fans th' world over.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Eric Roberts - IN A SILENT PLACE:  Mr. Roberts guitar works will definitely take you to a place where "silence is to be treasured".  All originals, which makes it immediately apparent to the listener how talented Eric is... his spirit shines through each gentle acoustic guitar passage, & will transport you to regions of your soul you didn't even know existed.  There is far more than just cliché guitar phrasing here, too... my favorite track is "Journey Through Time", which features Eric on Guitar & Guitar synth, as well as David Darling on Cello & midi-percussion... a timeless high-energy composition that will "take you there" - across the eons, to be sure.  He also does some marvelous spontaneous improvs... both solo ("Reflections I through III") & accompanied ("A Stringy Dialogue") by Mr. Darling.   Other players featured are Ed Contreras (percussion) & Robert Weinstein (guitar).  If your body can't relax as your ears absorb this wonderfully relaxing music, you probably belong in a "ward" somewhere, getting "the cure"... on the other hand, this music probably can provide you with a cure, for all but the most aberrant souls, that is.  I'm impressed enough to rate this one as MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Get more information, or purchase, at    Rotcod Zzaj

Jessie Allen Cooper - PACIFIC LOUNGE:  Shades of Kenny G, in 21st century clothes & mindset... there is a significant difference, though, from Mr. G's albums (especially towards "the end")... that's Tim Ponzek's great acoustic piano.  A perfect match with Cooper's soulful soprano.  There seemed (to me) to be a penchant for ballads & pieces that stay (almost) too close to the "smooth jazz" tradition, perhaps because of the acoustic keyboards... I would have liked to have heard at least a couple of tunes with more "bounce" to them.  Though the titles were burned into the CD, they didn't include author (nor did the liners), so that's a slight detractor... I like to know if the tracks are originals.  Those listeners who want music that tugs at the heartstrings will find this a total winner, but more adventuresome ears will probably go to other bins in the racks.  Nevertheless, no one can say that this isn't great & expressive music... because Jessie/Tim clearly know what they want to say to the listener, & they do it very well.  I give this one a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any/all who are in love with smooth jazz energies.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Oscar Reynolds - RIVER OF LIGHT:  This CD is, quite simply, the best album I've listened to in this issue... extremely well-recorded, and full of supremely soulful music from the heart, his compositions are just so easy to fall in love with.  The fact that so many of the players are from Bolivia has a lot to do with the Latin "flavor"... you know, lots of flamenco, high-end flute & percussion aplenty... the difference is that Mr. Reynolds is able to use the flutes to take this to a level of "world music" that will be totally attractive to your ears, without being cliché in the least.   All the titles are burned right onto the CD, so there's no need to go flipping back & forth between the liners & the media.  Oscar's cast of characters is too large to itemize here... you'll have to purchase the CD.  "Estrellas Azules" is my favorite track on the album, because of the superb guitars & percussion, but since they're all Reynolds originals, there will be very little your ears don't like.  I'm highly impressed, & expect we (and you) will be hearing a LOT more music from this master.  "River Of Light" gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating!  Get more information on his pages, at     Rotcod Zzaj 

Kerry Politzer - LABYRINTH:  I'm not sure this is the title I'd have picked... as it can imply "jumble", or "muddle"... what Kerry's doing here is not in the least confusing... we reviewed another of her CD's in issue # 58 (WATERCOLOR), & were highly impressed with her clear directions on that one, too.  "Labyrinth" is much more Brazilian-jazz oriented, & that may have a lot to do with why my ears dug it so much, I'm not sure.  I believe the other attracting factor is that all these tracks are Politzer originals... highly energetic compositions, which is always a plus for these old ears.  My only critique is that the CD should have the titles & track info burned TO the CD, so the listener doesn't keep having to run back & forth between the jacket & the player.  She's joined by some fine players, too.. Andrew Rathbun on tenor & soprano saxophone, Chris Higgins on bass & George Colligan on drums... a truly tight quartet that will have jazz listeners around the globe thirsting for more!  She has a "lush" touch on the boards, & is quite comfortable "out front", as well as comping behind superb sax or bass... this is listening you'll get excited about (or at least your ears will).  We give this gem a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for jazz aficionados everywhere.  Get more information at       Rotcod Zzaj

Amy Banks - WHEN THE SUN COME OUT:  The "keyword" for Amy's vocals is... "rich".  You can add any other words you hear... there will be many... "vibrant", "energetic", maybe even "hot".  Her debut jazz CD features some wonderful jazz players as well... Allen Farnham (piano), Steve Rudolph (piano), Steve Varner (bass), Rich DeRosa (drums), Tim Warfield (saxophone) & Tony Miceli (vibraphones); though some of these players are legends in their own right, the arrangements feature Ms. Banks prominently, & her soulful vocals transport you to that jazz nirvana you've been lookin' for all your life.  Most of the tunes were written by other players, but track 8, "Ruined For The Rest", is an Amy original (co-authored by pianist Steve Rudolph) & it literally shines... lots of crystal-clear energy & some nice scat at about 2:30 or so.  I'd like to hear more originals on her next album, but that still doesn't detract from the rating... this gets a definite MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any/all who gotta' have "the spirit" in their jazz listening.  Keep your ears tuned to this lady... she'll be around for a long time to come!  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

The Screwdrivers - SHAPE OF A BIRD IN TRANSIT Another rawk-in' lil' gem of a CD from these folks, whose first album we reviewed in issue # 59... this 'round seems (somehow) more "jangly" & "hard-edged"... not sure why.  Now, you might take that as a "hit", but from a rock perspective, that's not th' deal at all... I'm reminded of the spirit of the '60's, when new talent was croppin' up on every corner!  This album sounds much more like a "live" recording (whether studio or show)... much more spontaneous & energy-filled.  Just the kinda' tunes you'd want to listen to if you were driving cross-country, right around Missoula, Montana, I'd think... lush country, rich rock-roots music that will trip you right on through the forests 'round th' road.  If you're lookin' for wild-assed improv, or sophisticated chamber music... move on... this is "down-home" flavored guitar music that'll turn your krank!  I give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Contact at 9 Crescent St., Easthampton, CT 06424, via e-mail to  or on their site, at     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!!!  p.s.  If you EVER e-mail me .mp3 files, you will be BLACKLISTED on this site!!!)

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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