Issue # 91 REVIEWS

New! New! New!  Zzaj PODCAST!

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!


Amina Figarova - SEPTEMBER SUITE: Though Amina's music is always beautiful, what she presents on this CD subtly captures your attention as she reflects on the tragedies of 9/11... her piano is joined by tenor sax from Kurt van Herck, trumpet from Nico Schepers, flutes by Bart Platteau, bass from Wiro Mahieu and drums from Chris Strik on 10 stellar performances that will stick in your mind (& your ears) as poignantly as that day of infamy.  We've reviewed her fine work before, in issue #70 and issue #87 and were impressed on both occasions with her skills as a leader and composer.  The tune "Emptyness" paints a bleak picture, but also contains that seed of hope necessary to continue the fight for one more day... clearly paints a sonic image of recovery and emergence.  Something closer to my impressions of Amina's work on earlier albums was "Denial" (my favorite on the CD) full of life and energy, even it it represents the consternation after a life-changing event... her keyboard work on this just drives the music - a wonderful jazz composition.  Another high-energy piece (as you might imagine) is the aptly titled "Rage" - if you aren't angry after listening to this one, you have no emotion left.  Figarova will be a jazz star on the horizon for the foreseeable future... she gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating on this great CD!  Get more information at      Rotcod Zzaj

Alice Stuart & the Formerlys - FREEDOM: If you rolled all your mem'ries of lady blues singers up into one image (& I'm talkin' high rollers like Bonnie Raitt), you wouldn't even come close the power Alice projects on this fine country/blues CD.  What's so stunning (besides her husky-toned vocals & superb guitar) is how easily she evokes mem'ries of many yesterdays back (for this ol' phart, anyway)!  11 of the 13 tracks are composed by the musicians on the album, & that originality adds genuine spice (as I believe it always does) to the performances.  Alice is joined by Marc Willett on bass guitar, Steve Flynn's keyboards (just LOVIN' that organ stuff, Steve), drums by Steve Potts & pedal & lap steel from Charlie Wallace.  Believe it or not, this is our first listen to her high-spirited music, even tho' she was with FZ's Mothers of Invention back in the old days... my favorite cut on the CD is "If You Want it to Last", in great part because of the blues organ sounds - just like church - but also because Stuart's vocal just KICKZ it... heavy spirit involved here.  If yer' lookin' for "road music", you'll dig (as I did) on the title track, too... strong tune all the way through, with heartfelt lyrics & a real down-home feel.  This album packs a real punch that will keep it at the top of your playlists for years to come... it draws a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for blues & country listeners 'round the globe.  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Trio M - BIG PICTURE: After reviewing Myra Melford's exciting "UNDER THE WATER" (with another of our favorite keyboard improvisers, Satoko Fujii) in our last issue, I sent her a copy of the review after passing it along to the promoter... that's (not only) because I was mightily impressed (as I always have been) with Myra's improvisational excellence, but also because I've known her, off & on, since my first trip to Olympia, in the late 1970's.  She let me know that she'll be playing in Seattle in the fall (more details will be forthcoming on that soon) with this grouping, & also sent a copy of this 2007 release with the trio.  If you're a lover of free-spirited improvisation with high talent, you'll have to have this in your collection... I've reviewed a whole host of CD's with Matt Wilson's drums, and bassist Mark Dresser has been on many albums from Satoko reviewed here... just use the "search" utility at the bottom of this page to find all of them. 7 all original tracks will have you (literally) dancing along with your headphones, unless you're a "conventional" listener... you must be inclined towards adventure in your listening, because nothing is sacrosanct - heck, even the blues is incorporated on Wilson's "Naive Art", one of the tastiest morsels I've heard in a long time... in fact, that blues influence is prevalent on most of the pieces on the album!  Each player "talks" to the others on this piece, and involves you intimately in their dialogue... a very cool piece.  It is Myra's "Secrets to Tell You" that captures my "favorite track" notation, though... the interplay here is intricate and highly emotional, for the listener as well as the players... it's one of my all-time favorite compositions from Myra!  I rate this one as MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and also give the CD the "PICK" of this issue for "best improv trio".  Get more information from their Coastal Jazz site/page.   Rotcod Zzaj

Sound Visions Media  - FROM A MOTHER'S HEART: There are some very familiar jazz players/singers (for me) here, like Judi Silvano, & John Stowell, paying tribute to moms everywhere... especially poignant for me on a personal level since my mother passed only a couple years back.  Even though my mom was more "church-oriented" in her musical tastes, I've no doubt that she would smile down on these tunes as she listened to them, as they are full of life and the gentle caring attitudes that most of us associate with our mothers.  The most impressive thing about this collection is that it's got real energy - there's not a dull or "sappy" cut in all 11 tunes; that can't be said for many of these assemblages, but spirit fills each of the pieces.  I glommed right on to Judi Silvanos' "Bougainvillea", probably because I've listened to (& reviewed) her music so many times.  Strangely enough, though, it was a composition from Mala Waldron called "Ellie" that captured the "favorite" spot for me... it will just bounce you along through the magical scats & supremely spirited piano playing.  This CD isn't just for "mom's day", by any stretch of the imagination... you can play it anywhere, anytime, & I imagine those of you who wander about with IPODS attached to your ears will play my favorite track & all of the other cuts over & over & over again.  I give this a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (which is kind of a "first" for a tribute album).  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj 

Steve Khan - THE GREEN FIELD: This 2006 CD is the last we received in a batch from Steve - the others have been reviewed over the last 3 issues, all with more than favorable ratings... the others seemed to have more original comps (4 of the 9 tracks on this album were Khan originals), but Steve & his partners John Patitucci (acoustic bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums) & Manolo Badrena (percussion), along with Ralph Irizarry (timbales) & Roberto Quintero (congas, percussion) also play some killer renditions of tunes by Ornette, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter & (even) Monk.  Steve & crew are among the most accomplished jazz players I've ever listened to, and have a distinctive style all their own... his playing is fluid and often leads the listener into territory they have never experienced before.  If you are looking for guitar-based jazz that has real "meat on it's bones", subtle shadings & NO fluff, you will need to have this wonderful 2006 release.  One of the liveliest pieces is Herbie's "Riot"... every player is engaged, particularly at about 3:56, & they'll have your mind dancing!  It's the title track (one of the Khan original compositions) that I imagine will be everyone's favorite, though... it certainly was mine... strong drum & percussion introduction, with signature lead popping in from Khan at about 1:25... Steve is an absolute wizard at showing you what the intent of the thought behind the piece is, and you will be immediately enchanted by this classic piece of jazz.  I give it our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, along with the "PICK" of this issue for "best guitar-based jazz".  Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj  (afterthought from Steve Khan:  "You might find this to be interesting reading after the fact...  Editor - thanks, Steve!)

OGoGo - REDUX: The guitarist on this very interesting CD is named Igor, who we reviewed in issue #85... this time he's joined by Rod Oakes on midi-trombone, & never a more adventuresome musical experience will you encounter.  The 3:21 "Rudimentary Celtic" gives you a clear aural insight into what the players are trying to accomplish, but if your ears will only accept "fluffy" music, you'd be better off not ever putting the 'phones on or turning the volume up to "high".  For those of us who are already jaded enough to enjoy avant-garde for it's own sake, you'll gorge yourself on "Bikini Scientist" over & over... the trombone is featured right up front on this one, and Igor's scale-work & effects pedal are cranked right in there with the parrot screams... ha! ha!  For pure oblivion, though, it was the opener, "Lunch On The Peacock" that got my nomination for favorite track... I'm not positive the peacocks would agree, but fans of "Naked Lunch" (Burroughs) will understand right where this tune is coming from.  I don't recommend this for listeners stuck in the traditional, but for anyone with adventuresome ears, this gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Jennifer Lee - QUIET JOY: That sentiment is exactly what you'll feel as you listen to Ms. Lee's sultry, yet spirited, vocals on this excellent musical & vocal adventure.  I have a feeling that part of the reason why I was so strongly attracted to all 13 of the tracks is that Jennifer also plays guitar and piano on several of them.  The bell intro to the title track (along with the fact that it's a Lee original) made it one of my favorite cuts on the album... it's actually track 5, "Music of Your Soul" (yet another of Jennifer's compositions) that will shiver your timbers, though... the bouncy piece is one of the most jazzified female vocals I've heard in years - gets a definite HOO-rah! from me... this is my favorite on the album!  Many of the pieces have a decidedly Latin flavor, & the standout cut for that kind of jazz (for this listener) was "Menininha do Portão"... you'll be able to see yourself sippin' Cuba Libre's out in Jennifer's Oakland, California garden as you groove along to this cut, no doubt.  If you want a little fun mixed in with high talent jazz & vocals, you'll want to get this one.  It gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me.  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Jeremy Udden - PLAINVILLE: Two words really describe this new CD from Jeremy - "decidedly different"... in some circles, that might be construed to mean "strange" or "not good", but not here at Zzaj Productions... Udden's sax work meshes quite nicely with (get this....!) banjo by Brandon Seabrook & (yeah, somethin' else); pump organ from Pete Rende... when you combine that with solid bass from Elvind Opsvik and daring drums from RJ Miller, you've got something alright!  Is it jazz?  Is it hill-country music?  It will be up to the listener to decide, but whatever you label it (if you're into such drab exercises), you'll know it was Jeremy & his crew.  Just when you think you've got 'em "pegged", they slide right into "Curbs", with heavy rock leanings... and it is THAT quality that makes the listening superb and refreshing through all 9 tracks.  I have a feeling jazz listeners will be hearing much, much more from Jeremy... his playing is full of emotion, no matter what rhythm he is playing against.  It's really odd, because when it comes to music, I'm not a "seasonally inclined" kind of person, but it was "Christmas Song" which stirred me most... very expressive and deep.  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, unless you're a listener who demands that everything be "normal"... get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Beth McDonald - HOME: It was a very different style that we reviewed from Beth in issue #88... that CD was dedicated to her child... this outing includes 4 originals from Ms. McDonald, as well as stunning vocals on all the other 13 tracks.  Her rendition of Duke's "I Ain't Got Nothing But the Blues" is one of the best I've heard (lately) from a lady vocalist, but it's her original track titled "It Would Be So Easy" that made my ears perk up & really listen... the whole spirit of jazz & blues is captured on this composition, and Beth's vocal displays talent far beyond the norm.  The interplay between the keyboard and her voice on "Fever" took me right back to the mood inspired when Peggy Lee sang it, albeit with a more "sophisticated" sound, somehow.  Seems to be a lot of Peggy here, with other tunes like "He's A Tramp"... those songs were part of an era in jazz all their own, & it's nice to revisit that whole "groove" thing through McDonald's shining talent.  If you love listening to bright female jazz vocals with high spirit, you'll agree when I declare this album MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Beth is able to wrap you in a web of enchantment that won't soon fade.  Get more information from her PRESS KIT.  Very nice jazz for laid-back listening.  Rotcod Zzaj

John Brackett - JOHN ZORN - TRADITION AND TRANSGRESSION: This 167-page volume delves deeply (at times a bit too deeply) into the "reasons" for why Zorn composes his music, it's associations with violence, magic & mysticism.  There are great chart illustrations, image extracts from various albums John has put in the public eye... many of the charts pages would serve as great study tools for students trying to learn how to compose, but some of the narratives got (I felt) a bit more involved in the "whys & wherefores" than the substance of what feelings such music generate for player(s) & listener(s) alike.  What the book did do was spur me to revisit many of the YOUTUBE performances available from Zorn, most notably "Electric Masada - Karaim (part 1)" & "Part 2"... there's no question that these are composed performances (you can see the players reading the charts), but you can also see the spontaneity of their playing together, with John only using his thumb, forefinger and closed/open fist to "direct" the movements.  Brackett digs deep into the origins of many of Zorn's compositions that are on the "darker side", and gives his views (and other authors') on their influence by the occult.  It IS an interesting read, but I found myself sliding forward to the "next" chapter in search of the red meat... what makes this guy Zorn "tick".... & it was quite clear from my YOUTUBE tours that the best way to understand that is to listen and watch, rather than to read about it.  Still, for some readers, John Brackett's explanations will be just as enchanting as the musical adventures Zorn offers up... ergo, a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those folks who like to dig into theory.  Get more information at INDIANA UNIVERSITY PRESS.  Rotcod Zzaj

Irene & Her Latin Jazz Band - A SONG OF YOU: Ah, visions of huge vats of grapes with ladies ankles stained from stomping them into pulp & juice come to mind for the fine wine this album represents.  A genuine sonic pleasure trip, Irene's band will capture you in it's floating and gently swaying Latin rhythms and tasty jazz shadings.  The title track (click on the link in the header to listen) represented the essence of the CD for me, and turned out to be my favorite on the album, especially when the keyboards by guest artist Rique Pantoja kicked in.  Many of today's listeners will be unfamiliar with the tunes Irene picked for this outing... artists like Antonio Carlos Jobim ("Triste") and Joao Gilberto ("Bim Bom") were at the top of the charts back when I first became intrigued by jazz, but in an age of .mp3's, some of those great songs have been somewhat "submerged".  Irene's vocals are spirited and full of life on all 14 tracks & will provide enjoyable listening for many years to come.  I give this a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any & all who love to listen to jazz that can transport you to another era instantly.  Get more information at    p.s.  You can also watch her perform "Sway" and "Why Don't You Do Right" on YOUTUBE.  Rotcod Zzaj

Frank Potenza Trio - OLD, NEW, BORROWED & BLUE: Here's one kickin' little CD, I'll tell you, folks... Frank's guitar is right ON the (jazz) target, supported by great drums from Steve Barnes, & when Joe Bagg's organ joins in, you'll feel like you're in the hippest club in town!  The trio is joined by Holly Hoffman's superb flute on this excellent collection of tunes... the flute really adds to that "jazzhead" feeling these folks create, like you're the coolest listener in the world, & whether you just snap your fingers, tap your toes or get right on up & dance across the floor, these folks will make you feel welcome. I couldn't find any clips of this recent album, but there was a nice VIDEO of him playing with Joe Pass & a few audio samples from earlier albums at, as well as a nice photo montage of his career as a performer at  Since the focus is on this new release, though, I'll say that there's only one original from Frank... the other tracks, though, feature songs penned by top-end players like Jimmy Smith, Lee Morgan ("Party Time" from Lee was my favorite track on the album, 'coz it had a wonderfully unique arrangement & super guitar/organ) & (of course), Wes (as in Montgomery).  Potenza is a force to be reckoned with, no doubt... I thoroughly enjoyed the listen & this one will stay at the top of my playlists... I give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as the "PICK" of this issue for "best trio jazz".  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Bret Hart - LOOK USING YOUR EARBALLS, ALICE: I'm (still) not sure who Alice is, but a quote from Mark Paolini on the first or second page pretty well summed up what/who Bret is (for me, anyway):  "The un-thinking man's Richard Thompson."  Ha! Ha! Ha!  I still can't feature Hart as being "old enuff" to be writing his memoirs, but that's probably got a lot to do with not having seen his face (except, o' course, on Facebook) for quite some many years.  We first hooked up over in Korea, of all places, during the mid-to-late eighties, when I was just jumping in to the whole home-taper scene... he was already pretty well entrenched as a player, reviewer & producer of all kinds of things musical, & what I found most refreshing  about him was that he was cut from his own cloth... no pretense, maybe a kind of "edge", but the talent rocked on through.  Since those early years of our friendship, he has gone down many different roads... an unimaginable amount of groups, live shows &  albums (tapes & now CD's) galore... his book serves as a very nicely illustrated tour of many of those experiences... not just sonic adventures, either... he is a fully competent artist & word-bender who can tease or torment you with superb lyrics.  A ton of pictures, album covers, interviews and links that will entertain you for hours on end.  This was just like going back through 20 years of associations I'd had in that musical adventure-land that the whole home-taper thing represented.  A very impressive tome that will be well-worth whatever price Bret is charging for the electrons at Lulu.  This marvelous chronicle gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reader!   Rotcod Zzaj

ComputerChemist - LANDFORM: (editor:  Here's what I wrote back to Dave after my first listen to this great CD - "Some music MUST be written about as it is listened to the first time") There are many electronic artists who lay claim to "playing music like Tangerine Dream", but few who live up to the rhetoric... the solo work of Dave Pearson (who moved to Hungary in 2008 from the UK) is clearly not just sales hype... some excellent compositions that will absorb your head, spin it around about 100 times & eject you into the other side of the wormhole in etherspace that "LANDFORM" creates for your mind.  If you find that difficult to believe, or think I'm "pitching" for him, just listen to "After the Eclipse"... Pearson's talent shines through, in most sweeping fashion, and will be most enjoyable for all but the most non-adventurous listeners.  If you find your highest point when listening to symphonic starry elegance, you will enjoy the title track as much as I did... it was my favorite on the CD... a truly enchanting intro (about 1:35 or so) to a full 10:54 trip that has (both) strong psychedelic and progressive influences!  "Geoid", the last track, was also a full-tilt adventure that came in a strong second for this listener... full of pleasant surprises and some very nice guitar patches - LOVED the jazzy-feeling electronic keyboards on this one.  I'm very highly impressed with this 3rd album from Dave, & will devote significant listening time to his earlier works in future issues.  I give this an unequivocal MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any & all who want more than just "thumpa-thumpa" in their electronic soundscapes.  Keep an ear out for ComputerChemist... I predict that you will be hearing LOTS more of his solid work in the near term!  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj  (p.s.  My pal Jerry Kranitz at will LOVE your music, Dave... tell him Zzaj sent you, please).

Darrius - CAN'T GET ENOUGH: There was a time (back in those "good old days", ya' know) when this oldster was immersed in the kind of music Darrius envelops your ears in on this splendid CD... names like Stevie Wonder & Prince are easy enough for a one-sheet to compare the singer/player to, but this guy HAS the soul that elevates him to the same plateaus of those giants of yesteryear.  If he only evoked memory lane for me, I probably wouldn't have gone past the first track, but Darrius takes that whole era of soul forward to the 21st century with his own expressions of love and well-being for our times.  I first listened to him on his REVERBNATION page & asked him for whatever he had in need of review.  So many of those players who claim to be playing "soul music" these days try & blend it in with rap & hip-hop in order to make their music more palatable for those listeners who don't even realize the power that well-crafted lyrics and true talent have.  In addition to his significant vocal skills, Darrius also displays keyboard abilities far and above the norm... to verify my praise of his skills, just listen to "All The Way Slow", one of my favorite mellow pieces on the album.  My favorite cut on the album, though, was "Why Fight"... if you want to hear what "modern soul" is all about, you'll want to get this tune.  I'm very highly impressed - enough to give this one my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating!  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Blue Sky 5+2 - FIVE MINUTES MORE: If you're a (musical) swinger, this little CD will be your cup of tea... it's a quintet led by Craig Gildner & tenor player Tom Greco with a genuine affinity for playing what I like to call "flapper" music.  I mean, you'll think you're right out there in that 1930's ballroom/dance hall scene, jazzin' for sure!  Craig & Tom are joined on this album by bassist James Fowler & drummer Gene Cedras, ergo the 5+2... all the players are right on time, & have plenty of spirit to bowl you over with.  If you're older (like me), you'll want to dig those ol' saddle-shoes right on out of the closet... younger, & you'll find some kind of sneakers that look like spats, maybe... either way, get ready to dance 'round the room with your baby, over & over again.  16 well-recorded tracks that will have you in the mood for cuttin' rugs all over the place.  This kind of jazz isn't for everyone, but those who love swing in the mix won't be able to stop spinning this one... I give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Bonnie Kane and Federico Ughi - COMMON DENOMINATOR: You can hear several of Bonnie's tracks with Federico at her page.  Bonnie's sax & flute is just as innovative and raw as ever... we've listened to & reviewed her music a LOT, most recently on her MAMBO MANTIS effort in issue #81... Ughi's drums roll in tightly under, around & through the various improvisations & the duo provides great listening pleasure for those who love their music without restrictions.  The liner notes describe this CD as "uniquely meditational work on families, aging & the realities encountered when family members live across great distances"... in that sense, I view this as a sort of "landmark" recording for Bonnie... it's a very mature set that pushes strong pulses of emotion out across the sonic waves!  Be sure to experience this in the headphone zone, as distraction isn't part of the equation here... this is music that deserves to be listened to, and it's more accessible than many improv session recordings I've heard.  Outstanding work that gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all those listeners who can't stand conventional work and want to explore new sonic territory.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Lawrence Blatt - THE COLOR OF SUNSHINE: We reviewed Lawrence's work in issue #81 - very favorably, I might add.  On this fantastic guitar journey, he brought in William Ackerman (founder of Windham Hill Records) to produce the sessions for him, as well as a whole host of other players, including players like Derrick Jordan (who have been reviewed here before as well).  The blending of various instruments in against/behind his magical guitar makes for a sound very much more alive and vibrant... I would imagine that may have had something to do with Mr. Ackerman's ideas, but the talent level is stellar on all 14 tracks, not something you will put down anytime soon.  Those in our readership who are hardcore jazzheads may not find this their favorite album, but if you listen through the whole CD, you'll find something attractive in the spirit of light that Lawrence projects through his music - my particular favorite was "White Light" - very full body and natural flow.  I give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and hope many of you will visit his website to find out more about this enchanting player.  Rotcod Zzaj

Abraham-Clements-Tellander - BETWEEN STOPS: It's been a while since I reviewed Alex's fine keyboard playing (issue #79)... very favorably, I might add.  On this energetic outing, he's joined by drummer John Abraham, with vocals from Zara Tellander (as well as a whole host of other players too long to itemize in this review).  As with his previously reviewed CD, all the compositions are originals... talk about energy for the playing... very high on the musical Richter scale on an even dozen cuts.  Zara's vocals are right up-front on most of the tracks, so in addition to the high talent of the players, you're getting a sweet vocal performance from her all the way through... thoroughly professional... she's from Sweden, but gigs all around the world - & you'll know why when you hear her on this great CD.  In fact, the whole experience has a unique "international" flavor, with (what I felt) a decidedly "European" feel... especially on pieces like (my favorite) "One Day" - very expressive and full of emotion in Tellander's vocal, as well as from all the other players.  I also enjoyed the high-flying "Into The Sky" for it's clear communication of the adventure that jazz should be for all!  I rate this one as MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who want nothing less than the best!  Get more information at or   Rotcod Zzaj

DJ Derrick - SINGLE RELEASES: This collection of trance compositions from artist Derrick Meyer was referred by my sister in Ohio... I'm not exactly sure what their connection is, though she does teach music, so I expect that has something to do with it.  Great energy, great talent on all 14 of the compositions Derrick had me pull down... lots of swirling, plenty of movement & never a dull moment.  The pieces range from his earliest efforts to his most current... there's plenty of drum & thump (as you might expect with electronica), but he has nice subtle pads working well for him, too.  The songs I received were higher quality .mp3's (in a protected site he provided), but you can listen to several of his efforts on his "DJ Derrick - New Trance" page, as well as give him feedback on what you hear (by individual track).  My favorite song was "Pouring Souls (Original Mix)", a 5:23 piece that blends the beats (very) well, but also features piano sounds and swirling outer-space-like wave rushes that will blow your mind.  I also liked "Dreamy October (Pad Chain Edit)", as it has a lot of different movements going on.  That's the "key" to the music he's painting for your aural adventures, I think... it's far more involved & "musical" than so many of the trance artists I listen to these days... he seems to understand that "just thump" won't cut it for the long term - that listeners demand more than that.  Based on what I've heard thus far, I give his work a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & predict that if he keeps at this, you'll be hearing far more of his music in the coming years.  Get more information at his FB page   Rotcod Zzaj

Goat - GOAT: Nice intricate wanderings that include tenor/ewi from Greg Sinibaldi, guitar by Skiff Feldspar and drums/percussion from Denali Williams... we reviewed Goat's "Special Agent" in our last issue & found it very tasty listening for those inclined towards adventure in their music... this album was release prior to that (it was their first release, I believe), and is even more in the experimental zone.  Those in our readership who can't wrap their ears around compositions that build slowly & don't have recognizable hooks may find "Dungeon Ghost" a difficult ride, but it was my favorite track (of the 5 on the album)... it is an 18:42 sonic bonanza full of very energetic sonic pictures that will (either) enlighten or have you curling up your ears in fright... ha! ha!  "Badger v cougar" is a bit more subtle, with some nice flute intros, & about half the time/length, but still requires intensity in listening.  This group will inspire those who play music like this - it reminds me of some my own musical forays, and makes me want to sit right down and "compro-vise" something for the 22nd Century listener.  It's some of the richest trio work I've heard in a long time, and doesn't use "cheats" (like loops, etc.); comes across as totally spontaneous performance with high talent.  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, too.  Get more information at  Rotcod Zzaj

John Wubbenhorst - BANSURI DREAMS: We have been reviewing a lot of John's CD's over the last 3 to 5 months, after meeting him on FB.  He has a totally unique understanding of how powerful music can be, but weaves in and out behind the most poignant scenes in your dreams to provide sonic counterpoint for reflection.  Beauty is inherent in a piece by John, but if you use headphones to listen, you will actually "see" some of his visionary aural insights into what makes the soul transcend the ordinary, and will feel the enlightenment he has achieved radiate out into your day, your night & yes, even your dreams.  The bansuri (Indian wood flute) has a deep and rich tone, yet it meshes perfectly with the other instruments/players (Hadgini on drums and percussion & Ken Anoff on cymbals), especially on cuts like "Midnight Meditation", my favorite on the album.  The pace is slower than you might expect, but it's a "build" like none you've heard lately... constant elevation without reaching too hard; if more New Age players could achieve this awareness of what it takes to nudge the listener's spirit into ascendant mode, the genre would envelop the world!  I give this one my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, & advise (even) the jazz hardcases out there to give this one a try.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj   

Steve Elson - MOTT & BROOME: Jennifer Griffith joins Steve's soprano, tenor & baritone sax & clarinet originals along with drums/percussion from Scott Latzky, bass from Yasushi Nakamura and guitar/background vocals by Pete Smith in this totally jazzy CD release (28 April, 2009); very pleasant music that will bring you up from whatever low you may have descended to. "Bowery Bossa Nova" seemed the best example (for my ears, anyway) of the substance Elson & crew are able to paint for your aural adventures.  Steve has been "around", playing with some of the big ones... Joe Henderson, Johnny Otis, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, as well as pop musicians like David Bowie & Laurie Anderson.  That rich and varied musical background is reflected in his compositions and will reward the listener with hours of listening pleasure, especially on cuts like (my favorite), "Woolgathering", which features Elson's solid clarinet mastery.  The keyword for tunes composed by Steve is "imaginative"... a surprise at every change, and absolutely no clichés!  I rate this as HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & advise those who love superior reed talent to visit right away!  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!!!)




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  In This Issue: - IF you are the FIRST e-mail respondent to this note (to  - MAKE SURE your subject states ALEX CD), you will receive (free of charge) a copy of a superb jazz CD by Alex Kontorovich, titled "DEEP MINOR" (which was reviewed in our last issue).  We will have (some) more freebies coming in future issues, so be sure & tell all your friends about us!

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