Issue # 97 REVIEWS

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9 Muses - FEEL TO HEAL: Here's one that's different... heavy beat under a lady's vocals that are both mysterious and relaxing at the same time.  It's certainly not jazz, though it can't really be classified as (either) trance or dance, either.  I do like the beats, & think this one might do well as background for therapy of one sort or another.  There are a few guitar lead lines that caught my ear, especially on "Moon Told Me", but they're somewhat fleeting... would have been nice to have a section dedicated (more) to the guitar as (just) lead!  The more full-bodied tunes that come closer to the "dance" genre, such as "Just to Dance with You", come a bit closer to what I might listen to.  As you might expect, this is a series (called Elements) that will focus on "enchantment" as a theme.  Listeners inclined towards music that's pleasant to listen to, no matter the occasion or circumstance, & with only a modicum of challenge in the listening, will enjoy this - it wasn't something I'd pursue with any great vigor (but then, that's coming from a very jaded listener)!  I give it a RECOMMENDED... "EQ" (energy quotient) pegs out at 3.45 (the scale is 1-5).  Get more information at       Rotcod Zzaj

Anna Estrada - OBSESION: Folks who live in the (sometimes) drab & rainy Great Northwest know that the only way to pull oneself up out of the funk that our weather can leave you in is a taste of energetic jazz vocal work.  Anna's jazz is purely her own, & as I listen through the first couple of tunes, it's like the room fills with light... some of the most passionate "lady jazz vocal" pieces I've heard in some many months!  No downloadable samples were available, only the pesky FLASH stuff at her CD BABY page, but even those will give you enough of a preview to understand that her rendition of "Nature Boy" is just killer stuff, & will put you in the MOOD, folks.  What's most stunning, whether on the track mentioned above, or the totally invigorating title cut, is the rich, full-bodied, texture of Estrada's vocals... we first reviewed her debut work in issue #84 & were highly impressed then... even moreso on this CD.  I'm hoping Anna will be visiting up our way sometime soon, but even if she takes a while to get here, "Obsesion" will brighten up these rainy days quite nicely.  I give this album a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any listener who loves Latin-influenced vocals with great jazz leanings.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Ellynne Plotnick - LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL: This CD is a new experience for me... not just that Elynne is a superb jazz singer, but each of the songs is an all-original composition. She also plays some excellent piano on 3 of the tracks, amplifying my impression of her talent... this lady's got it down, no question about it!  She has one earlier album on AMAZON, but this one appears to be loaded on CD BABY only, so if you want to hear the samples, you'll have to go there (they only have FLASH (meaning I can't link them direct in here), Ellynne, so it would be nice to have them loaded up on AMAZON as well, so the samples can be linked right into the review).  Her vocals are rich and full of melancholy, and the songs come across as much more "personal", because she is the lyricist as well, I suspect... the compositions and the vocals bring "life" to you, and she has an energy and passion unequalled by many of her counterparts.  The band list is far too long to quote here; suffice it to say that she knows how to pick players that compliment her musical vision, no doubt... I can tell you now that you probably won't "catch the Plotnick" bug on the first listen through, but if you dedicate your ears to a second listen, she'll have you hooked for the long haul.  I'm extremely impressed with her brilliant energy and zest for life... it's beyond question that life IS beautiful when Ellynne sings for you!  I rate this as MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.65.  Get more information at   (site needs to be updated, though).   Rotcod Zzaj

Massimo Sammi - FIRST DAY: This CD is Massimo's debut recording, and is among the best jazz guitar (he plays the guitar, by the way) experiences I've heard this year... it has far more depth than other debuts we've heard in 2009.  Massimo says that the pieces were "storyboarded" together, based on a film bio of mathematician John Nash, titled "A Beautiful Mind".  He's chose some excellent players to join him as well... rich-toned sax from George Garzone, strident & full bass by John Lockwood and totally on-time drums by Yoron Israel, as well as vocal guest shots on two tracks by Dominique Eade.  There's a nice presentation of the recording sessions at YOUTUBE, with excellent dialogue from Massimo (& others), as well as a TOUR VID (both clock in at about 8 minutes).... check them out & bookmark them for sure.  I've a feeling you will be hearing/seeing a lot more from this guy!  Tunes like "Encryption" (which is my favorite on this outing) really bring the human spirit to the forefront, and even without having seen the film, or read the story, I get inspired... Lockwood's bass and Sammi's guitar "talk" to each other & the result is some sonic imagery you won't soon forget.  Garzone's beautiful sax work on "Hallways" will leave you breathless and anticipating more - absolutely stunning reeds.  For this writer, "First Day" hearkens back to the "giant days of the late '60's", when monster jazz players were emerging all over the place... this CD not only receives a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, it also gets the "PICK" of this issue for "best jazz guitar CD".  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Jose Gonzales - JOSE GONZALES TRIO: Here's another REVERBNATION player that really caught my ear when I first stumbled on his trio in a Seattle/area search.  & lo & behold, my ears wuzz right ON th' money, folks!  Those who know me as a player (or as a writer, for that matter) know that I believe nothing is more important than musicians who understand that if music ain't fun - it AIN'T music!  I'm telling you right now, if your ears & your heart agree with such sentiments, you'll be all over this sweet little CD from Jose.  He sings in a light-hearted manner, but it's clear that he totally understands what soul means... can't but help conjuring up an image of some kinda' "Latino Mose Allison"... yah, it's that much fun.  All the way from Doors to "Days of Wine and Roses", his talent is multi-scoped, with a jazzy (almost boogie-like at times) keyboard style that keeps everything moving, even on the standards (& it's quite an accomplishment to get me to say that, 'coz I usually prefer original compositions).  His amigos in the trio are no slouches, either... Dave Pascal's bass reminds me at times of the bass lines on old Eddie Harris albums (lines similar in tone & spirit to righteous ol' pieces from Eddie like "If It Weren't For Bad Luck, I Wouldn't Have No Luck At All"), & Lionel Kramer's drums are about as punctual & full of passion as I've heard this year on a piano album!  Jose's vocals also bring to mind snatches of some of the old Steven Bishop-style songs... laid back, but penetrating.  I'm highly impressed, enough so that this one got moved right to the top of the review stack as soon as I digitized it for my review queue.  If you're looking for music that will stand the test of time, but with jazz enough to keep even the hardcore among us sated, this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  It gets an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.8, nearly unheard of for a piano/vocal CD.  Get more information by clicking on the REVERBNATION link above!    Rotcod Zzaj

Vanessa Rossetto - IMPERIAL BRICK: I've been 'round improvised music for many, many years now, even done my own "flavor" of it on many recordings... won't drop any names here, as the focus (& focus is required, else you'll lose the essence of what Vanessa's doing here) is on Ms. Rossetto and her unique 2008 CD-R release.  Her work with the viola here reminds me (indeed) of some of the earliest work I listened to & reviewed from LaDonna Smith, and if that isn't a compliment, I don't know what is!  I also seem to hear snatches of style from one of my favorite improvisors, Amy Denio.  Vanessa's clearly "in the zone" during the recording of these pieces (part of a trilogy that you can learn more about at "O Bom Garfo").  One note of caution - if you listen to this without the headphones, you'll miss the intricacy of her sonic portraits of the moment, & certainly won't detect all the layering she manages to pull off here.  It's doubtful (to me, anyway) that the "viola teachers of Amurrica" will entirely sanction her methods, but anyone in search of true creativity will find these intrusions on your "normalcy" to be quite entertaining and revealing.  The "sawing" effect she creates at about 4:55 on the title track is certainly not a "new" technique, but it kept my head coming back for more.  There are lots of neat little percussives here as well, both disturbing and full of wonder at the same time.  I've got several more of her releases that will be reviewed in future issues, but this is a perfect introduction for those enchanted by the spirit of the moment and the creative adventures it often leads our ears to.  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.6 (scale is 1-5, 5 being high).  Get more information, or purchase the recording at   Rotcod Zzaj

Mike Longo Trio - STING LIKE A BEE: I've been listening to & reviewing Mike's splendid keyboards for many years now, most recently in issue #76 (a CD called "Oasis", with the New York State of the Art Jazz Ensemble), so getting this latest release in for review was pure pleasure, especially when I listened to the opener, "Speak No Evil"... pure energy, flawless execution from each/every player... Longo's piano is joined by bass from Bob Cranshaw & drums by Lewis Nash.  This is the richest & most full-bodied trio work I've heard yet in 2009, and will excite jazz fans of every stripe... it's like a "rebirth" of sorts... folks who were under the illusion that "jazz is dead" haven't heard Longo's brand of rich-toned & natural keys, I suspect.  When he rolls out his (original) "Checked Bags", my absolute favorite cut on the album, you'll hear what I'm talking about... there's nothing more satisfying to my ears than the kind of rapport this keyboard establishes with the bass.  If you're looking for pure piano joy, bountiful & full of glee, you'll surely dig the trio's rendition of the Wayne Shorter tune "Dance Cadaverous"... it doesn't get any sweeter than this!  I'm not "just impressed", I'm floored by how spontaneous the flow is here, & give this CD a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.8.  It also gets the "PICK" of this issue for "best jazz trio"!  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Arturo Mayorga - CASCADES: What an apt description for the beautiful music Arturo has created for your ears and your spirit.  The 10 tracks feature keyboards and strings that just soar, and will easily carry you along for the journey.  When you listen to the strings supporting his keyboard on the opener, "Sunrise", you'll fall in love with his talent immediately... he doesn't rush his playing at all, or burden your ears with over-emotive lines that often ruin a "New Age" album for me... full of the spirit of loveliness.  This debut CD came to be as he began production on something entirely different, and that natural flow is evident through all the pieces... the only note I would offer for future albums would be to add some live percussion - not that the percussives are "bad", it's just evident that they would sound more natural if live.  He also offers up some strong dynamics & high energy on my favorite original, "A Secret Life"... full-bodied and definitely forward-looking.  I give this one a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and will certainly look forward to his next effort.  "EQ" (energy quotient) rating is 4.1.  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Lionel Marchetti & Olivier Capparos - EQUUS: Most of the folks who have been reading this magazine for years know that a frequent contributor is POGUS Records... they also know that the music coming from that label is often "different" (which is, in great part, why we so cherish what they send).  This recording (a 33 minute CD) by Marchetti & Capparos is the epitome of those differences... sound sculptures in the strongest traditions of musique concrete whose improvised nature will appeal to listeners across the spectrum - as long as they're not afraid of something new!  Those who do have difficulty with sonics that depart from "normal" will totally freak when they listen to the 3 rather long compositions here, but I found the electronics to be totally enchanting!  The keyword for this type of music, of course, is listen... this isn't music to be taken casually... in fact, it almost demands that you experience it in total solitude; trying to absorb their sound manipulations without total focus would reduce your awareness of their extreme talent.  There is no "genre" you can pigeonhole this in... it digs deep into your psyche, massages it with images both disturbing and (at times) volcanic... I found myself in it's grip from the opener to the last second - especially at the 10 minute mark of composition II... spacemen gone totally bonkers.  The real beauty of what Lionel & Olivier are doing here is that there is no pretense, no "cheap trickery" - and the recording is full-spectrum... it will blow you away!  I give this our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.78!  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Meryl Romer - SO SURE: If you weren't in "speakeasy" mode when you spun this, you will be by the time the first minute of the opener "I've Waited Long Enough" has beckoned you into Meryl's world... her vocals are about as seductive as it gets, & I can't get the image of her up onstage twirling a boa 'round & 'round as she sidles back & forth from center to left to right.  The guitar opening on "But Beautiful" is nothing but - beautiful, I mean... Romer brings every emotion you've ever experienced in the realm of romance to the fore & makes you deal with it on this tune.  My favorite piece on the CD, though, is "You're a Big Boy Now"... there aren't many singers who can make me think back through the years through my fantasies & follies... she brought a tear (or two) to my eye on this beautiful tune.  The player list is far too long to itemize here, but she knows how to pick the ones who can make her sound good... clear energy all the way through all dozen tunes.  This one gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.82.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Kenny & Leah - YOU AND THE NIGHT AND THE MUSIC: This duo is a first for us, but it won't be a last... Leah (Soderblom) does vocals over, under, 'round & through the tenor sax her husband Kenny does... they're joined by keyboards & bass by Richard Drexler & drums by Harold Jones in a grand jazz extravaganza you won't soon put down.  One of the words used in the cut sheet that came with the CD is "polished", and I can't think of a better word to describe what these folks are doing here.  The recording is perfect, with every note sonically "visible"... the players are at a relaxed pace on each of the dozen standards they perform, & Kenny's sax is full of power & energy, especially on cuts like "The Second Time Around".  Leah's rendition of "The Look Of Love" will definitely put stars in your eyes... you'll think you're right there on a movie set somewhere in glamour land!  I'm very much impressed with the solid jazz these wonderful folks have put together, and you will be, too; I'm looking forward to more of their work, to be sure.  I give them a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.85!  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Anson Wright and Tim Gilson - UKIAH'S LULLABY: When you hear the opening lines from this duo (Anson's guitars and bass by Tim) on the title track, you'll realize you're in the presence of total talent... true jazz perfection in a wonderfully relaxing set of 10 all-original tunes that will stay in your mind for months to come.  The hook that settled in my head (& just won't let go) was that on "Orion"... beautiful walking bass line opens it & will have your mind dancing with delight even before Anson's silky-smooth guitar makes you taste the essence of it... there was no question for me... this is my favorite piece on the album.  The beautiful and pensive "Sometimes There Are No Words" captured my attention fully as well, but I was also totally enchanted by "The Healer" & it's upbeat mode, too.  The keyword on all the tunes here was "joy"... Wright & Gilson communicate that in every note they play, and it's infectious, no doubt... one of the most enjoyable musical experiences I've had this year, in fact.  Any person who loves quality jazz will agree with me when I declare this MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and the "PICK" of this issue for "best guitar/bass jazz".  It gets an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.94 - very high!  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Amy Horvey - INTERVIEW: On first listen, the keyword that comes to mind when listening to Amy's solo trumpet works is "stark"... It is somehow "different" to hear the trumpet as the only voice, when we are (many of us, anyway) used to hearing it in concert with other voices.  I can't say that I have not heard it this way before... my friend Jeffrey Morgan used to do a lot of solo trumpet, but during the first four pieces on this CD, titled "quattro pezzi per tromba sola" 1-4, Amy's clean/clear tone penetrates your being fully and makes you aware that there's only one instrument in the world - Amy's trumpet.  When she moves on into "musica invisible" (the first section, titled "sfumato"), my ears are back in territory I was used to hearing Morgan play in... she kind of "talks" through her trumpet, little burbling sounds & with each & every breath audible.  By the time she reached the last of the triad for "musica Invisible", "anamorphosis", she's combines the two approaches for a most interesting adventure that you (nor I) have heard before.  Very original playing, heartfelt to be sure, with all evidence pointing to her energy being higher than most improvisors on the scene these days.  The title track, though, was the most captivating tune on the album (for this reviewer, anyway)... Horvey's vocal introduces each little segment to set the scene for the listener, then she marches off to "paint" the image evoked.  This clearly won't be for every listener, even the jazzers, for it demands that you listen & focus on what she's doing... as a work of energetic and solid imagery, though, I rate it as MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Be sure to chalk out the 50 minutes in advance, as her "EQ" (energy quotient) rating is 4.82, requiring rapt attention all the way through.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Jon Gordon - EVOLUTION: The 1:30 violin/cello/piano "Prelude - Grace" track threw me for a loop, as the CD I reviewed from him before (issue #84) had a different "feel" to it than this one.  In the end-run, "Evolution" is much fuller and more robust, demonstrating a much more mature approach to the compositions than (I believe) I heard on the earlier album.  His alto & soprano sax work is crisp and full of the kind of high energy (especially for a reed player) that will keep me coming back repeatedly... in fact, as I listen to the title track, I am comforted by how much it takes me back to the "good old days" of jazz, yet keeps a 21st century perspective from start to finish.  Though I couldn't find any readily accessible sample tracks for direct download, you can listen to Jon describe the project on his ARTISTSHARE project page (check the video links on the right)... it's really neat, because you can watch/listen the artist telling you about how the pieces & the album came together, with a few performance clips integrated.  On the other hand, I think it would also be neat if they put (at least) 2 or 3 sample tracks in this area also (or did I just "miss" it, Jon?).  Back to the music... I'm listening to my favorite piece on the album now, "Currents", which seamlessly integrates vocal by Kristin Berardi into a flawless 9:23 excursion into the "now"... there's nothing old or tired on this piece at all!  The closing track, "Individuation" will take you on a journey to future, & is one of the best jazz compositions I've listened to this year for high energy levels.  Superb talent on all 9 tracks will keep you coming back to this one... it gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) mark of 4.93, very close to the top of our 1-5 scale.  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Graham Dechter - RIGHT ON TIME: This CD couldn't have a better title - because that's surely what the music Graham & cohorts Tamir Hendleman (piano), John Clayton (bass) & Jeff Hamilton (drums) pass on to your ears... music that's in synch & never a beat off the mark!  Though Dechter is only 23 years old, he has an innate sense of right where "everything should go" on tunes by composers all the way from Thad Jones to Duke Ellington & Antonio Carlos Jobim... and his execution breathes fresh new life into each and every one of the 10 tunes the quartet presents for your pleasure.  I'm assuming that there wasn't much original tuneage because this is his debut, and would hope that he'll include some original compositions on his next one... that doesn't detract from the "joy factor" for the listener, though, because he & the rest of the players clearly understand how to keep the energy going!  When you listen to tracks like Johnny Hodges "Squatty Roo", you'll hear (right away) why I'm excited about Graham's energies... I mean, this takes off at a pace you'll find it hard to keep up with from note 1, no matter how much of a veteran you may be... each player is flawless in their execution, & there's no crowding or showboating anywhere in the track.  My absolute favorite piece on this outing, though, is the opener, "Low Down" (by Thad Jones)... it takes me back to when jazz was all "slinky", dartin' 'round midnight alleyways with cool hats & very well-packed pipes!   I know you'll be as impressed as I was, and will support my rating of MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for this band... they get an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.91.  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Ciro Hurtado - GUITARRISTA: Nothing suits me better than a (musical) "change of pace"... though this is (U.S.-based) Peruvian guitarist Ciro's 5th solo CD, it's my first listen to his splendid solo guitar - what's most impressive about his nylon-string guitar playing is the variety of moods he plays in... his energy for communicating the joy and beauty of life through these 11 all-original tracks is inspiring and will yield many hours of repeated listens.  There is nothing "rushed" about his playing, and though pieces like the opener, "Cuentos de Chacarera" are very upbeat (in a Latin-jazz way), many of the other tracks create a more pensive mood for the listener.  My favorite cut on the CD is actually "Agua Dulce" (link is for a great YIDIO video of him playing this tune), which makes me see visions of dancing the night away on a terrace looking out from high mountains over tumbling springs feeding life in the valleys.  I was unable to find (direct link) sample tracks, but you can get a taste for the music at Ciro's MYSPACE PAGE; you can also buy the CD from that page.  What is easy to discern, whether listening to this CD or watching him play on YOUTUBE is that he's totally in communication with the muse.  He's one of the best solo guitarists I've listened to in 2009 and clearly rates my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating.  The CD gets an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.92.  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

David MacKenzie-Josh Johnston - NOTES HOME: This duo from Ireland take you back to a time when things were much more laid-back and sweet-sounding... MacKenzie's violin & Johnston's piano are inspired by folks like Grappelli and Venuti, names you will certainly recognize if you've followed the "Hot Club" sound over the years.  When they combine their significant skills with jazz guitarist Stephen McFarlane's electric guitar, you'll surely find yourself ready to get up and dance away the night.  These gents clearly have their own approach to the music, though, and the fact that these are all-original compositions makes the music they play even more exciting!  Josh's piano (for me, anyway) adds an entirely different feeling to David's violin and Stephen's guitar... while there are moments when it clearly feels like Grappelli ("Silk"), it's at a much gentler pace than many of those old recordings.  If you're looking for something a bit more upbeat, you'll dig "La Plage"... even on this one, though, it's clear that these fellows are "creating their own" as they go... as stated above, Johnston's piano adds a whole new element to your listening experience.  It was the bouncy and vibrant "Cap Mortola" that captured my vote for favorite track, actually... there seemed to be such balance between the instruments on this one that I kept coming back for more (& will continue that, I'm sure).  All-in-all, this second CD from MacKenzie/Johnston gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially if you're looking for something totally jazzy and original.  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

The Chris Kelsey 4 - NOT COOL: Sounds like a bit of "reverse psychology" to me, Chris... announce that it's "not cool" & get 'em to wondering about (just) what kinda' heat it generates.  I can tell you folks, this is some of the freshest free-base I've cooked up one long, LONG time... or, rather, that Kelsey & his partners have cooked up!  Chris plays soprano, alto & tenor sax & is joined by trumpet from Chris DiMeglio, bass by Francois Grillot & drums from Jay Rosen.  If you hurry, you can get your own (.mp3) download of the entire CD, but it won't be up there forever, so visit soon.  The CD title is actually "Not Cool ( in, "The Opposite of Paul Desmond") & will throw a musical challenge at you that even the most seasoned of listener/reviewer(s) will find interesting.  I particularly enjoyed "If Jazz Is Dead (Can I Have Its Stuff?)", & not just because of the title... these guys attack each song like it's the last piece that will be played on the face of the globe... HIGH energy, no prisoners approach that I definitely dig on.  Their interaction is volcanic, especially on tunes like the opener, "Femulate the State"... they reach right out and grab your ears & won't let go for the next 8 minutes or so.  My favorite on the CD, though, was the closer, "The Sweet Trauma That Is Free Jazz/Ghosts"... recording so clear you feel like you're right there in the studio with them, and action so intense you'll never be able to break away.  I'm more than just impressed, I'm amazed... you will be too, & if you're into freeform jazz at all, you'll agree with me when I declare this to be MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Get more information at Chris's site!   Rotcod Zzaj

Dan Susnara - MY AUGUST MAC: If you don't recognize Dan's name, you probably aren't very familiar with the whole home-taper underground scene that I was a big part of from the mid-'80's up through the mid-'90's... he & I did a tape or two together, mainly because I was so highly impressed with his psychedelic flourishes, even on the tapes.  I mean, this dude can take "common" occurrences & turn them into sonic trips you'll have difficulty recovering from... like a form of "musical acid", if you will.  He's literally outdone himself on this 2-CD set (25 songs, about 2 1/2 hours).  Unfortunately, I couldn't find any digital downloads for you, but when you listen to tracks like "Pseudoephederine Travel Lodge", you'll see what I mean instantly... I just loved the sound of the germs infesting the minds of travelers.. ha! ha!  Though the downloads aren't there, you can get a bit more information on Dan's works (which are extensive) at (just click on Dan's name there).  Each of his recordings (ever since I first started receiving/reviewing him) come with a full-fledged home-made booklet that contains all the lyrics... don't expect to just "read through" them in one sitting, either... if you're listening to the music as you read them, you'll become so enchanted, it will take hours to make it through the first couple of pieces... I'm talking epic here, folks (it took me 3 sittings to absorb the entire adventure)!  & did I mention - psychedelic?  By the time your head starts getting wrapped around the medley of "The Greater Improved/A Quart For Tommy/Skywalka/A Useable Amount", you'll have to check yourself into the ward or run the risk of getting arrested.  This is excellent music, well-recorded & (always) FUN - the key ingredient in any Susnara production.  His vocals will clearly make you think "Strawberry Fields Forever", "Who Is The Walrus" & other great tunes from that whole era.  For any & all into music that lifts you and makes you think beyond your nose - this album is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  It gets an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.93.  Visit the Crop Circle Collective site (above) to get more information.   Rotcod Zzaj

Komeda Project - REQUIEM: Pianist/composer/arranger Andrzej Winnicki, saxophonist Kyzysztof Medyna are joined on their second CD by trumpeter Russ Johnson, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Nasheet Waits for an adventure that hardcore jazzers 'round the globe will have to HAVE in their collections!  If you're one of those "smooth jazz" listeners who want no danger or challenge in your listening, move on down the rack... there is a really "free" musical environment being promoted here, especially on burners like the opener, "Night-Time, Daytime Requiem Part1", one of my favorite pieces on the album... but it's a different kind of high-energy... they use the silences as much as the sound itself to suck you into their vortex.  Listeners inclined towards something a bit more conventional will like "Astigmatic" better, I imagine... it's still not "MOR" (middle of the road) at all, but it features the piano in a more "out-front" mode & so will sound more like something you've heard from the greats.  My absolute favorite (probably because of the horn duos) was "Ballad for Bernt", where you get to hear just how tight the players are together... Johnson's trumpet sounds like it's married to Medyna's reeds, & the bass & drums are crystal clear & full of talent you won't soon forget.  Recording is superb, and I can guarantee that if you've even a little adventure in your ears, you'll agree when I declare this one MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  The "EQ" (energy quotient) rating is 4.91, pretty high on the scale of 1-5.  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Rick Ray Band - SETLIST: It's always a pleasant change of pace for me when I get one of Rick's rawk'in CD's in for review... & when I say ROCK, I'm not kiddin'... though the opener, "Taken Control" is familiar in a certain sense, Rick & the band blow the SOCKS off of "progressive", & I'm stunned with the track's retainability.  My favorite, though, is the soaring guitars on "The Jokes on Me"... his vocal on this one is lyrically one of the most solid I've ever heard from him... when Rick Schultz kicks in on his reeds, you can hear just how talent-laden (& dedicated to their musical mission) this band is.  Obviously, hard jazzers may not be totally attracted to this, 'coz it clearly falls in the rock "category", but when you hear the stellar reach of Ray's guitar leads, you'll realize that "cosmic" isn't just a word to describe the outer reaches of our system... this tune would make wonderful trip music for your first journey to the stars.  I also really dug (as will you) on the high energy movement on "Sgt. Pepperspray"... if you ever have the chance to hear these folks live - don't pass it up!  I'm totally rocked, too, by "In the Real World"... more or less a guitar solo piece, & it clocks in at a full 4:10, so you'll have plenty of time to get in their groove.  Do a search on "Rick Ray" to see the many reviews I've done of this band... this is in fact one of the better among them... it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as the "PICK" of this issue for "best rock CD". "EQ" (energy quotient) is 4.96 - very high!  Get more information at or email to   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 that I haven't requested, you will be BLACKLISTED on this site!!!)

Here are a few tunes of MINE for you to listen to - it's from my latest CD release, "AC not PC" (Alphabetically Correct, not Politically Correct)




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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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