New! New! New!  Zzaj PODCAST!

We now have 2 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!

I've played in over 65 "bands" .  We will highlight a few of these bands in this (and future) issues. 

CLICK the PLAY button to listen while you read - or don't, totally up to you! You can also PURCHASE these tracks, if you'd like to support our efforts; no obligation to do that, but the option is there if you'd like!

Here's another feature Zzaj Band - Harlan Mark Vale (aka Kramtones) and I have been playing music together since the early 1980's; this album, "STRANGE ATTRACTORS", was one of our very first digital efforts.  Hope your ears enjoy it enough to buy a track or 2!

 

 

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     A friend in the "underground home-taper network" recently sent me a massive tome (that will be reviewed in the next issue) that definitely got me hepped up for thinking through my life... won't mention his name right now, because I want to keep the review a surprise, but it made me think back to when all the "oldsters" in my family would tell us that as they grew in age, there was a tendency for them to think about writing their memoir... at the ripe young age I heard that, I said (to myself) - "never happen to me"... 'coz once you get to that stage, you'll never recover... life is "over".  Ha! Ha!  Look at me now... it only took about 3 days for me to get the "fever", & decide that what had been sent needed to spur me on to write the "definitive" memoir... we'll leave the judgement on that to the critics, but what I thought might be fun is to drop a short sketch from that document in here - two purposes:

1.  See if anyone actually reads these rants

2.  Solicit your comments on the short snatch I've put in here... email your comments to zzajunique@hotmail.com & tell me what you think... pro, con or in between, I'm interested to see what you think.

  Without further ado, here's a section of my writing from what I'm calling (as a working title) "Rotcod Zzaj - A Sdrawkcab Yhpargoib" (it's from a segment about my first time in Germany, around 1965-1968):

 

When I couldn’t afford to hit the clubs (usually the 3 weeks before the monthly payday), I spent hours and hours listening to jazz players like Lee Morgan, Pharaoh Saunders, Horace Silver (one of my keyboard heroes), Chico Hamilton & Cannonball Adderly… of course, there were many, many others, as well as some of the emergent rockers – Beatles, of course, Stones, Hendrix & a ton of other players who were forming/shaping the “’60’s experience”… in terms of my own playing, I still spent hours & hours (during those weeks between paydays) at the local Rec Center… get swacked on whatever was available (Romilar CF was popular in those days & some little German tablets called AN-1, somewhat similar to Benzedrine; don’t know how my kidneys & liver ever survived such massive doses), then spend two or three hours reading fake books & attempting to “twist” them so I could play the tunes with my limited reading ability (which exists, unfortunately, to this day).  Good Gourd-a-might-ee, if I just hadn’t “fallen in lust” with that piano teacher (way back in Pennsylvania), my dad might’ve let me continue the lessons & I could/would have become a “regular” player (& stayed there packing strawberries forever), eh?  Ha! Ha!

 

     Times (in the Military) were definitely different back in the mid-‘60’s – it was pretty much understood (with any of the “good” supervisors, anyway) that as long as a young guy wasn’t breaking the law (to any serious degree, anyway), he should be allowed to “form” his personality… of course, that led to lots of opportunities “to” violate the rules… the hope was that those same young men would learn from their mistakes & not repeat them.  “Honor” was a concept that was still around… if you gave your word (no matter how painful it might be to do so), you kept it!  Now that I’m over 60, it’s easy to launch into “oldster” diatribes about the lack of such these days, but that’s not my intent here… the key point I’m trying to get across is that I was given a LOT of splendid opportunities… traveled all over Deutschland, expanded those travels out to Holland, Sweden, Denmark & lots of other places.  Though I got far into the “sauce” & the “substances”, I was able to watch players (especially there in Frankfurt & another jazz venue in Mainz) that I would have never gotten to see if I’d stayed in the U.S.  From a musical standpoint, I was able to learn different “views” of music (and the reasons for the creation thereof) in Europe than I would have known about at home.

 

     Another thing I adopted as an attitude (for better or worse, especially after some “close escapes” from substances and the abuse thereof with various & sundry military officials) was that one can only control one’s own behavior… I’ve not always been successful at taking care of my own behavioral problems, but something (even in those formative years) I believed (and still do) is that a person must survive on their own… (probably) because of some of the “trips” I was taking, I often carried that attitude to extremes, & often must have come across as “uncaring”, or “jaded”… too “self-centered”, the shrink would say, I suppose.  Part of that attitude came from being placed in positions of leadership (I was a Sergeant at 19), & in a military environment, that’s a serious charter… if you “make your own bed”, that means you also have to “sleep in it” too.  I read a lot of Jung, Sartre and Nietzsche in those days and came away from that with very strong feelings regarding creativity and self-motivation being forces that “drive” the human condition… this applied certainly (in my mind) to life and the living, but more importantly to music, especially music that was “different”… because of the massive doses of various substances I was regularly (ab)using, my “creations” often sounded better during the playing than the listening.  It took another 12 years (during my first visit to Olympia) to finally break free of some of those impediments to my artistic creativity and “hear” them (whether it was poetry/spoken word, keyboards or percussion) for what they were (when my mind was clouded by substances) - BROKEN.  I bring this up at this point to make sure you know that my views about people who break their own lives and ignore their creative abilities (& I don’t care what anyone says – I believe everyone has such) are the ultimate in stupid!  That’s not to say that folks won’t have occasional forays into the oblivion of drugs, alcohol, wild sex or whatever their addiction is (or that they won’t switch one addiction for another – as I’ve tended to do over these many years)… it’s just to tell you that I believe the “breaking away” can only occur when folks begin to “create” again, especially those of us who are inclined that way already.  “Creativity” doesn’t just apply to the arts, either… the guy who unplugs toilets for a living, or restores a car to mint condition can be just as talented as any artist in other disciplines.  I’m getting a bit ahead of my story, though, so I’ll stop philosophizing now.

Till next time...,

 

 

Rotcod Zzaj

 

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