Improvijazzation Nation, issue # 31

Improvijazzation Nation, issue # 31


Brought to you by: Zzaj Productions
D. Metcalf, 5308 65th Ave. SE, Lacey, WA 98513


DUCK OR MASK – Leave it up to our long-term playin’ friend ta’ lay a moniker down that’d confuse e’en thee GREATEST listeners/reviewers, right? Well, that’s as FAR ‘s th’ confusion goes. You know from the FIRST coupla’ seconds that’ Bret’s outDONE himself on this go-round. This is (unquestionably) the BEST music I’ve ever heard him do. Folk/rock-based, to be sure, but more importantly, with a message that speaks of maturity (ya’ know, that stuff that comes – ONLY – through th’ PAIN that existence can be), especially in his lyrical style. Any playing that combines words & music runs a (severe) risk of falling into th’ realm of “mundane”… why? ‘coz there’s SO many people out there with a desire to tell th’ stories (& most of ’em with a hundred tales to tell). Well, Bret’s found his “niche”… he speaks of crying, laughing, smiling so clearly that you’ll think yer’ watchin’ a first-run feature! Th’ best xample o’ that fer’ me was a toon called “Divided”… sensitive, sensitive! All original, all clean & fresh & new – this is Hart from thee heart! &, th’ best arrangements I’ve EVER heard from him! Comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer (& that’s sayin’ a LOT, ‘coz I lissen to a THOUSAND of these storytellers a year). GET it! Contact at 157 Highland Street, Worcester, MA, USA 01609, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Ben Azarm: NEOAPPLICTANA – Artifact Recordings, in Berkeley, California, can always be counted on to send in (some of) the oddest music(s) being produced these days. Azarm’s CD is no exception to that standard. Very “spacy” music, with vocals woven in, this is a musical experience that could (well) serve as a template for the worst dreams you’ve ever experienced. Though I’m hard pressed to give you a solid “outline” of what the music is, imagine a tape (perhaps one YOU had made) that has what (normally) might be considered to be critical parts missing… sorta’ like a dismembered toon. Well, take that & mix it with a bit of jaded imagination & you’ve got a pretty good idea of what Ben (& crew) have put together here. For those into music with a challenge (& NOT those who ARE musically challenged), this come MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. A WAY kewl set, well worth your time & buckz. Contact at 1374 Francisco St., Berkeley, CA 94702, or via e-mail to  Rotcod ZzaJ

Chick Corea/Gary Burton: NATIVE SENSE – This CD came in from a favorite promoter (of ours), Bobbi Marcus Public Relations. For those who live, breathe & suck down jazz (especially in th’ mo’ “trad” sense), the names of th’ players alone will bring a certain image of what can be anticipated to mind. Corea’s piano is as crisp & original as fresh-baked pies… when you hook that up together with Gary Burton’s clean vibes (both th’ instrument & his style of mind), you’ve got a jazz duo that CAN’T be beat! The title track (alone) makes a purchase of this CD an absolute MUST for any who NEED some o’ that “original” energy! The selections include both traditional jazz originals and inspired new creations! There are some who (try and) run down “jazz” as outmoded… mercy on their souls. This comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Just DON’T give it as a present – you’ll WANT it BACK!  Contact at 1514 17th St., Suite # 206, Santa Monica, CA 90404, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Franco Ortega: GET USED TO IT KID – This lil’ C60 will slake th’ punk/hardcore/ska thirsts of (nearly) any punkoid. A comp, it has 13 bands (17 songs) that will disturb even th’ most seasoned veteran of “new” music. Franco also writes “Grub” ‘zine, & seems to be “in love” with th’ genre. If yer’ lookin’ fer’ a sorta’ “sampler” of punk – this is yer’ TICKET.  Those with more genteel tastes will surely shy away from this tape. ‘course,  it wasn’t (I’m sure) MADE for those who don’t like this kind o’music. Franco’s managed to get some pretty high production values, & except for a coupla’ cutz’, this is (fairly) high-end sound quality. Makes for great road music, though I don’t think I’d spin it in th’ house all that often – just too “abrasive”. My fave cut was “Yelling In My Ear”, by “Seedy”. “The Iguanas” weren’t bad, either. Not th’ best punk/hardcore we’ve ever heard, but worth a RECOMMENDED! Contact at 585 Akers West. Lansing, MI 48825, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Crackstop: ROCK AND ROLL’S NOT DEAD… BUT, WE’RE WORKING ON IT – & they’re BOUND to succeed, in rather short fashion, if they keep on jammin’ th’ airwaves with this kind of (musical) insanity. If yer’ haven’t done “crack” before, you’ll rush right down to th’ next street corner & BUY some (after listening to this). If yer’ awready ON th’ stuph, you’re GUARANTEED to stop! This woulda’ hit th’ trashpile had it not been for th’ “uniqueness” of their sound. There was a group I used to play In (late ’70’s) with a bunch of Huntspatch, Alabummer improvisors (most notably, Bill McAndless) that played music(s) very similar to this. Not only th’ standard “guitars/bass”, but (actual) pieces of “metal” floating through th’ mix. Be GREAT for exorcisms. Don’t get this one if yer’ subject to mild heart attacks, as this will put you in complete coronary thrombosis. (Absolutely) defies description. Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer. Contact at 8 Beethoven St (yeh, he WOULD roll over), Binghamton, NY 13905, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Lou Montelione: COMIN’ BACK HOME
Here’s a fantastic piano jazz CD, in from Braithwaite & Katz Communications (a favorite promoter… they only work with TOP-flite artists). Straight up 4-piece, with guest saxophonist John Stubblefield. Michael Logan’s bass is strong, & Cecil Brooks III’s drums provide th’ underpinnings for original & trad mainstream modern. Not that yuppie-yucky “smooth” jazz that so many FM stations pump th’ airwaves full of these days – this is music that will let you imagine yerself at an upscale lawn party, OR in th’ depths of th’ smokiest filled rooms…. ‘coz they’ve got th’ ENERGY! Logan’s sax just won’t QUIT on “In Your Own Sweet Way”. Strong, yet not (at all) invasive. For a first outing, Lou’s assembled a well-oiled mo-chine with GUTZ! Tho’ it IS more mainstream-oriented, it’s got SOUL! Really enJOYed this one! You will too… I give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those in love with jazz with character. Contact at 1168 Commonwealth Ave., 3rd Floor, Boston, MA 02134, or via e-mail to  (the label, “Jazzheads”, can also be contacted via e-mail at ) Rotcod Zzaj

Charlie Saibel: BLACKBERRIES – Oooy vay! Shades o’ Leon (Russell), voo-doo blooz ala Doctor John & boogie licks that’ll have yer’ either cryin’ in yer’ champagne or dancin’ in thee streets! Just goes ter’ show that when yer’ biz-ee listenin’ to alla’ this stuph, & don’t “get out” much, there’s a tendency to miss what’s right UNDER yer’ nose. Charlie’s been playin’ with local musicians (here in Olympia) for many years now (John Beach trio, among others), & I never knew it. This is his first CD, & it’s REALLY well done! Lotz’ o’ times, these piano blooz thangs come across as kinda’ “piano-centric”, little mix of other instruments… well, that’s not th’ case here… tho’ his RED-HOT chops are plainly evident, he’s got slide git-ar, hornzaplenty, synth, harp & a TON of instrumentation that’ll get yer’ blood PUMPIN’ at full speed; dunno’ who played th’ sax on cut # 6, “Wish You Were Here”, but it’s crackerjack, gets right down to th’ HEART o’ wot’ th’ blues is (REALLY) all about! Saibel’s vox are strong & clear; well recorded & H-O-T, this lil’ blooz-rocker comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by th’ Zzaj (really enJOYed this, hope you’ll send us yer’ NEXT one, Charlie)! Contact at 5104 Brassfield Dr. SE., Olympia, WA 98501 Rotcod Zzaj

Pauline Oliveros: ALIEN BOG/BEAUTIFUL SOOP – Here’s a brand-new entry in th’ fascinating world of improv/experimental music from Pogus Productions (true MASTERS at selecting th’ oddest/best in this arena). Certainly th’ strangest I’ve heard THIS year! Composed on Buchla Box 100 series (mid sixties), this is sort of a “re-issue”, but it’s a CLASSIC (for those of us who enjoy sound sculptures). Let me be SURE to forewarn you… if you’ve not experienced Oliveros music before, be prepared for (one of) the oddest experience you’ve had in quite some time. Space music (from) before we HAD such monikers for electronic music. There IS no “pattern” you can attach yourself to, & this will be downright SCARY for those rooted in “normal” (mebbe’ yer’ mind could USE a lil’ shakin’ up, tho’). This is GREAT experimental music & gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer! Contact at Pogus Productions, POB 150022, Van Brunt Station, NYC, NY 11215-0022, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

The Keen: THE KEEN – Jesse Bell sent this little home-produced tape in from thee wild regions of Michigan. Sped-up tick-tock rockin’ that’ll have ya’ tappin’ yer’ toes (or other unmentionable bod-ee partz). Guess that’s not actually fair… there are several pieces on here that come off as “a cut above the average”, most notably “The Bitter End”. Th’ (R-A-W) energy & th’ love of wot’ they’re doin’ is THERE for this band. Mixing needs a little work – came out with (what I think is) an overabundance of BASS (also a little “up & down” on th’ volume levels that tended to distract)! Basically a 4 piece, typical arrangements, but they’ve GOT th’ fire that merits th’ attention of yer’ earz! Not sure if it’s their first effort. Genre? Mebbe’ you could call it “gloss rock”, I dunno’. Surely goes a distance farther than reg’lar “AM” rock; almost like they’ve GOT their own unique niche – just haven’t QUITE figgered out wot’ it IS yet. Nice ballad work, good vox! DEFINITELY worth th’ postage & minimal price of $3.00, to 17485 20 Mile Road, Marshall, MI 49068 Rotcod Zzaj

Left In A Dream: LEFT IN A DREAM – Gourd, wotta’ LOT of local bands we’ve been getting in. Matt Carlson sent this little tape is from Edmonds, Washington, just north of Seattle. Th’ liner notes include some notes about their music being a new “genre”, somethin’ they call “Emo”, th’ philosophy of which izzat’ th’ music “replicates emotions” – a concept I can live with (since that’s in great part where MY music comes from). Heavy, HEAV-EE guitar overlays, solid drums down under & some STRONG vox, prob’ly where there description of “Emo” comes from. Th’ basslines are THERE, but th’ mix seemed to submerge ’em somehow, mebbe’ work on that in future mixes, boyz’… other than those (very minor) critz, this is a FINE example of music that comes from th’ home & (mo’ importantly) from th’ GUT! Strong rock influences, but a style unto their own. If yer’ in th’ mood fer’ a bit o’ “road music”, this’ll fill th’ bill in fine fashion. A KEEPER! Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from th’ Zzaj. Contact at 14116 60th Ave. W, Edmonds, WA 98026, or via e-mail to  (or ). Rotcod Zzaj

Attmar Liebert: LEANING INTO THE NIGHT – This CD (in from Creative Service Company) will put th’ “thrill” back in your life! Liebert’s guitar paired with a full orchestra… classically-oriented, but termed (in th’ liners) as “noveau flamenco”. An apt description, because th’ beauty that results from this marraige is nothing short of a miracle. More than just inspiring, it’s music that will (and does) carry you to new inspirational heights. In other efforts along these lines, th’ emphasis was so obviously on the guitar that it came off sounding really “choppy” – almost as if th’ orchestrals were like a “sample section” behind th’ guitar (you know, sorta’ like a video game sounds). The skill in Liebert’s hands is evident (& most pleasurable), but it’s his awareness of where he “fits” that enchants more than all else. I fell in LOVE with this on the first spin (which means NOBODY gets to “borrow” it – ever!) Another GRAND excursion from our (most musically aware) friends at CSC. Gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer! Contact at 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Remus Glaude: REMUS GLAUDE – This CD is the epitome of “home-produced” It was ALL done right at home – I mean EVERYthing… from th’ playin’ to th’ photographs! Remus is a (now) long-time friend of mine (first met (& played with) him in about ’90, tho’ I’d already been enchanted with his music since about 1987, or so…) from th’ magickland of Olywa. Multi-talented for sure, his main instrument is trumpet – but he plays a strong & distinctive bass as well as some really nice keyboards. Several of the trax on this outing are ones I’d played live with him in a (now defunct) venue called “The Lifeboat Pub” – most notably “Mombasa” & “Rama Showers”. All original, clearly Remus, a style all his own – laid-back, yet (at th’ same time, very much) ALIVE! For those who love well-played jazz, this is an absolute MUST HAVE! His love of music shines thru like th’ moon on a cloudless night! Glaude’s compositions integrate snatches of those who are his heroes (like Miles), but that horn lets ya’ know that Remus has that ol’ fire “in the blood”. I was strongly attracted to th’ cuts I’d not heard before, especially “Liberian Vessel” & “Nostalgia”. If you want music that’s truly home-produced, inspiring & from th’ heart, this gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Contact at 323 Foote St. NW, Olympia, WA 98502, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Jim Johnston: DEMO – This lil’ C-60, in from local (Olympia) artist Jim Johnston, goes a long way towards showing th’ RAW power inherent in th’ (not so underground) home production environment. All th’ way from shades of Jethro (Tull, that iz’) to higher-ended ’90’s power rockin’… Johnston plays nearly all th’ instrumentation on this highly original tour through one man’s vision of what music is (& can be) – in ALL it’s power & glory. If yer’ into laid-back jazz & groovin’, yer’ better wander elsewhere – this RAWKZ! Some FINE guitar work & high-speed vocal trix to sate even th’ HARDEST to please lyrically. The one (main) crit izzat th’ demo didn’t (seem to) have any credit lists. I’d like to know who was responsible for what. That’s only a minor criticism, tho’, & this tape (& any others Jim has waitin’ in th’ wings) come HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by this reviewer! Contact at Tony Drizziano Management, POB 668, Indian Rocks, FL 33785, or via e-mail to  (you can also contact Jim directly at  ). Kewl stuph!!! Rotcod Zzaj

JLIAT Project: THE NATURE OF NATURE – This CD, in from England, comes with minimal info on th’ jewel-case cover, & an advertisement that I don’t think I’d whump down on any cover I put out… “a single piece of electronic dronw”. ’tis far from th’ true nature of th’ beautiful music contained on the CD. Organ and string based (not sure if that’s all, since there WERE no “credits” on th’ CD jacket) mastery that will enchant & carry you to far away lands. Their website ( will give you better insight. A biblical tone, aspiring to wisdom, that COULD come off as “higher & mightier” – UNTIL yer’ LISTEN to th’ music! IF you’re looking for grunge, jazz or buzz/pop/whistle, go to another venue… but if you’re willing to find the beauty inherent in growing WITH th’ music these folks make, this comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. We hope James will send th’ rest of their sonic adventures. Contact at JLIAT, 13 Wells Road Walsingham, Norfolk NR22 6DL UK, visit their WWW page(s) (noted above), or e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Dave Frank: POWER OF THE PIANO – This CD of sweet & clear solo piano works, came to us from JAZZHEADS. A beautiful endeavor, quite relaxing & inspirational (especially for those of us who would LIKE to (be able to) play like this). It’s not all just “sweet&low”, either… cut # 3, “Wailing In The Joy of C”, is some kick-butt boogie, I’ll tell you! Th’ whole experience kind of switches between ballad &boogie-influenced keys that’ll HAVE yer’ tappin’ those toes, people! On th’ “clean production” side, this was recorded direct to 2-track, using a Yamaha C-7… some WONDERFUL sound, as any of you who play piano probably know! It takes Dave’s masterful hands & keyboard sensitivity to bring this kind of life to music, though! A REALLY pleasant & enjoyable group of music that comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by this reviewer! Contact at POB 523, Planetarium Station, New York, NY 100524-0523, or visit the JAZZHEADS website, at  Rotcod ZzaJ

…& here are the LATEST reviews from our (long-lost?) friend, Henry Schneider… GOOD ta’ see yer’ back, Henry!!!

The Smell of Incense THROUGH THE GATES OF DEEPER SLUMBER (September Gurls Records LC6952) CD: 49:52 Breathe deep the gathering gloom, watch lights fade from every room, and for the next 50 minutes The Smell of Incense will transport you to hidden and fantastic realms! To speed you on your journey TSOI incorporated poetry by some of the finest authors of adult fantasy and science fiction literature: Lord Dunsany, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, Brian Lumley, and Cicely Mary Barker. An interesting aside is Lord Dunsany was the father of adult fantasy literature having strongly influenced H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith and secondarily Michael Moorcock and Brian Lumley. And now, nearly a century later, the music of TSOI. The disk opens with TSOI1s A Floral Treasury, an epic undertaking spanning 25 minutes that includes three poems from Cicely Mary Barker, the author of the Flower Fairy Books from the 1920s. Part one, subtitled The Song of the Winter Aconite Fairy, is a sitar/tabla/mellotron tour de force invoking images of Scheherazade and the 1001 Arabian Nights. As you gently float through darkened star-filled skies, fluttering fairy wings suddenly attack bringing you down to earth and the techno sounds of The Song of the Nightshade Fairy. As strange as it may seem, TSOI1s use of a techno beat integrates flawlessly with their music. Rounding out this opus is The Song of the Queen of the Meadow Fairy which returns with mellotron choruses, raga rock, and at the end, a calliope/merry-go-round collage reminding me of King Crimson1s closing on Lizard. The second song is Michael Moorcock1s poem Columbine Confused. Michael Moorcock is a prolific writer best known for his Elric of Melnibon‚ books as well as his association over the years with the band Hawkwind. But make no mistake, Columbine Confused is not a Hawkwind cover, it is TSOI at their purist with mellotron, guitar, drums, and Bumble B1s lovely vocals. The third song is Lord Dunsany1s A Word in Season, published in 1929 in FIFTY POEMS, set to music. Writing in 1972 about this collection, Lin Carter stated that Dunsany1s poems 3… seem to me particularly outstanding lyrics.ý I couldn1t agree more and perhaps Lumpy Davy read the same passage inspiring him to compose this music. There is a mixture of musical influences here ranging from The Incredible String Band to the Moody Blues all held together by Han Solo1s mellotron. Closing out the disk is From the Third Hemisphere, another three part psychedelic masterpiece incorporating Clark Ashton Smith1s Atlantis, Brian Lumley1s Kraken, and Robert E. Howard1s Slumber. Here we have a further healthy dose of mellotron as well as Bumble B1s electric violin. As their first release was primarily cover songs, TSOI have surpassed themselves on Through the Gates of Deeper Slumber with all original music. TSOI have paid their dues and are now ready for the recognition and accolades they so richly deserve! If you have any interest in bands like King Crimson, early Moody Blues, Incredible String Band, Renaissance, It1s A Beautiful Day, Wind in the Willows, Gong, early Pink Floyd, (and the list goes on) you will not be disappointed by TSOI. If you can1t find this release, either vinyl or CD, at your favorite record store, demand that they stock it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. [The Crawling Chaos, Box 19, N-4810 Eydehavn, NORWAY – e-mail: ] – Henry Schneider – December 1997

The Smell of Incense/Ethereal Counterbalance WHAT DO YOU WANT?/MAGICK BROTHER, PLUG (September Gurls Records SGten2) 10 inch What Is this? Are the pot headed pixies at it again? Wait a minute, this is not a reissue but an incredible and impeccable Gong cover by those psychedelic Norwegians The Smell of Incense. The instrumentation is superb and it isn1t until have way through the 12 minute medley that the vocals drop in and your realize that you1re not listening to Gong. (I guess we1re not in Kansas anymore Toto.) What a fitting tribute to one of the psychedelic/prog rock era1s quirkiest and innovative bands. Even Bumble B1s cover art invokes Gong replete with a Flying Teapot! On the flip side is Ethereal Counterbalance led by one Rod Goodway from the UK. Plug consists of three songs: Bodyland II, Liar1s Boogie, and Flight 49. Rod dedicated this music to Magic Muscle, a sister band to Hawkwind during the seventies. Bodyland II is the second installment of a trilogy whose first part appears on Simon House1s solo album House of Dreams. This is a cool song that sounds a lot like Bevis Frond. Liar1s Boogie has one of those repetitive fuzzed guitar riffs so familiar to Hawkwind fans and ends up being a Bevis Frond/Hawkwind hybrid. The final song Flight 49 was recorded live at the Earth Ritual II Festival in Belgium on 30 September 1994 and the lyrics paraphrase Donovan1s Fat Angel. Flight 49 is easiest the best song on this side with its ethereal guitar solos. This performance could stand up to the Jefferson Airplane1s Bless Its Pointed Little Head. Another HIGHLY RECOMMENDED September Gurls release. Snap it up if and when you see i t. [The Crawling Chaos, Box 19, N-4810 Eydehavn, NORWAY – e-mail: ] – Henry Schneider – December 1997

…so, THANKS fer’ bringin’ in thee New Year with a BANG-UP set o’ reviews, Mee-ster Schneider… any TIME!!!

Classifieds: We’ve solicited for classified ads before – just never GOT too many of ’em. During 1998, we’ll attempt to get a few more of ’em… mebbe’ realize that “dream” of a more “magazine-like” I.N. this year. Rates are as follows:

Text classifieds are:

15 words for $3.00
25 words for $5.00

Banner ads/graphics must come ready for insertion in MS WORD. Those are:

1/4 page $10.00 (1 issue)
1/4 page $25.00 (3 issues)
1/2 page $18.00 (1 issue)
1/2 page $35.00 (3 issues)

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