Improvijazzation Nation, issue # 36

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There’s really a surge of activity right now in the D.I.Y. underground scene… chalk it up to Y2 K-os fever, or better internet connection speeds – uno’s?  All that matters to me here at I.N. is that it’s resulted in many new opportunities to collaborate!  I’ve just finished 2 new CD’s with San Francisco based poet Ernesto Diaz-Infante, & another (more instrumental) with Ken Fletcher!  To find out about how YOU can get copies of these CD’s (& 10 or 11 others I’ve recently put up), point your WWW browser to

In preparation for the pandemonium we expect to happen in December 1999, we’re putting together a COMPILATION CD… the (tantative) title is “Y2 K-os”, tho’ that could change by the time I actually get ’round to burning the CD.  Each act selected for this compilation will get one copy of the CD free.  Those who submit but are not selected can get the CD at greatly reduced prices.  Even if YOU are not submitting, please pass the word on to as many folks as you know who might be interested in submitting!  We WANT this to be a reflection of the artist’s community on the coming millenium!

Illumination – THE ASCENT OF MAN:  This CD, in from Richard Gonzalez (down sun&funland way, in Florida) is a stunning musical experience, from “Free”, the opening cut to the last bar of the title cut!  Th’ generation Im from held Carlos Santana in high esteem in the early years, sometimes for th’ wrong reasons… the rebellion, the “new” rhythms, even the drugs that he seemed to be attracted to.  Watching (& more importantly, LISTENING) to his journeys over the years to musical (and spiritual) maturity & enlightenment has been an experience of pure JOY!  Gonzalez sensed that flame (according to his bio) when he got a copy of Santana’s “Love Devotion and Surrender”.  Richard’s healthy spirit and huge talent shines through like a shimmering beacon on “The Ascent Of Man”.  This is especially true (I felt) of his guitarwork… but it doesn’t end there.  This appears to be an ENTIRELY self-produced CD – all original (except that poetry on “Thy Golden Flute” and “Rise”) Lyrics, vox, guitars & bass are exclusively his turf (though he’s joined on a few cuts by Kurt Moeding (piano) and Walter Bonilla (drums and congas).  Super clean recording and a sense of timing & rhythm that will get your soul MOVING!  Only criticism I have is that the jewel-case insert could be a little better laid out… needs more information on the artists, too!  That’s SURELY not worth passing up Richard’s wonderful music, though… the (whole) world has been waiting for (& is surely in need of) the healing energy that music like this imparts.  Truly inspiring, it gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating!  Just LOVED this recording, & hope to hear any & all future recordings he releases!  For information on Richard Gonzalez and Illumination, contact via email (direct) to   Rotcod Zzaj

Alexi – THE MYSTERY:  This little CD is in from Creative Service company.  New-age, with a twist of zealotry thrown in.  This artist uses keyboards/synths to shape a vision that isn’t all  that unpleasant – but, it’s too typical.  Even those hooked on New Age will admit that unless there’s a thorough undercurrent of energy mixed in with th’ pretty strains of music, it doesn’t “do” it for them.  Well, despite some really beautiful synth patches (“New Birth”, cut six, was a great example of the GOOD), this one came across as lacking the vibrancy that HAS to be there in New Age music to sustain it as anything more than the “same old thing”.  Sorry, Alexi, this one can’t be recommended, except for those who will listen to New Age at any cost.  Nice jewel-insert artwork, though.  Contact at POB 399, Dana Point, CA 92629-9998, or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Godboy – SILENT TREATMENT FROM A TALKING HORSE:  4-man band from Boston, punk-o-zoid to th’ MAX!  They’ve got a really unique & attractive blend between th’ electric & acoustic guitars!  Ya’ gotta’ enJOY in-yer-face rawkin’ git-arz & a blend o’ genuine attitude to have fun with this music.  You might not think that this kind of group would have much to offer in th’ way of composition – you-d be wrong!  Nice arrangements, some real talent in th’ vocal arena, actually.  2, 3 & even 4 part harmonies, though th’ lyrics could use a touch of that same sophistication… i.e., “Yer’ Butt Makes Me Puke”.  Seems to be a real flavor of an ol’ movie in th’ musical spirit (I’m thinkin’ “Easy Rider” th’ whole way through).  Depite th’ (often) flippant style, “Godboy” has some real musical talent (they’d prob’ly get REALLY pissed off if they heard ya’ sa so, though).  biggest criticism izzat they only had 8 cuts on th’ CD.  Woulda’ been nice to have (at least) 12 on there!  Certainly worth a RECOMMENDED!  Contact at 110 Central St., #2, Somerville, MA 02143, via email to or on their WWW page at   Rotcod Zzaj

Weasel-MX – KINGPIN:  Lil’ mix CD in from these Weasels down Texas way.  Cool finger-poppin’ funk that’ll make ya’ get up & TRASH th’ dance flo’!  Needs a little work on th’ jewel-case insert layout (though this was an advance copy, so this may not be th’ final artowrk, I s’pose).  Titles onna’ back would lead one ta’ believe there was NO diff inna’ trax!  Actually, that’s not TRUE!  So SLAP some different titles on there… I mean “Kinpin” as th’ title o’ each trak jus’ don’t GET it!  Th’ MUSIC?  Some KEWL (& very danceable) stuph here!  Impressions of th’ different cutz’ range alla’ way from “Sly & Th’ Stone” to “Elvin Bishop”.  This would have ME dancin’, & for any of our readers who LIKE to dance, this gets a RECOMMENDED!  Only crit is that th’ bass mix was just a TAD high on some of th’ mixes!  We’ll be lOOkin’ for Weasel-MX’s nex fullblown release to come trekkin’ in here right shortly, eh?  Contact at 2312 A Marshall, Lubbock, TX 79415, or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

One Eyed Jack – BEFORE ALONE:  This is a SCORCHER!  Good ole’ down-home RAWKIN… takes ME back a coupla’ decades… but still sounds FRESH!  Distinct shades of early Allman brothers stuff (particularly Gregg Allman).  I really THOUGHT we’d reviewed something by this group in the last coupla’ years, but I couldn’t find em in our archives… reason that was important to me is I didn’t remember ’em bein’ quite so vibrant!  This is some REALLY great rawk-&-roll!  “Year of the Locust” is a standout, high-energy piece that I especially liked… “Draw The Line” is another KICKER!  If you like to ROCK – GET this!  Comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by this reviewer.  In fact, it gets the PICK of 1999’s first issue as “best rock music”!  If you like antique style & music with energy that will NOT quit – GO FOR IT!  Contact at 66 Brookside Ave., Lodi, NJ 07644, via email to or on their WWW site at   The CD is also available from CD Baby, at Rotcod Zzaj

Deep Blue Black – DEMO:  Craig Johnston sent this demo CD in.  6 electronic trax that come across as sorta’ ’90’s disco, not necessarily a good thang.  Some nice sampling, unique sounds on many trax, “salt” being one that felt less influenced by that “disco” monstah!  In th’ overall, I think there’s room for growth, but th’ demo has enuff variety & live to give it a RECOMMENDED, especially for those who are willing to seek out th’ gems (by sifting thu th’ dirt).  I didn’t much care fo th’ first trak, “alloy”, due to that pervasive drum-machine, disco drone, but “salt” & “low sodium” had a lot goin’ for ’em!  If you enjoy exploratory techno, you’ll find this interesting. Contact at 121 1/2 N. Glassell, #9, Orange, CA 92866, via email to or on their site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Billy Taylor – TEN FINGERS/ONE VOICE:  Well, we knew we could count on B&K Communications to bring 1999 in with some truly GREAT jazz!  Taylor’s piano is joyful & lighthearted all th’ way thru this CD.  Strictly solo piano, & that’s a feat for any player to pull off.  Keeping eleven trax from sounding all th’ same is difficult to do, even for th’ best of ’em!  It is, of course, his SPIRIT that makes each of these pieces so distinctive.  Only a master could express such happiness through his hands, & Billy is that!  You can HEAR his smile, as he wraps you in magical sounds.  Simple, yet WONDERFUL!  Get th’ year started off right… GET THIS!  It comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Contact at 411A Highland, Suite 353, Somerville, MA 02144, or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Mark Sherman – SPIRAL STAIRCASE:  Sure SOUNDS like “studio” jazz!  These self-produced CD’s were mailed personally by Mark.  He shows us HOW th’ vibes (& piano) are supposed to sound!  On this particular go-round, he’s joined by a whole host of musicians, far too long a list to print here.  It’s clear throughout th’ listening experience that this is a player/pproducer in love with music and the playing of it!  Most of the pieces are quite mellow, no real high steppers, but th’ ENERGY shines through clearly!  This is th’ kinda’ jazz you might hear on one o’ thse “cool jazz” stations – but it’s rescued by th’ devotion (all) the players seem to have to keeping their energies focused totally on producing something with character & a full-body sound.  Tim Hagart’sy sax exemplifies this, but all members are tight, & are able to sorta’ read each other!  For non-improvised jazz, this is a KEEPER… gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer!  Contact at 531 West 235th St., New York, NY 10463, via email to  or on the web at  Rotcod Zzaj

Pseudonym – PIG TAIL WORLD:  One amazing musician.  One thoroughly musical CD!  We reviewed an album (must have been over a coupla’ years back) called “Pabz”.  Well, that was th’ same artist – one Paul Desjarlais.  Don’t be expectin’ wild-arsed improv or death-metal-thrash.  This is clear-cut & (Most) expressive rock&roll, with a tinge of folk-ballad.  Though he sounds nothing like him, I’m reminded of th’ first time I listened to Bruce Cockburn… completely dedicated to making music that speaks from th’ heart & demonstrates SKILL!  It’s really refreshing to hear such an accomplished blend of lyrical style and musical talent, especially when it’s all done by th’ same player!  For those who enjoy listening to music that will reach out & TOUCH you with it’s sense of th’ creative spirit, this comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!   Sweet, sweet!  GET it!  Contact at POB 782, Brookline, MA 02446 or via email to    Rotcod Zzaj

Bliss – CHASING THE MAD RABBIT:  D.I.Y. from New Jersey… unique concept, eh?  Well, this IZ home-produced & it RAWKZ!  All instruments by Michael Trapp.  Some nice (?live?) drums, synths, power-rock guitar… list goes on & on!  He’s joined by Matt Wells on vocals that reach out & WRECK ya’… high-end, high-energy, even an occasion or two where it soundz’ like those “voices from Hell” we all dread ’round 3:30 in th’ mawnin’, after a hard night’s day!  Scale of 1-10, comes out (in th’ rock category) as about an 8 1/2 – normally, which would mean a RECOMMENDED rating, but this is VERY well-produced (far above average for a home-produced r&r effort), so I’m giving it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  We also wanna’ encourage you gents to send ALL yer’ future releases our way – as SOON as yer’ got ’em pressed!  I believe you’ll hear MUCH more of BLISS, whether yer’ reach nirvana or not!  A really GOOD rawker ta’ start ’99 off with!  Contact at 2000 Linwood Ave., # 21N, Fort Lee, NJ 07024 or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Chris Daniels & The Kings – LOUIE LOUIE:  A CD in from Creative Services Company that will exite jumpin’ blooz & swing fans th’ world over!  A really FUNK-ee sound that will charm you from th’ first lick!  Liner notes say it was made in honor of th’ “3 Louies”, as in Armstrong, Jordan & Prima.  Daniels & crew have put together a timeless musical adventure, ‘specially for those who groove on music with real ENERGY!  What struck me most is that they blend th’ best elements of blues & swing (some really BIG horns in there) into a really “class act”.  Sounds like somethin’ you’d be payin’ big bucks’ for (while ya’ ate rbs & cobbed corn that got all OVER yer’ white shirt – anybody out there who can dig THAT?).  This album provides a really relaxing pace, but with energy that will make yer’ HEART sing!  Another unique feature is th’ CD jacket – somebody put in a LOT of effort to make ya’ feel like yer’ back inna’ ’40’s!  Kewl!  Gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FROM US!  Contact at 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918, via email to or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Kathy Fleischmann – TEN DOORS DOWN:  I haven’t heard (folk) music as gentle/pleasant as this in a long time!  Kathy sent this CD in direct, based on an ad I have (somewhere) on th’ netz!  Supreme sense as a writer & one of those haunting voices that can shift shape as required.  There’s no doubt that Fleischmann writes & sings dreams, both tasty & scare ones.  Too many influences creep in to th’ style to enumerate…  I mean, Mitchell, Raitt & Baez, just to name a few.  Don’t get me wrong, in th’ folk/blooz arena, Kathy has her own unique style, & she’s able to reach out & make you HEAR that she’s there – & vibrant – & alive!  I know (from bein’ one) that an indie musician has an uphill climb, no matter HOW great their music is… artists like Kathy are (part of) th’ reason why that’s changin’, ‘coz “th’ volkz” are realizing that they WANT variety.  If yer’ like rawk-tinged folk music (with some GUTS), you’ll agree when I rate it HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  ‘s a KEEPER in th’ Zzaj libraries!  Contact at 563 Suffolk Ave., Massapequa, N.Y., 11758, or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Day & Taxi – ABOUT:  Ev’rry time I get new music in from Cristoph Gallio (th’ soprano & alto saxophonit & sorta’ “leader” of Day & Taxi), it’s cause for excitement & celebration!  Trio format on this CD go-round, featuring Christoph’s supreme blowin’ against Dominique Girod on double-bass & Dieter Ulrich on drums.  If ever there were musical menage-a-trois – this is IT – it’s a marriage made in improvisor heaven!  Christoph’s playing this year sounds much more mature somehow… phrases are clear throughout, longer sustained sermons, if you will.  I missed him on his 1998 tour (due to th’ trialz/tibz of that ol’ “day-job”, somethin’ we’re all plagued with), but you can BET I’ll be at th’ new one in 2000!  This CD is only a sign of better things to come from Christoph.  Not only gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating – it’s also the PICK of this issue for “best improv saxophone”!  SOLID improvisation with real BODY!  Contact at Percaso Productions, Haldenstrasse 131, CH – 8055, Zurich, via email to  or via the web at   Rotcod Zzaj

Jonas Hellborg – ARAM OF THE TWO RIVERS… LIVE IN SYRIA:  Another amazing musical adventure in from B&K Communications.  Hellbor’s bass is restless, but totally spellbinding.. it may be that restless energy that makes it so enchanting, I don’t know.  What comes through CLEARLY, though, is Jonas’ love of playing.  For those with an ear for his work in groups like the Mahavishnu Orchestra, the sounds on this CD will come as a (most pleasant) surprise.  As the title indicates, it was recorded (live) in Syria – a truly interesting and innovative blend of jazz bass with Middle Eastern rhythms and forms!  This is one of those albums that do NOT get loaned out – even to yer’ MOTHER!  I mean, people with any taste at all will covet this album, & you’ll never get it BACK!  Not only gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – it’s also the PICK of this issue for “most innovative jazz”.  This one is HOT – GET IT, at 411A Highland Suite 353, Somerville, MA 02144 or contact via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Micky Saunders/Dan Susnara:  3 Song E.P. – Hadn’t heard (much) from Dan until this packet of tapes arrived.  He’s been BIZ-ee!  This tape, in particulate, captures a flavor of ’60’s innocence & rock-freshness not often evident in today’s compz – from anyone I’ve heard in the last year.  As per usua, Dan makes th’ beat & th’ vox blend with skill that equals any studio mix you’ve heard lately!  Doesn’t (ever) let his musical skill(s) get in th’ way of conveying just how much FUN music can (& should) be, either.  GREAT cover art on th’ j-sheets, just an A-number-one tape!  Only crit (& Dan’s heard this from  ME – more’n once) is I want MO’, mon’.  Put out a FULL LENGTH C-60 next time, eh?  If yer’ like high-energy music with a rawk-flavor & some crisp vocals, this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  contact at Mumble Mumble Music, 7806 S. Kilpatrick, Chicago, IL 60652, or Micky Saunders, POB 4339, West Covina, CA 91791   Rotcod Zzaj

Miles Galen Dozier Alkins – 6 1/2:  …months, that is!  The first side of this tape (in from my old musical compadre, John Alkins, proud papa of Miles) is th’ youngest Alkins on John’s keyboard.  I’ve repeatedly asked Miles’ daddy if he “influenced” the playing at all… for with this level of acuity (on a 6 1/2 month ld’s part), one couldn’t help but wonder.  Knowing how fond John is of children being able to (musically) experiment, I trust his statements that Miles did this totally on his own!  YOU will be AMAZED!  There are many players who submit material (of an ambient nature) here who don’t have this level of “feel” for what they play.  Miles reaches into the ether (or, perhaps into past memories) and draws out (near) symphonic quality adventures that will totally enchant you.  It’s unfortunate that Miles wasn’t inclined towards a little longer concert, but even with the brevity, this comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  One thing I can promise you… when he’s 6 1/2 YEARS old, he’ll be PRODUCING music!  The second side of the tapes features another group of kids John works with, his “Children’s Musical Therapy Group”.  The expressiveness these kids demonstrate will make clear to you in a matter of only a few bars how imperative it is that we get (some of) the politicians to sit down & do this (at least once a week)!  Much fun, totally free and without (any) hangups!  Though I enjoyed it, I still found Miles’ keyboard arrangements to have a bit more depth and awareness!  Contact at 4906B Sunset Dr., NW, Olympia, WA 98502   Rotcod Zzaj

Dan Susnara – FUN W/STEREO, FUN W/MULTITRACK, BY 1/2 A KITCHEN:  Here’s another TOTALLY zany sonic effort from our longtime home-taping pal Dan!  You will NOT play this one for teacher – not unless you desire to be IMMEDIATELY expunged from th’ human (or Martian) race!  While this has no place in the lexicon of “great musical works”, it surely is F-U-N!  Nearly to the point of insane… you’ll need a sense of humor & a true sense of “breaking the rules” before you sit down & put th’ headphones on for this 60 minit “hex”-cursion!  Gets a RECOMMENDED  from us.  Contact at Mumble Mumble Music, 7806 S. Kilpatrick, Chicago, IL 60652   Rotcod Zzaj

Jaws Of The Flying Carpet – HARD BOILED EARS:  Thee prime purveyors of “Ugly Music” have outdonw ’emselves on THIS go-round.  I mean, it really DUZ’ require some earz with rindz’ on ’em to wade yer’ way thru th’ rawk-in horns, bass, drums & such.  This is sort of a “compilation”, rather than a specific show.  We’ve reviewed (over the past few issues) quite a few of their show tapes, but this one sounds an awful lot like studio jam sessions!  MOre horn than usual, not nearly as strong a guitar presence (though there still are plenty o’ strumz).  Excitement (about the playing, as well as the recording) will be a natural for those not afraid to “go along for th’ ride”.  Those who must latch on to something (i.e., form) won’t agree when I declare this tape HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – but then, this ‘zine isn’t written for latchers!  GET THIS if you enjoy chaos!  Contact at 6397 Glen Knolls Dr., Orleans, OT K1C 2W9 Canada   Rotcod Zzaj

Frank Messina & Spoken Motion – BITING THE TONGUE:  What a nice surprise… ‘specially for those who enjoy spoken-word/poetry together with music!  Messina has been reviewed (at least) a couple of times previously in these pages… most of those were tape releases… this one’s a CD, with SUPER high-quality recording.  Fourteen pieces that will reach right into yer’ heart & GRAB you!  Our long-time home-tapin’ friend Wes Jensen (of D.B.A.R. records) has been th’ drummer for Spoken Motion for a couple of years now, & it’s a perfect fit!  Riffin’ jazz all th’ way through & some really NICE violin works by guest artist Billy Bang!  Messina’s poetry is concise, with just th’ right tones to make it sorta’ “sing”!  Only thing I did NOT (much) care for is th’ small-print on th’ lyric sheet… I mean it’s wonderful to include th’ lyrics, but consider us OL’ phartz’ wi’ no eyeballs left!  Those poets who have been published in this ‘zine will LOVE this… it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, from both th’ poetry & th’ musical perspectives!  (Frank also sent the following notes:  The CD can be purchased on line at  via our secured server for credit card orders or by sending a check for $15 per CD (includes shipping) to Spokeface Records, POB 20230, Columbus Circle Station, New York, NY 10023.  The CD will be available in all Borders Books & Music stores starting in April.  By the way, listen for NPR’s “Weekend Edition” which will feature the album later in February.  Contact at POB 20230 Columbus Circle Station, New York, NY 10023, or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

ZineWorld:  This lil’ pint-sized ‘zine reviewzine is chock full of great reviews, news about th’ press & “attitude” that jus’ WON’T quit!  I stumbled across it onna’ newsgroup somewhere (can’t remember which one), where someone named Agnes (one of their editors, I believe) was requesting music for review, which stirred me to promptly send off a coupla’ tapes (may turn out to be a mistake, as the Autumn 1998 issues had NARY a music review in it).  If they DO review musical efforts with th’ same effort & verve that’s in their ‘zine reviews, though, it’ll be splendid.  This ‘zine captures th’ heart&soul of what I think Gunderloy had that (most) other ‘zinesters (these days) just don’t GET – absolute FIRE for indie, a passion for discovery that won’t STOP!  Gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Contact at 537 Jones St., #2386, San Francisco, CA 94102, or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Davey Williams – WHICH COMES FIRST – THE FRIED CHICKEN OR THE FRIED EGG:  Now HERE is a first… I’ve seen Davey’s writings before, but they were primarily confined to “the Improvisor” ‘zine, especially in the earliest issues (of which I still have copies of every one)!  Since Williams is th’ king of imrov (& he truly is, molding & influencing it in a most pleasantly surreal fashion), it was always very intereting to read his unique perspectives on new ways of playing (?attacking?) instruments & finding sounds where others would never have suspected ’em.  Well, he’s been fiddlin’ in th’ kitchen (was Dino in there, too?) with th’ eggz.  You’ll find ’em fryin’ YO’ brain, as you see described all manner of strange (tho’ not implausible) situations for a fried egg to be in… my fave is “Fried egg pauses at the crossroads of life”… I don’t have to draw a word picture for you, I’m sure you can visualize th’ lil’ cartoon Davey has drawn in there to illustrate th’ thought!  This is a FUN little chapbook, well worth getting hold of Davey at 5312 5th Terrace South, Birmingham, AL 35212   Rotcod Zzaj

Dan Moretti – THAT’S RIGHT:  &, man, what an APPROPRIATE title… this music really IS right!  Right IN thee groove.. some way-kewl jazz!  This pre-release CD features Moretti’s soprano & tenor sax, along with his flute, which will put yer’ in th’ mood!  Doesn’t really matter what mood, either…. this is th’ kind of music that expands joy, soothes pain, makes you closer, lets you withdraw for a while.  It sorat’ falls into that murky zone of “smooth jazz”, but has much stronger character and body than most music you’ll hear in that genre.  Just tunz’ of funk & slinky beats that’ll have ya’ shakin’ that lil’ moneymaker, or sweet&slow that’ll make ya’ groove on some “cheek ta’ cheek”!  My favorite piece is cut 7 (Los Gatos Hills), where Dan reaches out to your aural appendages & makes you DREAM latino! In th’ overall, this is a shining example of musicianship that merits a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer!  If you like jazz that’s effervescent, & will give you a “head”, look no further!  GREAT album to start 1999 off with!  Contact at 1201 Music, POB 3322, Sea Bright,. NJ 07760, call 732-530-1400 or visit the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

William Watson – BURNHAM WOODS:  If you’re not inspired by William’s solo piano tapestries, you’d best visit your doctor – or your undertaker.  This isn’t garden-variety “see-saw” new age piano that will bring you to tears – of boredom – it is crystal-clear music that paints images of beauty not often heard as we approach the millenium.  Watson shows far more than just a familiarity with his instrument – this is true love, & will calm the most savage beast.  If you’re looking for sweet jazz or total abandon, look elsewhere; this is music you must let yourself become absorbed in!  I was particularly influenced by “Garden of Zen”; as you might imagine, it has a really oriental feel to it!  This is one of the most expressive solo piano experiences I’ve heard in a long time, & surely merits our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating.  Simply WONDERFUL music!  Contact at POB 410447, San Francisco, CA 94141, via email to or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj\

Finneus Gauge – ONE INCE OF THE FALL:  I’d imagine that’s a pretty accurate description of th’ state th’ world iz in when this ramble-bramble rawk-in flavor of Goth is widely aired!  This is one blend o’ “today” music that SMOKES, volkz!  They picked one helluva’ vox artiste in Laura Martin… she AUNTZ’… ya’ want spooky, ya’ GET spooky!  According to th’ liners’ they’ve been reviewed very favorably by many other reviewers – & I can see why!  This is no “average” (white or other color) band.  Itz’ th’ perfect way ta’ get into th’ 21″ – no phroggin’ bridge – you ride with them, you’ll be on TOP o’ th’ wave!  High energy, beautifully arranged & nearly orchesteral music that tells plenty of stories (not th’ nauseous, sickening kind we see on “As Th’ Woim Toinz”, either).  Mark yer’ calendars (& my words)… yer’ gonna’ hear a LOT more of this group in 2000!  Not only our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED… they get th’ PICK of this issue for “best rock odyssey”!  Contact at POB 2355, Jenkinstown, PA 19046, via email to or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Lee Johnson – TRAIL OF TEARS:  These compositions will either bring some of those tears to your eyes – or you’retotally devoid of emotion and feeling.  Johnson’s majestic works document the sad departure (i.e., expulsion) of the Cherokee from their native land(s).  As you might expect, there are flutes, but his compositional skills weave all elements of the orchestra into a tapestry that will (both) inspire and sadden you.  A word of caution – if you’re expecting “heartz&flowerz” type shallowness – go to another offering… the most inspirational sections are those which tug at the strings of the heart with raw & unfettered sadness.  Vocals intertwine carefully to amplify the pain, & it comes through clearly, along with the strength of spirit that has to be there for this kind of endurance.  I love this music, & it gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating – but do NOT anticipate this as being the background music for your next fundraiser.  It stands (& will continue to) far above such tawdriness.  My only criticism is that the liner note script was very small & hard to read.  Contact at 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918 or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

David Liebman –   THE ELEMENTS – WATER:  Billy Hart’s drums, Cecil McBee’s bass & Pat Metheny’s guitars join David’s soprano/tenor saxophones & wood flute to make for one of th’ most pleasant & relaxing jazz albums I’ve heard this year (or the last 10, for that matter).  Anyone who has heard Liebman will recognize his “voice” on those saxophones, but this particular combination renaders some of the most mature playing I’ve ever heard him do!  Music without stress… I don’t know about you, but when I listen to musicains who don’t “how where they’re at” yet (no matter how pleasant/pretty their music is), I feel that stress coming through, & it invades ME as well.  Guess that’s what I’m trying to say here… when th’ playing is as mature as this, even at uptempo, the listener can feel it, & relaxes into it.  This is one of the most wonderful pieces of music I’ve heard David Liebman do, & I’ve heard him do a LOT!  It’s an especially unique album, because it has a (nearly) 9 minute interview with David… I really liked this touch, getting to hear the musician explain their inspirations & ideas for the music just heard!  Gets (more than just) our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – this gets the PICK of the year for “best jazz”!  Contact at Arkadia Records, 34 East 23rd St., New York, NY 10010, or email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Jason Zappa, Asa Metric & JP Jenkins – MANDATE:  This lil’ demo tape was submitted for the 1999 Olympia Annual Experimental Music Festival.  Jason plays clarinet and piano, Asa is on drums & JP plays guitar & piano.  Highly charged improvisaiton, with a strong focus on the percussion (side 1) (it was from a live recording session at Reed College). The second side contains earlier works, which Jason said he didn’t care as much for… not sure why, ‘coz I though (in some ways) the interplay and dynamics were much more smoothly integrated on that side.  Either way, this trio should be considerd a MUST for appearing in the ’99 festival.  If you enjoy wide-spectrum improvisation, with clarinet that approaches the cosmic, you’ll want to hear THIS!  It gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED  from this reviewer!  Jason & crew are going in the studio again (shortly), so we’ll look FORWARD to getting those tapes (for review), too.  Just some dynamite free-form sections, heavily electronic, but with enough percussives & natural horn/piano to keep it from being too murky!  Contact at 4545 N. Albina, Portland, OR 97217 or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

J. Mundok – ARTICHOKE:  This CD is from a (relative) newbie (to us, anyway) on th’ indie scene – but he’s gonna’ be more’n just a “splash”!  Solid guitars & keyboards, many in a folk vein, that show strong compositional skills and a genuine love for the music!  I really enjoyed his vocals, in particulate on “The Bottom”, the opening trak!  An added attraction is that th’ toonz approach th’ psychedelic enchantment levels of yesteryear… this is especially true on cuts like “Red Walls”, a “Lucy In The Sky” piece if EVER I heard one!  Totally home-produced, this is a clear preview of what music will be like in th’ next centure (gourd, izzit only 10 months away?)!  Dyed-in-the-wool freeform addicts will shy away from this, but that’ll be THEIR loss.  J. also runs a ‘zine called “The Kettle Black”, & shows a unique understanding of how far D.I.Y. has been & how far it will go, not that th’ tech is more widely accessible.  I got issue # 3, & am really pleased to see others with a strong perception of what “do it yourself” really means there to pass the torch along to… he writes meaningful reviews & (I know) that’s because he IS a musician – but, I digress.  “Artichoke” is a very enjoyable musical experience, full of vibrant energy & teriffic talent.  Gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer!  Contact at (new address), POB 116, Barnesboro, PA 15714, or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Doug Michael & The Outer Darkness – OUTPOST:  Doug has been bitten by th’ same bug we have… he’s now making CD’s, right & left.  We have, of course, been enchanged with Doug’s compositional & playing skills for many years now!  “Outpost” is (certainly) no exception.  Title trak starts us off with an upbeat exploration that moves in several different (rawkin’) directions, even incorporating orchestral synthworks.  One of the most enjoyable parts (always) of Doug’s work is the contrasts between pace & rhythm.  He’s a master at this, & it’s (in great part) his guitar wizardry & sensitivity that makes it so.  We look forward to 1999 as a year when Doug will cut/release many new works.  This one gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, for “out” & “in” listeners alike.  Contact at POB 3166, Antioch, CA 94531-3166 or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Kingfisher – VESICA PISCIS:  This CD starts off in what might be classified as “new age” – but you (very soon) realize after the second cut that this “Kingfisher” (that’s all th’ name given) is part of a wave that will wash in the next century.  It could be a gentle ebb and flow, or it could be a tidal wave that will wash all vestiges of today as we know it away.  His vocals and lyrical skill will take your breath away… he’s THAT GOOD.  I haven’t been this impressed by a piece of music since my first listen to Charlie Peacock or James Vincent!  He mentions dreams as his inspiration for the music – as do many artists, in hopes of drawing you into theirs – but Kingfisher is one of those (rare) musicians who are ablt to TRANSLATE dreams into sonic paintings.  It doesn’t matter what genre you’re attracted to, you’ll find the soothing arrangements and (at times) haunting words have a message you want to hear.  This album covers all the turf, from wonderful ballads to inspiring orchestrals to high-energy rockers!  Beautiful inserts, with lyrics and lots of information about the players… this is a CD that has a total look & feel – & (Most importantly) SOUND!  Gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, without a moment’s hesitation.  Contact at 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918, via email to or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Pendulabellum – PENDULABELLUM:  If yer’ bag is improvised jazz, look no further.  This is one PHUNKY lil’ trio outta’ Boston.  Piano,k guitar & wind instruments blend together nicely in a very freeform (but civil) session that’ll treat yer’ ears very nicely.  I have no problem with music that goes out on th’ edge, in fact my mind frequently circulates in zones just on th’ verge anyway… but it’s really interesting to note that what 15 years abo might have sounded radical is today’s new straight jazz.  That’s right about where I’d place this, but since it’s so totally uninhibited & free, it’s not (in the least) a boring trip.  There are sections in there where I’m reminded of Pharoh Saunders, but then the piano darts off in another direction that makes me think Stan Getz.  This freshness (didn’t get THIS fresh in th’ back seat of th’ Merc’) of approach is what enchants me to this group… this CD is a KEEPER… gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer, especially for thowe who love improvised jazz & want something with a new direction.  Contact at 63 Avon St., #1, Somerville, MA 02143, via email to or on the web at   Rotcod Zzaj

the Tentacle – ‘ZINE:  This little ‘zine is an absolute MUST HAVE for musicians in the Puget Sound area… not to mention that it serves up a menu of the finest in underground jazz for the entire community of Seattle – & anyone who happens to be passing through.  It’s turned into a full-fledged ‘zine, about 20 or so pages long, regular magazine size.  Donations are gladly accepted… this is a resource WORTH donating to, & something the community (at large) really NEEDS.  One thing they’ve stuck to their guns (er, appendages) on is not becoming “just another reviewzine”.  In fact, though they’ll list new releases, they will NOT review them.  When I first saw that policy (little over a year ago), I was a bit disappointed… but now, I’m very glad they do NOT review.  They have a grand little WWW site up, just recently revamped… great amount of irrevernce for decorum, but pleasing to thee eyez.  Take a look at or send email to   This site/zine gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!   Rotcod Zzaj

Michael Whalen – THE SOFTEST TOUCH:  Michael got his start in “th’ biz” with compositions for ads, then moved on to scoring for films.  According to the liners, this is his first solo piano release – & how lucky you’ll feel to hear it!  I well remember how enchanted I was the first time I heard George Winston’s playing… this same amazement envelops me now as I listen to cut # 8, “While My Love Is Sleeping”.  Don’t get the wrong impression, though… this isn’t all just “plod along” new age, as Whalen’s dancin’ spirit comes wailin’ through on “Walking The Dog”… not only tasty, but downright PHUNKY.  Very original arrangements on all of these great cuts!  The title piece is an absolute beauty.  Though many will clasify this (i.e., LUMP it) in with all th’ rest of the “new age” genre, I choose it as PICK of this issue (& probably of the YEAR) for “most sensitive and expressive piano mastery”.  Michael plays the kind of music that will stick in your mind for years to come.  Gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, forthwith.  Contact on the web at or through Musik International, 154 Betasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302   Rotcod Zzaj

Derek Bell – MYSTIC HARP 2:  This CD presents some of the most beautiful and relaxing music you’ll ever hear.  Derek (now over 70), was the harpist for “The Chieftans” for many years, on some 30 albums.  Enogh with all th’ creditz’, though.  It’s the MUSIC you’ll care about – & if it’s not, what’re you doin’ reading THIS rag?  It’s apparent that Mr. Bell has lived a life full of musical enchantment and harmony.  Your ears will recognize the joy immediately, as did mine.  Derek is, on this outing, playing music composed by his lontime friend Donald Walters.  Though Celtic music is not a “style” I’ve played personally, it’s a music whose beauty and timelessness can not be denied, except by the most egregious of “blue meanies”.  If you’re looking for dissonance & clang-jang improv, you’ll have to move on elsewhere.  This is music for soothing the soul, & Derek Bell is able to do that over and again!  This gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, expecially for those listeners who need a little substance in their music.  If your ears haven’t had the pleasure before, by all means, GET THIS ONE.  Contact  through Musik International, 154 Betasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302   Rotcod Zzaj


Long-time ‘zinester & D.I.Y. supporter Byan Baker (you DO remember GAJOOB ‘zine, right?) has launched a very exciting and creative new venture where home-producers can actually SELL their CD’s, tapes, etc.  It’s all up on a brand-spankin’ new set o’ page(s), at

Tape & CD artists should consider sending their works to Michael J. Bowman for review.  He’s got a ‘zine called FREE AGENT up & running… just point yer’ browser to  He writes one HECKUVVA review!

If you’re lOOkin’ fer’ a European view of yer’ music/poetry, Lord Litter has an online site that will review your music.  It’s really nicely laid out, & e-z onna’ eyes.  Check it out (& submit some of YOUR material to him) at

Another great place to send your matieral for review is SPLENDID ‘ZINE, a WWW site with extensive reviews.  I’ve read through quite a few of their reviews, & they’re well-written, with a clear focus on the MUSIC, rather than (just) the glitz.  What I’m tryin’ to say, I guess, is this is a GREAT place to submit your material.  In fact, I HAVE!  Point yer’ browser to  This is a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED new site.


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Swirl of thought… endof a millenium… visits to tribal grounds all over the state of Washington over the last year & a half… new opportunities… that chain letter e-mail I got last week that said if I forwarded it (at least) 20 times to 20 different folks, I’d get everything I ever wanted….

The last 4 years (since ’95) have been a rush of activity… new job(s), new people, no mo’ AR-MEE!  Tryin’ to learn how these “dog-breath civilians” (to paraphrase an ol’ Marine D.I. friend o’ mine) make th’ wheel turn.  More music, more ideas, more conflict than I’ve ever had before.  My (Korean) wife goin’ thru th’ pain(s) of adapting into this “dog-eat-dog” culture (or lack of culture, as she would say).

It’s not always easy, because MY culture (which is also heavily at odds with my wife’s view of things) it th’ Zzaj GYPSY culture… you survive this life (& any others you may be blessed with by living in the NOW… by enjoying the talents you’ve been given, by loving those who help you & by letting those who don’t understand your existence go on their (own) path.  If there isn’t a niche, you CAREVE one, & any who don’t likt it can (either) look the other way, enjoy or be damned!  This attitude is (too) often viewed as being callous in this country where everyone is supposed to (just) GET ALONG.

Somehow, I don’t believe it’s always nice… easy… pleasant!  I’m quite sure that we will only survive 2000 & beyond if more folks come to the realization that the only way you get to be who you NEED to be (in other words, to pass the test of this particular passage) is to TELL others how you feel…. what you do NOT like… what you DO like… what you  DESIRE!

I’m not advocating a world in which we devour & hurt each other!  What I am saying is that the respect I have for others is directly proportional to their straightforwardness.  Anything less merits NO respect.  In fact, it very rapidly separates the world into camps of those who are alive (those who speak their piece) & those who are NOT (those who think they can please everyone).

Will American ever make it in the 21st?  Seriously doubtful… I’m afraid we’ll be (in the next 10 years) assimilated into other cultures who have more adventure & GYPSY in their blood.  & for a nation rapidly deteriorating into “Springer” clones – maybe that’s a GOOD thing!!!

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