Improvijazzation Nation, issue # 37
Yet another ugly incident related to teen violence! Certainly enough to make one wonder why the emphasis on music (& the arts in general) is so low in schools these days! That’s not to say that music would solve the world’s problems, because the world will always have problems!
The emphasis on violence (on the WWW as well as on the boob toob) is at an all-time high… where does it come from? This RAGE (against daddy, ‘gainst th’ preachers & the teachers) that boils below will never be calmed by sitcoms… it won’t be cured by preachers ranting on & on about how they have the answers… there is (in my mind, anyway) only one language that can soothe that beast – MUSIC! I know from personal experience that this is true, as there were times in my early years when guns, explosives & the tools of evil held an attraction for me, too! There were (more than) a few times when I came close to acting on those impulses to senselessly destroy whatever got in my way. It would’ve been fairly easy to “get away with”, too, since I was in the military at the time. It was music that turned the tide for me! Let’s focus on that beauty & lay down these bombs & munitions! Last thought… is the bombing in Serbia just a larger-scale version of Littleton?
Tom Teasley: GLOBAL STANDARD TIME – Wotta’ GREAT year this seems to be for music that KICKZ! Tom’s a percussionist who is totally in tune with the rhythms of th’ UNIVERSE! From the opening cover of Straight No Chaser to th’ last bar of Monk’s Well You Needn’t, this is an adventure for your ears. Heavily jazz-tinged, but with some strong blues roots shining through, Teasley is a player with a history… Catfish Hodge (one of MY favorites), Bonnie Raitt & (even) Muddy Waters! Vibes (by Tom) on Beautiful Love & Equinox (a Coltrane tune) display a sensitivity to the most intimate moments of the pieces not often displayed these days! I must admit, I’d not heard him before… but that won’t stop me from listening to any new material he puts out! Though the pieces emphasize percussive moments, there are plenty of other artists (far too many to itemize here) playing some wonderful jazz! It would be NICE to hear some of Tom’s originals on the next go-round! This one gets an instant HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us! Another one of those “keepers”! Contact at T&T Music, 2116 Whiteoaks Dr., Alexandria, VA 22306, via the WWW pages at http://www.tomteasley.com or through the promoter, Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org ) Rotcod Zzaj
Patrice Williamson: MY SHINING HOUR – Sounds like a pretty “vain” title… but it WORKS! The CD features Williamson’s wonderful jazz vocal work! She’s a natural that will bring joy to the soul of even the most conservative listener! I’m not usually a great fan of standards, preferring original works, but Patrice makes them come alive so well that it’s truly easy to envision oneself in th’ blue-smoke room with a Mint Julep or Whiskey Sour! Her rendition of “Blue Skies” was a particular favorite… her voice & the instruments melt together like butter on hotcakes! If you like high-energy jazz vox, you’ll fall in love with this album after only a coupla’ barz! It’s HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners of all ages & tastes! Contact at B&K Communications, 411A Highland Ave., Suite 353, Somerville, MA 02144, or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Medwyn Goodall – MEDICINE WOMAN II: An interesting new age CD. I’d not heard Mr. Goodall before (at least, not that I know of), but it’s clear that he’s in love with music! The problem with “new age” (to my ears) is that it can sound so familiar, ergo it can be interpreted as boring. I suspect that it’s not “new” at all, but a recanting of rhythms & emotions so ancient that many of us have forgotten the beauty & pain. When Goodall lets his guitar come to the fore, the music is greatly enhanced, but there are sections (compositionally) that will make the message escape any but the most serious listener! Don’t read me wrong… this is GREAT music! It’s just that there are stretches where I believe the average listener would relegate it to background. For those who eat, sleep & breathe natural music, this will be a treat. Others will agree with my rating it as RECOMMENDED only. While the depth & rhythm is evident, it (often) fails to communicate the passion. Contact at Musik International, 154 Betasso Road, Boulder, CO, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Blue Millennium – VINTAGE HI-FI: Wotta’ funk-ee change o’ pace THIS CD is! That kind o’ jazz/blooz that will have ya’ poppin’ way mo’ than jus’ yer’ fingers! I mean, you’ll jus’ HAVTA’ get up & DANCE to this! Reminds me a bit of Pacific Gas & Electric or Paul Butterfield, tho’ there’s much less horn & way MORE git-ar! Haven’t been to Austin in many MANY years, but if this is a sign of th’ energy & rawkin’ phunk that goes on down there nowadays – it’s time ta’ MOVE! Really nice vocals in a laid-back style that’ll have ya’ tryin’ to match ev’ry lick! There will be some who will lump “Blue” in with every other blues & jazz band for the last 20 years, but they’ve got enough instrumentation (it’s an 11 piece group) to forge a style that will make them be around well into (what’d you expect?) – the new MILLENNIUM! A definite keeper, it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer! Contact at 2729 Exposition, Box 182, Austin, TX 78703 or check ‘em out on th’ WWW at http://www.blue2k.com Rotcod Zzaj
Stuart Hoffman – SILENT LONGING: New Age in symphonic style on this CD… & a supreme set of works it is from Hoffman, a composer who clearly understands the dynamic of people as it relates to music. Even the hardest of hardcore freestyle listener will be able to enjoy the passion with which Stuart approaches any piece. I was particularly impressed with Waiting (an African vocal), which I’m sure is the reason it opened the CD. Hoffman plays keyboards throughout, weaving almost mystically in and out of the orchestral background with an ease that only skill (and spirit) make possible. Richard Hardy’s flute on track 5 (Open Up Your Heart) is simple beauty. The tempo stays a little mild for this listener throughout, but I suppose that’s to do with the environment Stuart was trying to create. Would be nice to hear some uptempo on the next go-round. All in all, a wonderful musical experience for everyone; gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us! Contact at Musik International, 154 Betasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302, or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Lisa Sokolov – LAZY AFTERNOON: This CD came in from No Problem Productions, who seem to feature an astounding lineup of high talent & energy. I haven’t listened to jazz vocals like this in quite a while (& I listen to a LOT of music). Freedom of spirit abounds & will pick you up from whatever pit yer’ in! Mike Richmond’s bass (in rhythm mode) seemed to provide a counterpoint to her high energy delivery that took me over th’ phroggin’ TOP, people! ANY singer who can take “This Little Piggy” & turn it into a red-hot & smokin’ scat can do anything they wanna’ do! Kewl beyond belief! The title track is my favorite, a sort of “slink” jazz that (somehow) takes me back to cavemen hunting mastadons (or something like that). If you don’t purchase ANY other music this year, if your forte is jazz, GET this one – it’s gonna’ be around for a LONG time to come! Gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Just GREAT energy & music to start ’99 off with! Contact at Contact at 260 Harrison Av, #407, Jersey City, NJ 07304, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Larry Kucharz – BLUE MOTION: Electronic genius Kucharz is back again, creating moods you never imagined could exist! We have reviewed several of Larry’s CD’s in the last year. The orchestral pieces seem (to me) to have more body than the earlier compositions; I don’t really know how that’s possible, as his earlier efforts were very dynamic, too! On this album, he’s also experimenting with varying rhythmic structures… provides some very interesting contrasts & reminds me somehow of some of the tapes I used to review/hear from Don Malone. Kucharz has an intimate familiarity with his compositions, knowing right where he’s headed at all times. Very enjoyable CD, especially if you yearn for some electronica with a (slight) twist! Upbeat, energetic & HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Contact at International Audiochrome, Inc., POB 1068, Rye, NY 10580 or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Pineal Ventana – MALPRACTICE: Jaded (near) goth from this Atlanta group. This particular CD was sent by Unit Circle Rekkids, which is the release label. We’ve reviewed some material from Ventana before, but I don’t remember it having such heavy drone influences before. If you’re into that whole scene, this would prob’ly be an anthem for you, but to me it’s anathema in the immediate! Are they (any) good at what they do? You BET! Truly soundz’ like Lucifer’s legions, & I’m sure th’ local branch of chicken-blood slurpers will have these guitarz’ BLASTING while the maidens are being slain. Evil is plentiful enough without encouraging it. Sorry, kiddies, I just can’t get IN to it, though I’m sure there will be plenty on ‘ludes who will! Thumbs DOWN! Contact directly at POB 55138, Atlanta, GA 30308-0138, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Morgan Guberman – TORPOR: We reviewed Morgan’s first solo CD for contrabass last year (Hamadrays Baboon), with great acclaim for those listeners who enjoy improvisation and compositions that take music a “step further”. Listeners who must envelop themselves in pattern and familiarity will have a hard time with this. The title cut is a hoot, repetitive ah, ah, ah, ah over Morgan’s strums. Cut 12, story, was a favorite for me, probably because it’s rhythm based. Listening to this is a pleasure for me, since Guberman has an excellent sense of simple construction. I’m sure there is a tendency for solo bass players to want to “fill” everything up, make it sound more complex than it is… Morgan seems to approach it from a much calmer standpoint, no need to camouflage the sparse with tons of notes. That’s much better for the creative listener, anyway, as those tones are still there for them to hear. Another FINE effort… hope to hear more from Morgan soon! Gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any/all into adventurous music(s)! Contact at 2424 E. 11th St., Oakland, CA 94601, or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
David Lahm – JAZZ TAKES ON JONI MITCHELL: My first impression was “No, another jazz cover thingie”. Lahm’s sensitivity for Joni’s musical ideas and movements soon made me lose my fears. As the title indicates, the CD is comprised totally of Mitchell tunes, in great part to show what a fantastic jazz composer she is. David plays keyboards, as well as arranging the pieces. He’s got a star cast with him – Randy Brecker, Thomas Chapin, & Lew Tabackin, just to name a few. Tabackin’s tenor on “Blue Motel Room” is joined by harmonica played by William Galison (outstanding) & is a GREAT jazz piece. One of my favorites (in this version, as well in the original by Joni) was “Coyote”… Chapin’s flute shines through the whole piece! I think the danger of playing other folks’ music(s) is often a certain loss of energy – but that’s not the case on this album at all. A strong tribute to Joni by a collection of musicians that understand her compositions. Your ears are in for a treat, & you’ll agree with me when I peg it as HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Joy for the years – contact at 34 East 23rd St., New York, NY 10010, via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the WWW site at http://www.arkadiarecords.com Rotcod Zzaj
Joanne Brackeen – PINK ELEPHANT MAGIC: One RAWKIN’ jazz lady on this CD in from Arkadia! As long as I’ve been listening to jazz (some 35 years or so now), I believe this is my first listen to her high-energy hands (though that might not be true, because she’s played with many folks I’ve listened to over the years – Getz, Blakey, even Pharoh Saunders)! Several originals, & that always ups the ante for my listening. John Patitucci’s bass is succinct & (at the same time) fully resonant on “Ghost Butter”, one of my favorite pieces on the CD. Another is “Cram ‘N Exam”… though I’m not sure what the title means, this is one KICKIN’ piece! Joanne’s keys are right there, leading the rest of the sextet to jazz oblivion! I can assure you (if you like solidly played jazz) that this will be one of your favorite albums for years to come. A definite keeper that gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – 3 times over! Contact at 34 East 23rd St., New York, NY 10010, via e-mail to email@example.com or visit the WWW site at http://www.arkadiarecords.com Rotcod Zzaj
Bob Florence Limited Edition – SERENDIPITY 18: Big band jazz to the MAXIMUM! Even if you don’t follow big-band music, Florence’s compositional skills (& his own piano chops, featured quite prominently throughout the album) will be impressive. An Uncle of mine first introduced me to Woody Herman for this style of music. While there are some parallels one could draw, Bob’s arrangements felt more fluid, less percussion-centric than some of that old stuff (from Herman). The horns on “Serendipity” are a big part of that, & I think perhaps it’s because he lets them solo way more than you would expect. Sectional stuff is still strong, but not as “in yer’ face” as other bands this large; a very pleasant listen! “Sugar” (second cut in) features Bob’s piano in a really uptempo fashion that will HAVE you tappin’ yer’ toes (if not rawkin’ on th’ floor) – as you might have gathered, this is my favorite cut! Th’ only problem with Bob is his picture makes him somehow come across lookin’ like Ronald Ray-gun… fortunately, you CAN’T tell a musician by his cover! It really IS what’s inside that counts! For anyone who wants to experience orchestral jazz with an edge, this comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Contact at B&K Communications, 411A Highland Ave., Suite 353, Somerville, MA 02144, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
FYHY – FYHY: Several dance traks on this mix CD in from “Sugarpush”. This is a far cry from the last coupla’ mix CD’s we’ve reviewed by them. Shoulda’ called it the “Bubblegum Trax”. Imagine ‘70’s disco revved up to ‘90’s speed, with th’ Doublemint Twins daring you to peek down th’ cupz’ of their bikinis (& what red-blooded ‘murrican boy wouldn’t?) There are 5 mixes of a toon called “Someone’s Satisfied”, all quite effective & danceable, but not all of the same sonic quality. Cuts 1 & 3 seemed to have a WAY boomy bass (I don’t really think it was the bass, I think it was the mix). The second mix was a little better on keeping the overload down, but didn’t emphasize the vocals as well as it should (I didn’t think). For th’ dancers (& the DJ’s) in our readership (are there really any?), I’d give this a RECOMMENDED, especially for tracks 2 & 4! Contact at 2312 A Marshall, Lubbock, TX 79415, or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Ye Ren (Gary Hassay/William Parker/Toshi Makihara) – ANOTHER SHINING PATH: 69 minutes of improv that will thrill those who can’t deal with form. Hassay’s sax will be the “frosting on the cake”. This material is deliberate, & (at times) a bit slow paced for blood that’s used to improv that screeches along at rocket pace (one notable exception to that rule is cut 7, Ante Up, which clips right along nicely). OTOH, if you’re in a reflective mood, & want something that will help you sort the wheat from the drivel, this is the right path for you. I’d advise the listener to settle in somewhere comfortable with a good set of headphones. Makihara’s percussion & drums are miked perfectly, as is Parker’s acoustic bass. The players have a real sense of “team”, to the listener’s benefit… no battles over who gets in front, very nicely blended & a great mix! Comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who want some skillfully played contemplative improvisation. Contact at Drimala Records, POB 69044, Hampton, VA 23669, via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Drimala WWW site, at http://www.drimala.com Rotcod Zzaj
B.H.S. – BLACK HERD OF SHEEP: Josh Carman sent this comp CD of high school bands in the Berkeley area. As you might imagine, it runs the whole gamut. Good & bad, there are some really NICE incorporations of stock rhythms more commonly interpreted as rap (good example of that is Fallin’). My fave group was The Moochies! Biggest problem I spotted on the CD is that the bass is mixed WAY too high on level, which kinda’ turned me off on some of the pieces (Fallin’ was in that category, unfortunately). Actually, I hope this CD really IS representative of th’ kinds of music that are comin’ down th’ pike in th’ 21st. Th’ picture that’s painted in NO way resembles a devil-worship disaster. Lots of GREAT energy & creativity, many different styles represented! All in all, this was an uplifting listen fer’ this ol’ phart, & them (other) grownupz’ who say itz’ th’ KIDZ’ phault that things’re all phucked haven’t been listening to THESE kids! Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who want to get a handle on what th’ youngers are playing! Contact at 1442A Walnut St., # 407, Berkeley, CA 94709, or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Living Daylights – 500 POUND CAT: Dare you to define the music on this CD! Sounds like jazz (which has more than a lil’ bit to do with that KICKIN’ tenor & alto work by Jessica Lurie), but can also transport you to gypsy campfires of Hungary (or wherever those folks REALLY came from). Heck, track 8 has me waitin’ fer’ Joni (Mitchell, that is) to jump in! Arne Livingston’s electric bass provides some truly solid phunk underpinnings, but is able to back off th’ finger-poppin’ appropriately when the toon calls for the bass to be in the background. Solid (REALLY solid) drums from Dale Fanning round the trio out with punctual & precise timekeeping! OK, so in the end run, it IS jazz, but the personable & stylish kind that will keep you on th’ hook for years to come! Gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer! Contact at 7016 15th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98115, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Lisa Manor – TIMELESS: A nice little stroll down smooth jazz lane on this CD in from Creative Services Company. Manor is a great singer, & she almost pulls off being able to get that “format” stuff to sound like great jazz. The guest list for the players (which will not be itemized here) has about 12 players, but the focus remains clearly on Lisa’s vocals, right where it should be. The great thing about the musicians is that there are some really strong horn elements… but the problem is that the music sounds like it came out of any ol’ po’ boy’s boom box! It’s a bit hard to separate the vocals out from the music, ergo Lisa loses marks… I’d just LOVE to hear her fronting a comfy little 4 (or 5) piece group, where the interplay was less “stock”! Those who don’t like challenge in their jazz will honor the title – it’ll be in their collection forever. More adventuresome listeners will agree with me when I say it’s only a RECOMMENDED! Not BAD, just not as great as it could be, mostly ‘coz of that smooth jazz syrupy format. Contact at the WWW site, http://www.loveandlaughtermusic/LisaManor or to 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918 (e-mail to email@example.com) Rotcod Zzaj
Freeform ’99 – SIGNS FROM THE PAST: One of the pleasures of a wanderer’s lifestyle is the discoveries made in places where one might least expect it. At a recent gathering of librarians in Washington State (Pasco, to be exact), I happened on a musical experience that was pure joy! As I ambled into the room, the director, Dave Cazier, told those assembled to “have fun, this isn’t a library” – which cracked them up & set the mood for a really fun early morning session that brightened the rest of the day! “Freeform” had 13 singers & a jazz trio to back them up. It was pretty clear that a heckuvva’ lot of the energy for this effort came from Cazier & his unique arrangements of jazz standards that ran the gamut from ballad to kickin’ scat! Pieces from Ellington, Freddie Hubbard, even Rodgers & Hammerstein, arranged for the most part by Dave, spilled easily & vibrantly from the singers’ lips. As I sit here listening to the CD provided for review, I do wish the Hubbard’s “Red Clay” (which was in the live gig) had been included, but then – they included “Afro Blue”, another favorite of mine, with a fantastic bouncing slowscat by Lance Heuter. Studio production was excellent, capturing the full range of the vocals… not an easy task with a large group like this. If you want to feel the joy of creative & vibrant energy that can be achieved in jazz vocal ensembles, this CD comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! In fact, it gets the PICK of this issue for “best large jazz group”. In the way of recommendation, I’d encourage the school (or whoever takes care of such things) to get a WWW page up on these folks – TODAY; it would really be nice to be able to click them up! Contact at 2600 N. 20th Ave., Pasco, WA 99301-3379, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Emam & Friends – SACRED INSANITY: If nothing else, the title would have steered me to this CD in from Eternal Music! An even dozen musicians are listed on the sleeve, but the highlight are clearly Emam’s energetic percussion and (for me, anyway) Manose’s bamboo flute. That’s not to make light of any of the other players, it’s just that the flute pieces really caught my ear (& my soul, if you will). If you had to attach a label, I guess you’d find this CD in the “World Music” bin – but such a broad range of style is encompassed (& flawlessly executed) that upon listening, you’d be hard-placed to pigeonhole it! Guest player Jillian Speer’s vocals are both haunting & beautiful on “Om Navah Shivay”, a Speer original. I enjoyed the last cut, “Dance Of The Hermit” the best… it’s the longest on the CD, clocking in at 14:48; a percussive meditation that weaves it’s magic slowly, but with the full force of Emam’s compositional skill (not to mention that magikal flute again)! This is a first listen for us, but that doesn’t stop us from giving this a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating for anyone who wants to hear with the inner eye! Contact at POB 2483, San Rafael, CA 94912, or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Steven Cragg – EnTrance: This CD focuses on ambient & worldbeat dance trax! This is my first listen to Cragg’s work – but it’s already got me lusting for MORE! Liners refer to Steven living in caves for months at a time & living homeless… tho’ that’s hard to visualize, it makes perfect sense, as only someone who is with the people can gain this much insight into what makes them MOVE! We receive numerous ambient albums in a year, many good, some great – but NONE with this degree of vibrancy! This is, hands down, the best we’ve heard in (many) years! Instruments too numerous to itemize, but his main axe is th’ didgeridoo! There are a few guest vocals (especially on the African-oriented rhythms), but other than that, he plays all the instruments! I’m not a big fan of dance-music, because too often it seems caught up in self-worship – but this turned my head around! EXCELLENT music that will make you agree that this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – gets the PICK of this issue for “best beat music”. Contact at Musik International, 154 Betasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Amy Denio – GREATEST HITS: With any other artist, an album with that title might make you think (somethin’ like) tired or ancient! Anyone who has followed Amy’s music, however, will know that there’s never a piece of music she does that’s lacking in creative energy! This CD release (from Unit Circle Rekkids) should have (perhaps) been titled BEST HITS! I first started listening to (& reviewing) her music in the mid-‘80’s… did an interview for this ‘zine in ’95 (or so)… & have enjoyed her music in the Olympia Experimental Music Festival every year since it started in ’95 (she’s a headliner in the ’99 festival, too – check THAT out at http://www.olywa.net/rotcod/4sub.html “GREATEST HITS” has selections from many of the groups she’s been with (TONE DOGS, PALE NUDES, BILLY TIPTON MEMORIAL SAXOPHONE QUARTET, CURLEW) as well as a few previously unreleased pieces. As always, her vocals are supreme and artfully woven into the fabric of the bright and challenging multi-instrumental music that she plays (guitar, accordion & saxophone, just to name a few)! If you’ve not heard Amy before, this is the perfect album to start with… & if you have, this will be another adventure to share with the ICON of “independent music” (in this reviewers mind, anyway)! Gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & the PICK of 1999 for “best artist”! If you never buy another “hits” CD – GET THIS! You won’t be disappointed! Contact at (either) Unit Circle Rekkids, POB 20352, Seattle, WA 98102, e-mail email@example.com or WWW at http://www.unitcircle.com – or Spoot Music, POB 85154, Seattle, WA 98145, via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Bob Dahl – THE COLOR OF DREAMS: Bob’s solo piano will carry you quickly into the promised land of dreams. You will find hues both reflective and filled with the energy of life as it should be lived! I was introduced to him during a benefit concert my friend John Alkins was giving – & am very pleased to have made his acquaintance. These all original compositions (13, to be exact) are played in the brilliant light that (only) a spirit at peace with itself can achieve. That’s true even in the minor-key pieces, where you might think that the approach would be more somber… which is a good thing, I believe – because the color of hope shines through. I agree with Bob – the title cut is my favorite piece, really mellow and expressive – though track 6, “Waves”, comes in a close second! Technically, Dahl’s playing is very solid, with more emphasis on the right hand (& some upper registers) than my own playing, for instance. That’s by no means a comparison with my playing, though, as Bob’s skills far exceed mine! I would love to hear him in a live setting, but until that opportunity presents itself, “The Color Of Dreams” will do wonderfully! Anyone who loves music that conveys the hope we all so desperately seek in these times will enjoy this CD! It gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer (our highest rating, by the way). Contact at Westwind Creative Group International, 3430 Pacific Ave., SE, Ste. A-6, #305, Olympia, WA 98501, or visit the WWW pages at http://www.wwcreative.com Rotcod Zzaj
James Stonecipher – SEASCAPES: This CD features compositions that were produced with the idea of selling them as musical backdrops for videos and films. As the Internet allows artists to more freely exchange sounds and weave them into other multimedia productions, this kind of music will proliferate! This particular one didn’t have the track list on it, but the title will kind of give it away, we’ll assume. Stonecipher is more than proficient at creating the mood(s) – he turns it into an artform! Each cut is relatively short (longest ones clock in at around 4 minutes), but provide a thoroughly imaginative and visionary ride through the waves. I found myself thinking about movies like “The Deep” and (for some strange reason) “Aliens”. Without credits, it’s difficult to tell all the instruments that were used here, but it’s clear that synths are there… guitar, I’d imagine, since that’s what I’ve heard him play in (live) sessions. Even if you aren’t a production company looking to score your next blockbuster, you’ll find this music vibrant, heartening and full of life! I can see it being used (not only) for films/videos, but for therapists as well! Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, even for “home use”! Contact through us, at 5308 65th Ave SE., Lacey, WA 98513, or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
James Stonecipher – VOLUME ONE: As previously noted, James’ is making CD’s that feature self-composed music that can be used for scoring films and videos. This first volume highlights pieces with heavy guitars and lots of swirling instruments! Each track title also carries a description that informs the potential licensor of what kind of film, video or commercial it was produced for. His descriptions are cute in & of themselves – a track titled “Our First Buick” is for “Casual/Sale” – & you’ll have no problem imagining your first ride in that gargantuan ’56 Buick! Total of 27 tracks that integrate all facets (guitars, synthesizer, drum machines & all) very smoothly & with high energy! Track 7, “Zebra Hump” (described as being for a SAFARI film or video) is one of my favorite tracks – precise & very well-recorded! I also really liked “Stranger To Defeat”, track 13 (is there some numerological significance there?) J I am really impressed with this work – must have taken months (even years?) to put it all together! Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer! You can enjoy it at home, too – contact through us, at 5308 65th Ave SE., Lacey, WA 98513, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Shamus – MOVEMENT: Very bluesy, horn/guitar oriented CD that takes me back to the early ‘70’s… imagine some kind o’ cross between “Tower of Power” & “PG&E”, & you’ll have an idea of what this sounds like. Some sections seemed to have the horns a little too high in the mix, somehow making it feel like it had less “body”… maybe fix that on the next CD, eh? Strangely enough, there are also (some) shades of good ol’ PHUNK’n jazz in there, too. My favorite cut was track 8, “Individuality Song”, rockin’/poppin’ little number with lots of energy & movement. Those into “straight” jazz probably won’t enjoy this, but if you like strong horn sections with very competently played bluez/jazz (with an empahsis on FUN), you’ll agree with me when I declare it RECOMMENDED listening! Contact at 65 Upland Rd., Suite 1, Colorado Springs, CO 80906, via e-mail to email@example.com or on their WWW pages at http://nwws.com/Shamustheband Rotcod Zzaj
& now, reviews of 1999 Olympia EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC FESTIVAL submissions:
Ffej: ATTACK & DECAY: Here’s a synth CD in from a player in Seattle who wants to play in the 1999 Experimental Music Festival. Strong synthwork mixed nicely with clearly enunciated spoken-word compositions that remind me one helluva’ lot of my friend Bret Hart (who’s been abandoned to “life as an English teacher” in th’ wilds of North Carolina – but… that’s another story). One of the reasons for that is that there are quite a few “near-rock” pieces on there. There are also (some) sections that bring to mind the styles I’ve played in before – & that’s about as strong a recommendation as you can GET, volkz (just joshin’). In fact, Ffej gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED candidate status from me for a Saturday night slot, if there’s one still open! I would also recommend this VERY HIGHLY for any listener who wants to hear what 2525 is going to sound like! Contact at 1514 16th Ave., Seattle, WA 98122, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Intonarumori – BETA: Some VERY strong electronic works with disturbing & shadowy undertones. Kevin Goldsmith sent this CD in as their submission for the 1999 Experimental Music Festival. They’ve played here before, & would be a perfect addition to the lineup for (let’s say) Friday night! This is not “just noise”, or “heavy industrial”! There is a haunting feel to the compositions, but without treading so far into the depths of nether that it becomes uninteresting or “drony”. I especially appreciated the surging washes & vocal overlays on “Layer Parallelism”, but found a certain comfort in the universal spectrums evident on “Sonarchy Improv # 1″, too! This act is a MUST HAVE for festival # 5, & gets an IMMEDIATE INVITE nomination from us! Contact at The Unit Circle, POB 20352, Seattle, WA, 98102, or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
T-Wub – T-WUB: This little tape is in from a group just recently relocated to Seattle. First listen for me, it’s another submission for the 1999 Experimental Music Festival. Very improvised jazz, but it is jazz! I really like their style, in the sense that they play standards like you’ve never heard them played. Sounds like a pretty basic 4-piece when it starts off, but funkz it’s way quickly into some very nice perversions of the standards… drums, bass, guitar & keyboards. This would make a GREAT listen in a live setting! Really tight sounds, good recording, well worth the listen. I’m giving them a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for the 1999 festival! Contact at 1204 S. Angeline St., Seattle, WA 98108 Rotcod Zzaj
Lesli Dalaba/Greg Gilmore/Fred Chalenor – RADIO CHONGCHING: I’ve heard Lesli play before (a few times now), most notably with my old friend LaDonna Smith (a couple of years back in Seattle). This grouping with Greg & Fred makes for a very interesting set of something that I think could only be termed “space jazz”. VERY experimental non-forms, movements that will carry you into territories both exciting and amazing. There is a really full body to their sound, from both an electronic and acoustic soundpoint. It’s some of the most stimulating and energetic work I’ve heard in some time. If you’re just looking for something with a bit of challenge – GET THIS! If you’re lining up acts for the festival – CALL THEM TONIGHT! This gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED candidate status from Zzaj – in fact, I really WANT them here, Jim! GREAT stuff for a Friday slot! Contact at 816 N. 43rd St., Apt 6, Seattle, WA 98103, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
The Ukulele Trance Project – U KENFEEL IT: This could (without doubt) be considered experimental, at least in the sense that there aren’t too many Ukulele bands willing to step up & be counted! The CD was submitted for the 1999 Experimental Music Festival, & provides some unique music that you (probably) won’t hear too often on the radio. Strong vocals that seem to have a hard enough edge to come off as sorta’ punk, but there are contrasting vocal shots full of solid harmonics that might make you think you were at a bluegrass fest! This is not a bad effect. I enjoyed the music & think they deserve a RECOMMENDED candidate status! Contact at c/o Casey, POB 20051, Seattle, WA 98102, or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
The Bran Flakes – HEY WON’T SOMEBODY COME AND PLAY: This CD is NEAT, especially from an experimental music submission standpoint! There is nothing “normal” about it, it’s an experiment from opening to closing bar! The Bran Flakes are Otis F. Odder & Sir Mildred Pit. Lots of radio and sample integration, voiceovers with decidedly historical (musical) overtones. I particularly liked “Sunglasses, A Gun, and Distance”, and “Brain Flakes”, as they seemed to incorporate more of the rhythmic elements. These folks HAVE the concept of experimental down, with a fine sense of humor woven in! They get a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED candidate status from this reviewer. Contact at POB 21104, Seattle, WA 98111, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Lynette Westendorf (and Animal Dreams) – SURROUNDED BY GREEN – Lynette sent this EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC FESTIVAL submission in personally, with a nice little note indicating that “we” won’t regret it if we choose this group for the 1999 festival. I second, third & fourth that motion – with VIGOR! 7 musicians join Lynette’s piano (& arrangements, I believe) in a really experimental vein. Though (as she states), the CD would probably be “filed under jazz”, the shadings & movements take the listener in many different directions. I believe (very strongly) that we need to keep some balance in genres, & (based on the acts already selected) think that inviting Lynette & crew is one of the best things we could do for this year’s festival! They get an IMMEDIATE INVITATION candidate recommendation from this reviewer! Contact at 6521 28th Ave., N.E., Seattle, WA 98115, or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Christopher DeLaurenti/Alex Keller – EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC FESTIVAL submission: Christopher played last year’s festival. This year’s submission explores much deeper spatial territory… heavily electronic sonic sculptures that will drive the “pure music” fan into an immediate flurry of disconnectedness & (perhaps) nasty nausea! The CD has a lot of “open space” in it that will leave some listeners (even the jaded ones like me) looking for a little more action, but I know that in a live show format, this would be excellent! In fact, the spaces help to create the effect the artists are looking for, & in a playspace like the MIDNIGHT SUN, render the audience speechless. Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED CANDIDATE status from me! Contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Rik Wright, Tannar Brewer, Simon Grant – J3 (JACKHAMMER TRIO): Another CD submitted for the 1999 OLYMPIA EXPERIMENTAL FESTIVAL. Strongly rooted in funk, lots of nice walkin’ bass, cool jazzy guitar (without th’ “fluff”) & drums that just won’t quit. This material would provide some nice contrasts to other acts we’ve had at previous festivals & get my recommendation (for what it’s worth) for, let’s say, a Saturday performance! They have a very interesting style that I want to call “textural experimental”, because even though they lay claim to funk, the bass is of thee gentle variety, rather than straight slap all the time! & that’s a GOOD thing, because it leaves plenty of freespace for the lead guitar & drummer to move in th’ directions th’ muse leads them! Wah-wah work is a solid piece of nostalgia for me, but others may not be quite as attracted to it as I was. From a “rating” standpoint (for readers interested in purchase), this gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Check them out at their website (http://www.simongrant.com/jht ), or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Dennis Rea/Ed Petry/Michael Monhart – OUTLAND: This tape submission for the 1999 festival was an outing in the “out”land, just as the group name implies. For those who want uncharted interstellar turf, this is the direction to journey in. On this particular tape, Michael’s sax & Dennis/Ed’s guitars twine together in a marriage you will NOT hear on “regular” radio! A great challenge to listen to/through, even for the hardened veteran! The ballad sections (i.e., slower pieces) will take you to other solar systems, & (if you’re not careful) won’t bring you back! Unfortunately, they won’t be in the festival this year, as the deadline got imposed more suddenly than usual (because the slots started filling up WAY fast after some of the press we got). OUTLAND should be STRONGLY considered for the Y2K festival, without doubt! They get a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me! Contact at 4627 1st NE., Seattle, WA 98105, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Jeph Jerman/Angelina Baldoz/Mike Marlin – Plutopolis: Some wonderful and very free-spirited improvisation on this festival submission for 1999. The thing that was most impressive (I thought) about this set (which was from a live performance) is the relaxed interplay between the performers. Many of you who play understand that in the heat of an improvisation, there’s often a tendency for a certain level of competition to interfere with the spontaneity. Not so here – at ALL! While there’s little chance you’ll confuse this with smooth jazz, it takes a great deal of comfort between the performers to play in this unrushed zone. Another unique feature is Mike’s banjo! Very nice integration, something I wouldn’t have really expected with Baldoz trumpet in the mix. Jeph Jerman furnishes some GREAT percussion. They won’t be in the 1999 festival, as the decisions had already been made (without my necessarily knowing it) – but they get a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for year 2000 -–in fact, they should be considered for FIRST BILLING! Listeners looking for enJOYment in their improv listening experience will find this SUPERB! Reminds me (in some ways) of sessions I used to listen to (way back) with Transmuseq (Davey & LaDonna). Contact at 3237 41st Ave SW., Seattle, WA 98116, or via 3-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Mark Mauer/Paul Mauer/Patrick Mehan/Jean-Paul Mayden – GREEN THIEF: Paul called about this submission. Turns out it’s pretty straight-up rock-oriented stuff, with a few twists & turns that make it feel somehow “looser” than other punk-ish thangs we’ve gotten submitted for previous festivals. Low-end demo tape, but even with the lo-fi, there’s still a pretty good representation of their stylings. Don’t really think it’d fly that well at the EXPERIMENTAL FESTIVAL – but, we WOULD like to get their first CD release for review… some real potential here for other types of listening! Contact at 3916 18th Ave NE., Olympia, WA 98506, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Andrew Forrest/Sarah Allen/Jack Sayers/Jay Stapleton – CHAINED DOWN CHEESE: A spoken-word improv group that’s (basically) from Seattle on this tape submission for the ’99 EXPERIMENTAL FESTIVAL. This is some KEWL stuph! Forrest’s vox take a lil’ while to kick in… which is not a crit, ‘coz I know (from having done it many times in performance & studio) that it often takes a coupla’ minits ta’ get “in thee zone”, if you will! Not L-O-N-G, tho’… way more’n just a jamgroup, this is legit spoken-word & (certainly) legit improvisation! I found it VERY interesting. Unfortunately, by th’ time th’ tape arrived, th’ fest organizers already had the lineup picked, but CDC should DEFINITELY be considered for next year. It’s evident from th’ tape that these folks have been playin’ together for some time… they don’t get in each other’s way. Only 3 pieces on th’ tape, though… hope this group will consider sending US their next release for review in IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION – they fit RIGHT in with th’ theme of improvising in a jazz way, & get a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me for th’ festival in Y2K. Contact at 3415 26th Ave, NE., Portland, OR 97212, or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Wesley Davis/Casey Jones/Jim Deal – ENTROPIC ADVANCE: Ambient/experimental trio from Seattle. This tape was a submission for the ’99 FESTIVAL. By the time I’d gotten it (around the 20th of May, I believe) all acts had already been chosen. This act should be given strong consideration for the year 2000 festival, though! Some very cultured and sensitive integrations of standard instruments (like guitar & drums), but with a lot of multi-faceted synth & sample work that comes off as somewhere between space & time. Most impressive is the fact that their ambient work is tightly integrated with a clear & focussed musical energy that keeps this music ALIVE & pumpin’. A shame they couldn’t have been in the ’99 festival, but they’re MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for next year! This isn’t “slap-dash” improv, it sounds almost composed, but it IS improvised, if you know what I mean! Makes for some GREAT listening! Hope they send their CD (to be released in June) in to US for review, too! Contact at 10002 Aurora Ave N., #5561, Seattle, WA 98133-9334. Didn’t see an e-mail listed! Rotcod Zzaj
Brendan Dougherty/Jameison Ledonio/Aaron Meicht/Seth Meicht – THE MEICHT GROUP: All the way from Philly… this CD was a submission for the 1999 EXPERIMENTAL festival. Seth’s reeds are in the forefront on cut 1, but the pace changes on several of the other pieces, with some excellent guitar/trumpet work. The slower cuts are probably closer to experimental, & even then, it comes off as sounding more in a “straight jazz” vein. Track 5, “Discovery of Death” has some WONDERFUL interchanges between the Meicht brothers’ horns… it’s pretty clear (from the perspective of these ears, anyway) that Aaron & Seth have been playing together for quite some time! They would be excellent to have at the festival, but since the lineup was filled early-on, they should be considered for next years’ festival… come HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by this reviewer! Highly energetic improvised jazz with strong voices! Very enjoyable CD for those with aural appendages that can “taste” excitement. Contact at 1220 Spruce St., Apt 3M, Philadelphia, PA 19107, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
This year’s festival organizing got started a little later than ’98… for that reason, several of the submissions we received were after the “deadline”. What was really going on is that the lineup wasn’t chosen (nearly as much) from the submissions (though many of them were) as it was in 1998. This situation may have led to some misunderstandings & disappointments. If so, I apologize. Beyond my control, but I feel a definite sense of responsibility for the way it occurred!
I will work together with the festivals organizers (for the Y2K festival) to make sure they’re going to consider the submissions – OR, we won’t put out a CALL for them! Not a cool situation, any way you look at it.
We DO hope you’ll continue to send us your materials for “regular” review, though! EVERY item you send to us WILL be reviewed!
Anyway, please DO come down & join in the festivities… bring yer’ axe along (or somethin’ to “percuss” on) & join in th’ improv hat draw, see the shows &
R-A-W-K, eh? Be lookin’ FORWARD to seeing & meeting you all!
Zzaj Productions is now PRODUCING CD’s! This doesn’t just have to be for musical artists, either! If you have old tapes that you treasure & you REALLY want to get them turned into digital format – COME TO US! We have VERY competitive pricing, & guarantee our work! For more information, point your browser to http://www.olywa.net/rotcod/prodz.htm We’ve also joined up with Bryan Baker’s HOMEMADE MUSIC site (http://www.homemademusic.com ) to offer home tapers a way to get their material on CD at VERY low expense, with no “upfront” costs (other than reproduction from the original masters, of course).
We’ve started to get (some) submissions for the Zzaj Productions CD compilation called (tentatively) “Y2 K-os”. I hope you’ll encourage others to submit material for this to us… or, if YOU haven’t submitted your piece(s) yet – GET IT ON IN here, ok? This will be a HIGHLY competitive comp, so submit only your BEST material. Five minutes or less, on tape or CD (can’t do DAT’s). Even if you’re not accepted for the CD, you’ll be able to get the release CD at a greatly reduced price. Pieces should have BOTH spoken-word AND music! Deadline is 1 September 1999… the CD will be mastered, pressed and released during the month of December 1999. Snail all submissions to Zzaj Productions, 5308 65th Ave SE., Lacey, WA 98513!
Bryan Baker’s HOMEMADE MUSIC site is growing by leaps & bounds! In fact, Zzaj even has a shop up there now! With new methods for distribution (in league with Zzaj Productions), artists can offer CD’s for sale with VERY low costs, & no massive “upfront” costs! Check it all out at http://www.homemademusic.com or e-mail me at email@example.com The other thing that is important you want to think about – this is being run BY D.I.Y. artists (Bryan & me) FOR D.I.Y. artists! It’s NOT just a “promo hype” scheme. We ARE keeping (above all) that good old “D.I.Y. ethic” as the prime focus – one-off production, no heavy investment & worry-free distribution! DO IT!
Seems (to me, anyway) we’re caught up in violent times again! Clinton bombing hell outta’ countries we have no biz-nezz interfering with… boys taking out their adolescent frustrations on classmates (used to be masturbation was the standard, didn’t it?)… a climate of hatred running over the planet – El DIABLO (as opposed to El Nino/Nina, of course)?
As strong an opponent of censorship as I am, I’m beginning to wonder if some kind of “adult news hour” isn’t called for. The 6:00 news hour would only carry stories that had NO violence in them. Take the 30 second sound bites away from the 16 year olds lookin’ to
make a name for themselves & there would be a lot less inclination for them to “get their 15 minutes”, I’d think. I believe that violent behavior perpetuates itself… that every news story regurgitating (or manufacturing) facts about the psyche of the “kid next door” is a potential spark for some other kid with poor self-image to catch & fan his own flames with. It’s almost like the 6:00 news has become a showcase for the disturbed mentalities, instead of pointing out how disgusting they are. Objectivity becomes an excuse for “beating the issues” to death.
I surely don’t know what the “cure” is for all the rage around us. I do believe, though, that adults banding together to say “no more”, would do a lot to help end it. Speaking honestly to children doesn’t “damage” them… speaking “DOWN” to them does, but that’s not what I’m advocating here. If you see them talking with friends (casually) about violent acts – TELL them what you THINK! They may not like it, they may accuse you of “preaching” – but, in the longer term, they WILL respect you for having the courage to state your opinion(s). As much as I feuded with my old man (& I still DO), I knew RIGHT where he stood.
The DANGER is that if we DON’T communicate openly/honestly (with our children & with each other), the “guvv-i-mint” may feel it necessary to legislate things – and that is TOTALLY unacceptable! DO something… EXAMINE what you believe (& what you don’t)… & then, TELL others around you. Not just the “easy stuff”, either. Issues like abortion, homosexuality, military insanity – they ALL require clear-cut & forceful opinion be expressed. What we show our children by indecisiveness & waffling is that we are COWARDS. Doesn’t take long for them to begin to HATE us (& themselves, for having been born into such a weak environment).