Improvijazzation Nation, issue # 41
Improvijazzation Nation – Issue # 41
Global Lo-Fi Underground – VOLUME 3: Our friends up Seattle way, Duckweed Records scored B-I-G with this one! This is the best example of how far D.I.Y. recording & distribution has come in the last 15 years a listener could ask for. All 20 tracks come across with “pro” recording levels, no hop/skip/jump crapola to get in the way of the excitement. & excitement IS the secret word of the day… the talent represented here clearly illustrates a high point in the evolution of HOMEMADE music. Some of the early D.I.Y. tapes we started out reviewing (way back in 1988) were pretty rough around the edges… nunna’ that here! Artists you’ll recognize (if you’re at all familiar with the “underground” scenery)… Ray Carmen, Lord Litter, even a cut from “The Imaginary Band” (who’n’l is THAT, eh? – check it OUT); there are also names you won’t have heard before, but that’s really the biggest joy of compilations like this – the new discoveries! I particularly enjoyed Bill Foreman’s “Invisible Man”, a really slinky, low-down & dirty bass-supported riff thang! This CD is GREAT & gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those with adventurous earz! It’s also the “pick” of this issue for “best compilation CD”. Contact at 2442 NW Market St., #354, Seattle, WA USA 98107, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org There are also liner notes & some samples at http://members.tripod.co.uk/duckweed Rotcod Zzaj
Chris Dahlgren – BEST INTENTIONS: If you like bass-centric jazz, this quartet will RAWK ya’! Chris plays double bass, a steady counterpoint to the saxophone works of Rob Brown & Peter Epstein. Another very interesting part of the quartet was the unique percussion of Satoshi Takeishi. I’m not entirely sure why his drumming was so intriguing, but I suspect it’s because it reminded me of some of the traditional Korean drumming I heard during my many years over there. The compositions are all original (Dahlgren) & have a strong “traditional”, or “roots jazz” kind of feel, but there’s no kludge or “smooth” jazz pabulum on any of the tunes. On the other digit, it’s a totally accessible, high energy & enjoyable listen through & through. Just th’ kind of jazz we used to yearn for in the dark caverns of Europe, creativity spawning juggernaut stuph… music that stimulates & makes for visions of how great diversity can be. This is (as far as I can remember) my first listen to Dahlgren’s music, but it gets an immediate HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Hope we’ll hear MORE soon! Just GREAT! Contact at B&K Communications, 411A Highland Ave., Suite 353, Somerville, MA 02144, or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
BusyDitch – ACID HOLE: You must BE in thee “acid zone” to hear all th’ intricate sonic implications on BusyDitch’s latest CD. John Hajeski (aka BusyDitch, of course) has been sending us synth-based music on tape & CD for some many years now… “ACID HOLE” is his best (& most dense) effort yet! I swear, I could hear little gremlins eating away at the innards of John’s synths – it would be totally frightening if you were on one of those “unguided” trips! I particularly enjoyed track 3, “Rock Scissors Paper”, which features some great percussion & bass work mixed in with those visions of hungry green hemorrhoid eaterz. There are a couple of more “standard” synth pieces on here, but in the overall, you’ll find this a challenging listen that leaves little to be desired for the true sonic explorer. Listeners who lean in the direction of “normal” (i.e., pattern) will either love or HATE th’ BusyDitch sound… but, I’ll tell you, this gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those in need of a “trip” that can be experienced over & over. & if ya’ really are on acid, you’ll FREEK!!! Get it at 11 Rose St., East Rutherford, NJ 07073. You can also contact John via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
The Puma-Sutras – THE PUMA SUTRAS: Ain’t life great? Music from across the waters (of the Atlantic in this instance). This EP came from a 3-piece slow-rawker that is somewhat guitar-centric… NICE bass underpinnings on the ballad intros remind me (in some ways) of early CSNY, in an odd sort o’ way. Track 1, “Somebody for Everyone”, is probably the most attractive from the standpoint of what you might have expected. There is a good mix for what I expect was a home-produced effort – & that’s a RECOMMENDATION, not a slam! It might have been nice to include a cut that kicked out th’ JAMZ a lil’ more, but they’ve got a nice lilting lyrical style that I’d recommend for a lazy afternoon. Only REAL drawback was that there should have been at least 6 more tracks on there. In retrospect, this was a very pleasant listen that gets a RECOMMENDED for those who want to hear new energy in a laid-back kinda’ ballad-rockin’ style. Contact at POB 132, Lancaster La1 5gw, or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Heads Up – SMOOTH AFRICA: Very recognizable names on this cool jazz (multimedia) CD released at the end of March (28th to be specific) 2000… Hugh Masakela’s trumpet is a standout, of course, & Joe McBride’s piano just KICKS! The title might throw you for a loop, as it (surely) makes it sound like it’s going to be in that icky “slow jazz” camp. It IS true that this is not jazz improv in the “freewheeling” sense, but the creativity flows like the rush of a giant river! There are some hidden vocals that are very hard to discern unless you’ve got th’ volume on HIGH position – so TURN THAT SUCKA’ UP! The multimedia presentation is a nice touch & comes with a little program that’ll run it on both MACS & PC’s. Very relaxing to review the band pictures & listen to the CD, too. Cut 4, “Mpule”, is a rawkin’ phunk-ee lil’ number that I fell in love with right away… title trak had me thinkin’ (for some reason) of way back – when Ramsey Lewis was at th’ top o’ th’ heap! “Tazara Express” is the cut that features Masakela’s horn, in combo with some heavy emphasis on African rhythm instruments. This is one of the most enjoyable jazz CD’s I’ve listened to in some time; gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who love jazz that stirs the soul! Contact through Debra J. Harner Media Relations, at 4220 Tosca Rd., Woodland Hills, CA 91364, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Discord Aggregate – THE ATTACK OF THE ABSOLUTE ZEROS: A highly creative CD that Pamela Zero made/released in 1997. Rock/jazz opera? Wack-city wierdness? Spontaneous spoken-word discombobulation? My impression is “all of the above”. Some would take that to mean that I’m “dissing” Ms. Zero… not at ALL – in fact, that’s a (very STRONG) recommendation! A nice quintet twists & turns betwixt riffs & randoms (with particular emphasis on the saxophones, tho’ they’re somewhat subdued in the mix) to provide a platform for tasty voicings from Pamela & (many) others. You really need to do this with headphones & the (full) text in front of you. Alternates between a “narrator” (S.B. Reda) & various spoken/sung vox. There are moments when the disconnects come crystal clear, others where it’s somewhat akin to amoebas on acid. Through & thru, however, is a pervasive sense of ENERGY unbounded! Very enJOYable, gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us for those who most enjoy an aural challenge! Contact at Pamela’s website, http://www.discord-aggregate.com or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Jean-Pierre Saccomani – THE FOUR SEASONS: A (sort of) techno CD in from Paris, France. Apparently, Jean-Pierre is friends with another artist, TALES (Jean-Luc H. Berthelot), who has been reviewed very favorably in these pages in the past couple of years. Jean-Pierre lists him in the credits. Slow, orchestral synthesizer pieces that can enchant, but have moments when there is too much lack of motion. I think that may have to do with the thematic nature, particularly as regards the length of the pieces; hard to hold a listeners attention for 16:45 (the longest cut), unless they’re stoned or comatose. OTOH, Saccomani is fully capable of wrapping you in his “envelope”, pulling you in. That was especially true on cut 2, “Summer”, which takes a while to build to the integration of other sounds… once he makes that transition, his talent begins to shine through clearly. I also liked “Autumn”, though “Summer” was my favorite. On the next outing, recommend a bit speedier seque to the changes, maybe some additional undercurrents, too. What is most apparent is that Jean-Pierre has a clear vision of the sounds he wants to paint for you & is most effective at using the synthesizer to help you see it. Gets a RECOMMENDED from us! The only contact info I saw was his e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Andy Narell – FIRE IN THE ENGINE ROOM: Here’s a beautiful CD in from steel pannist (& excellent pianist) Narell. It’s a multimedia CD, with nice clips from other albums, photos, biography & much more. Nice & easy jazz, but with high enough energy/creativity that it could never be called “standard”. Since it features Andy’s pans, most of the pieces have a decidedly latin flavor, but holds firm roots in jazz as well. My favorite cut, ballad intro that slides easily into a riff situation, is cut 6, “Tabanca”. Very relaxing, & the pans interact so cleanly with the piano & percussives that often you find yourself having to “listen” for them. I guess my enchantment with “homemade music” keeps me out of touch with artists who have been around in the (more) mainstream scene… Mr. Narell has 11 CD’s to his credit already. Though it’s my first listen to his music (in the sense of writing a review of it, anyway), I can tell you that if you love well composed & recorded jazz with leanings towards the latin, you’ll agree with me when I declare this MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. If you’re strictly into improvised, you may not agree, but those not so in to “out” will find this an immeidate “keeper”. Contact through Debra J. Harner Media Relations, at 4220 Tosca Rd., Woodland Hills, CA 91364, or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Ken Field – PICTURES OF MOTION: Ken’s performances at the Ucross Foundation (Wyoming, where our friend Ernesto Diaz-Infante has also recorded) with solo saxes, trios & quartets (along with several other instrument groupings) are captured here. The title is a very apt description of the music(s), too. All the way from sadslow ballads to near hip-hop jazz will have YOU in motion! Far too many artists join Mr. Field to itemize here, but one name you’ll recognize was Amy Denio, our long-time friend from up Seattle way. Her alto sax is (as ever) total enchantment for your ears, & when combined with the other star-level players featured here, it’s sheer RAW energy! Couple of very NICE percussion-based compz on here, too… track 6, “Pass Along”, was grand (but too short, only 2:02). For a nice contrast, try cut 5, “Tensleep”, featuring the creep-bass lines of John Styklunas (as an intro to a really SHAKIN’/MOVIN’ comp).. nice, nice! This gets the PICK of this issue for “BEST IMPROVISED JAZZ”, along (of course) with our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating! This one will spin for many years to come in thee Zzaj camp! Contact at sfz Recordings, POB 465, Middlebourough MA 02346, on their website at http://www.sfzrecordings.com or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Lauri des Marais/Erik Lindgren – STIMULI: If you can’t be stimulated by the improvised music on this CD (even if your roots are in the deepest bowels of conservatism), yer’ DEAD awready! Spoken word works mixed with an orchestral sounding techno sort of mix. When done with headphones, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget. Lindgren seems to have strong ties to classical music, & it shines through in his compositions… this is not “dime a dozen” amateur fluff, it’s REAL music. As with any work that touches on the “sub levels”, some of this requires concentration, so if you’re looking for background for your next coke par-tee, you’ll havta’ spin something else. Sections where this WOULD work for an “acid party”. It’s designed as a whole musical experience, to be listened to all the way from start to finish. There are a few “answering machine” loops which fit fairly well, but I’m not a fan of that stuff, so that lowers the mark a bit. In the overall, there’s no question that this will stimulate some part of your brain. For those listeners who rave over a bit o’ random, this gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Others, looking for music that goes with beer nuts & brew-skis, will decline. Contact at sfz Recordings, POB 465, Middlebourough MA 02346, on their website at http://www.sfzrecordings.com or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
AO – GROW WILD: It is infrequently that I come across (musical) energy this exciting! This CD (in from Creative Service Company) features a duo, Nahoo & JoJo. There are some reviewers/listeners who might lump this in with some broad category like “worldbeat”, or “new age”, I suppose. What an absolute disservice they would be doing to the public. This is, quite simply, some of the most astonishing & beautiful music I have heard in years! If you came across the package in store racks, you might miss it, as it’s a fairly nondescript insert. Once you open it, though, & begin reading their liners & history, you’d quickly realize that this IS the music of “light”, with the potential to illuminate (& energize) millions who are living the life of the lost. Each piece is superbly crafted from various cultures around the world to raise your awareness of the connectivity we all share (whether we’re prepared to deal with that or not). Lyrical mastery contributes, of course, but the composition is the key here, & AO have that down PAT, people! It’s not just an aimless swirl of rhythmic pabulum, either, this music ROCKS (no matter what the pace of the tune is). I’m impressed enough (& that takes something these days) to declare it the PICK of this issue for “best all around music”! No matter what your musical background/preference, I’m confident you’ll agree that this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Let yourself GO… get wild… natural… free! Contact at 4360 Emerald
Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918 (e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org ) Rotcod Zzaj
Green Hill Instrumental Classic – WORLDBEAT: This CD more closely resembles what you might “expect” from something with a title like that. Higher energy than Enya (thanks be), but still tied to the tribal fires that are memories in all of us (whether we admit to it or not). David Lyndon Huff, formerly of “Giant” fame (& other groups), arranged the pieces. It wasn’t really clear from the liners how much of the music he “played”, what was sampled, etc. That would have been nice to know. There is some beautiful flute work (once again, I’d like to know who is playing it), and some excellent percussion. Orchestral mixes are rich and full of varying textures, and the vocals/chants approach the haunting. This (probably) won’t win any top-end awards, but it’s energetic enough to be far more than “background”! Lush recording techniques and clear movements/changes (mixed with some crystal clear water sounds) stir the emotions and take you on a trip ’round the world that many still haven’t achieved. All for the price of one CD. Hardcore jazz improvised music fans won’t find this terribly attractive, but if you enjoy full bodied music with high creative spirit, you’ll agree when I declare it HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Contact at 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918 (e-mail to email@example.com ) Rotcod Zzaj
Annie Humphrey – THE HERON SMILED: The integration of Jovino-Santos Neto’s keyboards with many of the Makoche label’s new artists has (over the past year or 2) produced some of the most memorable music you’ll ever hear. Annie’s vocals just SHINE on this wonderful CD… husky tones express volumes of emotion that few other folk-oriented singers can these days! The other notable difference (for me, anyway) is that the orientation is clearly not what you might expect from an Ojibwe native singer. She’s been around the world & back to her homeland, & learned her lessons (as a light-keeper & light-giver) well. She wants to express what she’s absorbed in her OWN way (without conforming to the sterotypes you might think of, or others might want to lay on her)… & I’ll tell you, people, she DOES it! All original tracks (except one, “Falling Down & Falling Apart”) that can bring a tear to your ears on occasion. Her acoustic guitar playing is impeccable & ALL HERS, I’ll guarantee you! If you enjoy music that expresses the sadness and the joy that life can be at times, you’ll (like, TOTALLY) agree that this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Gourd, we hope Creative Services Company (and/or Makoche) will send us ANY new releases she puts out for review. This is a singer to KEEP YOUR EARS on! She’ll be around for a L-O-N-G time to come! Contact at 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918 (e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org ) You can also get more information at 208 N. 4th St., Bismarck, ND 58502, on the Makoche WWW site, http://www.makoche.com or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Hong Kong Dragon Club – TAKE OUT: As you might infer from the group name, this CD is from the Far East. Liners explain that the name was affixed to a group of players who got together in H.K. for jam sessions… tho’ I’m hard-pressed to believe that this was only jam stuph! Much too well recorded to be just off-the-cuff. Oriental jazz, without question – which provides for a kind of unique experience. The common phrasings of smooth jazz are there, but the rhythms & tempos change in different ways than your ears are ready for. Now, in my mind, that’s a GOOD thing… ‘coz if that wasn’t a part of the mix, this would likely come across as just another “smooth jazz” session. High talent & energy abound (far too many players to itemize here), & ancient traditions are clearly reflected… new ways of hearing the undercurrents, new emotions peek through the layers. David Packer’s piano on track 4, “Watering Flowers”, was a standout… clean execution, firm touch & a clear love of playing! The more I listen, the more I’m impressed – which may have something to do with the 15 years I spent in Korea, getting accustomed to the beauty that is inherent in (some) Oriental structures. In the overall, anyone who enjoys jazz with a “twist” will agree with my declaration that it’s HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Contact at 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918 (e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org ) Rotcod Zzaj
Tony Stoufer – ONE SWELL FOOP: One of the joys of doing this magazine over the last decade (or so) has been the discovery (through my contacts in the D.I.Y./HOMEMADE music scene) of talent others haven’t heard yet… so that I’m, like, in CONTACT before the “movement” arrives. Guys my age are often mired in biz-nezz muck to th’ level that they don’t even realize there ARE exciting new talents out there. Well, Tony Stoufer is one of THOSE, people! Title track is a KICKER, electronic swirling, beat-centric rawkin’ that’ll have you tappin’ yer’ fingers AND yer’ toesie-wosies! This is HEALTHY electronic music, draws immediate comparisons (for me) to my long-time musical partner Harlan Mark Vale. Tony has an intimate knowledge of various rhythmic structures, clearly expressed in nods to various genres, but these original toonz’ are ALL his. Though there are ballad sequences, his playing is HIGH ENERGY all the way through. Many of the tracks are danceable, as well, but equally suitable to just kick back & listen to. Didn’t spot a bit of drony stuff. If you enjoy music that comes from a soul at ease with itself, you’ll followup on my recommendation – this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Contact at Absolute Obscurity, 1616 Brandee Lane, Santa Rosa, CA 95403, on the WWW at http://www.yourmusicscene.com/tonystoufer or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zza
Mamelang – ZULU HEARTBEAT: This (all) African CD is some of the most JOYous music I’ve ever listened to – & that’s saying a LOT, because I listen to TONS of music from all over the world! The music & it’s intent easily transcend the fact that it’s totally in the Zulu language… there’s not a moment where it lapses into lethargy, or a bar where it’s banal. As with most albums from this region of the world, there is a stronger emphasis on group voicings & (of course) rhythms that will challenge most listeners from this country – which is a GOOD thing. Actually, when I think back to my childhood, I can remember some W.A.S.P. (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) attempts at harmonies this enchanting, but they were usually based so strongly on European forms (and resistance to the idea that “the natural” is a good thing) that they fail(ed) miserably. Conversely, if you’re yearning for chunka-chunka rap simplicity, you’ll have to move on down the road… complex vocal & rhythm arrangements that use the natural spirit of the singers to bring joy to LIFE! Many of the selections are singing about struggle & battle preparation, but you’d never know it from the light that SHINES through… a cultural difference, to be sure, but one that we (here) can certainly LEARN from. Anyway, enough of my philosophizing. This gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & the PICK of this issue for “best World Music”! Contact at Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org ) Rotcod Zzaj
Terry Oldfield – SPIRIT OF THE WORLD: Many will recognize the Oldfield name… Terry’s brother Mike created the by now famous “TUBULAR BELLS” (in fact, Terry played the panpipes on that one, something I didn’t know, or didn’t remember, anyway). This is his 6th CD for New World Music, & it’s a winner, without doubt. It is sort of like a mini-tour through six cultures of the world (anything to do with it being the 6th CD, I wonder?). Doesn’t matter, though… the music will absorb any listener with enough patience to enjoy true beauty. The mixture of high-tech synthesizers, pipes and ancient chants from all around the world is both unique and enchanting. The pace often evokes visions of journeys taken through sad territory and uncompromising terrain that could only have been completed by those charged up with the energy of relentless spirit. It is this spirit that clearly reminds us from whence we came, & keeps us moving forward, expertly conveyed by Oldfield’s arrangements and delivery throughout the album. To enjoy this album thoroughly, you must listen to it in the context of the whole album, or you will easily miss the strength that his vision passes on. Some listeners will find that difficult, being used to the tripe forced upon their ears by (most) conventional radio (& TV) stations… those willing to venture into the depths will come away with more of a sense of purpose, survival & SPIRIT than they ever had before. Comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by this listener! Contact at Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e-mail is email@example.com ) Rotcod Zzaj
James Rohr/Nate McBride/John Mclellan – THEY SENT THREE HENCHMEN: I reviewed another CD of James for “the Improvisor” a couple of months back. This one is almost the same players, except for John Mclellan on drums (Curt Newton played on the other one I reviewed, “Riot Trio”). This CD was a live set at Willow Jazz, every bit as frenetic, fast-paced & FUN! It’s a tightly integrated trio (their timing is impeccable – of course, it HAS to be to stay intelligible at this pace) that seems to focus around James’ distinctive (& somewhat zany) piano style. You will have to be a jazz fanatic (not just a casual listener) to enjoy this, as it zooms in fast & doesn’t stop the WHOLE way through. This set seemed to space the solos out a bit more, some NICE bass statements, solid but not overbearing at all. It’s difficult to tell if these are actual “compositions”, or primarily improvised, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the sheer and unbounded ENERGY that they project. Mclellan’s drums seemed to be a bit “crisper” (somehow) than the other CD, but that may have been the recording. Any way you look at it, folks, this is HIGH CALIBER jazz, with enough “roots” for anyone with a jazz ear to grab hold of & devour with gusto. It gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially if you’re listening for something a bit out of the ordinary. No “smooth crud jazz” to be found, & not a lame stretch anywhere! Contact via phone to 617-734-4908 or direct via e-mail to James, at firstname.lastname@example.org) Rotcod Zzaj
Ernesto Diaz-Infante – SOLUS: Now HERE is a change of pace for our friend from California. You’ve seen many CD’s by Ernesto reviewed in these pages over the last couple of years, some solo piano (which this is), some improvised guitar… just a wealth of playing styles! I’m so highly impressed by SOLUS, I suppose, because, while improvised, it features pieces that move at a much faster pace than his last 2 or 3 piano solo collections. Super clean execution (as we’ve grown to expect from him), and still somehow relaxed, but the mood is very playful and “out there”. As you might expect (particularly if you play improvised piano yourself), there’s more emphasis on bass that walks, with the upper registers sorta’ doin’ th’ speaking, if you will. I believe that this kind of playing requires even more focus than slower compositions… easy to make misteaks… but you won’t find any of THAT here… clearly professional, no slack or “bent” notes (to cover up errors). Rawk-ON, Ernesto! My own collabs with him over the last couple of years have been inclined more in this direction, & it’s GREAT to hear his interpretations in a sort of “mad scientist” solo piano vein! For those with true love of well-played piano & a sense of adventure, this comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Contact at Pax Recordings, POB 697, Pacific Grove, CA 93950 or e-mail to Ernesto at email@example.com Rotcod ZzaJ
Cyanosis – GALLOWSDANCE: Some interesting improvisations in from Roger Hayes (up around Portland, Oregon) on this CD. As so often happens, I fled the area before we got a chance to hook up. Too bad, because Roger’s guitar works on here would have made for some healthy improvisation jam/live sets, I’m sure. There are sections on here that remind me (strongly) of way-early works by Bret Hart, though Roger’s acoustic somehow takes on a more buzz-oriented approach. There also seems to be a sort of “irish” or “celtic” undercurrent on some of the pieces… that’s not a very apt description, but somehow I got an image of smoked-up pagans sitting under/in/around the columns of Stonehenge, albeit electronically. Strange twists & turns, nothing like you have heard lately… sparse percussion adds depth & breadth (sounds like a Chinese gong in there on cut 4, but it may be the synth/sampler). Roger has performed with some folks up in Seattle, too… surprised he didn’t make it up to the Olympia Experimental Music Festival (will there BE one this year?)… some of the music on this CD would have fit nicely. You must be an ACTIVE listener to enjoy this kind of experimental music – but if you ARE, you’ll agree when I declare it HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. We’ll be reviewing more of Roger’s works in the future. Contact at 788 Frankin, Astoria, OR 97103, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
Zola Moon – ALMOST CRAZY: It’s not often that we get a (female) blues singer that has th’ pizazz & ballsy style this lady demonstrates on this CD. TOTALLY original, in a small group format that jus’ RAWKS, people!!! Quite amazing to hear such energy fer’ ‘da blooz these days… I’m reminded of live sessions I used to watch down in Huntspatch, Alabummer, with LaDonna Smith beltin’ out that natural gut-wrench stuff! No doubt this kind of music comes STRAIGHT from th’ gut… it’s got to, or it comes off really weak. There are comparisons that could be made to Janis (in fact, th’ tearsheets in th’ promo packet are full of ’em), but I’d think th’ reason for such is ‘coz of Zola’s ability to B-E-L-T & S-L-A-M them toonz’ out. What makes her different is this seems to be a much less “complicated” style; now, she may be able to slug down J.D. (or whatever th’ trend is these days), but her singing makes it feel like she’s able to do it without havin’ to “go down” first – no mean feat! Her harp is kewl, but you won’t be thinkin’ Paul Butterfield… simple & straightforward, no glitz. The 4-piece works really well, GREAT bass (from Ron Battle) & a few KICKIN’ lead stretches from the electric guitar (Kim Allison) & drums (Jerry Olson). “The Well” (track 4) is my favorite track, with “I’m Mad” (last track, cut 11) runnin’ a close second! If ya’ love hot&heavy blues with GUTS, you’ll agree with me when I declare this to be MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Contact at 4553 West 171st St., Lawndale, CA 90260, visit the WWW site at http://www.zolamoon.com or e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Marcelle Gauvin – FACES OF LOVE: Pretty much trad-jazz from this inspired female vocalist. Michael Monagan’s tenor sax on the opening cut sets the tone for a club-like atmosphere that’ll make you think yer’ sippin’ Cuba Libre’s with th’ coolest of katz. John Harrison’s piano does much to help that mood, though in a more subtle framework. This is Marcelle’s first CD, & if you dig on high energy vox – you’ll fall in love with this immediately. There were times when the instruments felt like they were mixed a little high; not OBTRUSIVELY so, but some passages seemed to steal thunder from Gauvin’s vocals. She’s a stellar performer, clearly in possession of talent and a love of expressing herself through her voice. Many moods for you to sample on this even dozen set of tunes. She seems to be as comfortable in scat mode as on the ballads & moves the changes where she wants them to go. I suspect you’ll hear much more from this young lady in the years to come… we certainly hope she’ll honor us with review copies of her next CD! No doubt her vocals on that next one will take us even further back in memory, to a golden age (of jazz) when vocals really WERE cool! Unless yer’ just plain deadset against pleasant music that wraps you in the illusion of love, you’ll agree with me – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Contact at 20 Lockmere Rd., Cranston, RI 02910, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or at Whaling City Sound, 1178 Tucker Rd., North Dartmouth, MA 02747; also at their WWW site, http://www.whalingcitysound.com Rotcod Zzaj
Kevin Kendle – CLOUDS: As the name might make you expect, this is highly ambient music. Very healing & soothing. There are (probably) some who would “label” it & lump it in with all the rest of the “new age”… &, to be sure, if you just HAD to classify it, it would fit there. If you give it a deeper, more introspective, listening, you’ll realize it has stronger values, though. Mr. Kendle has produced 7 albums to date, this is his first on the New World Music label. In the pre-staged interview that accompanied the package, it’s clear that he was influenced by Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, most positively so. His synthesizer work is highly energized and will inspire all but the totally jaded listener. Even if you’ve never been inclined towards musical experiences that are in the “gentle” realm, you should try this on for size. It’s somehow (nearly) psychedelic, take you UP there with the angels! For the general listener, those who wouldn’t enjoy beauty unless you somehow forced them to (& then it wouldn’t BE beautiful), this won’t be exactly a smash hit – but it gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me! Contact at Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e-mail is email@example.com ) Rotcod Zzaj
Matt Borghi – FOR RUNNING TIME: Many record store bins would file this CD in their ambient section, & while they wouldn’t be far off the mark, this debut sonic outing from Matt contains some unique surprises and enjoyable moments. The lead-in piece (titled, what else… “Opening”) has a wonderfully simple guitar riding sweetly on top of some unobtrusive atmospherics – in fact, it’s one of my favorite cuts. I don’t know if Matt, a Detroit/Michigan native, is aware of it or not, but there are certain of his pieces where the sound(s) of “motor city” are exposed… Track 2, “Probably Somewhere” made me imagine long barges hauling iron ore to dump in the hoppers (?somewhere?) to build cars & other gigantic machines… that’s probably about as far from what Matt had in mind as you could imagine… but that’s allright – because his music PAINTS images you can feel comfortable interpreting after your own designs. Cut 4, “Autumnal Space” comes closest to the ambient realm, moving sorta’ like a slow rattlesnake through your mind’s eye. It’s also the longest track on the CD, clocking in nicely at 27:11. The tracks which I enjoyed most were those that used Matt’s gentle guitar touch… he has a unique ability to weave his guitar sounds in with his other sounds, where others would “intrude”. This is a very enjoyable listening adventure, not the “norm” for ambient… it gets our HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating. We’ll be looking for your next release, Matt! Contact at POB 181, New Hudson, MI 48165-0181, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Rotcod Zzaj
David Cortopassi – THE SILICON JUNGLE: A sonic trip through the (slightly) warped circuits burned into David’s wafers… California-based, his arrangements remind me STRONGLY of Thomas Dolby! No compromizez here, some way-kewl jazz-funk-rawk-based energy that keeps yer’ earz on their toez. If you freek when the changes aren’t familiar, you’ll have a terrible time with this – but I LOVED it! The title trak is my favorite excursion, tellin’ th’ tale of a jungle-boy/man wrapt in th’ horrors of th’ Silicon valley… ya’ know, how it pulls ‘im away from th’ natural thangs – & anybody snagged in th’ biz-nez of computers will be able to relate to this. Rhythmically, it’s quite simple, but his vocal weaves & sonic artistry are not often found on CD’s of this nature… a VALIANT musical journey that will be enjoyable to all but the (severely) musically challenged. The 5th trak in, “Casamba”, is one of the most pleasant instrumentals I’ve listened to this year… it feels (how shall I describe it)… cool – not ice-cube cool, more like iced-tea on a hot afternoon. Flawless recording & excellent chops make it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those with adventure in their blood/bones (& those who truly love INDIE music)! Contact (as quickly as you can) at POB 3953, Napa, CA 94558, preview a trak or 2 at http://www.mp3.com/digitalcellars or via e-mail to email@example.com Rotcod Zzaj
Intonarumori – INTONARUMORI: One thing that makes this ‘zine interesting (at least to this writer) is the wide variety of styles (of music) we are fortunate enough to receive for review. If one were to read back through the last 20 issues, it would be quickly evident that many of the groups (across the genre spectrum) “in the news” today were reviewed in these very pages when they were being birthed. Intonarumori is one such group, and this debut CD (previous submissions were on tape) clearly shows a love for (and of) music oriented towards what man will be doing in the 30th (or the 40th) century… traveling through space! Strange bass tones, insights from other planets (mostly auf Deutsch) & awe-inspiring orchestral backgrounds that will transport you to new highs. It’s not all instrumental majesty, either… vocal shadings woven in will make you feel like it’s a space (dirge) opera. If you’re thirsting after a unique musical experience with a variety of instruments assembled/arranged without making you feel like it’s some kinda’ improv “hodgepodge”, this is your BEST BET. Don’t mistake my intent… this isn’t, like, easy listening… it’s a challenge, but one you’ll be glad you took on. Very satisfying… gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating for those who crave the outer limits. Contact at Unit Circle Rekkids, POB 20352, Seattle, WA 98102, or at http://www.unitcircle.com Rotcod Zzaj
We WANT your announcements/links about great places for D.I.Y.’er’s… SEND us your links… e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more about INDEPENDENT WRITING, go HERE!
You’ll WANT to read the TONS of material at THE INDEPENDENT MIND!’
A review site we’ve found quite useful is RAGING SMOLDER MUSIC REVIEW!
NEVER better – GAJOOB is the reigning KING of info for indie artists – NONE better!
Unsigned Artists: http://www.pbsfm.org.au/indie/unsigned.html
PO Box 2141, St Kilda West, AUSTRALIA 3182
Of course, don’t forget to tell ALL your (musical & poetry-oriented) friends to submit their material to US at IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION! New snail is Zzaj Productions, 532 Yorkshire, # 66, Rochester Hills, MI 48307 – or contact via e-mail to email@example.com
Zzaj Productions also has CD’s by Jeffrey Morgan, expatriate Seattle-ite… check them out in our HOMEMADEMUSIC catalog.
You owe it to yourself to check out the wonderful offerings at DUCKWEED RECORDS... they just released some H-O-T CD’s, too!
Our collaborating friend Bret Hart has a FANTASTIC collection of CD’s available at his (newly formed) InstrumenTales Records! GO there!
Of course, YOU can find many of your OWN sites these days… use any popular search engines… our preferred engine is ALTA VISTA… put in a search like “independent music” – you might be TRULY surprised at what you find!
H-E-Y!!! Please REMEMBER that you can order fantastic Zzaj Productions CD's from our HOMEMADEMUSIC site, at: http://www.homemademusic.com/~zzaj We are in URGENT need of your support, too, as we were caught in a "lay-off" situation (that was a direct result of the WTC affair). Wouldn't hurt (I suppose) if you remind them that the C-mas season is getting near, & a ZP CD makes a very nice gift for friends who love adventure in their music(s)
Improvijazzation Nation – Issue # 41
‘Days full of rain’
Ornette Coleman, Townes and BMWs
with the Fort Worth Blues
a chaotic poetry across the lines
somewhere between Zen and sanity
here and now, come and gone
but somehow always around
like oil burnt into levi’s
that aren’t ripped for effect
tear the heart more than most
with grit in the saxophone
dust on the strings, smoke chords
gnarled hands of old bluesman
speaking louder than the sirens
shrill voices, nothing to say
to auto queues but buy, buy buy
the poet must, troubadour try
bring the painters soul
from a forgotten masterpiece
leaning in cobwebs silent now
in an attic painted in blobs
Jackson Pollack on Free Jazz
sound out of sync and in time
as any railroad I ever travelled
Ornette’s saxophone speaks
like an Illinois train whistle
from a Steve Goodman song
mixes coffee with diesel fuel
that cleans the nostrils
of a working man’s dread
but Massachuesetts knows all
but nothing of sweat and grime
that cannot be washed away
in marbled restrooms of books
that teach nothing but
life is bigger than the sum
of the parts from the manual
as I longed for autospares
and waited for your first kiss
piano notes like wine to taste
stories shared between friends
a barstool for our memories
amongst guitar strings unplayed
and songs half remembered
on mornings without sleep
singing ‘Days full of Rain’
Mike Plumbley, submitted 3/29/2000
Staring at me. Hollow, metallic, thin rod,
a snake fang, dripping.
You’re so warm.
You’re so nice.
Clear, plastic reservoir filled,
I shouldn’t—should I?
I could you know.
Neon Squid Flashlight in a Dark Room
Fibrous vines of the neon squid,
clear and coated.
darting like a ballistic
through a lightless, aquatic empire.
Fluttering gills and sinking, shapeless forms,
weary of its viney wrap.
As if a distant nova, the squid ignites,
expanding to fill what is not yet,
until first seen,
its existence known,
its negation, the universe.
Black metal slumber,
glaring at the night through the double-paned, bay window,
drifts of snow knocking at the main entrance.
He rocked it to sleep, a baby taipan,
hardening its trance,
with bite after bite
gorging its empty, narrow bellies,
until they could hold no more.
He roused it and
it rocked him to sleep,
shower the Turkish rug
that had slept beneath them both.
Previous 3 pieces written by:
4011 Hamilton Circle # 140
Arlington, TX 76013
The night his mouth engulfed my nipple, there was no misery involved.
I reacted like water flowing downstream
bending and turning to fit the riverbed.
My breast whiter than Christmas snow in the streetlamp
We were still encased in sweat when I realized that I needed him.
My stalking stealth cat persona gone.
Like the homeless person knocking on the window,
we were both given some spare change and were satisfied.
Freedom of Choice
Dehydration just before a thunderstorm
Sensuous urine in a steady stream.
The first raindrop,
Fluorescent lights, unfamiliarity
a stranger’s hand to hold
right before the gray takes over
and pulls out the soft flesh
of the uterus
while offering it with gentle hands
so that no life can be conceived.
For Those Without Fathers…….
I have sat in that alley a thousand times or more
smoking my cigarette while crying or cursing
alone with a stomach full of hatred.
It must have come through the umbilical cord
and formed with the cells that make up my bones
because now I am made of it.
I want to let go.
I want to destroy buildings and houses and cars and credit and relationships
god and ex-wives
there are no more stepsons for me to find
no more short haired girls with big lips and skinny legs
smoking cigarettes alone in some rat infested alley
where I found the purple crystal doorknob
that will hold magic to my own
3 pieces above submitted by Marla Nease, 12/7/99
Get up and dance. False prophets
ring too early to be taken seriously,
threatening cases of dynamite
perfumes first tested in Vietnam
marital aides developed in Nazi death camps.
Shake your heiny to the catchy new
ceremonies of hate, testaments inspired by
Time Life Books.
It ain’t Merry Christmas anymore-
it’s Happy Dahmer, it’s Yom Manson,
it’s only Tuesday and I can’t go in to work,
not now, not with all this
shakin’ goin’ on.
Hello. I’m having a torrid affair with a postal worker
and I’m all tied up right now. Literally.
Hey, you ever play Russian roulette with a service revolver?
Let your body do the talkin’. Blind fingers
tap on the other side of the locked trap door,
screaming SOS, SOS, SOS, and I
have too many good reasons for not opening the door,
not letting little Janie with her 4-H Morse Code knowledge
out of her cage and back out on the street.
Crimelights flicker Revelations One to One Hundred through
the white hotel curtains, and I tell you
there are enough stories in this town
for a million television series.
And I could star in every single one.
stood against the wall of her kitchen, listening
to his mother berate my mother, call my family
trash, wanted to scream, “They’re your family now, too!”
her condescending nod to my stories of my mother
breaking show ponies, saying, “Well, old workhorses
are easy to break, but a good horse
needs a professional trainer,” wanted to
scream lies of exploits my mother had in the circus
death-defying bareback vaults in front of crows of millions
backed down for the sake of the child upstairs
feeling myself becoming slow, worn
It’s your blood on the sheets
This time, it’s your blood on my skin
This time, oh wake up, you sick piece of shit
Look at the mess you’ve made.
And you’re going to sleep past noon again
Aren’t you, lazybones? Wipe that grin
Off your face. Are you listening to me?
Must’ve drank a fifth by myself
Last night, can’t remember
Where I put my glass, seem to remember
I broke it against something
But I can’t find the pieces.
Careful where you step.
And you’re going to just lie there
While I go and make breakfast, aren’t you?
I always turn into everyone’s mother.
That’s your blood on the floor
Your blood on the counter, all over the carpet-
How the hell am I supposed to fix breakfast
With the place looking like this? Not to mention
You’re hogging all the cutlery….
I stood and watched you sleeping
for nearly five minutes before
I dropped your purse on the chair
and slipped quietly
out the door.
Please lock your door tonight.
I spent the last few days
wondering if he came back
for you, finding you alone
my big sister duties abandoned
just long enough
for him to really hurt you-
it just takes one time.
Why didn’t you call this morning?
I can’t play everyone’s mother
I’m stretched too thin as it is
I can’t sleep for worrying
about you, little girl-
nobody is going to come
when you scream.
Please tell me you lock your door now.
Please tell me
you’re all right.
All pieces above submitted by Holly Day, 11/16/99
For a moment it sounds like something,
then the improv runs away.
Fingers dance on frets, children at play
taking five more minutes before coming in for dinner. . .
. . . then five minutes more.
Some call snifters pretentious,
but, ah, for good brandy – the pregnant teardrop
captures the soothing olfactory snap. . .
the ecstasy, the taste, the cool burn on the lips,
the electric splash on the tongue – baptizing the throat like the music,
soothing what is restless.
No place is nowhere in New York City, but this suffices.
The comfort in despair is how it is shared: intuitively.
Alone in a jazz dive, eavesdropping on a man attempting bridges to his
Above piece by Paul Pineiro, submitted 11/11/99
A flatulent sax
melody crunching notes
catching a blue mood
SOUL SHAKIN’ DIVA
dancing barefoot, her
shoes tossed with elan
a Coltrane jammin’,
that Philly Dog flute
from Baghdad to Bahia,
a silver lipped samba
pushing notes in moonlight
under comin’ home
the 3 poems above were submitted by William Scott Galasso, from Kirkland, Washington
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Improvijazzation Nation – Issue # 41
INTERVIEW with Bret Hart
RZ: Bret, though I know a bit of the story, I’m sure our readers would like to know – WHY (& to where) did ya’ DISAPPEAR fer’ so many years?
bhh: “I have never disappeared, although it must have seemed so from the other end of the telescope. Let’s see, (correct me where I’m inaccurate here) you and I met in South Korea in 1987. I remember receiving a phonecall at work and you had seen the contact information in, was it Sound Choice (R.I.P.)? We began recording together immediately, the following weekend, I believe…put out the “Zzaj-Art Tapes”, and then I returned to the States in 1990. That’s where I believe you consider me to have disappeared. Things have always been pretty transient and nomadic for me, from childhood on up. I recently reestablished contact with the fella who taught me my first guitar riffs back in 1973! I find that my associations and friendships usually survive the periods of silence and distance. In 1990, I was living just outside Boston, in Norwood, Massachusetts; working as a printmaker and commercial artist. I contributed recorded bits to Zoogz Rift’s “WarZone” LP that year, documented the “Puff Hoff/SOLAR ASH Jams” (just released through InstrumenTales, with additional ambient tonework and drumming by Brian John Mitchell and Scotty Irving), continued experimenting with primitive computer sound/rhythm software, and pretty much concluded my 80’s ‘career’ as an unpaid independent music journalist. After about a year, we moved to Fitchburg, MA – better known as “Detroit, Jr.”, with all of that poverty and nighttime gunfire… There, I was a printing supervisor in a big, filthy plastics factory for a year. The fumes were horrible. 3-11 shift work, usually six days a week. Awful! I played several college gigs then, was jamming a lot at a place we called “The Barn”, and was trying to wrestle some coherence out of a short-lived grouping we called ‘Coffee’. Concurrently, my marriage was falling apart and the bands Maximum Love Vibes (in Maine) and Progress (in Massachusetts) were forming. I had met Peter Zolli at the Worcester Artist Group performance space, and we became friends and started doing a lot of improvisation, as well as structured music together. Progress evolved into the Band HipBone, which released a lot of EP’s and two LP’s between 1993-1997. HipBone had an improvisational arm I call “Penguin”, who also have a CD on IT Records (“Halloween with Penguin”). I formed and organized a musician’s collective, called F.-A. R. M. (Fitchburg-area Real Music), which opened a lot of venues up to groups playing original music, and helped a few people to get their stuff recorded. 1994-95 was a fun year. I had an pretty bad injury, on 3/19/96, which sent me packing to nearby Worcester for work. There, I began an extremely busy two years. I was playing and recording with lots of folks; at one point had six different performing bands happening at the same time (The Bob & Bret Show, Runs With Scissors, Jaws of Glee, The Wormtown Rounders, The B’s of Sunrise, and my solo-gig); had received a local cultural arts grant to release my first CD, was getting a lot of nice regional press, and got the F.E.S.T.E.R.- project (a really outstanding Residents tribute record – inexpensive and available at MP3.com) off the ground. That year, my alter ego, Alonzo Phillips, recorded a cover of Iggy Pop’s song “LUST FOR LIFE”, which made it onto an Iggy/Stooges tribute record released on Revenge Records, in France. At the same time that the record was released, the song was featured in the movie Trainspotting. There’s a great studio near there – Toad Hall, in Douglas, Ma – where I was being brought in to do session work for others. I recorded my wife’s first CD, “Planting That Seed in Their Heads”, there using the fine Toad Hall crew as the band. In 1998, Christine and I moved south to Eden, North Carolina. We were pregnant with our daughter, Emmalee; and were about to obtain physical custody of Christine’s other two children. Around then, you and I got back in touch. My wife and I (along with Scotty Irving – percussion and Bryan Church Smith – fiddle/woodflute) have a band now that we call “Barbwire Hearts”. We play our songs out every week or two. Tina’s a very interesting songwriter. We played a fantastic benefit show, to raise money for Habitat For Humanity, two weeks back, and celebrated our 30th gig at Lola’s Coffeehouse last night (3/25/2000).”
RZ: Since your’ BACK (in full presence), & have so many presence’s on the WWW, please enlighten the’ public with the prime sites they can read about (& hear samples of) your music(s).
bhh: “The following links will take your readers to many aspects of what we and I do. Brief descriptions follow each.
This is the InstrumenTales Records catalogue. It is as up-to-date as I can keep it, given the fact that I’m the father of three and work full-time as a teacher. Includes front cover graphic of each release, and a descriptive blurb about the music therein.
This is the page affiliated with Gajoob magazine, which showcases the Homemade Music Classics Series re-release of my 1988-98 [150 minute!] opus ‘Mount Rushmore: Volumes I & II’. They have broken it into two CD’s (was originally a three K60 release).
This is the condensed version of the InstrumenTales catalogue. Strange JPG file of a pretty woman in a dentist’s chair.
This page textually explains the whole InstrumenTales Ethos. Artists considering contacting us, please read this document. Up, courtesy of Instant Dogma!
This is the place to get all of the dirt. Very text laden. Includes the infamous Russian article about me, a comprehensive listing of every recording- compilation I’ve done since 1979 (actually numbers in the hundreds), background information about musical/artistic associates, the (obsolete) HipWorks ArtSite catalogue of cassette music (much of which is being remastered and issued through InstrumenTales).
This pages is on my friend, Steve Blake’s, Instant Dogma website. The site focusses on the many goings-on at his Toad Hall Studio. Steve produces a lot of interesting music there, and has been kind enough to include some information about my work. Steve was very involved in the making of many of my records, including: both KUDZU (he is a member) records, “Duck or Mask?”, “No More Bandages!” and others. Click on the “KILROY” button.
This page is on my friend, Ken 42R’s ZeroHits website. Ken is the inventor of the “40 Love” and “Plex-O-lin”, homemade instruments he uses in the band Invented Thing Quartet, of which I was a member when living in Central Massachusetts. This site is really fun and funny. The Invented Things have a rich history, well worth reading about. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to listen to samples of my work, except where kind people like you have posted samples. The only access I have to the Internet is through a school computer, one which does not permit me to upload music (just text and graphics). The way to hear this stuff is to send me a check and buy it. All our releases cost $9, postpaid in the US ($15, outside the US).”
RZ: What do you see as your’ “musical mission in life” for the next 10 years? Or do you have one?
bhh: “Nothing has really changed in the 22 years or so that I’ve been performing and recording what I do. It will stop when I stop. Because what I do and how I do what I do is commercially sensible and non-turbulent to my family, there is no reason to expect things to do anything but evolve. I’m trying to get my small town to consider the possibility of renovating an abandoned theatre here and turn it into a not-for-profit artspace/
performance space. On the marquis, in big, bold letters, it says “GRAND”. I’d like to see something called “The Grand New Op’ry” in that building.”
RZ: What (in your opinion) will be the primary medium for music 5 years from now? Will CD’s go the way of the cassette? Will .mp3 proliferate? Does it matter?
bhh: “It doesn’t matter. Whatever sells, will sell. Remember, we live in a society that has the gaul and gumption to actually air a TV show called “Greed”…can you believe it? There’s no allegiance to the consumer in America, so don’t expect your CD burner or minidisk recorder to be cutting edge for long. In my house, we use what we have until it breaks. Then, we problem solve ways to afford something else. Technology has never dictated to me. I tag along at my own pace and snap-up what deals make themselves available to me. At present, we make our InstrumenTales CD’s by-hand, at-home, just for you. Yup, that’s my spit on the stamp. I photocopied that insert and data sheet.”
RZ: Your music has taken many stylistic turns in the last 8 years or so, yet (as the “Typespider” & “Fowl Turbulence” CD’s you’ve just released prove) you’re still able to experiment with the best of ’em.
bhh: “My work with North Carolina artists Scotty Irving (who also plays with Remora, Eugene Chadbourne, Elvis X, and others-and was a founding member of Geezer Lake), Fred “Gentlemaniac” Hall, Ed Shepard (of East October), Barbwire Hearts, local porch talent, and by-mail collaborative music-making relationships, such as ours, are keeping me very busy. This tiny record label is also something that I’m aiming a lot of time and energy into. I welcome submissions from people familiar with what I/we do. Like you, I deal in small-run/large media promulgation releases. Anyone feeling as though they have yet to locate the right small label to document what they do should drop me a line (and a tape): firstname.lastname@example.org I continue to be a recording member of HipBone (Central Massachusetts), am doing further soundscape records with my friends Arte Biglips, “Blind Pineapple” Phillips, at Mark McGee’s Central Landing Sound, on Chebeague Island, Maine…this was where all of the Maximum Love Vibes LP’s were recorded and produced between 1991-1996. As for “TypeSpider” (by H.I.M. – Hart/Irving/Metcalf), that record exists in a new domain of re-releases that I’m having a lot of fun with lately. I’m taking extracts from the instrumental guitar compositions I did so much of in the 1980’s (probably totaling, in all, about 200 hours), and putting it back on the streets, so to speak, by having friends, new and old, hop on there and slam! There’s a newly arranged version of the “SOLAR ASH” sessions from Boston, in 1990, which are some of the strangest ‘space-rock’ you’ll hear any time soon. The new additions include drumming from Scotty, and ambient tonework from Brian John Mitchell. In the same vein, Ed Shepard and Fred Hall are having at my “494 Possible Triangles & Circles” scores from 1983. These compositions were written using graph paper and symbols to represent each of the 3 or 4 permitted tones in each composition. This music was well received when it first came out. Now, it’ll be even better and more penetrating with the new, additional sounds. “Fowl Turbulence” (by Metcalf/Diaz-Infante/Hart), is yours/my latest collaboration together, with the very organic and piercing guitar playing of Ernesto slathered on there. I find that record particularly relaxing, when barely listened to at low volume…as when reading or writing.”
RZ: What changes do you see coming down the pike for your style in the next coupla’ years.
bhh: “My ‘style’…that’s interesting. I have no earthly idea what I would write if asked to describe my ‘style’. This has been a problem for years, when someone askes me “What kind of music do you play?” Maybe someone can help me define my style, or styles. I’ve been invited into Fred Hall’s improvisational band, AUTOMATIC MUSIC. There, I should be able to use some of the stranger instruments I play. Lately, I’ve been growing very fond of exploring the depths to which I can take multitracked percussion. The upcoming “Blind Pineapple” Phillips’ CD Bee-spit Architecture is composed of a 50/50 split between sung-songs and instrumental compositions. The instrumentals are very percussive, overall, and bring in many of the wooden and metal things I gathered during my travels. More drums are expected to be added by (producers) Steve Blake and Greg Sullivan at Toad Hall Studios. For the last half-decade or so, I’ve become interested in playing with good slide players, and have continued to develop my left-hand approach to the guitar in such a way as to replicate a lot of slide-guitar sounds. Greg is a great slide player, and will probably be elbow-deep in the production/arrangement of that Phillips’ record.”
RZ: Are you “making money” with your music? Is that important to you?
bhh: “Frankly, no. Never have made money, dollar-for-dollar. I’ve had fruitful years, and many long stretches of ‘in the red’. Because I’m a garage sale kind of guy, my costs have never been too painful. People contact me for my CD’s, I send them out. Everyone gets more than what they ordered, just like the old days with Kamsa Tapes, and HipWorks Productions. Y’know, even though the real thing now comes in foil bags, I remember when Cracker Jacks were in a box that was hard to open and had a real excellent prize inside… InstrumenTales always delivers more than the customer’s expectation. We’re fun that way. Making money, in the macro sense, has never been important to me. My family does not measure its success by counting its accumulated property. People like that run for Republican office and are not terribly welcome on my porch. So long as we’ve got the rent paid, food in the ‘fridge, and an extra roll of ‘t.p.’, everyone’s pretty happy.
RZ: What advice would you offer to other D.I.Y. musicians?
bhh: “Network. Remember to thank people who participate in and support the music and art you’re making. On the WWW, ask for links, and provide links. Speak positively about other people’s art. Refuse to sacrifice your art to any golden calves, particularly ones with dollar signs hanging from their tails. Don’t burn any bridges. Stay absolutely true to your vision of what music should sound like, and become as prolific as your life will permit. Be kind to others. Be kind to your equipment. Treat your children with love and affection. Include your children in the art you make…give them the gift of Inclusion. Never give up. There is no enemy – besides ones we create for ourselves to react to. If you’re making interesting music and think it might fit in with what we’re doing here at InstrumenTales, send me a tape (NOT your only copy, please!) of your best unreleased stuff/old or new… InstrumenTales may be interested in being friends and helping you out. It might be smart to get one of our sampler CD’s to hear the tenor of what we are here at InstrumenTales.”
Here’s the mailing address: Bret Hart’s InstrumenTales Records 609 Morehead Street, Eden, NC 27288 USARZ: Most of us D.I.Y.’er’s have day-gigs… what’s yours right now? Is it kewl?
bhh: “I teach 8th Grade English in a middle school near here. Yes, it’s ‘kewl’, and we’ve accomplished some great things in my classroom. This month, every one of my 70+ students has one of their poems on display, behind glass, at the public library. Once a week, I teach an elective called “The Holmes Middle School Do-It-Yourself Music Ensemble” – this term it’s seven 6th Graders. Nice faculty and administration here, fair benefits, clean air, poverty…Rockingham County has it all. Last summer, I taught a college course called “Do-It-Yourself Music Making” through Rockingham Community College. I taught people how to use a 4-track recorder, we shared our songs each week, and each student came away from the course with a multitracked recording (Bret-productions, all) of one or two of their songs.
I also continue to be published. This has been going on, uninterrupted, since about 1978. At present, a small local paper called EDEN’s OWN publishes monthly ‘rants’ (your term) that I write about the community.”
RZ: Will we see Bret Hart on the Letterman show anytime soon?
bhh: “Not likely…unless it’s for something I did as a teacher. Is he still on? I saw Captain Beefheart on his show in the early-80’s…the Don looked very uncomfortable…”
RZ: Folks who make their own music are always interested in equipment (to some degree, at least). What’s your’ rig?
bhh: “When I play out with a band, people sometimes come up and stare at my effects gear…it’s pretty unattractive stuff, since I repainted my pedal effects to conceal what the are…(Pedal names: “Ass-Fuzz”, “Cop Eating Donut”, “Digital Lay”, “Your Breath”, etc.). Lesse, we have a Tascam 4-track (need a new one, this’un is presenting problems), a Phillips CD recorder, assorted other old stereo components, two Fender acoustic/electric guitars (Fenders stay in-tune well), an ancient Guild ‘Starfire III’, an E-Bow (I love these things…been using them for almost 15 years. One of the great unknown devices to turn a guitar into something alchemical), a Casio MIDI guitar Bob Jordan sold me for $80 (this is where most of my keyboard sounds come from), the “Barstool-O-Caster” ( across between a barstool and a Telecaster!), a 1940’s electric mandolin (with a pick-up the size of a poptart!), an electric Saz (from Turkey), an electrified StrumStick, a Can-Jo, my numerous homemade instruments (The Howler, The Arc, Joe, The Hair-Jo, The Electric Bowl, etc), a pile of percussion instruments from everywhere, several cheap/toy keyboards, several antique P.A. systems, cords ‘n’ mics, a bunch of vintage pedals and rack-mount oddities, blah, blah… Most of the things I record are acoustic guitar-based. When we play out, it’s usually through a 4-channel 60W Crate mixer-amp into a single homemade speaker enclosure. For bigger gigs, I haul out my old 1970’s Shure 200W 12-channel unit. Nothing too elaborate…most of the mics are rusty, dusty, and give your lips a ZAP if your touch ’em. It all usually works satisfactorily. We can set-up a whole show in about 15 minutes and, when finished, break it back down even faster than that.”
RZ: Anything else?
bhh: “This country is becoming an even worse Greed and appearance-driven toilet. “Art for $ sake” is an oxymoron. Being creative for money is like dancing about architecture…it makes no real sense. The creative impulse is delayed, beaten down, and raped by any consideration of its saleability. Not worth the effort. It is perfectly wonderful to labor on in relative obscurity, if one wishes to retain the aesthetic integrity of what they are doing. Had I been doing what I do in order to get consistently paid for it, common sense would have driven me out of the ‘biz’ years ago. I dislike Top 40 music as intensely as I do drive-by shootings and the crackhouses in my neighborhood.”
H-E-Y!!! Please REMEMBER that you can order fantastic Zzaj Productions CD's from our HOMEMADEMUSIC site, at: http://www.homemademusic.com/~zzaj We are in URGENT need of your support, too, as we were caught in a "lay-off" situation (that was a direct result of the WTC affair). Wouldn't hurt (I suppose) if you remind them that the C-mas season is getting near, & a ZP CD makes a very nice gift for friends who love adventure in their music(s)
My long-time friend Bret Hart has discussed the phenomenon so prevalent in A-murri-ka today at some length these years – GREED!
My recent move to the mid-West has made this EVER more noticeable – even to my jaded eye(s). My wife & I are looking for a house… on the West Coast, where we moved from, a home in the $220k range is rather on the high end, except (of course) for the filthy rich (Gates, Allen & others). The average house clocks in at around 2500-3000 square feet. That seems to be an acceptable norm out there (at least for the moment – I’m sure when/if we move back OUT there, they’ll be running in that mode as well)… but HERE in Michigan (the whitest suburbs, of course), they are building some of the houses at 7000 square feet… even up to 10,000. Can you BELIEVE that? Who in HELL needs 10,000 square feet? Or 7k, for that matter!
It’s not just the houses, either… EVERYbody here (including the dawgs, I think) has their own CAR! We’re CHOKIN’ up here, people…… & prob’ly where YOU live as well!
How did we GET to this? I know, th’ preacherz would have a spiel, the doomsayers would have a (slightly) different version of it… the point (for me, anyway) is that you have to arrive at your OWN conclusions. Is it RIGHT for folks to be able to choose what THEY want? Should we have a system where the state/guvv-i-mint controls your ability to buy something?
ABSOLUTELY not… but those who are making the choice to IGNORE those around them… to ABANDON their brothers & sisters for the BUCKZ… to BUY crap they’ll never need (like that extra 8500 square feet) had BETTER bet that if they DON’T start takin’ care of those around them – there’ll BE some individual (or group of ’em, otherwise called a “political” party) who want to start LEGISLATING choices.
The only way to avoid the idiocy of politics is to LIVE your own LIFE; to MAKE the right choices; to IGNORE the call (so prevalent in this area) to JOIN the “madness club”… you know, in order to BE somebody, you MUST “belong to a group”. That doesn’t (necessarily) mean belonging to a church (the poor man’s “group”). ANY group’ll do… the golf group… the boating group… the skeet shooting group… the group group! Perhaps a group for individualists (now, wouldn’t THAT be an idiotic group)? The (almost criminal) excesses we see ’round us today come (I believe) from GROUP mentalities.
How can WE stop this? “WE” can’t… YOU can… I can… choose to ignore the mania(s) generated by groups (whether they be politicians, preachers or other perverts) – be more AWARE of the individuals around you. & STOP (like, TODAY, man) watching that damned TV – IT is responsible (no matter how much you’re unaware of it) for makin’ you think you have to be like THEM! You do NOT… you CAN be yourself.