Improvijazzation Nation, issue # 53

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Issue # 53 REVIEWS

The Puma-Sutras –  YOU FIND LIGHT IN ME:  We reviewed this group (quite) sometime back (Issue # 41, actually).  Here comes another 3-track EP from Britain.  Again, it’s nice, lilting balladry, with strong focus on (near) slide guitar work.  Spots where one might think they were listening to a Bonnie Raitt blues, even.  Th’ rub (if there really is one) is that I want to hear a FULL CD, gentz’!  The 3rd cut is my favorite (perhaps ‘coz it sounds like it was a live recording) –  really a rawker, lotz’ o’ ‘lektrick guitars & an uptempo lyrical style that will make ya’ (either) wanna’ get yer’ Harley betwixt yer’ legs or pull yer’ ’57 Mercury out o’ th’ mothball closet!  The recording is superb, clean & well produced!  Just a great lil’ EP – but, NEXT TIME, let’s have thee WHOLE ball o’ candlewax, Meest-er Sutra!  This gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all fans of well performed rock ensemble work.  Contact at POB 132, Lancaster La1 5gw, or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

Garrett Sawyer – ANTHEM:  We’ve had the privilege of listening to & reviewing Garrett’s works before (way back in ’95).  His new release is a clear ascension to new heights.  The music is folk lyrical with higher energy than (many in) this genre usually produce.  The title track is totally inspiring, with chord structures (obviously) that support a higher view.  Th’ beauty of his lyrics, though, is that they return the listener to an environment where one must actually listen to the words to grasp his (often poignant) meanings!  That’s exemplified in my favorite cut (track 2) “The Rain Of An Insane Sky”!  Sawyer’s 6 & 12 string guitars are punched full of energy, as is his approach to each of the songs; he’s able to express a full range of emotions with his vocals, from sad/sweet to outright rage.  If you can’t be inspired by his music, you’re due for a headstone!  A thoroughly enjoyable CD that gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us.  Contact at POB 5075, Irvine, CA 92616-5075, via email to  or on his site,   Rotcod Zzaj

Paradise Camp 23 – Bar-BQ Dungeon:  Out of a cool-ection of CD’s in from Mandragora Records (yeah, th’ guy at Weirdsville Radio), this is th’ first I chose to listen to (in keeping with our tradition of improv – it fell outta’ th’ envelope first).  Odd & noisy, purely psychedelic… if you listen to this on (even) mild acid influence, you’ll be lost&gone for th’ next 50 years!  Only 4 cuts, but one of ’em is 47 minutes long.  I’ve no doubt that each of these tracks could have served as th’ intro to some of Timothy’s (as in Leary) adventures.  There is a lot of feedback-type stuff, plenty of loopy guitars & insanity galore – just th’ kind of stuff to get this reviewer off!  As lo-fi as it is, th’ recording still comes across well, not too much masked under NR.  If you’re more inclined towards structure, though, you’ll probably shy away from this.  You will have to enjoy “noise-art” to make a full feast of this, but as long as you do, you’ll agree with me – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!   Contact at POB 936, Northampton, MA 01061-0936 or on th’ website –   Rotcod Zzaj

cesium:137 – ADVANCED/dECAY:  What a difference a year (& another CD) can make!  We reviewed them 3 issues back (# 50) & liked th’ music, but weren’t otherwise greatly favorable.  Well, this new album has CHANGED our impression.  Why?  Because they don’t just “mix it up” on this round, they play different styles in a very effective way.  Gourd-a-might-ee, Jim (Konen), if we could hook these gents up with ya’ – it’d be ALL over!  Ten trax that literally throb with bass excitement!!!  Would momma’ dance to it?  Only if she had some o’ that KRYSTAL they mix in th’ bathtubs out here… but she’s GET steppin’ one way or another.  Another thing I enjoyed is that tho’ it’s HARD-beat, it doesn’t feel (too) terribly dark… seems to be a real sense of life conveyed by th’ players!  If you don’t like dance/beat music, you may shy away a bit, but you’ll be missing a fun listen.  For those who have ta’ have their BEATZ’ – this is th’ kat’s meow… gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us (& that’s a first for dance-trax albums in this ‘zine)!  Contact at POB 1736, Philadelphia, PA 19105-1736, or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Painful/Fuglewicz – LOST CITY MUSIC, Volume 1:  Painful is an old guitar-bending friend of ours from up Seattle way who got sucked in to thee “evil Bill” vortex, we thot… but, no… he bin BIZ-ee with Dave (a true southern synthmeister), creating a whole new style (for them, ennyway).  Th’ CD has much stronger ambient flavors than anything I’ve heard Dave or Pete do before.  Th’ windz’ on th’ deserts o’ Mars?  Some images of those gigantic WORMZ’ in “Dune” come to mind, too.  You will want to scope this with th’ headphones on; cuts are long & intricate, lots of auras being painted/reflected here.  This is extremely creative, too… incorporating (some) mechanicals with ‘lecktro-trance, to form new sonic vistas.  If you’re the type of listener who won’t settle for anything less than “fresh/new”, you won’t be able to do without this adventure.  These 2 have always “pushed the edges” a bit, but they’ve outdone themselves on this one.  This gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us – & also gets th’ “PICK” of this issue for “best experimental”!  Contact at Unnatural Reality Audio, 360 Sheringham Ct., Roswell, GA 30076, via email to or on Dave’s pages, at   Rotcod Zzaj

Boundary Issues – BEGINNINGS & ENDINGS:  Dave (Storrs, th’ drummer with/for th’ TONE SHARKS) has been asking me if I listened to/reviewed this one yet… & now that I dug through th’ envelope box(es), I can see why!  Some of th’ most spontaneous (yet powerful) playing we’ve heard Dave’s groupings do yet!  Steve Willis’ guitar keeps th’ jazz flavor floating through & through, & Page Hundemer provides a contrasting bass that stays fluid, not static or “ker-plunk”, “ker-plunk”.  I (really) wonder how they get all th’ instruments to come out so crisply, too.  This sounds as though you were RIGHT THERE (in th’ klub or in their living room) listening.  Don’t let th’ title mislead you, though… these are full-blown pieces, packed full of very interesting spontaneity!  Highly energetic jazz/rock/off-th-top music that will groove you!  I wouldn’t recommend this one fer’ road music, as you’d be profiled fer’ skittish DUI (or somethin’ equally awful).  Lots of “angles” in here, but th’ turns are smooth, no jagged edges.  Steve’s guitar (track 3) assumes lead nicely, taking us up to th’ edge of rock territory, but still stayin’ on th’ jazz side of th’ boundary.  This gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for jazz listeners who are in th’ “jade zone” & also gets th’ PICK of this issue for “best exploratory jazz”!   Zappa would have had to retract his statements about “th’ death o’ jazz” after listening through this one.  GET this one, folks!  Contact at Louie Records (which has Mr. Storrs at the helm, actually), 644 SW 5th St.,  Corvalis, OR 97333, on their WWW pages, at  or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Howard Riley/Barry Guy/Tony Oxley – OVERGROUND:  It’s amazing what wonderful music has come out of the digital age.  This CD is a remaster of 1974-5 sessions between these improvisational masters, by Emanem Records.  Though it’s sometime back, this is like brand-new, since it was never issued before.  Guy’s bass is somewhat surreptitious, with Oxley’s percussives & Riley’s piano more noticeable.  Five (very) long trax that will have improv-heads foaming (at th’ earz’).  Some traditional pop/scratch work, but the real attraction (for this listener) was the 16:06 long “Pages”, which has real depth & approaches that make it very “space” oriented.  Listeners addicted to form may not enjoy this terribly, but any fan of random will fall in love with this album… it is a KEEPER, & will stay in your collection for years to come!  Gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us!  Contact through Martin Davidson, 3 Bittacy Rise, London NW7 2HH England, on the site at  or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Jack Wright/Bob Falesch – CLANG:  I have been corresponding with Bob for some years now (can’t remember xactly when), & listening to/writing about Jack Wright’s works for many more.  Imagine my surprise when this CD showed up, then!  I (honestly) didn’t know how masterful a player Mr. Falesch is (keyboards).  It is (simply) MARVELOUS improvised work!  Difficult to describe why it’s so (much more) impressive – it may be the fact that Jack & Bob spent some (significant amounts of) time together on it… letting it flow, but actually discussing their work & the works of (many) other artists.  Wright’s horn work on here is superbly recorded, as are the keyboards (Jack plays keyboards, too, something I wasn’t aware of – or had forgotten over these many long years).  This is an improv work with staying power… real sustenance that will “stick to yer’ bones”.  8 wonderful compositions, great work from two masters.  If you’re a hardcore improvised fan, you’ll agree when I declare this to be MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  An absolutely great CD!  Contact at/through James Stevens Promotions, 7318 Gladys Ave., El Cerrito, CA 94530, or via email to   You can purchase the CD from   Rotcod Zzaj

Friends of Mescalito – NAGUAL MUSIC FOR TONAL PEOPLE:   W.O.O.’s bassist, Scott Prato, has been putting out CD’s for some time now, I guess, under this group name (this is the 3rd one, according to the liners).  The opening cut, “Deviations From The Master Plan”, (somehow) reminds me of Zappa stylings… can’t pin down why that is – but IT IS!  HEAV-ee rock orientations, much more form-based than the W.O.O. stuff.  Scott’s bass work is featured more prominently on other trax; my favorite piece is “Seek & You’ll Find It”, cut 7.  which brings the basslines out rather clearly.  “Nagual People” is high energy rawkin’, guitar-centric & pulsing.  Quite a mix of styles, so you’ll want to listen to this at home with th’ phones on, not as “road music”.  Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from these earz’!  Contact at 49 First Ave., #5-0, NYC, NY 10003, on the site at  or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

MC Potbelly – MY FAVORITES:  Well, a couple of th’ rap lyrics on here are kinda’ funny (‘specially th’ one about th’ hooker who doesn’t wanna’ stop “Th’ Horizontal Hip Hop”).  This is a 41 year old (white) insurance agent from Marin County, doing these cuts.  Like I said, some of th’ trax are funny… BUT, they’re kinda’ hard to listen to, since they “skip & slide” in spots.  MC likes to apply th’ K.I.S.S. principle to his raps – no overcomplicated rhymes… just th’ beat, ya’ know?  You can check him out (a bit) on th’ site at  His email is   He would get a higher rating if th’ CD didn’t skip… as it is, for those who like music to poke fun at itself, it gets a RECOMMENDED!   Rotcod Zzaj

David Berriman – SUNBURST OF SOUND:  Solo piano on this pleasant and relaxing CD in from Livonia, Michigan.  David plays the keys like he loves them – very sensitive and expressive playing.  This is his second recording (we’ll review the earlier one in a later issue).  He’s “enhanced” this recording with some string/orchestral sound, very effectively, I might add.  Ten of the (14) tracks are originals; to his credit, even the covers are played with an appropriate passion for the quality of the listening experience.  This is NOT “out there” jazz – it’s straight-ahead piano playing with zest for life & the living of it through music!  I enjoyed his compositions & style enough to rate it as HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for those folks who “just want th’ music, ma’am”.  Very capable, very nice listen.  Contact at 27605 Lyndon, Livonia, MI 48154, or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

The Synthetic Dream Foundation – QUENCH:  Heavy beats, narcotic induced trance/dance music on this CD in from artist TSDF (out of Norman, Oklahoma).  I’m not sure where/how/why th’ CD came to us, unless it’s something I happened to comment on in a newsgroup.  Doesn’t really matter about that, though… this is pretty good… surprisingly so, actually!  Th’ highest levels of energy seem to be in th’ “dark/under” side of things… you know, down where th’ “throb” is at.  This is kinda’ like what th’ shrooms “felt like” back in th’ ’60’s, & would have served as a nice backdrop for th’ trip.  There are sections that explore th’ caves of th’ players’ minds, back there where you scrape th’ moss&mold off & discover ancient identities… right?  Actually, no… the players have just realized th’ power of “the rhythm” over th’ human psyche.  My favorite track was cut 2, “Scaring The Flowers”… very subliminal, very deep-down (as you might imagine from th’ title).  I’d like to hear a little crisper recording next time around, but th’ .MP3 DAM CD still conveys th’ impression strongly enough to merit this as HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Contact them through their .MP3 site, I guess, at   Rotcod Zzaj

James Kennedy – BITS N’ PIECES:  We first reviewed James’ masterful guitar work back in issue # 32, on a CD titled “Across The Borders”.  Well, there’s even MORE to rave about on this album!  It may be (in part) because many of the tracks are live, but this is one HIGH energy album.  James plays both electric & acoustic guitars on these all original compositions – & he RAWKS!  Matt Alles bass supports nicely, & the drummers (Masahiro Iwasaki on 1, 2 & 6, & Stickman on 3, 4 & 5) keep it all moving nicely, but there’s no way you can (or would want to) miss th’ feature, which is Kennedy jammin’ on th’ strings!  The recording is flawless on every cut, crisp & full of the joy of playing.  My personal favorite was “Ancient Warriors” (track 3), because I really liked th’ mesh of the drums & th’ guitar – intense rhythms!  There is great variety & simplicity in James’ compositional style… the listener who enjoys well crafted fusion jazz will agree with me – this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  One of the better albums I’ve listened to this year… & I’ve listened to a lot already!  Contact at 410 First St. West, Mr. Vernon, Iowa 52314, via email to  or on the pages at   Rotcod Zzaj

Qadesh – EXPERIMENT IN PSYCHODRAMA – Hearkens back to th’ daze of “Touch”, methinks.  This CD, in directly from the band (in the UK) is more than just enjoyable… it’s pure pleasure!  Basically a quintet, they play highly stylized originals that trod out of rock territory, but have enough of an edge to (also) hear them bordering on jazz as well!  This (unfortunately) was just a “demo” CD.  We WANT th’ first full-length, Bill (that’s th’ “pure English-mongrel keyboardist, Willyam-Daevid Harbottle, who sent this to us)!!!  Th’ band conveys an air of confidence through their playing that is very attractive… enough so that they can poke fun at themselves (in the liner notes)… that spirit is infectious… even thee first-time listener can tell that this music is FOR FUN!  These are some talented players, indeed…. they’re clearly havin’ a great time, & you the listener will, too!  They surely rate a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who want to hear something fresh/crisp… & I’ve no doubt that their first full-length production will rate even higher!  Contact via email to or on their site, at   Rotcod Zzaj

Richard Paske Trio – LIVE ON KFAI:  I first listened to Richard’s trio work on a live broadcast he was doing on KFAI (for some very far out musics… his show is called Fresh Ears).  It wasn’t long after that I sent him several CD’s (of ours), which he aired promptly.  I (also) asked him to send me something with more of his wonderful keyboard work… this CD from a live broadcast in 1998 is the result.  It starts off with ultra-high energy straight-ahead “chops” kind of work, but about midway thru th’ first cut (Moroccan Blue), there’s a very nice little interlude that makes several things clear… Paske’s piano, Brock Thorson’s bass & Dave Stanoch’s drums all “talk” to each other – & “hear” each other – clear communication throughout the whole album; the players (at least on this session) aren’t afraid to “go out” – & that’s a BIG credit to them; Richard’s piano/comp style is very majestic – you’ll fall in love with his vision of “large jazz on the edge” right away.  This trio creates a totally enjoyable listening experience, & gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED right away.  There’s another attraction for many folks out there, as well… Paske describes his music with “just the right” words – “Multiples – an ironic slap at conformity”.  Great playing, great recording, great attitude… contact at 894 St. Clair Ave, Apt. 302, St. Paul, MN 55105, or via email to    Rotcod Zzaj

Milo Fine Free Jazz Ensemble – KOI/KLOPS 2000/1:  Very recent recording in from the Emanem label!  As you might garner from the title, this CD/music features Milo Fine, a multi-instrumentalist with minimalist tendencies.  For a good part of the 24:40 track 1, Milo plays the “m-drums II” (his own invention), an electronic drum kit that’s quite interesting to hear.  Steve Gnitka plays amplified guitar, Jason Shapiro does piano/synth (on tracks 3 & 4), Nathan Smith does acoustic bass/buitar & bass clarinet (also only on cuts 3 & 4), & Scott Newell does tenor saxophone/vocal on track 5.  Very intricate playing, best listened to with headphones.  Crisp recording, very nicely mixed.  If you are inclined towards format & non-adventure (mental laziness), you will go elsewhere to get your thrills.  OTOH, if you thrive on pandemonium & intricately carved sonic sculptures, this will get you greatly excited!  You must be a dedicated improv-freek, though… if you’re not prepared to sit down & listen – don’t bother.  From our perspective, this is wonderful & tasteful improvised music that rates a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Contact through Martin Davidson, 3 Bittacy Rise, London NW7 2HH England, on the site at  or via email to   Rotcod Zzaj

Ian C. Stewart – SAMARKAND : PITCH WHEEL:  Far more to this lil’ CD (in from MJB’s than th’ picture of synth on th’ cover might lead you to believe.  Plenty o’ Casio, plenty o’ canned rhythm – but, some nice bass/guitar thingies woven in.  Tunes aren’t all “the same”, which makes it much more pleasant to hear out.  Ian (as you may remember) edited autoreverse, which (I believe) is now defunct!  Th’ music was recorded ’round ’99, which (if i remember) is about th’ time th’ ‘zine went off th’ net… if that’s what it was (a transitory device), it worked quite effectively.  As a lo-fi recording, it’s up there, bright & full of energy & lots of different styles.  Doubt it’ll make th’ “Top 40” at yer’ local AM station, but I don’t imagine that’s what Ian had in mind when he was playing/recording it, anyway.  There was (just) a bit too much “drum machine” in there, but I get that crit on my own music quite often… only minor, as Stewart expresses himself well here!  Gets a RECOMMENDED from us for lo-fi fans everywhere!  Contact at 42 Kalina Dr., Rhinebeck, NY, 12572, via email to or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Jeffrey Ethan Lee – IDENTITY PAPERS:  Our friends at Drimala Records always come up with exciting & challenging recordings.  Jeffrey’s CD is no exception to that expectation!  Lee is a poet of strong substance… this particular outing serves to chronicle his impressions of experiences after he was assaulted in New York City.  He is joined (vocally) by Lori-Nan Engler & (percussively) by internationally renowned percussionist Toshi Makihara.  As you might imagine, this isn’t “party music”… you must listen to the sensitive & gripping interaction between the vocals & Makihara’s cymbals/drums.  The stories Jeffrey tells are not “60 Minutes” style… it is recommended that you block out an hour (or so) to sit down with headphones when you listen to this; if you do it that way, you’ll find yourself immersed in Lee’s experience.  I enjoyed this CD immensely – enough so to give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any listener who can/will take the time to absorb it.  A great music/poetry experience!  Contact at POB 69044, Hampton, VA 23669, via email to  or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Bud Tristano/Connie Crothers – PRIMAL ELEGANCE:  After the first couple of runs from Bud’s guitar (title track), you’ll hear why the title is so apt!  Crothers’ keyboard explores the kind(s) of rhythm(s) you might have heard ’round earliest man’s campfires.  & Tristano’s strings scream & soar as I imagine primal man did when gathered together.  It doesn’t stay that way through the whole album, though… lots of style(s) here, & this duo listen carefully to the directions they are moving in/toward.  It is clear that they enjoy playing & exploring together, & their energy level for conveying this to the listener are at peak!  Lots of improvisation, beautiful interplays & some different combinations I wouldn’t mind jamming together on (sometime, maybe).  Bud’s playing frequently reminds me of a couple of guitarists I’ve played with, Mr. Painful and Peter Tomshany… full-blown, straight-ahead & (at times) screamin’!  Connie’s keyboards are (simply) beautiful… no pretentiousness, joy & sadness combined all in one or three chords.  Very interesting… enough so that (for any listener who wants to hear improvised music with a different sound, quite unique) this gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating!  Contact through the site at, email to  or snail to POB 549, New York, NY 10018-0549  Rotcod Zzaj

Brilliant Coroners – BRILLIANT CORONERS:  I’m sure th’ reason we received this CD is because it has one of our favorite jazz guitarists on it, Ed Littman.  This sextet plays some h-o-t jazz… Andy Pritikin’s keyboards include some scorchin’ organ(isms) (that if left to their own devices, would probably take over thee world…) throughout!  Some wicked alto sax by Jody Espina, kickbutt drums courtesy of Rob Garcia… some rawkin’ guitars (as we expected) from Littman, as well as great bass compin’ by Tom Shad… & then there’s John McDonough’s bigband soundin’ trumpet.  Th’ title trak sounds more like jazz/rock opera than smoky-room sextet, but it KICKZ… in fact, after listening (back) through a couple of times, it’s my favorite cut on th’ album.  Why?  The movements & shifts… not just tempo changes, there are complete evolutions going on here that allow Ed to rock out, but at th’ same time allow for the jazz to be a distinct (& highly original) component of th’ overall!  You’ll have to get it to hear what I’m talking about.  There are some great improvised sections to listen to, as well… what I love about their freestyle stuff is that they don’t rush it… very solid, but definitely in their own style/pace.  A very cool album that gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us for jazz fans everywhere.  Contact at the site at, or via email to or   Rotcod Zzaj


voice of the people


bastard of moonlight

open your cold cellar door

we’ll come in to drink a boot full of grape wine

and laugh at the crack in your voice when you sing

bastard of sunlight

leap down from your attic

so we can see your steaming brains spilled

on the walkway where we are all welcome to tread

bastard of neon light

come out of your own shop

so we can fling your strange wares

all over main street where our cars are free to run over them

bastard of heavenly light

come down from your mountain & onto our scrapheap

where we have a rusted cross crawled by oily centipedes

and let us pretend that you don’t know every one of our nails.



amorous in new york                             by luke buckham


the city lights died inside me

they came to my eyes to be put to sleep

i see through the skin of a stray sidewalk dog

plexus of sorrow’s cigarette butts & soggy newspapers

i cut a hole in the floor to serve as my third eye

raindrops of rubber ricochet off the window-less bottom floor

and up through the gape

to be eaten by kittens who are made of crystallized light


if she arrives i will hide in her hips.



a neutered nation                             by luke buckham


once i was a lover

can’t remember the face i wore then

once i was a child

everything fun was sin

once i was a president

my mirror was a slab of ice

once i was a soldier

they crushed my fingertips

once i was a woman

he tried to stitch me closed

once i was a man

blue multitudes reached through my tv with butterknives

               demanding that i cut down the world with a dull edge


it took me two decades just to get out of bed.



Hear It




the dance

of the notes


they move like

weight without



so free

from the

basic laws


like outlaws really


occasionally they are

hauled away


taken to a place

where they are abused

and told how to behave






until they become

like everyone else


and then we accept them

and enjoy their company


and we smile


but in doing so







and ours


because we don’t

let them speak



and so

we don’t learn

from them


and the basic

laws are applied


choking them


killing them


and blinding our



of how truly



they can





I don’t see what the quaking is all about,
it is just someone venting rage in a somewhat obscene

How obscene you say?

Vocal chords are being splayed in a distorted way,
but allowing the freedom of the voice within.

The voice carries through the office walls,
startling heads with a resonating boom.

Eyes making contact with knowing nods,
they have outlasted another bod.

Deciding who originated the horrific boom,
becomes the topic as they swarm.

Like bees collecting pain,
they sense a blossoming flower of emotional angst.

Devouring the petals allows them the feeling of a
soulful feast,
leaving behind the carcass of another repressed child.



the x-ray man eat tv static for patterns like magic laugh in the face of.

–Andrew Penland, 2001


oedipus complex paranoid
check the sky for FBI agents
disguised as angels.  his vinyl
wife  laugh at him.

–Andrew Penland, 2001


sometimes magicians
sometimes skeptics
sometimes neither
sometimes both

–Andrew Penland, 2002


  1. iridescent: an ocean
    of broken glass
    opens itself to look
    inside & invites
    to see the shocking

2.she is wearing nothing
but spiderwebs,
the mermaid with redbluegreen&
yellow dreadlocks (her nipples pierced
with lilacstems) as she
invites butterflies to dance with her.

3. she takes them
by peace,
(the cactusflowers turn their head.)
she absorbs the selfragments into her shadow
and all the air molecules

4. just like that, the show is over.
you are left with a magic
wand in your hand and a million questions
on your tongue (but no one ot ask)
so you wave the wand.

and a miracle: (nothing)

Andrew Penland, 2002


fiberoptic spiderwebs growing from your head like hair, so plug in
to the cyberzen of innerspace lies, purposefully made out of circus
aftertaste, of the bones of elephants too gentle for this earth, of
acrobats’ karma and typesetters’ liability: clocks breaking themselves
and eggs believing they came first, propaganda of an everyday earth’s
revolution where counselors from the suicide hotline talk jesus off
the cross and rapunzell finally

shaves her head.

Andrew Penland, 2002


“A Beachcomber’s Prerogative”
Copyright 2002 Brent M. Parker

The warm, mallebale sand
The cold, tormented ocean

The cool, wild ocean
The hot, scratchy sand


                     “Jigsaw Watermelon”


Katy Bertrand

Puzzle pieces
can be carelessly tossed into a jumble
in a cardboard box,
the pieces later removed,
put into order,
and fitted together again,
the picture whole.
Nothing lost.

A watermelon,
carelessly dropped on tan linoleum,
broken into uneven pieces
of slightly mealy, seed-ridden, dull pink flesh,
and two-tone green marble rind.
Unable to fit the pieces back together again.
Precious juice lost.


The Hand that Holds the Fruit Basket”


Katy Bertrand

When the bright pink flesh of the watermelon
has been eated down to the watery-white,
nearly translucent rind,
It is like ripping
a brittle, peeling,
nearly translucent, quick
Exposing unprotected peach flesh,
easily susceptible to injury
Preparing for inevitable insult

Grotesque, like rotting watermelon
Hairy, like molding peaches
Wrinkled, like a pear drying with age
Eagerly loom
with shining silver nail clippers.




Katy Bertrand

I am a Christmas tree,
standing forlornly in a cage of slightly rusted chicken wire.
Overpriced, yet already dead when purchased                      (though
death is never cheap).

Attempting to hide branches,nearly brown with death,
under gaudy, overpriced ornaments
Strands of glaringly red, tinsel garland, bright, bright bulbs,
set to flash on
and off,                 spastically,
in an   uncomfortably,
My torment flashing on
and off.



INTERVIEW with On Off On

We were first turned on to OFO a couple years back… we have enjoyed their music(s) immensely, as will any dedicated jazz aficionado… in fact, we feel extremely fortunate to have great bands/players (like this) associated with our ‘zine… check out what they had to say to you…

ZZAJ:  As we’ve discussed, OnOffOn is a “self-production” band.  To what degree is that true?  I mean, do you do all the recording yourselves, or is there some (rented) studio time involved?

OFO:  We definitely use a recording studio. We record at Pacific Coast Recording in Long Beach, CA. We master digitally but record analog. There’s nothing like the sound of 2-inch analog tape – you just can’t get that digitally. We master at a top-notch mastering facility called Time Capsule Mastering. But while we use recording facilities, everything is from us as individuals. We finance everything, we make all creative decisions. Which songs make it on the CDs,
which don’t. What additional instruments are added to our sound – when background vocals are needed – everything a producer at a major would decide for a band, we do ourselves.

ZZAJ:  Your music has great high energy; how do you pull that off in a trio kinda’ setting?

OFO:  We feel we are very fortunate to have found one another. There was some divine intervention that brought us together. While we depend on actual performing abilities to play our music (no sequencing involved), we still blend in a
certain amount of technology to enhance our sound. We incorporate the use of real-time looping devices, like the Jam-Man and the Repeater to lay rhythms that we then play over the top of. We can manage a very full intense sound that
people don’t really expect from a trio. When we’ve got three or four guitar parts, a couple of bass lines and four part harmonies coming out of three guys, it stops people in their tracks. It’s a lot of fun. You factor in Dave’s use of the Zendrum and we are quite a spectacle to see live.

ZZAJ:  There seem to be lots of styles/influences (blues & jazz/fusion to name a couple, as well as some straight-ahead rockin’) in your music.  Heck, I even hear snatches of “Morrison-like” vox in there… what do YOU think your influences are?

OFO:  Don Lake, guitars/harmonica/vocals, names classical influences, such as Aaron Copland and Beethoven, to be among his most significant. Dave Goode, drums/percussion/technology, names Trilok Gurtu, Terry Bozzio, Buddy Rich, and Futureman to be some of his strongest influences. As for me, Von Babasin, bass/vocals, I’m most strongly influenced by my father, Harry Babasin, innovative jazz bassist/producer from the 40’s and 50’s west coast jazz scene, but also groups like Edgar Winter’s White Trash, ELP, King Cimson, and Wishbone Ash helped shaped the way I approach music.

ZZAJ:  Do you prefer to perform/record originals, or covers?

OFO:  Originals.

ZZAJ:  Many who read this ‘zine produce their own music(s)… what has worked for you for distribution?  Is it purely WWW, or do you go through more conventional channels, too?

OFO:  We can’t afford traditional means of promotion. The internet is our only hope of having credible promotion. We are currently on more than 1,500 websites around the world but it hasn’t really crossed us over into the real world. The internet still only reaches a small percentage of the world’s population and if you’re going to realistically compete against the control major labels have on music, you have to cross over onto traditional media.

ZZAJ:  Do you do the “tour” thing, or play (pretty much) locally?

OFO:  Again, budgetary constraints keep us local. We spend every cent we have producing the best music on CD that we can.

ZZAJ:  An ancient topic in the “underground” contends that there is a “glut” in the market today… do you think that’s true, or is there such a thing as “too much music”?

OFO:  I don’t think there’s ‘too much music’. I think there’s too much crap! The media controls who people think are talented, they create chart topping groups from TV shows now. GRAMMYs are given for record sales – they used to be given
out for musical excellence but those days are long gone. Right now, you read article after article about how there music industry is in a fog, nobody knows where it’s going. I think the next ‘thing’ should involve groups that do multiple genres well. I’m tired of hearing groups that every song sounds the same. With the popularity of soundtracks and compilation CDs, people are showing they like diversity in their music. Why not accept that diversity from the same group of musicians?

ZZAJ:  Is the music an all consuming kind of thing for all the band members, or is it easy to break away from?

OFO:  We’ve always been hindered by the fact that we all have had to make livings and not be able to devote all of our energies solely to music. If we were in a position to ‘live’ our music – I can’t imagine what we could accomplish. The
potential is astounding. I don’t say that egotistically, it is very matter of fact. We could easily be a multi-media production company, not just a band.

ZZAJ:  Can your (or any) music be a “healing force” for today’s world, or is  that an illusion perpetuated by musicians?

OFO:  I could really get into this one but it’s just too involved. Harmonic vibrations are traced back to the creation of the universe and the big bang theory. Music is life itself.

ZZAJ:  Has the 9/11 thing influenced your playing or composition at all (do you think)?  Or is it pretty much a “world keeps turning” kind of thing?

OFO:  While these events have been extremely impactful, they have become an addition to the list of the world’s atrocities. My grandfather escaped with his life in 1915 from Armenia, during the Armenian genocide. If more could have been done in response to those events, Hitler may not have been able to do what he did to the Jews. There has always been great tragedy throughout history and there will continue to be – we must try to do our best to honor those events and be true to our convictions. Above all – art must endure.

Von Babasin 

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  Just spent an entire weekend “reviving” old (long-lost) issues of Improvijazzation Nation… it was amazing to discover how much writing had been done since 1990!

       Music, poetry, links to various and sundry radio & performance venues/shows… it was all there.  As I e-mailed those involved in the projects that had been reviewed, it rapidly became apparent just how “fluid” the world of improv & home production is… over 70% of the emails came back from the servers stamped “unknown recipient”.  I don’t suppose that should amaze me, since I have changed email/server addresses very rapidly in the last 3 to 6 months… but it made me wonder… where did they (all) GO?  Are the improvisors/peformance artists of yesteryear now “yuppies”?  Are they all balding & near to drawing social security?  Did they make legal name changes to protect the innocent?

     There is no question that this scene is still “here”… some of it has (rightfully) migrated to the Internet, but many players (like our friend Ernesto Diaz-Infante) are pursuing the muse with the same vibrant energy that we did so many years ago… all you have to do is search the net for keywords like “improv”, “experimental music” & “freeform”, & you’ll see that there hundreds (if not thousands) of players out there – DOING IT THEMSELVES!

      I often find myself wondering if our efforts in the late eighties & early ’90’s impacted today’s scene at all?  In some ways, it’s easy for me to tell that our efforts did make an impression… as I review indie releases that come through the mailslot, I can hear strains of other players I listened to many years ago (live, even).  What do YOU think?  

      D.I.Y. (in my judgement) is “alive & well”.  Some folks (these days) call it by different names, perhaps… but it still boils down to artists creating & (often) astounding listeners with what they have wrought.  & (once again, IMHO), this is a great thing!  No matter what name it goes by, the struggle for independence in the arts IS life!  If we could just convince those with the (damned) BOMBS that they should devote their energies to playing instead of politicking with the people’s lives, we would move ahead at lightspeed!  

      At any rate, hope you enjoyed this issue, & that you will scan through some of those “back issues” to discover what was “happening” way back when.  No matter WHAT happens… keep on DOING IT YOURSELF!!!!    


Till next time….


Rotcod Zzaj