Improvijazzation Nation, issue # 60



Issue # 60 REVIEWS

Milagro acu Stico – L STORIE O CAFE DI LU FURESTIERO:    If you enjoy sittin’ ’round a fine coffeehouse staring at th’ in/out wanderers & making up stories in your imagination about them… the music on this CD will make th’ PERFECT accompaniement!  World-music artists from (where else) the world over have joined forces to perform exciting pieces that will help you (easily) become caught up in a tangled web of gypsy dances, acoustic folk tunes & dreams that couldn’t be topped by th’ finest/richest Lebanese red.  Shades of the mid-east influence the musical style(s), as you might expect.  This would make a genuinely nice gift for someone wanting to re-enact Ali Baba’s adventures.   There are some great sections on trak 3 that sound (something) like an Egyptian version of Orson Welles… It gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us.  Contact at Tinder Records, 4380 Redmond Way, Suite 810, San Rafael, CA 94903, via e-mail to or on the site at    Rotcod Zzaj

Painful/Fuglewicz – LOST CITY MUSIC, VOLUME II:    It’s been a bit since we’ve had anything on CD from this fantastic experimental team, but this volume made it worth th’ wait!  The sonic mysteries they explore on this outing will, as long as you use yer’ headphones, make you wade thru th’ phroggin’ wormholes!  Dense synthesizers, layered over&over&over; absolutely some of the best quality synthesizer work you’ll ever hear!  It’s a “crossover” in a certain sense, too… definitely makes it as an “ambient” album, but contains enuff strange to keep it interesting!   There’s no doubt that if these guys opt for a career in “encounters of the three hundred and thirty third kind”, they’ll be WINNERS!  Painful mixed this one, & he captured ev’ry nook&cranny of ev’ry lil’ knob onna’ synth… I think he musta’ ingested some o’ that TCP-IP ‘fore he started mixin’ & gone INside th’ mixer!   If you like music that can transport you to other galaxies, without being pretentious or using noise to it’s disadvantage, you will LOVE this… it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us! Contact at 360 Sheringham Ct., Roswell, GA 30076, via email to , or on the site at     Rotcod Zzaj

Carter/Cook/Kowald/LaMaster (with Keith Fullerton Whitman) – PRINCIPLE HOPE:    We are always pleased when receive something from “Sublingual Records”, but were ecstatic when we opened th’ package & listened through these tunes!  It’s straight-ahead freestyle from th’ opening bar of “Awakening” (my favorite cut on the album); the kind that starts off with Carter’s reeds rippin’ & LaMaster’s strings jammin’!  An amazing quartet that will capture more than just your ears… before the album’s over, you’ll have given your MIND over to th’ hope they advocate with their strange, swirling energy.  Track 3, “Tracks On Dirty Snow”, is an absolute winner, featuring spoken-word that will warp yo’ ears!  Listeners who want something depressive (i.e., form driven) to accompany th’ tears in their beers won’t appreciate the artistry on this album, but we give it our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating!  The improv/jazz here is presented with a different spirit that challenges you to believe in dignity (rather than dope).  GREAT album to explore the possibilities of the New Year with!   Contact at Sublingual Records, POB 391516, Cambridge, MA 02139, via e-mail to  or on the site at  Rotcod Zzaj

Hal McGee – DEEP SPACE SEARCH ENGINE:    Pleasure is always the word when reviewing solo works by one of the synth masters of the home production networks.  Hal was one of my first contacts in the (then) “home taper” network, & published one of the earliest (tape) review ‘zines, “Electronic Cottage”.  He sent a whole phroggin’ box of CD’s, which I am taking my time to review… “D.S.S.E” is solo space synth in the classic mode… layer after layer of exploration that reaches deep into our past, enlightening the listener with sonic visuals of the struggle that “search” sometimes is.   You can’t classify this as “ambient”, as it “protrudes” into the consciousness too much… you can’t call it “experimental”, because there are too many hints of orchestrals heard from birth… in fact, you can’t “classify” it with any one “name”.  It is exploratory, refreshing and seems to draw energy from sources unrealized by many of us in today’s sound byte environs.  Your mind/spirit must be primed for discovery in order to enjoy this wonderful CD… if you enjoy stellar sonic surrealism, you won’t be able to take the headphones off until th’ fat lady sings!  For all aficionados of out, this gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating.  Contact Hal at     Rotcod Zzaj

Chad Beall – DEDICATIONS:    Chad’s piano is majestic, well-played and full of life… his debut album (to be released in January 2003) is impressive, showcasing his well-honed abilities, to be sure.  There is an element of nostalgia that his playing inspires, just on the other side of sad… it is clear that he enjoys playing, & that he has great talent for “telling the stories”.  There are some beautiful vocal pieces by Adrian Payne, Alisha Howard and Lanny Anderson… I felt the fire in Beall’s fingers light up (even) more on these interactive pieces; he does a wonderful job of emphasizing the emotions involved through his keyboards… excellent!  This CD gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us, especially for those listeners who love contemporary piano ballads.   Contact at Contact at Musik International, 154 Botasso Rd., Boulder, CO 80302 (e-mail is   )

David Cortopassi – EMBRACE DESTINY:    We first heard David’s (very) unique (& oft-twisted) jazz stylings way back in issue # 41, (“The Silicon Jungle) & fell in love with it immediately (in fact, it’s one of the few that stays in my car player).  This new album is even better, volkz!   Cortopassi has played together with bands as (stylistically) far-ranging as th’ Doobie Brothers to Santana to Tower of Power to… well, ya’ know, th’ list goes on & on!  What’s so unique about his music(s) (& this album especially) is best described in his own words, from the liner notes – that his favorite part of the recording is “hearing back something that came from nowhere”.. if you’re an improvising musician, you’d better understand what that statement is all about (what I want you to imagine is Unkle Frank comin’ back to th’ “Coast of Ghristmas”, & imposing some of his strangest thoughts through David’s fingers/brainwaves)!  He also plays nearly everything on the album, except for some wonderful sections where he’s joined by his son (electric & acoustic guitars) Joshua… what a kick, eh?  (My son Art & I played together on a few occasions, & I can vouch for th’ rush that creates), as well as some superb saxophone by Steve Mann!  If you’re recovering from any kind of substances, you know you need somethin’ to fill th’ gaps (that’s personal experience speakin’ there), & the hope & joy that shines through on this album will give you a contact high at first note!!!  I’m continually amazed by David’s excellent compositions/chops, & you will be as well.  The album will be for sale on all major sites (Amazon, CDBaby, TheOrchard, CDNow, etc…), & if you are looking for something different in an accessible mode – this is it!  “Embrace Destiny” gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us, as well as the “PICK” of 2002 for “best all-round album)!  Contact (as quickly as you can) at POB 3953, Napa, CA 94558, or read more about the upcoming release (& some neat radio promotions for DJ’s)  at  or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Jeff Kaiser – THEMES FOR OCKODEKTET:    A symphony of “strange” attacks your ears, blasting away any semblance of order you (ever) thought you had imposed on your universe… horns, reeds, strings & a very healthy dose of electronics join together to twist&bend your wierdnesses into shapes you have never imagined.  “Conventional” listeners will suffer through nightmares for years to come after one listen, but those among you who are poised on the brink of chaos will find much to examine & rejoice in!  This CD, after the cacophonous intro, comes very close to “jazz”, with all the elements of a “big band”, with a heavy dose of trumpet (as you might imagine, since Jeff can blow some mean & snaky pieces).  He also serves as a “conductor” for the large group, and (amazing as it may seem), is able to mold it & shape it into something totally different than you have ever heard improvised before; Kaiser is especially effective at making use of high/low moments to emphasize the musical message!  If you thirst for high energy in an exploratory large ensemble format, this will strike your fancy.. it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us… it is one of the best improvised albums I’ve heard in 2002!  Contact at POB 1653, Ventura, CA 93002, or on the site at     Rotcod Zzaj

Joe Giardullo/Chris Sullivan/Michael Thompson – LANGUAGE OF SWANS:    “M.O.R.” isn’t something that new releases from (one of our favorite labels) Drimala Records do… they always explore somethin’ new, something different… & “Language Of Swans” is a near-perfect example of how rewarding a new musical experience can be.  Joe’s reeds (alto/soprano sax & bass clarinet) & flutes are superbly complimented by Chris’s bass & Michael’s beautiful percussive & sensitive keyboard work.  The trio is always “on”, no dragging of the momentum on any of the trax.  The recording on these avant-jazzy compositions is excellent, especially when you don th’ ‘phones!   The beauty of these improvised pieces is (obviously) in the spontaneity (and especially the sophisticated and laid-back interplay of the percussives with Giardullo’s horns), but the other element that will (just) capture your attention for the entire 53-something minutes is how subtle the marriage is… we’ve all heard improvisors, but they often sound like they are reaching for something – this trio doesn’t have to reach, ‘coz they’re already there!  Accessible to any jazz-oriented listener, this CD (not only) gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating – they are also the PICK of this issue for “best improvised jazz in 2002”!   Contact at POB 69044, Hampton, VA 23669, via email to   or on the site at  Rotcod Zzaj

Jim Wilson – MY FIRST CHRISTMAS WITH YOU:    As the (silly) season approaches, it is (always) good to receive the new C-mas albums.  Jim’s orchestrally accompanied piano makes for perfect listening, with the ‘phones, or in a party setting.  I really like his playing, because he uses bold (tho’ sensitive) strokes to paint his interpretations of some beautiful holiday standards; there are some some guest vocalists you will (probably) recognize, too.. Dan Fogelberg & Stephen Bishop are among the names (Bishop’s singing is just splendid, too, my favorite cut on the album).  This is just the kind of music that will make perfect background for the family gathering, as they join around the table in celebration!  I’m highly impressed with the recording, as well as with Mr. Wilson’s passion for the season/music… impressed enough to rate it MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!   Contact at Willow Bay Music, 5152 Sepulveda Blvd, Ste. 123, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403, on the site at or via e-mail to    Rotcod Zzaj

Jeff Reilly/Jerry Granelli – IRON SKY:    One of the joys I garner from writing this magazine is that I get to hear music(s) that many folks (out there) have never heard before.  Some writers/reviewers would view that as a “chore”… “o-mi-gourd, not ‘nother “wacked” album”… not THIS writer!  The music on this CD will be a challenge for many listeners… but those willing to tread on ground that is not necessarily “solid” will find their rewards.  Jeff plays some forging clarinet and bass clarinet against sound sculptures formed by Jerry’s electronic percussives.   & this all happens (believe it or not, jus’ like Ripley’s) in a blacksmith shop – ergo the title.  It’s not as klang-y as you might imagine it to be, either.  The percussion elements are (far) more than just a backdrop, they form and shape the composition of the entire CD.  Unfortunately, this one is only 40 minutes long, so it left us wanting to hear more… but it is still one of the most unique and interesting CD’s we have heard this year.  It won’t be for all listeners, to be sure, but many readers of this ‘zine will agree when I declare it to be HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  What would be MOST interesting (for me) is to hear these gents incorporate our friend Bret Hart in the mix!  Contact through the site at or via e-mail to    Rotcod Zzaj

William Roper – ROPER’S DARN YARNS:    We reviewed William’s debut CD (issue # 52), “JUNE TEENTH”, & dug it quite a bit (got our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) – but these “darn yarns” incorporate an element we’d not known about his recordings… he is a top-notch spoken-word artist… his delivery on the opener, “Em(M)”, is flawless, & his voice is full of magick.  There aren’t any earth shattering “revelations” in his spoken-word pieces, but he comes across as “Mr. Performance”, methinks.  William plays tuba against a whole host of freestyle instruments/artists, & it’s a strange orchestral/jazz mix that you won’t hear from any other artist.  Of course, if yer’ lookin’ fer’ high-flyin’ Cannonball Adderly-type big-jazz, you’ll have to go to another rack… but if your ears thirst for sonic adventure – this is THE TICKET!  Th’ last track “Once Upon A Time”, is my favorite… playful but absorbing is how I would describe it… & it features (the late) Glenn Horiuchi’s keyboards on an improvisation that just WILL NOT quit – I love this track; in great part because it features some grand spontaneous spoken-word by Roper that reminds me (after some fashion) of albums we cut here in Olympia in th’ late ’70’s… especially a group named the “Mad Metcalf Ensemble“!  This is a fine & high-spirited album that gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from our ears!  Contact at 1002 Marcheta St., Altadena, CA 91001, or via email to   The album is available for purchase at     Rotcod Zzaj

Xaxis Wye – SAXIFRAGA KLIMIT:    You will quickly realize that there are no limits on this CD… wonderfully driving beats, electronic swirls, sample-madnesses and all th’ trappings of today’s futuristic jazz!  Those listeners who have allowed their minds to become trapped in (thee dreaded) regularity will make a mad dash for their bowl of O-Bran… but those of us who reach for the outer limits will find pure sonic enjoyment here.  Voices are intertwined in the mix to great effect.  The album is the brainchild of Seattle artist/native Jeff Mueller… his music reflects sonic depth that few (in the electronic medium) can achieve.  While many would pigeonhole this in the “electronic jazz” category, I say it goes (far, far) beyond categorization… it contains (some) elements of industrial, but more than anything else, it reflects true originality.  It will take you on a journey all the way from urban madness to the deepest and darkest jungles!  The clean recording makes it a much better experience than some similar albums, but it is more the energy quotient (than anything else) that attracts my ears to it.  If you’re looking for something to treat yer’ ears to -GET THIS!  It gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us!  Contact at  or listen to .mp3’s at or   You can also contact Jeff directly at    Rotcod Zzaj

Ensemble Galilei – A WINTER’S NIGHT:    If you’re in the mood for some holiday music played in the great Irish tradition(s), with fiddles, pipes & harps – you’ll HAVE to get this one!  Spirits that don’t rise when listeneing to this joyously played music are probably zombies anyway.   “Christmas Day”, track 3, is one of my favorites… it lets me (easily) drift back to pleasant snow-covered mornings in the hills of Pennsylvania, under the brightly lit tree, with all the family gathered ’round in celebration.  There will be (more than) a few listeners who become so infected by the playful spirits generated by this ensemble that they kick off their shoes & jump up to dance arm-in-arm around the tree.  This is a beautiful album, beautifully recorded and played.  It gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us!  “A WINTER’S NIGHT” would make a fine gift for a traditional music lover.  Contact at Contact at 10 Fiske Place, Suite 530, Mt. Vernon, NY 10550, via e-mail to or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Kabul Workshop – TRIGANA:    So, you want to “get a feel” for what those poor, bombed out neighbors of ours in Afghanistan are like culturally?  This album/CD (in from TINDER RECORDS)  is one of the best ways to do that!  Francesco Russo & Khaled Arman are the leaders of this (essentially) quintet… they have fused together some wonderful electronic musics, based on their respective homelands of Afghanistan & Neopolitia.  The energy is high-end, but they pay due homage to the culture(s) of their countries, & that saves it from becoming “just another world” album.   Those of you who have viewed the middle East as “stodgy”, or “clerical”, are really missing something if you don’t expose your ears to this wonderful blend of electronically enhanced music and cultural roots!  It gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us!  Contact at Tinder Records, 4380 Redwood Highway, Suite B-10, San Rafael, CA 94903, via e-mail to or on the site at    Rotcod Zzaj

Darlene Koldenhoven – HEAVENLY PEACE:    Listeners who crave something beautiful and inspiring for the coming C-mas season will find this album pure delight for their ears!  Darlene has a vocal execution that is flawless, and energy that seems boundless on these traditional Christmas songs.  The orchestration is simple, but wonderful… the compositions hold clearly to the form that was intended by the composers, but there are elements of jazz, world & (just about) every other style of music on the globe.  If you aren’t inspired by her singing, you’re dead already, so forget it.  There are sections where the bass lines really remind me of Jaco Pastorius, though I couldn’t see him listed in the credits (who was that bass man, anyway?).  Koldenhoven is one of the most talented vocalists I’ve ever heard, and any listener who enjoys great music will fall in love with this in short order.  The CD gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us!   Contact the label via e-mail to, or get in touch with Darlene at     Rotcod Zzaj

Barrio Chino – MEDITERRA NOSTRA:    This TINDER RECORDS label has a hallmark… every album we’ve reviewed has energy quotients that push the limits of the EQ scale… it doesn’t matter the genre, their CD’s get you moving!  As you’ve probably guessed from the title, this ’round is based on fine Latino/jazz traditions, but each cut appears to have been selected to force the listener to shake, rattle & roll!  The group is from Spain, though their members come from many other countries, including France, Cuba & Algeria.  Many of the songs are actually stories of people who escaped unfavorable conditions in one way or another, so (even though I don’t understand Spanish) it’s easy to feel the jubilation in their tales.  If you want to overcome shadow & break into the light of spiritual freedom – GET THIS ONE; it gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating… a definite KEEPER!   Contact at Tinder Records, 4380 Redmond Way, Suite 810, San Rafael, CA 94903, via e-mail to or on the site at    Rotcod Zzaj

Eric Wallack – GRENDEL:    We reviewed some of Eric’s works in issue # 59, and enjoyed them very muchly!  This outing is named after his 1940’s model Silvertone flattop… it was recorded “virgin”, on an ancient reel-to-reel.  He indicated that the sound quality might have suffered a bit because of that… & while that is true, to a degree, Wallack’s musical intentions/inventions are crystal clear!   The music is laid-back & inspiring (all) at the same time!  His album art is fantastic this time around, with credit listings, an “inside” jacket & a definite sense of “telling his story” (something I think is greatly important for a home recording artist).  His improvisations move along at rapid pace, & I am reminded (in many ways) of some of the earlier guitar works I’ve heard (my friend) Ernesto Diaz-Infante doing (EDI, you need to get in touch with this guy; ed).  The percussives are rampant, & bring on lucid images of th’ guy disciplining his guitar (heh! heh!).  There is a lot to be absorbed here, so you need to do it with yer’ ‘phones on!  I am more & more impressed each time I listen to Eric’s improvisations… free & loose, a spirit that will fan th’ flames!  This CD gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all fans of music with high creativity!  Contact via e-mail to  Eric will also have it posted on his page at HOMEMADE MUSIC soon!   Rotcod Zzaj

Ian Smith – DAYBREAK:    You’ll soon recognise that that ain’t no rooster crowin’ at 5:00am… it’s Ian’s flugelhorn and/or trumpet heralding another day of improv on yer’ horizon(s).  This recording is part of a huge stack I received from Martin Davidson, of Emanem Recordings, & features (some) appearance by improv luminary Derek Bailey, as well as Gail Brand on trombone, Oren Marshall on tuba & Veryan Weston on chamber organ.  It was recorded in August 2000, & came out perfectly (recording-wise).  You will need to be a fan of improvised/random music(s), else you’ll get lost after the first two or three bars… this is not “pop” music… it requires active listening (& imagination, to fill in the gaps).  One of my favorite tracks (which features all the players) is “Windsurfing”, track 13… there are some intricate moments, especially on the interplays between Bailey’s guitar & the organ by Weston… strange, but intricate.  If you need something improvised to wake up your senses to the newness available in life… this comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!   Contact through Martin Davidson, 3 Bittacy Rise, London NW7 2HH England, on the site at  or via email to  Rotcod Zzaj

Bret Hart/Jeff Mcleod – DYNAMIC NEGATIVISM:    Readers/listeners who have been exposed to Bret’s “Duets” series will know already what the prime dynamic is with the CD’s he’s produced of late… a total flurry of activity pourin’ out of his brain & through his fingers… what you won’t be prepared for is the flawless purity of the new sounds he & Jeff (who is one crackerjack player) create on this GREAT CD!  The opener, “Crisis Hammers”, has some superb guitar wizardry against some of the oddest hammers you’ll ever hear (it is, without question, my favorite track on the album).  There is relentless rockin’ goin’ on here, with tons o’ strange mixed in… simple, yet boo-ful!  I’ve been pals with Bret ever since we met (was it really almost 15 years ago) in Korea; more importantly, I’ve had the pleasure of listening to the growth & maturity blossom – & on “DYNAMIC NEGATIVISM”, he’s reached some kind o’ zenith!  Another favorite track is # 9, “Worry About Meat” (don’t let th’ titles throw ya’, Bret’s always doin’ that)… an arpeggiated hunk of ke-go-gi on Mexican jumping beans, to be sure.  The overall effect of this experience is that you will (days down th’ road) find yourself in a body you didn’t know was yours, tappin’ out a rhythm that belongs to some electronic shaman in another univers – if you make it back, that is!  EXCELLENT…. gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who want something to listen to!  Contact at Instrumentales, 428 Patrick Street, Eden, NC, 27288, or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj



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Carryovers from those frustrated earlier years lead me to believe
that since garter belts and spike heels have gone the way of most
other phreaknesses, there will come a time – supposedly – (much
later, when senility sweeps ever so softly in upon my senses) when
“Supp-Hose” will be my main attraction… this is the main abberation
standing in the way of more diligently attacking… the monumental
task at hand; blowing the minds of sedimental journeymen with ever
new renditions of red sunset sales and waging war on those wayward
warriors who can only find time for the pursuit of booze, bennies and
broads… those who have so little time for the sweet of (true)
pleasure’s simple, and CERTAINLY no time for auras awash in

…’tis further complicated by the reluctance found on most frontiers
to open up to TRUST; down to the ultimate level, where even spiritual
nudity and its’ inherent vulnerabilities are no longer so horribly
frightening – it is really, then, that our twisted interpretation of
separate existence for those two most valid states (sexual/spiritual)
is what forces us ultimately to the realization that it is ALL
somehow only one big improvisation, anyway, so we ought to just LAY
BACK and let it happen…

With that as our introductory framework for insanity, let us further

Spiderwomb thought
In silkenthread looms, as
Transience comes clear (I realize)
This age adds no wisdom
To a true understanding
Of the futility
In concrete illusions…

And the dagger
Sharp twinge, cutting image
Quickfades, in mem’ry
Of hesitant (near innocent) approaches
To the nova
Heat of her

Transience being the mystery in this complicated weave of
improvisational EXISTENCE, we must further consider the happenings…

In the space of a single moment
Three moons past (in the arms)
Of this lover of abandon, that
All men’s dreams are made of;

True recognition
Of the improvisational scheme
No curtain calls
Only beginnings
In this hustle, of


And the sister’s come
As brothers go, to the beauty
Of butterflies
In wanton streams
Becoming the beacons
For our passage
Into the next phase!

And now the soldier, weary of to and fro, begins to recite his
somewhat tattered war-torn tale of woe…

Momentary version (inversion, reversion) of self returning from
or coming to reality; the ‘garden’ remaining only an allusion in
this chaotic semblance of ORDER that uniformity demands…
‘natural’ only the many-colored robe donned as the decades turn;
and imagery only a fallen fantasy in the face of the
technological tirade these demons so proudly professed to be
the answer…

“What war did daddy do in you?”
“What did the war do in you, daddy?”
“What daddy did war do in, you?”

Waiting for the wonder of the weave, weary become the way of
life… creativity cumbles as the pillars turn to the ancient
powders… apolitically rise, mourningly, to meet what the
mortals (having been led to) believe to be challenge… there
are more to dreams than Freud would have us understand, but
that’s not my business! Where are the KEYS?

Patience is no virtue
It is, rather
An ancient art;

Ask the hunter
(OR the hunted)!

Spiritual communition creeps abaout in such unlikely places;
sinners and saints alike seek comfort in the coming of the
cloud; subliminal death-wish imposed on millions of
unsuspecting discophiles… how serious this condition? Only
philosophers know for sure… or palmists… maybe psalmists..
purchase peace elsewhere – existence is MINE!

“How can it end like that?”, you ask; YOU are the answer!!!

at the end of time we still need music      (by Luke Buckham)


she walked out of a house charcoaled by ancient arguments

with a blue guitar and a sheaf of songs ruffled by the wind

and the trees bustled around her dropping leaves in her path 

hungry for the wood they relinguished to her guitar

and the signposts bent toward her rattling their lights

hungry for the metal that made her strings

that bruised her fingers for a thousand nights

and she was ready to play all the remaining chords in the universe

but she met a man from the end of the world

who showed her the newspapers and the proclamations of the apocalypse

and soon she was sitting on the sidewalk crying

her guitar laying at her side like an animal stuffed by a cruel taxidermist

(who has time for rock n’ roll if the world’s about to end?)

but she stood up and strummed, tears falling off her like hail,

and a few birds

dropped out of the acoustic air around her,

making fluttery noises

like newspapers

being thrown away forever.



dying sidewalks       (by Luke Buckham)


you sometimes well up with oversize tears

on the way to the convenience store.

all those people behind the counter looking asleep.

you would like to wake them up,

but you, too, are afraid to live,

and yet want to light up every situation,

even the mundane ones.  but on some days

your smile won’t be reflected from anything.

you feel your mouth grow numb

as an oyster on supermarket ice cubes.

the clang of the cash drawer is the only voice left on those days.

make a joke about death

while the tv broadcasts a baseball game

and the green field run by men in leotards 

is far from your slush-ridden feet wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper,

look the clerk in the eyes as if you could make his face 

into a train tunnel to eternity in heaven,

and make a joke about death.

hear the crack of the bat ushering out the last home run,

and know 

as your whole heart bleeds into your lungs 

how badly we need laughter in the dryest places.



metamorphosis       (by Luke Buckham)


when you are dead in the guts,

the faces around you look dead.

and you hate them for being dead. 

so many numb smiles

in the reflection of yours. 

if you realize your own death,

many of those previously thought dead 

mysteriously wake up,

and show new wrinkles of mystery 

around the eyes and mouth.


huge and monstrous books have been written

by people who never learned how to do this.


Verse spews forth from a penis
In a porno movie, sperm shot
In a thunderclap of creation
Arcing onto a limpid page, curving
To receive the sacrament, spotting,
Burning through the frosty parchment,
Icy in death, hard and stiff.


         wedding invitation

A Japanese pillow book,
Humongous penes,
Testes – what a lucky girl . . . .



I’ve been told there are only limited editions on approach to matters
improvisational; which matters not a hoot, since any enlightenment
received from a “textbook” would/could not possibly equate to the
true spirit (as I perceive it, anyway) of improvisation…

…at any rate, what I really want to throw at you is a question…
how does society/culture affect attitudes towards improvisation? My
last 9 years have been spent (for the most part, anyway) in Korea…
there is an ‘attitude’ here about approach to “life” in general,
mostly influenced by Confucious’ followers that says – “Don’t
talk/just DO”… recent horrific experiences in both Korea and China
show some flaws in that approach when it’s applied in the political
arena… while the struggle is a necessary one (and the battles MUST
be fought, since there will ALWAYS be those eager to ‘control’
others’ thoughts), some things (on the political battleground,
anyway), must be thought out first, and targets selected/affected
that will sway the powermongers’ mind towards conciliation; but in
matters more important, i.e., LIFE and the living of it (which
CERTAINLY must encompass the arts), there is (by my interpretation)






things is the only way to experience a valid improvisational
experience… and when that’s done as a matter of course (the
CULTURAL aspect I alluded to), it BECOMES a way of life… life
becomes an improvisational experience.

Observing the States from afar (as I have done for the bulk of the
last 25 years), it is easy to see that our societal/cultural
propensity for ORGANIZATION/ORDER has led us to a state where
improvisation and its’ practicioners are definitely the
“odd-men-out”… even the DOING of things is hampered by some jaded
concept (related to ORDER) of the way things are SUPPOSED to be
done… then improvisation becomes a matter of CARNIVAL/CIRCUS;
something for the ‘regular’ folks to make fun of; & who needs that?
Of course, that’s no put down for those who daily practice the idea
of LIVING improvisation in the land of Yuppies… it’s only to say
that there are cultural BLOCKS to being very successful at it

SO – What to do? Continue… DO… improvise! …and integrate

east/west/hither/yon/yin/yang/up/down/wherever/whenever/however you
can; particularly when it helps to defeat the STRUCTURE imposed by
the ‘normals’ already born/bred into the webs of concrete that have
grown up around them!




INTERVIEW with “jammin’Dave”

Zzaj:  I really like the idea of a “central” place to check on CD’s, .mp3files, etc.  There are similar efforts going on around the net (like Bryan Baker’s INDIEONESTOP)… what makes your site unique (for artists)?

Dave: I’ve seen Bryan’s site and it’s nice (Short run music is a great deal). I guess what makes it different is me. I am part musician, part teacher, and part computer nerd. I try to moderate the site to avoid having yet another “spamathon.” Also as a software instructor, my newsletter occasionally gets slightly technical (but as an instructor, I feel I can bring it down to a digestible level). I will put almost anything in the newsletter. I even promote other similar sites. My goal is to point musicians at cool sites, and share our experiences to help each other grow. At first it was weird publishing items about Europe, then I researched to see that the members represent a wide global presence. This makes the site even cooler. Other sites charge you for subscriptions etc. My newsletter, and site are free (except for a very SMALL fee for listing a classified).

Zzaj:  I notice that you are a performing artist yourself.  Do you play live?

Dave: I currently play in two groups. My main group is a seven piece blues/R&B band called the $ugar Daddies ( I also play in a blues classic rock band called “Beyond Blue” that is slightly more guitar oriented. I released a “Solo” CD this year that is part Metalica part
Poison. Between my bands, job, wife, church, and web site I stay pretty busy. I try to hit the ground running every day, and hit the pillow tired.

Zzaj:  What is the difference between a “classified” & a “press release” on your site?

Dave: As the newsletter is published every two weeks, we needed a place for people to announce things immediately. I created the “Press Release” section for this reason. This also helps cut down on the newsletter being loaded too heavily with “listen to my new mp3” posts. These can be posted immediately. Anyone looking for this type of information now has it readily available. I originally set up the “Press Release” page to be a classified section. However, as more and more posts came in, they would get lost in the shuffle. I created the classifieds section to ensure that all the listings are one page (so your classified is seen). It’s the only section of the site that is not free (and even then it’s only a buck a week). I’m getting a good response, and things seem to be selling quickly for folks.

Zzaj:  Are there “too many artists” out there, or just not enough listeners?

Dave: Well with the music business force-feeding us the latest flavors, I believe there are not enough informed listeners. With the recent bland pop kind of running out of steam, I think the average listeners is now open to a wider range of music, and is hungry for good music. The problem is finding it.

Zzaj:  Is the Internet a viable tool for artists, or does it just create a “glut” for listeners?

Dave: I believe it will be a viable tool. I mean Prince tried to market his stuff with the Internet, and didn’t have much success, so it’s not the answer right now (and there have been other “known” artists who have tried). It’s a great tool; the only problem is that not everyone is aware of the
resources. I’ve met some great folks on the Internet. I listen to a lot of Internet radio, and I’ve been turned on to some really great artists. When I find a tool that I enjoy, I always share it with the group. Right now I love listening to The whole point of the site is for EVERYONE to do
that (share ideas). I think we’re right on the edge of everything changing. The mainstream music business just hasn’t figured out how to get their hands around it.

Zzaj:  Since the focus of my ‘zine is on high-energy independent (home-produced) musicians, what “words of wisdom” do you have for them?

Dave: This is an easy question. BACK UP YOUR STUFF. I have a VS2480 digital recording studio, and just lost about 6 months worth of stuff (ouch). On another note, I would say experiment with mic placement when recording, and don’t skimp when buying a vocal microphone. Lastly, don’t put a deadline on our release unless it’s necessary (get it done right). Then before you release it, put it away for a week. Get it completely out of your mind. Then go back and listen to it with a friend. You’ll find stuff you will probably want to tweak.

Zzaj:  What are your thoughts on the recent moves to stifle Internet Radio stations?

Dave: I was really bummed. As I mention, if I’m on a computer I am more than likely listening to an Internet station. To me this is a great direct path to listeners that bypasses the mainstream, and we NEED that. In Cleveland (where I live near) at 8 pm ¾ of the rock stations play a Metallica block. I
like Metallica, but it just goes to show the lack of originality in programming. If it’s not a college station, good luck getting your stuff played here locally. I sent letters to my congressmen via live365’s site when the bill was up for a vote.

Zzaj:  How long have you been doing your website?  What got you interested/started with it?

Dave: My first issue came out on March 13, 2002. I had five members in the group. Now we have close to 450. As cheesy as it sounds. I am a big fan of constant improvement. I had registered my domain ( to promote a CD I was getting ready to release (“jammin dave” is an old
nickname). When the CD got pushed back, I was like “Well what do I do with the domain?” One night a bunch of my musicians friends got together and just talked about being in bands. A lot of great ideas were shared about marketing, bookings, etc. I started the group using some tools at yahoo, and I thought this would be a great place to make use of my talents, as a musician, web developer, teacher, and customer service rep all in one. In college I was the editor of the school newsletter (although I could still use a proof reader), and this site uses all of my “talents” in one place.
There is still a page for my CD, and a book I wrote (Get Your Band Out of the Basement (And Keep them Out of the Asylum). The rest of the site is devoted to the Musician’s Cyber Cooler. I love the fact that one minute I feel like the “Dear Abbey” of indie musician’s (letting someone know it’s not a good idea to start a trio with a married couple), and the next I’ll be getting some input for myself from a DJ on how to submit CD’s to a station. If two heads are better than one, 450 must be fantastic. It’s a passion to learn, and help others learn.

Zzaj:  Who are YOUR favorite artists (living or dead)?

Dave: I was the only kid in my first grade class to know who Hendrix was when he died. When I was in high school I was a big metal head. I was WAY into Ted Nugent. This was for two reasons. First he is an amazing guitar player. Second, he doesn’t do drugs. To me music is about releasing emotion
from your soul through your instrument. To me being drunk/high only inhibits that process, so I was a HUGE Nugent fan. I got to meet him at a book signing this year, and he is really a cool guy. I loved Randy Rhoads (Ozzy’s first guitar player). Then I really got into a wider range of music, and was
deeply influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughan (I still have a page devoted to him). As a guitar player everyone from Angus Young, Eddie Van Halen, Leo Kottke, Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Schenker, George Lynch, Chuck Berry, etc influenced me. My music collection goes from Tori Amos to Anthrax (So I am all over the place). In Chicago there is a guy named “Guitar Shorty, that just blew me away at Buddy Guy’s club. Someone just gave me a CD of Eva Cassidy. She’s a great jazz/blues singer who unfortunately died very early.

Zzaj:  Do you think that independent music production is an important part of today’s world?  Or is it viewed by (the public) as “non-viable”?

Dave: I think it depends on the genre. The problem with most indie music is it sounds exactly like what it is (recorded in the basement). This then gets labeled as “non-viable.” Go to a site such as or and listen to some of the crap people are releasing (some of it is really bad). In addition to the Cyber Cooler, I also am a reviewer at, and I hear some really HORRIBLE stuff in terms of production. Now with today’s new technology the line between commercial production and independent is getting smaller, and more people are listening to local bands and asking, “This is you?” cause the quality is getting better. As horrible as it sounds, if the recording quality is bad, I’m too shallow to see through the tape hiss to hear the performance of the music. I just can’t take it. Unfortunately I’m afraid most people share my opinion as bad production can be distracting. It’s kind of strange, one minute I can listen to an old Little Richard recording and love it (cause I’m not as critical being an older recording). Then if someone hands me a tape, and if
it sounds like it was recorded in the 50’s, I may be biased (how hypocritical is that?). This goes for my own recordings. It makes it hard not to be a perfectionist when you’re trying to get a 250,000 sound out of a 2,500 piece of equipment. A friend of mine recorded in his basement, and then took it to a professional studio to get it mastered. It cost him more, but it was worth the cash. Getting back to my first point, it also depends on the genre. If I’m listening to the Ramones, I’ll accept much less quality. But other genre’s require more polish, and when it’s not there, it requires an amazing song to get me to stick with it.

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     I don’t know about what you remember from our first war with Iraq, but I know what I have etched in my mind… clouds of dark smoke risin’ above th’ desert, with the (not unimaginable) possibility of throwin’ th’ whole earth back into an ICE AGE! 

     There is no justification for action(s) so reckless that they put the whole world in danger of near-term extinction; & there certainly is no way that one measly college dropout should be leading a nation to the brink of contemplating (yet) another disaster in the making!  Not without (some level of) proof!  Politicians are adept at bitin’ off more than we can pay for… & why shouldn’t they be?  It’s no skin off their nose if the nation fumbles the ball, or if some damnable dictator sets the whole world on fire… oh, sure, they might not get elected th’ next time ’round, but if their adventures come (even) close to “winning”, they WILL get re-elected… & (for them), that is the only game in town.  Yah, I know, many Americans are enthralled with Shrubbie’s “honesty” & “moral character”… but, who (among the followers in today’s world) wouldn’t be, after watching the public spectacle that Billary imposed on us each & every day for 8 years?   Don’t ever forget that the reason a politician is hired in the first place is because they are successful at convincing (i.e., lying to) more of the people about their ability to fix or eliminate (insert your favorite political issue) than their opponent was!

     It’s really not much different from th’ (dirty) businessmen we see operating in today’s sound-byte cacophony… though I haven’t been on Wall Street, I’ve heard it from the mouths of some of the primeslimes in today’s business world… “it doesn’t really matter if it works – the only thing that matters is if we can sell it to them”!  Today’s business world is full of liars and scoundrels (& I know this for a fact, because I have worked with more than a few of them) – pitching their shoddy (soft)wares in rooms full of (other) fat business(wo)men whose salaries put them at such a distance from real folks (like you & me) that taking a gamble with our livelihoods isn’t a factor anymore… because (for them), it’s only that phroggin’ brass ring that counts; if it all falls apart (for the business), so what… their bank accounts are well padded already.

     The thing that really scares me (& hopefully, it will scare you as well), is that business-folks and politicians (the few that I’ve been associated with, anyway, all seeming to have come from the same pool of common pond scum) have convinced themselves, & a horrifying amount of the world’s populace, that their greedy goals are the norm; that we should aspire to be like them!  I begin to think that they honestly believe that people should want to be like they are.

     Kick back for just a moment… turn that damned TV off (so as not to be influenced by it’s subtle messages), lower the lights & just reflect on what your life is about… it really doesn’t matter what your favorite color is; or how you like your eggs… what does matter is whether you can think your own thoughts… and form your own opinions… and be who you really are.   As much of a curmudgeon as I (sometimes) tend to be, I still have faith that if a few hundred thousand of us would take a TV-less 3 minute break once/twice (or more) a week, & then turn our opinions/thoughts into a “letter to the editor”, or a “rant on a website”… we would (in a matter of only a few months) turn the tide against these wretched weasels in wool suits.  Most people that I know are not greedy businessmen/politicos… they are not “managers”, who only deal with spreadsheets or opinion polls… they are folks who work hard every day & want to put food on the table!  They didn’t rise from a tainted gene pool… folks only get that way when they forget who they are!  People who can remember where they came from, & who they are, have the potential to be something that “managers” live in absolute dread ofLeaders!

     What is the point of my rant?  Speak out, people!  Take that “byte break” mentioned above, get in touch with your thoughts & feelings… then assemble them & tell these kings of krap that you do not want their riches… that you do not want to be like them… & that what you really want is to live in a world that looks upon politicians and their closely related (incestual) cousins, businessmen, for what they really are… snake oil salesmen… worth a guffaw or two, but certainly not worth following. 

     In fact, if you take those few moments of thought I’m recommending, then concentrate and focus on speaking/writing/performing your vision, we would/could have a world that didn’t respond to the evil (and weak) urge to follow… & that is the world I want to live in – a world of individuals… a world of survivors!!!



Till next time….



Rotcod Zzaj