Improvijazzation Nation, issue # 65 1/2

# 65 1/2

Issue # 65 1/2 REVIEWS

FEATURED Zzaj Productions album samples

Bluer Than Blue (Ernesto Diaz-Infante; poetry,  Zzaj; keyboards)

Continuum – (John Alkins, solo piano)

Each Speech (John M. Bennett; wacked-out poetry, Zzaj; keyboards)

Check out th’ “new” Zzaj “diary

Kieron – I SEE THE SUNRISE:    Coincidence (whether you believe in them, or not) very often plays a big part in my life… this intriguing and inspiring keyboard & synthesizer music was handed to me by Kieron Morkin (of all places) during the middle of a war game.  Mr. Morkin plays spiritual music with heart & soul, so beautifully that even a hard-case free-jazzer like myself had little choice but to listen to each of the 10 tracks for repeated listens.  As you might glean from the title (or you might not, I suppose), there are many traditional hymns… but Kieron’s playing (even on the slower tracks) gives you a clear vision of one who believes in the music he plays, and he reaches right out & touches you; he calls it the “music of hope” – & if you can’t hear some of that coming through, your heart is dead!   His synth patches are skillfully woven in, under & through crystal-clear piano expressions… this isn’t “just another” keyboard album with tired or repetitive phrases – he expresses emotions (through his fingers) that those raggedy snake charmers I grew up under had no inkling of (in their fire & brimstone rants).  Listeners with no interest in that which inspires will probably pass “I See The Sunrise”, but I give it a hale & hearty HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Contact via his site, at      Rotcod Zzaj

Colin Stranahan Quintet – DREAMS UNTOLD:   Volkz’, this kid (th’ drummer) is only 17, but he makes it sound as though he’s been playin’ with th big boyz for about 50 years. His drumming shows maturity far beyond his calendar years… totally sensitive to th’ players around him (Kenny Warren on trumpet, tenor by Mike Bailey, keyboards by Jeff Jenkins, Ken Walker on drums, & guest shots (on soprano sax) by Colin’s dad Jim & Ron Miles (trumpet). There are no klunkers on this outing, at all… high energy (many of them originals) jazz that will have you groovin’ & finger-poppin’ from th’ opening bar to th’ last note. Tho’ Colin’s from Colorado, I’ve little doubt you’ll be able to listen to him in downtown NYC before long… this boy just KICKS! This CD has been rotating in my car for several weeks now… no matter how many times you listen to it, you’ll always find something refreshing & new. Ah, to be 17 again, eh? Since that ain’t gonna’ happen, though, get acquainted with a drummer who is gonna’ be a GIANT in th’ next few years! An absolutely GREAT album that gets th’ PICK of this issue for “best jazz this year”. Simply superb. Contact on th’ site at  or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Milagra Acustico – THE RUBAIYYAT OF OMAR KHAYYAM:    Music that transcends cultures (effectively) is rare.  A simple, yet beautiful, mix of musical stylings from Italy, the Middle East, Indonesian & Magrebin musical heritage, this comes as close to “world music” as possible, without getting rutted in rhythms that are dead & over-used.  While the purist improv listener will hesitate, if the album is given a fair listen, your ears will be rewarded with the magic of ancient/timeless quatrains from Omar Khayyam (translated to Sicilian dialects, except for two of them).  A very relaxing, yet inspirational journey through music that reaches out across the ages & grasps the soul ever so gently – a definite keeper!  I would recommend headphones, at least for the first round, but no matter how you choose to listen to it, be sure to establish an environment that provides no interruptions.  This gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & we hope to hear more from the group in the near future.  Contact at Valley Entertainment, 333 West 52nd St., New York, NY 10019, or via the site at    Rotcod Zzaj

Taliesin Orchestra – THREAD OF TIME:    We have enjoyed this group’s splendid world music for quite some time… somehow, this CD got buried at the bottom (or near it) of the CD review box.  A treasure that is timeless, with stellar energy orchestrals, and Enya-like vocal arrangements, T.O. takes you on a pleasant journey through galaxies of sound designed to overwhelm your spirit.  Actually, everything (of theirs) I’ve listened to tends to be that way, but “Thread Of Time” is truly majestic, far beyond the ordinary in inspiration and power.  This kind of high-end orchestral work with angelic vocals is considered (by many) to be passé  – and there’s a good reason for that… because it is often performed without a passion from the heart; the Taliesin Orchestra fuses fire with fresh & gives new life to the form.  This will not be a hit amongst those enraptured with the edges – but it merits a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us for listeners who hear the “new” in “New Age”.  Contact at    Rotcod Zzaj

Spooky Actions – SONGS OF THE NATIONS:    “Spooky” indeed… our friend Bruce Arnold’s jazz guitar(s) & windmeister John Gunther weave in, around & about with their own contributions to pieces from various Native American tribes (Sioux, Arapaho, Zuni – just to name a few).  I’ve listened to (& reviewed) albums like this before, & they often tend to over-emphasize the non-native aspects (whether that be jazz, world or new age) on the recordings.  “Spooky Actions” made sure that their additions stayed far enough back in the mix that the listener still is wrapped in the Native American experience, & that knocks the peg up a lot for me!  Thomas Buckner performs the baritone vocals and readings masterfully, & it wouldn’t be hard for you to imagine yourself ’round a tribal campfire, listening to the stars tell ancient stories… nice drums & percussion by Kirk Driscoll round it all out.  The energy for the music being played is significant, & keeps the pace moving along very pleasantly – BUT, without overplaying the modern instrumentation.  A vibrant CD that gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners of all persuasions.  Contact via e-mail to  or on the site at     Rotcod Zzaj

John Hines – IN THE POCKET:    Rawk-in’ ‘bone from John Hines, with keyboards by Michael Pagan, drums by Rob Ward, Mike Williams on bass & special guest Hugh Ragin on flugelhorn & trumpet (as well as a couple of very fine vocals by Angela Holley).  The set leads off with the title tune (a Hines original), which jumps into high gear right away… I haven’t heard excitement like that on a trombone in a long, long time.  Though the pace slows down (just a bit) as th’ tracks move on through the album, the energy doesn’t degenerate (even a lil’ bit).  The second cut (“I Could Write A Book”), features all the players, & some very intricate horn work by Ragin.  My favorite cut on the album (besides the opener) is Pagan’s original, “More Than A Friend”… a really hip tune that will make you feel like Mr. or Ms. Cool.   Hines other original track, “Kickin’ Back” will get yer’ feet movin’ (‘less yer’ inna’ ground already)… jazz hip-hop, I presume.  Heh! Heh!  If you dig deep & throaty female jazz vocals, you’ll probably find Angela Holley’s rendition of “A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square” among your favorites, too.  A great CD that merits a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from our ears.  Contact at or through the publicity agent, at    Rotcod Zzaj


Bill Horist – LYRIC/SUITE:  A CD from Horist is always a treat… never a stagnant moment, new horizons being explored in ways your ears could never (without his help) imagine.  Some of his solo guitar compositions will tease you into thinking that he’s playing “normal” (for a change)… but as the initial idea expands (and flowers), he shows you (aurally) what creativity looks like – & it is not what you (necessarily) want it to be.  “Lyric/Suite” is full of gentler points & angles than I’m used to hearing (on Soylent Radio, f’r’instance) from Bill, but that makes it (after 3 listens) even stranger than you thought it was (when you were listening to it).  This is where the album has the most value for any listener interested in exploring the creative process, actually… though you don’t realize it until (at least) a couple days (or months, depending on how well your left brain functions) later.  Another total winner from Mr. Horist – I enjoyed it thoroughly, & have no doubt that those with any level of creative flow will support me in giving it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who want to expand their understanding of how music happens!  Contact at Accretions, P.O. Box 81973, San Diego, CA 92138, via e-mail to or on the site at   Rotcod Zzaj

Wayne Wesley Johnson – CANCIONES DEL ALMA (SONGS FROM THE SOUL):  Several guest artists on this round with Wayne’s fantastic guitars.  Th’ title tells it all… these are definitely SONGS (not chicken-scratch noise sculptures), & they (all) reach right in & grab your spirit – make it sing!  Shades of Santana’s most recent efforts, but distinctly Mr. Johnson’s fingers.  The compositions are allowed to s-t-r-e-t-c-h out and take their own sweet time; no one-hit wonders on the album.  We’ve reviewed Johnson’s works before, & always found them attractive (especially if you love th’ fire inherent in Latin-based musics).  Patterns are similar to songs you’ve heard (all these years), but Wayne Wesley infuses the performances with high-end energy that will have you clackin’ yer’ castanets from the opener to the end-run.  I don’t (really) feature this as “road music”, but a coupla’ margaritas on your patio with Wayne’s songs will have you whippin’ out your Zorro sword to make yer’ mark on th’ lawn… heh! heh!  Thoroughly enjoyable, this gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us!  Contact at Wayne Wesley Johnson / Freda Ruiz (aka Wannadu, LLC)
7 Avenida Vista Grande #-260, Santa Fe, N.M. 87508, on the site at  or via email to  Rotcod Zzaj

Jugalbandi – NIGHT CRAZY:  Well, th’ latest CD offering from this group (who we’ve reviewed many times before) is much like our friend Greg Segal described it to be – “”goes in much stranger places than anything else we’ve put out.”  Slow-burn (& beautiful) dulcimer/table piece (“Ants Ate My Silkworms”) starts the action, moving you gently into the fusion/improv opera that follows. Th’ title track is next, & it is a WINNER!  You must listen carefully to best enjoy all th’ little nooks & crannies of “Night Crazy”, but I can guarantee that you’ll find much to appreciate on this tune… Greg’s guitar/effects masterfully lead you into black holes & Hyam Sosnow’s drum/cymbal/gong painting is the most sensitive portrait of the inside of the miasma of darkest night I’ve heard in (quite) a while.  There is no rush to go into hyper-drive, but before you realize it, your dream(s) are far out past our galaxy, discovering novas of sound exploding through th’ headphones… an absolute must album for sonic explorers.  I can say (without qualification) that this is the best CD I’ve heard from Jugalbandi yet!  “The Lost Transit Center” is another favorite track, meandering from way station to way station across the eons.  Segal expresses sensitivities to his instrument that I had heard before, but never realized so fully as on this recording.  All in all, a perfect way to glide into a Sunday morning… this CD gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for lovers of aural adventure the world around!  Contact via Greg’s PAGES, , or via e-mail to    Rotcod Zzaj

Joshua Breakstone – A JAMAIS:  Breakstone’s jazz guitar (on th’ opening title track sounds (very much) like some of th’ best horn soloists you’ve ever listened to… when he takes hold of that solo, it takes off (non=chordally) & is one continuous (& beautifully smooth) RUN!  He’s got total mastery of those strings, to th’ degree that you won’t even realize it until a couple of days after listening through it the first couple of times…. what I mean is that his approach is so subtle that you won’t even know that his original tune (which most of the tracks are) has stuck in your head – & you’ll be walkin’ down th’ street, whistlin’ it in your head.  That was particularly true of “Taken For Granted”, one of my favorite cuts on th’ album (& isn’t that an interesting title for a song that won’t go away?).  Heh! Heh!  This was recorded in France, with bassist Louis Petrucciani & drummer Joel Allouche… great players all, totally on top of the directions they’re going in.  If it’s laid-back & “dow-un” you want, check out track 4, “Tomorrow’s Hours”, or “1802”, on cut 6.  There is such soul & fire here, I’m really impressed, & any devoted fan of great jazz will get right on out to th’ store & buy this one (it went on sale April 26th)!  This gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED… a total jazz experience that will stay in your collection for years & years to come!  Contact at  or via snail to Capri Records Ltd., P.O. Box 892, 60615 U.S. Highway 285, Bailey, CO 80421-0892   Rotcod Zzaj

Burton Greene – LIVE AT GRASLANDFor those who have never listened to Greene’s amazing solo keyboard work before, this will be a novel experience.  Stylistically, he is definitely jazz, free-form, & o-u-t… by the same token, though, he sounds like Mozart in (many) places.  Masterful touch & playful spirit combine to express joy for the player as well as the listener.   This is “not” jazz, & it’s “not” classical, per se… it is BURTON GREENE’s piano, & there is no “in between”.  If you’re looking for be-bop, or lounge jazz, forget it… this is purely solo piano, & the purity is refreshing, to say the least.  I strongly recommend headphones, at least on the first couple of listens, so you can concentrate on the wonderful little nuances of expression that come through Burton’s fingers.  He has an “educated” structure in his improvisations, not a matter of wild abandon, or free-style in the sense of total abandon… but in his case, it is clear to the listener that his free-expression comes from his heart, & the music comes out as a totally enjoyable listen… gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us!  Contact through Drimala, at   Rotcod Zzaj

Kieron – STAINED GLASS:    About a week (or so) after I reviewed Kieron’s “I See The Sunrise” CD, I got a call from him that led to a visit/layover in Tacoma (after a trip he made to Alaska).  It was wonderful to see him & get to know him a little better… but even more interesting was the package of (5) CD’s he dropped off for me to review.  I chose this one to review for this issue, because of my penchant for originals.  What can I say?  I mean, the pieces are of stunning quality!  The opener, “Tomorrow’s Son” has deep/strong hints of Irish Catholic upbringing… his synth mixes on this track are magical, because tho’ simple in construct, the layers behind it (under and through his great piano keyboards) evoke aural images of huge pipes in a gigantic cathedral.  Though some of his style has strong roots in the music of religion, he demonstrates an ability to move beyond the “religious”, into something (I believe) is far more important – the spirit!   There are some great textural shifts between the tunes as well, with harps, horns & even shades of Native American rhythms that will put you in the “enchanted zone”.  This is one of the best piano/synth albums I’ve heard this year… it clearly merits our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, especially for lovers of music that inspires gentleness and greatness.  Contact via his site, at      Rotcod Zzaj

Riot Act – MANIACAL DISASTROPHE TOUR:    I always enjoy th’ chance to listen to anything with Rick Ray on it… soaring rock guitar that just won’t stop th’ flight of fancy & interstellar frolic.  How fitting to pull this lil’ gem CD out of th’ stak tonite…”Bonnie The Clyde” is a prime example of how raw energy can transport you to thee outer (mental) limits!  High-end power-rockin’ guitars that take you far far & away in only 3 short minutes.  Ray doesn’t manhandle th’ strings – he rides herd on ’em like an interstellar pilot.  This outing seemed far less thematic, & more oriented towards just havin’  fun with the music… still plenty of lyrical high spots, but (without question), it’s those magick strings that will serve as your transport into th’ wormhole (& still survive).  This particular recording is a little “older” than some we’ve reviewed with Rick playing on them… 2000 was when it was released… but, for rock fans everywhere (particularly those into rock that ROCKS), this it timeless.  Strong drums by John Cck & bass that moves by Jack Ambrose.  This gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from our ears, & if you dig guitar-based rock trio, you’ll agree!  Superb road music.  Contact him on his site via email to  or snail to Neurosis Records, 20301 Ball Ave. Euclid, OH 44123!! & do it TODAY!!!!      Rotcod Zzaj

World Of Tomorrow – INTERSTELLAR IMMIGRANT:    It’s been (quite) a while since we have listened to hot stuff from Bonnie Kane & krew… ‘course, it’s been a while (almost a year now) since we were focusing heavily on reviews, anyway.  What a treat for these ever-so-slightly jaded aural appendages.  We’ve reviewed these folks many times before, but this is th’ first time we’ve heard them so closely approaching the turf of th’ master – Sun Ra.  I’m also reminded of live sets I’ve listened to with Olympia’s own improv heroes, Bert Wilson & Jeffrey Morgan.  The opener (“Above The Bird Line”) is nicely cosmic, but th’ pace moves immediately towards (a bit of)  frenetic as th’ CD moves on.  Those listeners who are terrorized by oddity, & unprepared for th’ age of chaos will not be able to cope, but those of us who have moved past simple 3 & 4 chord licks will realize that this transports you into a zone where you can have a “close encounter of the 4th dimension” – or somethin’ along those lines.  Seems to be more “fuzz” on th’ guitars this time around, but the “pacing” is much more spacy & relaxed than some of W.O.T’s earlier efforts.  Listeners enchanted with improv that stays in touch with th’ BLOOD pumpin’ through th’ veins (instead of “dry hump” stuff that’s got no soul) will agree with me when I say that this comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Contact at W.O.O. DIRECT, c/o Ray Sage, P.O. 249 Knickerbocker Sta., NYC, NY 10002, via e-mail to  or on their site at    Rotcod Zzaj

Flight 09 – REFLECTION:    We reviewed this group in issue # 65; actually, “REFLECTION” is their first release… grind-rock that reminds me (ever so slightly) of Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO).  Listeners who have pistons & cylinders crankin’ in their brain every minute of every waking day will LUV this music… if yer’ in th’ mood fer’ gentle/soothing, or somethin’ silk smooth, you prob’ly won’t find too many “reflective” moments in here.  OTOH, if yer’ boots & leathers scream out ev’ry morning for somethin’ to kick-start ’em, you’ll GET THIS!  Our pals at (Rick Ray’s) Neurosis Records sent this one in for review… AND, ‘coz they know I dig on music that gets th’ BLOOD movin’ – which “FLIGHT 09” is certainly quite capable at.  There’s enough (actual) musicianship involved in their 3-piece (from Uzbekistan) that this can’t be arbitrarily tossed/lumped into th’ “tired metal” racks to languish for all parts of ever.  End run?  It gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me for fans of guitars that reach right out & grab yer’ aural appendages!      Contact via email to , snail to Neurosis Records, 20301 Ball Ave. Euclid, OH 44123, or visit the band’s pages at    Rotcod Zzaj

Thollem/Rivera – I’LL MEET YOU HALFWAY OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF IT ALL :    If you’re looking for something truly “fresh” (not “punk-oid”, but brash with class), you’ll enjoy this excursion/incursion by (our friend) Thollem McDonas (piano & vocals) & Rick Rivera (trapset).  I fell in love with Thollem’s brand of musical insanity th’ first time I listened to him at the OLYMPIA EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC FESTIVAL.  He handed me this CD (along with another, which I’ll be reviewing later) during this year’s fest (in which he gave a splendid performance), & I was immediately attracted to it, because of the drums… & it makes for a TOTALLY NEW dimension for McDonas.  His vocal antics are a most pleasant experience, serving (in many ways) as a rhythmic counterpoint to Rivera’s drums… imagine a sorta’ jazzy Jim Croce & apply that “Junkyard Dog” atmosphere in a form of classical hip-hop, if your mind is that free.  As with (all) other albums of his we’ve reviewed, it is impossible to lump this playing into any pigeonhole… just when you think you’ve got his classical roots identified & you’re about to classify his as neo-magnon, he jumps orf into some Mississippi mud boogie(track 8) that would make (either) Jelly Roll OR Doctor John might-ee proud  Absolute talent and creative energy unbounded here, but if you’re “expecting” some (particular) “thang” – move ON!  From our odd ears, this gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & the “PICK” of this issue for “most creative piano & rhythm”.  Contact at   or via e-mail to   Rotcod Zzaj

Phillip Greenlief – STALKING ANDREI:    We have listened to and reviewed Phillip’s work before, but never in the solo mode.  He plays clarinet & (all manner of) saxophones for listeners who understand that th’ brass ring is no further than their (gourd-given) ears – if only they will shut th’ damned TV off & sit down & focus!  Greenlief uses techniques similar to those he employed during his live performance at the 10th Annual Olympia Experimental Music Festival (which was sheer joy to witness), but (of course), you can zoom in on the little nuances more easily (with headphones).  In both the live performance and studio mode, what shines through (for me, anyway) is his sense of humor about the art.  You & I both have encountered those players who focus inward so deeply that they lose touch with their humanity – not this guy!  The one word of caution here is that you really need to make sure there are no phones ringing, pots boiling over, or TV blaring in the background when you listen to this album… some listeners won’t do that, of course, & they’ll miss the whole experience.  You must be free to focus on th’ bright pictures Phillip paints with his reeds, and to join him in his exuberance for the magic that focused listening can bring.  My favorite track is the title, probably because it has a deep/dark shade that reminds me (somehow) of walks through downtown Frankfurt at 3:30am after a full complement of Jack Daniels & hashish… something like that… but, if you give Mr. Greenlief the full 41:43 minutes, you’ll hear your own vision, I can assure you.  This gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who want to explore the intricacies!  Contact at , via e-mail to  or by snail to POB 22158, Oakland, CA 94623-9991    Rotcod Zzaj

The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet – 13 THEMES FOR A TRISKAIDEKAPHOBIC:    I think Jeff must have pulled in every Left Coast improvisor he could find for this extraordinary outing.  Th’ introductions to most of th’ cuts will make you think you’re going to hear a “straight” chamber music set, but about 16/32 bars in, the whole (humongous) group jumps on several (absolutely brassy) trains at once, goin’ to ev’ry corner of th’ globe to explore sounds & combinations of sound(s) that will inspire you to revel in random.  Crisp, clear recording add a lot to the overall listening experience, & th’ improvisationally inclined will adopt this as a mantra for th’ next couple of decades.  If you’re a “conventional” fan, or lookin’ for music to lull you to sleep at nite, you’ll avoid this at all costs… but if you dig th’ cool of chaos, this is the ticket!  Headphones required – this gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who want something in an orchestral vein that isn’t “just chamber music” – there are some really nice jazz rhythm sections, too!  Contact at    Rotcod Zzaj



ALL artists!  I am very, VERY happy to announce that IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION is ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS again.  I have been granted a (possibly long-term) stay of execution for my trip to Iraq.  I will still  be traveling all over the U.S., so new issues may be a little less timely, but (as always), we will review your materials as soon as possible after we receive them.  Look at the guidelines for submission below, please:


MUSIC:  All formats accepted.  Snail mail to:  Zzaj Productions, c/o Dick Metcalf, 5308 65th Avenue, Lacey, WA 98513  The only criteria for music you submit is that it MUST HAVE high performance energy… if you submit lacklustre material, it will be reviewed accordingly

POETRY:  Poems are accepted for publication ONLY via e-mail.  Poems submitted in any other fashion will NOT be published.  Poetry that includes some reference to music is granted first priority for publication.

BOOKS:  We will review some books; books about music are PREFERRED.  We will NOT return any books submitted for review.  Snail them to the address listed above for MUSIC.

DIY Announcements:  We will post your (e-mailed) ad about DIY projects, regardless of genre or medium… HOWEVER, this is ONLY for INDEPENDENTS… if you are a corporation, don’t even BOTHER sending stuff… it will be marked and reported as SPAM!





Over on 33rd:


death (a bus) rushes by,

arm’s length away


stop and go and stop,

this insane commute,

a red-light tour

of East Baltimore


passing by the

gorgeous African queens,

sending prayers to them –

do they hear me?


glimpsing ghosts

cursing earth movers

over on 33rd

now a Memorial




rose salespeople

sell happiness for five



drink my paper cup

of Guatemalan sun

bitter in my blood


plastic bag – the

color makes no difference –

sailing on western wind,

races cars


signs tease

without blinking


trying my hand at emptiness

still needing things too much







Four o’clock in the a.m.

I am tired, but wired.

No time for rhymes.


Really.  Stomach screwed

Up like coffee on it empty.

Too much beer perhaps.


Reading O’Hara’s Poems Retrieved

(Thank you, Donald Allen)

And wondering how Frank died

And why.


Thinking about girls I kissed

Or wanted to kiss.


Thinking about wanting to love

So much it hurts.


If I wasn’t here, in this room

Below ground level, and only nature

Existed, so sitting alone,

Working at a pine desk

In a field or winter forest –

That would be real poetry. 

Je suis poétique.




 The Myth of Eternal Return


Scouting for Truth

In the hollowed-out wound

    Of an oak Tree


Old, worn keepsakes

Tokens of love


You and I are

Staked to the earth

Feeling her weight

Waiting for sun’s light


Living in

    The shadows of ghosts


I re-invent myself – my self

An hourly chore

Learning who I was



Learning to float

To the heavens

    Light as air

    Heavy as stone


– Timothy Jos. Nelson





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ALL artists!  I am very, VERY happy to announce that IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION is ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS again.  I have been granted a (possibly long-term) stay of execution for my trip to Iraq.  I will still  be traveling all over the U.S., so new issues may be a little less timely, but (as always), we will review your materials as soon as possible after we receive them.  Look at the guidelines for submission below, please:


MUSIC:  All formats accepted.  Snail mail to:  Zzaj Productions, c/o Dick Metcalf, 5308 65th Avenue, Lacey, WA 98513  The only criteria for music you submit is that it MUST HAVE high performance energy… if you submit lacklustre material, it will be reviewed accordingly

POETRY:  Poems are accepted for publication ONLY via e-mail.  Poems submitted in any other fashion will NOT be published.  Poetry that includes some reference to music is granted first priority for publication.

BOOKS:  We will review some books; books about music are PREFERRED.  We will NOT return any books submitted for review.  Snail them to the address listed above for MUSIC.

DIY Announcements:  We will post your (e-mailed) ad about DIY projects, regardless of genre or medium… HOWEVER, this is ONLY for INDEPENDENTS… if you are a corporation, don’t even BOTHER sending stuff… it will be marked and reported as SPAM!


     It’s been a bit of time since I’ve been immersed in music… a necessary hiatus, brought on by concerns regarding travel(s) that would have taken me to Iraq… I truly was lined up for such a trek, by th’ requirements of the position I accepted (with the 1-25th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, at Fort Lewis) last September.  

     After about 3 months on th’ job, I saw an opportunity (through a little MS ACCESS database package I had begun to develop for them) to get myself promoted to a “non-deployable” position as their “System Management Analyst” (just a step or 2 down from the Program Manager for the product).  Won’t bore you with all th’ detail(s) of what the data capture is, only say that it’s information they hadn’t been able to retain before.  As I write this, I’m sitting in my computer room heaving a gigantic sigh of relief… I really wasn’t committed to the idea of roving through Saddam’s dune vistas, so having my (initial) dream turn to reality was MUCH MORE than just a “pleasant surprise”.  A part of that whole effort was th’ resumption of something that should be near&dear to any improvising musician’s heart & soul… there are times in life when the best thing to do is “pull back” & see what comes out of th’ ether. 

     What truly amazes me (sometimes) is how often those cycles occur… since I grew up in th’ baby boomer generation, where O&H (Ozzie & Harriet) promoted th’ image that once you got to a certain stage in life, things would “level out”, & no more change would happen.  Steady job, same BBQ’s on th’ back lawn (with th’ same neighbors) & a life of ease that would carry you well into your ’70’s.  BUT, I find that (even) nearing 60, the element of change/surprise & improvise is th’ “real story”.  I can’t help (anymore) but feel like I don’t know what’s coming – & that that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  The only way to cope with such diversity IS to “kick back”… keep your mind actively engaged in the well-being of those (immediately) around you, but don’t let yourself get so buried in detail(s) that they force you to focus so diligently that you’re unable to see opportunities when they come your way.

     One of the things my son complains about (more often these days, as he approaches th’ ripe ol’ age of 19) is that he can’t “determine” what’s going to happen next… that he wants to “know” what’s coming up.  &, all I can tell him is that (looking back on my life), that’s a dilemma that I faced as well… it’s often near impossible to “let go” & focus only on th’ immediate… knowing that if you do “good” things, then “good” things will come your way (conversely, if you do “bad” things, what do you think will happen?).  Life will ONLY be a “bowl of cherries” if you can enjoy what you have RIGHT NOW, & stop trying to map it all out ahead of time.  In a word – IMPROVISE your life… keep your mind OPEN to change, while spreading POSITIVE thoughts, & life will feel better than you could have imagined.  So, what’s th’ “moral” of this rant?  Who knows… only tomorrow will tell! 

Till next time…,



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