Improvijazzation Nation, issue # 73

# 73

Issue # 73 REVIEWS

FEATURED Zzaj Productions album samples

We now have 2 TOTALLY FREE CD’s (with free cover art) available for download at our NETLABEL site!  The only thing we ask is that you scroll to the bottom of the page(s) & give us a REVIEW!  Please ADVERTISE this to ALL your friends… tell them we are GIVING AWAY music!

Bruno Raberg – CHRYSALIS:  Bassist Raberg’s debut CD features 9 great originals, in an allstar nonet performance that will be a most proud addition to your jazz collection.  The music is totally pro, & full of wonderful little nuances, especially from players like the guitarist, Mike Goodrick!  This one was released in late 2004, probably hit the streets early this year.  When Bruno “walks in” with his beautiful bass licks, your ears will sit up & listen – he plays with more vigor & magick than you can imagine!  The title track starts off sparse & full of mystery, then moves to a more full-bodied sound.  The players here are all excellent & no one “steps” on the other players.  High talent & great energies abound… you’ll be pleased you got this CD.  I rate it as MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for jazz fans of all persuasions.  Excellent work – we hope to hear much, MUCH more!  Get more info, or purchase the CD at     Rotcod Zzaj

Jess Rowland – PIANO IMPROVISATIONS:  Any CD from our pals at Pax Recordings can be expected to have something “different” on it.  Jess’ piano works certainly fill that bill… totally freestyle piano improv, moving from start to finish with “no mercy”.  I don’t mean that in a negative sense (at all), either… it’s just that Rowland’s playing starts, proceeds & stops – there’s no hesitation… no spots where you feel like the composer is “deliberating”, or “thinking through” the next few notes.  If you put yourself in the right frame of mind before you sit down to listen, the playing will invade your consciousness, and flow in, out, around and through your brain cells very palatably.  What I found was that about 2 days after listening to these tracks, my dreams were then influenced by what I’d heard.  The playing is more “full-bodied” than many solo piano improvisation works I’ve reviewed before, too… lots of chords & harmonics… this will make it far more accessible for listeners who might elsewise be “scared off”.  I’m highly impressed, & hope we’re able to hear much more from Jess Rowland.  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Contact via e-mail to either  or   You can also purchase this wonderful CD at     Rotcod Zzaj

Bone Daddy – “I”:  All th’ way from Idaho, this quartet’s debut CD came… this is actually a fairly old release (2002), but their retro style kinda’ “transcends” time lines.  The most notable thing about this album (I think) is that they’ve got very well crafted tunes & lyrics.  The guitar solos (by Doug Lampman) have sections where they’re positively scorching… but, that’s not the emphasis here, actually; the focus is more on creating a sound that will carry you back to the “good old days”, when music was purely for fun, for the listener, anyway.  If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool improv purist, or a true “jazz-oid”, you’ll find the music here passé’, but if you just need ta’ hear some music with jubilance & hook – this is THE DEAL.  Everything is well-scripted, & listeners who want it all to “fit in place” will come to “Bone Daddy’s” in droves.  Though this isn’t normally our style of music, I still rate it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those folks who want some great music for drivin’ cross country.  Get more info at, or purchase the CD at         Rotcod Zzaj

Ray Marchica – IN THE RING: Ray is a drummer who played the music on this CD as a kind of “contest”…. playing against/with guitarist Rodney Jones, bassist Lonnie Plaxico & tenor saxophonist Teodross Avery, they go “nine rounds” (IOW, 9 tracks).   Like any good match, this is for the pleasure of the listener, & there’s plenty of good vibe to be gleaned from their improvisations.  For one thing, it has a truly “original” feel, as you might expect!  Marchica’s drums clearly show high energy & diverse talent, as do all the other players… there’s plenty of styles evident… stone-funky, jubilant jazz & fantastic fusion.  From th’ phunk perspective, I’m a big fan of track 3, “Tequila”… heck, it’s really my favorite on the album, I’d say.  This is one of the “hippest” jazz CD’s we’ve reviewed yet this year, & gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating.  It just hit the streets/stores on the 7th of June, 2005, so you’d better rush right on out & GRAB this one, ‘specially if you’re an aspiring jazz drummer.  I like it a lot, & it will stay in the “KEEPER” stack!  To get more information, or purchase the CD, visit the SONS OF SOUND site.     Rotcod Zzaj

John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble – A BLESSING: The word that comes to mind (immediately, on the first 4 bars)  is “EPIC”.  Not “big band”, at least not in the traditional sense… it IS an 18-piece band, & it has some of the elements of what you might remember as big-band… but John has made this his personal band, & is able to shape it into something that you’ve never heard before… what he calls an “ensemble of musicians”.  That’s a very important distinction, too, because (while I love lots of “big-band” music) there’s a tendency, in my head at least, to lump it all together.  Hollenbeck’s fantastic drumming “leads” this group in many different directions, without ever stepping into “cliche-land” muck at all.  My particular favorite on this album, from the perspectives of “non-cliche”, as well as emphasis on the rhythms of life, is cut 4, “Weiji”…. it is truly a masterpiece, for the jazz listener as well as those who are “bent” a bit more (like Zappa fans, in Frank’s own large ensemble era).  This is an album to GET & to TREASURE… I give it my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, to be sure!  Get more info, or purchase the album, at     Rotcod Zzaj

Ann Sweeten – SAPPHIRE DAYS: If you’re inclined to just kick back & take in some beautiful & relaxing keyboard compositions, Ms. Sweeten’s CD is one of the best piano albums we’ve heard (yet) this year.  You can very clearly hear that she’s been classically trained, but her playing style is relaxed enough to convey freedom from convention to the listener’s ears, & will let you escape into one of those lazy summer afternoons the title conjures up.  You can’t call this music “Jazz”, nor can you pigeonhole it as “New Age”… because it’s purely/simply “Ann”.  Hardcore improvised jazz fanatics may not go for this one, unless they’re in a particularly nostalgic mood, but I enjoyed Ann’s music enough to rate it as HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any/all listeners who need something that affirms how much beautiful music, & the mem’ries it can bring, can mean to keeping us (all) civilized.  Get more information, or order the CD, from     Rotcod Zzaj

Bouncing With Bud & Phil – LIVE AT YOSHI’S: We know we’re blessed at this magazine… long-term relationships with promo companies always bring us the most exciting music, much of it in “preview” mode… a great & shining example is this CD, featuring sax masters Bud Shank & Phil Woods, to be released on the 19th of July, 2005.  If you’re looking for “out” improv, this may not be your cup of tea (tho’ there’s some pretty high energy, as you might imagine).  We fell in love with Bud’s playing when we reviewed an album called “Silver Storm” from him in issue # 44… he just smokes those reeds, & with Phil in the mix, it’s twice as good!  Drummer Bill Goodwin, pianist Mike Wofford & bassist Bob Magnusson join in the fray to make for one of the best live sets I’ve heard in quite some time.  I thought the hottest cut on the album was the last, “Minority”… those saxes are just poppin’, & will hold your ears for the entire song!  This is one of the most exciting jazz albums I’ve heard (yet) in 2005, & gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating!  Get more info, or purchase the album at or read more about Bud at       Rotcod Zzaj

The Stryker/Slagle Band – LIVE AT THE JAZZ STANDARD: Live jazz recordings, when done well (in the sense of recording techniques) are the best, no doubt… & this CD is a perfect example of that!  Besides Dave Stryker (guitar) & Steve Slagle (soprano saxes), the album features Ed Howard (bass) & Victor Lewis (drums).  The music, nearly all original, was culled from 4 one-hour sets that just kick!  As most of you know by now, I greatly prefer CD releases that feature original music, ‘specially when it’s new & never heard before.  The funkiest trak (for my ears) was “Boogaloo 7”, cut 2… this kinda’ beat takes me back to my earliest listens to jazz greats like Eddie Harris & Les McCann… truly great energy & well composed FUN for the listener (& for the players, too, I’d imagine).  On the next round, hope they’ll record with a program that includes the titles, times, etc., on the CD itself… it’s much easier to acquaint oneself with the tracks if you can look at the CD while it’s playing to get that info (without having to consult the CD cover.  That’s only a minor complaint, though, as it’s the spirit th’ music is played in that makes it a genuine HIT for this listener.  I’d say you otta’ keep your ears on these guys… they’ll be ’round for a while.  I give this a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for jazz aficionados of all flavor.  Get more information, or purchase the CD, at    Rotcod Zzaj

Po’Jazz – TAKIN’ IT TO THE HOLLOW:  We were first to turned on to an astonishing poet a month or so ago, named Golda Solomon, & published several of her pieces in our last issue.  Golda is the founder & project director of “Po’Jazz”, a “one-of-a-kind monthly jazz and poetry series” at The Cornelia Street Cafe in “The Village” (& if you don’t know what “The Village” is, in NYC, you won’t understand (at all) what this kind of poetry/jazz is all about.  I’ve always been a fan (& performer) of poetry that amplified the essence of what “jazz” is really all about…  expressions that come directly from the soul… & “Takin’ It To The Hollow” will get you as close as is possible to what that expression feels & sounds like (short of being there in person).  Several poets & players, including Ms. Solomon, of course… her own “Sex Fugue” will “take you to the edge”, even tho’ it’s only :46 seconds long… she’s a true master at wrapping you in whatever experience she’s painting with her words).  Golda’s rendition of Miles’ “So What”, & the words she enfolds it with, will make you understand more than HOURS of listening to his albums could.  On the other hand, there are several straight-up instrumental jazz performances that are priceless, too!  We’re really pleased to have this hour “capture” of NYC “attitude” & “soul” come our way, & are really looking forward to more (& mo’ is ON THE WAY, believe me).  This is one of the BEST poetry/jazz CD’s I’ve ever heard, & gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED without a moment’s hesitation.  Truly superb for listeners who “grok” the natural marriage that exists between words & jazz.  Get more info, or purchase the CD, at    Rotcod Zzaj

Thollem/Rivera – EVERYTHING’S GOING EVERYWHERE:  We reviewed the first CD (“I’ll Meet You Halfway In The Middle Of It All”) by this duo in issue # 65 1/2, sometime last year, I believe it was.  Their latest offering was passed to me (in person) by Thollem during the 11th Annual Olympia Experimental Music Festival… & it’s even more exciting than the first, if you can imagine that!  The recording is crisp & clear (it’s an EDGETONE release, which means I’d expect nothing less than perfection), & the playing is full of (both) energy & calm.  That’s one of the most distinctive aspects of Mcdonas’ keyboard work, anyway… he’s able to literally suck the listener in to his musical universe… Rick Rivera’s drumming & percussion is nothing short of spectacular… almost like these guys were musical twins, somehow… they “read” each other’s movements completely!  All the tracks on this outing are completely original, & very unique… but they seem to have more of a “jazz” flavor to them… I wouldn’t call them “groove” based (by any stretch of the imagination), but they seem to have “roots” in jazz traditions.  This album is not for listeners who are faint of heart… you will be challenged… those who are not afraid to expose their ears to “the new” will agree when I declare this MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  To learn more about this wonderful CD, or purchase it,  visit  You’ll be glad you gave your ears such a fine sonic treat.    Rotcod Zzaj

Bradley Leighton – GROOVE YARD: The intros languish gently into some really cool flute by Bradley on this fine lil’ jazz CD… it’s not due on the street until August 23rd this year – & if you’re a dedicated jazz listener, this will be one you’ll just have to have! As I commented (issue #70) in a review of his “Just Doin’ Our Thang” CD, his flute is “delicate” & “fine.” The distinct Latino flavoring on the tracks chosen for this album take that description up a notch, as they’ve got a bit more “passion” in the architecture (hmmm…. never heard of architecture with passion before, but I don’t edit my thoughts very often… improvised writing, ya’ know?)… heh! heh! Mike Wofford’s flashy piano, Bob Magnusson’s solid bass, Duncan Moore’s dancing drums, Allan Phillips’ poignant percussives & Jaime Valle’s great guitar work all contribute to making a musical experience that you’ll never forget. This is another KEEPER from Bradley, & it also gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating for any/all who DIG truly spirited (yet gentle) jazz! You owe it to your ears to GET this one! For more info, or to purchase, visit his site, at Rotcod Zzaj

Tom Furgas/Russ Stedman – FURGASTEDMAN:  I am always pleased to get truly creative music in for review, & both these gents (whether you know it or not) are true indie masters…. they’re part of the group of folks I traded tapes with way back in the ’80’s, & Tom & Russ are among the best players I’ve ever heard.  That’s not meant in the “gushing” sense of “star-dumb”, either… the music they play on this CD is totally unique (tho’ I did hear shades of FZ & Beefheart on a coupla’ trax – but especially on “Kindergarten Frankenstein, my favorite track on the album), featuring Furgas on “Roland Groovebox” & Stedman on “The Other Stuff”.  They maintain a healthy sense of humor about their music (as any true artist should), & the titles will kinda’ give you a hint… my favorite titles were “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Drug Addict”, “Dominus Dom Deluise”, & “Kindergarten Frankenstein”…. what I remember most about my (one) collaboration with Russ is that scorching guitar    lickery he does, & there’s no disappointment on that score here.  Tom’s genius shows through just as clearly on the Roland, & the duo will get you excited about what really creative musicians can do.  I give this a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, without a moment’s hesitation!  GREAT music!  Per an e-mail from Tom, “the Furgastedman disc is $5 pp, but trades are preferred (as ever)!  Contact Russ at  or Tom at    Rotcod Zzaj

Noise Poet Nobody – KILLING PLATE:  Since the CD opens with a train on the track, it’s difficult to envision the title of the album having relevance… as one becomes captivated by the undercurrents of rhythm & odd tribal sounds, however, it will all come clear – whatever that means.  This fellow is from right here in Washington state, just up the road from me, & as a sound manipulator & sculptor, he’s outstanding!  Listeners who want to stay in a “comfort zone” will have difficulty sitting still for this one… it requires attentive listening, and a fondness for aural oddities – which means I enjoyed it thoroughly!  The sonic beeps/pops that course through track 2, for instance, are based in rhythmic swirls that will be defined by the listener’s own pulse, so to speak… highly electronic, yet with clear roots in actual analog sounds.  I’ve been impressed with “NPN’s” work for a good while now, & for those listeners who wish to experience their sonic adventures, this gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating… for those who are so steeped in tradition that they can’t “bend” their points of reference a bit, it won’t be an album of choice.  To learn more, or to purchase the CD, contact via the site at     Rotcod Zzaj

Daniel Carter/Gregg Keplinger/Reuben Radding – NOT OUT FOR ANYWHERE:  When the music on this CD starts, the impression is that it’s “just another improv” thang… at about 1:20, it moves silkily into a straight-ahead riff kinda’ thing that will capture the heart of any serious jazz listener.  Carter’s sax just wails, with Gregg’s drums painting rhythmic swirls & Radding’s bass anchoring the trio into one of the freshest jazz experiences I’ve had in the last 20 years of listening and reviewing music.  It skillfully combines the free spirits of 3 master improvisors into works that any composer would be proud of… & it’s very, very accessible for the listener.  That’s not to say that your “average Joe” AM listener will gain any great insights from this musical experience, because they’ll be unable to concentrate deeply enough to catch the beauty of such flawless performance.  This double CD will fill an entire afternoon or evening for those listeners who can grasp the groove-based pandemonium that ensues.  This one will bore down into your psyche & stir up thoughts & images you’d forgotten… some may be nostalgic, others joyous… but all will be highly charged and aurally satisfying.  This is the BEST jazz I’ve listened to yet in 2005, & gets the “PICK” of this issue for “best jazz trio”, as well as a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating from my ears. If you even think you’re a potential jazz fan – GET THIS ONE!  For more information, go to the site at     Rotcod Zzaj

Kris Tiner/Mike Baggetta – THERE, JUST AS YOU LOOK FOR IT:  The opening moments of this track take me back to some of the earliest recordings I heard my friend Ernesto Diaz-Infante perform prepared guitar works on… Baggetta’s style is similar in some ways, but the recording on this effort is superb… Tiner’s brass (flugelhorn, trumpet, piccolo trumpet & saxaflugel) provides stark contrasts to the wide-ranging string sequences that Mike plays, but they somehow wind up (very much) “in synch” throughout the album.  This isn’t music for “regular” listeners… it requires a degree of concentration and focus that even some players can’t muster up… but, if you’re looking for something that will challenge your aural horizons, & stretch your mind a bit – GET THIS ONE!  One of my fave tracks is cut 9, “Caffeinated Weasels”… short, but intense (to say the least).  The title track is a killer, too, clearly cut from cloth that hasn’t been designed yet… plenty of room for the listener to fill in with colors, swirls & stripes that will make it their dreamcape.  I’m impressed, & any listener who is looking for something “more” will agree with me when I declare it MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED listening.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Ellen Band & David Lee Myers – TWO SHIPS:  Well, when these 2 pass in the night, they cause sonic disturbances of Titanic proportions… not the crash & burn style that many improv listeners are so used to these days, more like alien crickets on speed (in some sections).  Highly electronic sculptures of sound that are shaped to draw your ears in & hold on to them for awhile… do not think that once you start listening, you’ll be able to just “shut if off”… HIGHLY doubtful.  For that reason, I must advise that you listen to this with headphones on when you have a full 50 minutes to dedicate to the experience.  Ellen seems to be more the “sculptor”, with David (who also performs as “Arcane Device”) as the electronic “anchorman”… the two weave dreams very well, though, & you’ll hear their radars bleeping each other clearly as they pass through the dark seas together.  I hear a lot of SETI sounds in here, too… I’ve no doubt that if certain aliens hear the signals being generated here, we will be invaded within a 1/2 light year.  The sonics are dense and rich, very enjoyable indeed.  I give this a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any/all who want more than bubblegum or “smooth” listening.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Homler Liebig Duo – KELPLAND SERENADES:  This is one of the strangest & most exciting CD’s I’ve listened to lately… Anna Homler does vocals (as well as toys & found objects) over strange string sounds & electronics by Steuart Liebig.  We’ve all heard albums similar to this before (& maybe even played on some), but none of them possess the degree of “other-worldliness” that this one does.  Sorta’ like improvisors who “speak in tongues”, or something like that.  You must be one of the “initiated” to enjoy this (or be one of the ones who wants to totally escape the “normal”, thereby allowing you to become an initiate)… if you think your brain can somehow “convert” this into “normal” sound, think again!  Very carefully crafted pieces here, with neat little nuances in, out, around & through… & the recording quality makes you feel like you’re right there (on Venus, or Pluto) watching the performers create these strange serenades.  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially if your ears are already slightly “bent”.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Turkey Makes Me Sleepy – SIX WITH PIX:  Mee-ster Goff (as in Charles Rice) & his pals Mike Adams & Eric Matchett have stirred up some stuffing you won’t be able to wash away with any Pepto-Bismol, or Tums.  I’m reminded (greatly) of some of the earliest tape works I heard Bret Hart doing in the mid-to-late ’80’s – in a very favorable way!  The sonics & all the little “nuances” are perfect for gobble-talkers, tho’ not for sleeping, I’d say.  My particular favorite is track 3, “I Dropped Science On The Taped Rug”.  Strange voices remind you rather quickly that sanity is truly in the mind of the beholder… some very interesting piano strokes (which I’m sure CRG III knew I’d be interested in), also combined with (what sound like) snatches from “The Twilight Zone” shows.  “Encounter At The Water’s Edge” is also an earthshaker, full of clanking bells, guitar buzz saws & some great percussion that will (either) tear or mend the fabric of your brain… very interesting.  As a warning, I must tell you that this is odd music (we wouldn’t expect anything less from Mee-ster Goff & his associates), but for those listeners unafraid to jump in, it will be a rewarding challenge.  If you’re looking for something sonically different, you’ll agree when I declare it to be MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  If ya’ ain’t schizoid yet – you will be after listening to “Six With Pix”.  Contact through CRG’s website, at     Rotcod Zzaj

Jonathan & Andi Goldman – TANTRA OF SOUND HARMONIZER:  Our friend Mike Milillo (over at MIXPOSURE & Indie Hangout) often tells me that sound can reach out and “take over the world”.  That could be in a positive fashion, or in very negative ways… in this instance, it’s rendered in a very rewarding way… as you might have imagined, this is a “healing” musical sequence.  I’m reminded very much of some early meditation tapes I listened to when I was in therapy… I think that’s why I enjoy the Goldman’s efforts so much… they’ve kind of “amplified” on my early exposures to this type of music, especially with the addition of (what they term as) “synchro-sound” to “align both brainwaves and chakras at the same time”.  Whether you understand the terminology/theory or not, you’ll have no problem appreciating the beauty they’re able to create.  The one thing I wish folks would do when recording these CD’s, though, is ensure that the titles are burned right to the media.. if these are home-produced, use NERO, or something like that… if they’re pressed somewhere else, make sure the titles are furnished (correctly), so they can appear right on the CD.  That’s only a minor criticism, but I’m seeing a LOT of CD’s that come in that way.  I rate this as HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & would advise anyone looking for music that can help heal the soul to seek more information through the site at     Rotcod Zzaj

David Behrman – MY DEAR SIEGFRIED:  This CD is a very novel spoken-word experience… the readings (Thomas Buckner, Eric Barsness & others) are backed by trombone, keyboard/electronics (Behrman) & Shakahuchi (Ralph Samuelson) in improvised glory (tho’ they might have been charted, they still came across as freestyle).  Though the subject is protest against a war, the mood it creates would fit as a protest against any war…. very, VERY powerful images created by the music, as well as the spoken-word.  I’ve listened to a lot of CD’s like this over the years, & I can say (without qualification) that this is one of those that will stay IN the stack.  It’s a double-CD set, too, so make sure you’ve got some time mapped out where you won’t be disturbed while listening.  This one gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, & the “PICK” of this issue for “best spoken-word performance”!  Get more information at, or via e-mail to    Rotcod Zzaj

Marion Walsh – HOME TO HOME:  Listed as “Americana/Roots”, which usually means somethin’ like Lester Flatt/Earl Scruggs, Marion’s vocals definitely remind me of bluegrass influenced tunes I used to listen to (over a jug of corn likker) down Kentucky way.  That’s not necessarily a “bad” thing, at least when the music is performed with the passion Ms. Walsh displays… she has a unique style, & makes it very difficult to pigeonhole her music – which is a good thing!   Those (like me) who are used to music that pretty much categorizes itself from the first 8 bars will find a great amount of joy in the songs Marion crafts, & will know (from those first few bars) that she is a truly independent spirit with a real gift for singing & playing about life & the living!  One of my favorite cuts on the album is track 3, “Just A Heart”; slow & ballad-like, it really highlights her lyrical/performance skills.   I really like this album, even tho’ “roots” music isn’t always my cup of tea…. I rate it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for sensitive/aware listeners of all genre persuasions.  Get more information via her site, at  Rotcod Zzaj

Robin Holcomb/Wayne Horvitz – SOLOS:  Listeners who love solo piano will really want to get hold of this beautiful lil’ CD.  Both Robin & Wayne play solos… some ballads, some straight-up jazz (my favorite on the album was cut 3, Wayne Shorter’s “Armageddon”, performed by Mr. Horvitz, with Robin’s original comp, “Up Do”, running a close second) & a whole lot of soulful keyboard expression.  This is one of the best-recorded piano CD’s I’ve ever heard, & (believe me) I’ve heard a lot of them.  I really liked the fact that the titles & performer were clearly labeled ON the CD… this is something that more & more digital artists need to pay attention to, because the listener (really) doesn’t want to have to run back & forth between the media and the package to get those little details.  The music on this album all falls in the “keeper” category, & those who thirst for well-played piano solo music will agree with my assessment that this CD is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Get more information through their sites, at or    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!



Poets – SUBMIT your poems via e-mail to:



I am pleased and honored to be in receipt of poems from one of our earliest collaborators, Belinda Subraman.  This is like nostalgia (for me), since she was the FIRST poet I collaborated with, oh so many years ago.  Those who love poetry with an “edge” will love her pieces! 



Belinda’s poetry, stories and art can be found in hundreds of journals, reviews, anthologies and chapbooks.  Since 1994 her archives are housed at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, in the Center for Southwest Research. Belinda is also a Registered Nurse specializing in hospice care.  Her website is







Three daily pigeons on a rock wall,

each in different stance,

each stiff-still

in a listening pose…

to a dog barking,

a child’s cry in a house nearby,

an ice cream truck

with it’s primitive, repetitive lullaby.


We hear motors on the road,

a plane in the air,

wind-finger chimes from tinkles to forest rain,

the flow of a pool, a water fall,

a creek or an ocean.


Even with children screaming

we are dreaming.

We are retiring or unplugging

from the shallow anxiety of living,

not quitting

but becoming involved with our souls

if not buried in distraction electronically

or side tracked sexually.


It’s an anywhere summer day

when it dawns on us

that time just adds wrinkles,

we supply the meaning.

These are our lives

passing by.





Bird/Brain Chatter


Birds walk across the road

defying the gravity of cars,

are mowed down, sucked up, spit out.

Some cling to the asphalt

as if part of the mix.

Still, birds dare

play chicken with their lives,

march against roadway wind,

declare “Jihad” on cars.

Martyrs to the cause

or droppers of splash-bombs,

they chirp as One.

They have us surrounded.

They come to our houses.

Our yards are full

of propaganda.




Mourning the Stick


When I was thirteen

my mother bought me

a Chinese hair ornament.

It was made of leather

with a polished wooden stick

that went through it.

This was a moment of demonstration

of the warmth of my mother’s love.

These were seconds of eternal bonding

before walls of pain

blocked communication again.


Decades later

I still have this ornament.

I’ve carried it through life

as if it were a sacred light

on a loving shrine.

It’s the only object

to have survived every move:

Germany, Kentucky, Georgia, Colorado, Texas.


Yesterday I wore it to a peace rally.

At one point I sloppily placed it

in a an open tote.

Somewhere in the night

the stick fell out.

On discovery, I felt a sharp emotional pain

as if something had died.


On analysis,

the pettiness of my youth

and the stress of raising a teenager

are no longer issues.

Our late life bond is secure.

Today I have my mother’s love

with no walls or doubts.

I do not need the stick anymore.





Hot Flash Blues


Ying Yang presenting at once

instant karma of good and bad

half full, half empty

admired and denigrated

appreciated and scorned

moving in circles


in my mind

three personalities

depressingly exciting

satisfied and hungry

holding back

the obvious,

giving away the secret

of who I am





Mickey and Minnie’s Fancy Date


He’s taking her

out to a new garbage can

where rich neighbors

throw away enough food

to feed all the starving mice

in Africa.


It’s Minnie’s first taste

of classy leftover wine,

sex on a bed of caviar

and severe indigestion.


Not only is Minnie full,

her bulging belly

is ready to have ratlets

any minute.


Mickey relaxes

among fillet remains

knowing his mice

will be proud

to be born

among country club trash.


He falls asleep.


                        Mickey’s Nightmare



                                    heavy breathing

                                    above the neat arch

                                    of a Disney mouse house…

                        footsteps slowing…


                                    Shower drip pounding

                                    like Mickey’s heart…

                        confusing movements…

                                    tail catching underfoot

                                    of human


                        two cats approaching…

                                    no cheese

                                    or hope in sight…


Then he awakens.

Minnie and the new

little mice are fine

and they pray to the

Holy Rat Father

in Eternal Good Garbage

forever and ever

without cats or men.





INTERVIEW with Maria Daines & Paul Killington

 Zzaj: As many who’ve been with me all these years know, the INTERVIEWS in this ‘zine are often conducted with “new” folks (who many others don’t know)… “truly” INDIE talent, & always with HEART for the music.  I “discovered” Maria & her partner Paul at “MIXPOSURE” (or did they discover me – hard to sort that out at times)… at any rate, they play some WONDERFUL HIGH-energy music, so I wanted to ensure that we got to them before the “big” ‘zines did.  They’re planning a tour (local?  World?  Uno’s?)… I’m sure they’ll be happy to furnish us with a schedule, & if they’re anywhere near where you are – GO SEE THEM!  Yah, they’re THAT good!


Zzaj: Before we get started with the musical questions, tell us a bit more about yourselves, please… where you grew up (or are you “grown up” yet?), when did you start playing music, how old are you… you know, some good “bio” stuff for our readers, please.

Maria – I’m 41 and I love being grown up! I didn’t make a very malleable child. I was prone to bouts of awkwardness and I was fiercely independent, preferring solitary pastimes such as writing & listening to music, more than playing with other children. Home life was a scramble of animals of all kinds. We even had a pony when I was around 12, the love of my life, he was a vicious brute named Luxalot that kicked & bit me and terrorized my poor parents who had never kept such a beast before. They rued the day they acquired the damn thing when they had to help me catch it, as it often escaped & always galloped towards the local town.  We lived on a hill; seemingly unaware of civilization close by, this was something we all liked.  I spent long days in the countryside roaming around on the wicked pony, with my dog following. I was a creature of nature, the great outdoors, mud and plenty of it & when I wasn’t mucking around with horses I was usually to be found hanging out of trees with my brothers. They are triplets, three years younger and we were thunderous opponents or best friends.


We used to joke that we were like the Waltons, though we made much more of a hullabaloo than the dear Waltons ever did.  Our cousins lived next door, three boys also, & so the gang was just 6 boys and me! Later we were to lose one of our group in a road accident & the song ‘Where Are You?’ is dedicated to Stephen our cousin and his best friend who also died in the crash. Stephen was the middle son of my aunt & uncle’s lovely family.


We reveled in our close-knit anonymity. Like most families we had our ups and downs and we were never very well off but we did manage to make our own entertainment & it was far from conventional, which I guess gave me a sense of the ridiculous &  I do make fun of life situations. I remember during one particularly bad winter we used our three pet dogs to haul back fallen logs & keep the home fires burning, those poor things, we made a hideous contraption and set them to pull it across fields! Another time my mother set the chimney on fire when she began burning our furniture to keep us warm!  Mother is a native of the Shetland Isles and a great animal lover, she once raised a family of rats, thinking they were homeless corn mice!  She also sketched, sculpted and slapped paint on anything that was static (and called these her ‘murals’) she wrote & sung homemade songs and I thought she breathed art, since she saw things differently and in a better light than most people and I’m proud to say she still does.  My father was not a man to appreciate art or self expression in any form, so I experienced a theatre of opposites at close hand. Where he, would discourage any behaviour he considered self indulgent or flamboyant (showing off he called it) mother, instead, would support and encourage us to let it all out, much to my father’s disapproval. One thing we all enjoyed was music, more or less in any genre. A fascination for me was exposure to a community of strong accents.  From broad Suffolk haymaking dialect to the unique Shetland tongue and extreme upper class old English, I heard many styles of speaking when I was young and it made an impression on me. I captured a sense of vaudeville from the colours in conversation, I absolutely love singing songs in character, and I can remember practicing these crazy voices as a child, for my own entertainment.


Looking back on some of my early writing, I see there were patterns emerging. Later I began composing melodies using my voice as a crude orchestra and transferring such ramblings to tape.


I was in the middle of a failing marriage, with three young children, when the need to create something artistically ‘real’ overwhelmed me. I turned up at a local jam session & the regulars hauled me in for a try out, asking me to come back the following week & to learn a song. I sung ‘Cocaine’ by JJ Cale in a crap key for the musicians & mangled the hell out of it. The great thing was I was getting into some kind of scene in which I felt at ease. I was still obsessed with the written word but in the years that followed, my life became one long gig. The jam session had spawned a band & hitched me as lead singer. We played mostly covers but now & then I would persuade our guitarist to put an arrangement to my latest song & we would slip an original in where we could. Nights became a round of babysitters & rehearsals with band members coming & going at all hours. Often the kids would wake on the weekends (much to their delight) to find a bunch of hairy musicians sleeping on the living room floor. Things would never be the same, thank God.


I see music as an all-consuming passion and my saving grace. I had been spiraling out of control, unable to live without anxiety. I was working as a nursing assistant & beginning to feel that I should be the patient. On the face of it I was coping, inside I was a mess and it was starting to show. I needed a huge dose of wild abandon and I found it with the boys in the band, spending my time screaming out rock & blues, full of brandy, loving this new world as front woman to a bunch of hell raisers, they dragged me around in a van & treated me as one of them. None of us cared as long as we played & got paid. It was a lifeline.


One night the band had a huge fight & we split up. Then I met Paul. I passed on as many dates as I could & one of the bands to take a gig off me was the one Paul was playing in. He affected me at first glance and his engaging dignity was hard to pass up. We became close friends. He made me laugh so much & then I took a wrong turn. I got married to someone else soon after meeting Paul. The irony, Paul was best man at my wedding. When he stood beside us for the photographs I could have cried for a month. I was making a huge mistake and what ensued I can only describe as the worst chapter of my life. I became terribly unhappy in a wholly unsuitable union. Life was a balancing act between the pleasure of the band that Paul and I had started and the rigors of divorce no 2. Paul saw me through the worst and he has been my rock from that day to this.


As for where I grew up, it was in Cambridgeshire, with a short spell in the Shetland Isles. The one thing I am ever grateful for is my first teacher at primary school, a strict old lady in grey who rapped the alphabet into us & forced the beauty of English down our throats, how wonderful.



Paul  –  Well, to answer your second question first, no, I’m not grown up yet, and hopefully I never will be. That’s probably why I started playing in bands – it’s an extended adolescence. Grown up people are boring, they think they know everything, I find these people very shallow and in the hippie days we called ‘em ‘straights’. When you’re not grown up you’re always learning.


My mum and dad came from London’s East End. My dad was a Fireman and my brother was born in the blitz with bombs dropping all around from Hitler’s’ Luftwaffe. I arrived in peacetime – 1950 – there, the age question answered.  Yeah, 54 and I’m not grown up.


Many people moved away from bombed out London to the countryside and the counties; we moved to Essex, it was a nice new house with hot and cold water and a bathroom! To people like us at the time this was serious luxury! I was just a baby and grew up on this big housing development.  My childhood was idyllic, with a traditional loving family and a stable home life, running free in the fields with the gangs of kids, then coming home to a mother full of kindness, a father who oozed decency and an older brother I looked up to.


There was one fly in the ointment. I hated school. Hated it with a vengeance. From when I started at 5 years old to the day I left at 16, I never understood why I had to be there. When I moved up to the ‘Big School’ at the age of 12, things took a turn for the worse, the beatings started. The teachers did things to you then that now they would be put away for. As someone who was always looking out of the window instead of paying attention, I was a prime target.  This is where I began to find a life within a life and music found me.


My cousin had given me a guitar at the age of 8, and I hung onto it through thick and thin. Starting with Lonnie Donnegan & moving on to the rock n’ rollers, Carl Perkins and the guy in Gene Vincent’s band and then on to the Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Who, etc.,  I took solace in it. I would shut myself in my bedroom and drift into another world, interrupted only when my dad wanted to know why I wasn’t doing my homework. But I didn’t care. If I learnt a George Harrison solo that night, I considered it well worth getting a beating for the next day at school.


At the age of 16 I heard Jimi Hendrix. I had never heard anything like it. He hit a note on ‘Redhouse’ that changed my life, can you believe that? That note got right through to my soul and made me think about the guitar in a totally different and radical way. Basically it made me what I am today.


Well after being let out of prison/school I was always in and out of jobs, then the hippie thing kicked in, yeah – peace, love, dove, Woodstock, the whole nine yards. I spent some time on the hippie trail – India, Afghanistan, Nepal, and then two years in Africa, ending my journey at the Cape of Good Dope. 


Through all this, I hung on to my guitar; in fact, if it wasn’t for that old ‘Eko’ I might not be here now. Busking in Africa I played songs in return for food. I’m afraid that’s a book on its own.


On my return to the UK I swapped my acoustic for a Les Paul copy and an amp (Selmer) and playing became my life and always will be. A marriage, kids, many guitars, many amps, many gigs later here I am, still obsessed with music more than I have ever been perhaps.  As I got older I just soaked up music like a sponge, the way songs were put together, the arrangements, the feeling people put into things, the way instruments are used, I don’t think I have ever heard a song without learning something.

My life seemed to be on an even keel, did I think something was missing? I don’t know…. then I ran into Maria.  All of the above, the absorbing process of songwriting & sound in all its forms then came to solid fruition in my collaboration with this woman.

Zzaj: You’ve got a HEAVY blues influence; where did that come from? I mean, was it from listening to albums, watching shows, or what?

Maria – Well I remember hearing my mother playing ragtime bluesy stuff on a battered old piano way before I was school age. My grandmothers’ sister was a blues singer who toured local pubs & accompanied herself on piano (I was there once or twice as a small girl), she was a bold character with a hot temper & she loved writing & drinking. Then there was the music on the radio & the records at home. I would jig around to anything with an animal beat & sing my heart out providing there were no human beings around! The pull for me towards the blues genre is the feeling. I gravitate towards those who mean it. In my opinion, you can’t play or sing that kind of music without being moved by it and it moves me. I’m like a moth to a flame when I hear that certain rawness and a spirit laid bare, it can be guitar, harp, drums, vocals, any instrument that tells me something of the person behind it, I want to be near that.


Paul  –  As a youngster I knew nothing about blues, I just thought it was a bunch of old guys on the porch but I have to repeat that it was Hendrix that got me into the blues and showed me that the feel of the way you play means everything. Then of course all the British guys did it for me too, Page, Clapton, Alvin Lee and the great Rory Gallagher, plus many more, all went into the big melting pot. I can’t touch on this subject without mentioning one of my heroes, Johnny Winter, I’ve seen him many times & the guy just IS the blues. Both Maria & I veer off into various forms of music, which we enjoy, notably rock I guess, but when we play the blues it’s like coming back to base camp.  We find writing & performing in this genre natural & familiar, like an old overcoat we wear now & then.

Zzaj: Does Maria play instruments, or is her primary vocals?

Maria – No, I don’t play any instruments. I tried to play tambourine when we worked as a duo.  Apart from our vocals & what came out of Paul’s fingers there was no backbeat rhythm, we needed a bit of percussion but I found it difficult, yes, even to bash the tambo in time! There’s a way to do it good and I haven’t got it. I have absolutely no talent for playing an instrument or patience to learn. I never mastered the piano though I tried. I have a low boredom threshold and if something is not natural to me, I am ashamed to say I kick it into touch, literally. I have great admiration for those who can play instruments. It’s a thing of wonder, to hear a musician working joy out of notes, especially as I could live to be 100 & never be able to.

Zzaj: Who are your favorite performers (both of ya’)?

Maria  –  Diana Trask, Tom Waits, Willie Nelson, Kate Bush, Sammi Smith, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Beth Nielsen Chapman, The Mother Station, Mickey Newbury, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Bonnie Raitt, BB King, & recent golden finds, Damien Rice, Texas Jake Lee, Guy Michetti, Carol Lowery, Denny Tate, Sahib Radio, Knightmoods, Carol Douglas, Nigel Potter, GirlB & many more. I also have to thank Bill for introducing me to Joni Mitchell’s back catalogue, an entire world of lyrical/musical treasure that will keep my soul enriched for years to come.


Paul  –  This is a massive list which includes much of Maria’s list too!  But I’m gonna have to narrow it down. I have to put right at the very top Jackson Browne, who is the best singer songwriter of the last 30 years in my opinion.  And I’ve got to mention Thunder who have been the best rock band in this country (and the world for that matter) for the last 15 years or so, check ‘em out. I also love Tom Waits, Tom Petty, Nils Lofgren, Jeff Healey, Pat Travers and I can’t leave out AC/DC, these are the people that I listen to when I’m not in the studio and I’ve got time.

Zzaj: Your website (at SOUNDCLICK) implies (to me, at least) that you’ve done self-production on your CD… how important an element is that? (Remember, this ‘zine got it’s start with the D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) crowd). Did you do ALL the production, i.e., recording, artwork, etc?

Maria  –  Yes, we self produce all our music. When the writing is complete, I sing to a rough guitar & Paul takes over from there.  I count myself very lucky to be working with such a talented musician and one who can translate what is in my head and make it into ‘whole’ music. We arrange together where necessary but mostly Paul makes solid decisions on what the song needs & goes about it.  He programs the drums for speed though he plays percussion very well but our studio does not facilitate a good drum acoustic. If we were to use a drummer the poor bloke would have to live in & be on call 24 hours a day to keep up with us. To save time we use what the machine has to offer.  D.I.Y is ALL IMPORTANT to us, the be all and end all. We have worked in professional studios but found clock watching destructive to the process of spontaneous creation.


We come unstuck in the artwork department. We know what we want but don’t own a camera! Nor do we have any grasp of technology when it comes to printing & packaging. This is where our good friend Bill Pearson comes to the rescue. He is remarkable, a genius and the kindest friend we could wish to have.  He has prepared our release, taking all the photographs, arranging the layout on the sleeve notes and dealing with a myriad of minor nightmares regarding our first website & all it entails to construct a band home.  Another friend, Mike, has also been a great support & in the next couple of weeks, ‘Treebone’ will be coming back to us in boxes. You don’t meet many people as selfless as Bill & we are blessed to have his expertise, a fellow artist who has put his heart & soul into our project before anything else. It means everything to us and I just hope we can keep that smile on his face. Nobody will be more thrilled than Bill if this album is a success even in the smallest way.

Zzaj: It seems (once again, from your websites) that you’ve done some live performance. Which is more productive? “Live”, or “Studio”?

Maria  –  Wow, these questions are great!  Live performing and recording both have ethereal moments. The studio has proved more productive because there are no restrictions or outside influences. However, there is nothing to replace playing live to an audience, but where you play makes a difference. When someone comes up mid-note, taps you on the shoulder and asks where the toilets are, or re-fills the cigarette machine beside you, whilst you’re singing, this makes you want a better stage and I hope we can secure gigs in venues where music is the sole attraction, that would be heaven.


Paul  –  Studio is definitely more productive because of the body of material that we’ve written & recorded since we’ve been left alone.  Live work was not productive as such because we played mostly covers to please the clientele we were entertaining but it was undeniably a great experience and on occasions where everything is right, the sound balance is good, the audience is hot for it, and we’re playing out of our skin, it’s then hard to beat in terms of enjoyment.

Zzaj: What kind of projects do you have coming up this summer/fall? New CD’s? Tours?

Paul  –  Well our album ‘Treebone’ will be officially launched on 1st of August 05’  although you can buy a special signed edition that will start shipping first week of July to celebrate the opening of our website at which will also have merchandise and exclusive tracks & should be up & running by the time you read this. We are already working on a follow up album. Meanwhile we are also preparing our book ‘Play Something We Know’ for self-publishing, a memoir of our journey with the band, good times & bad, 600 gigs of crazy nights. Then we intend to hit the road next year.

Zzaj: I’ve noticed that Maria likes to write… do you lead a “secret life” as an author?


Maria – Yes, I do but it’s not very secret round here!  I drive the family mad with my obsession, finding inspiration in ridiculous places, on the toilet or in the bath, in bed at night and in the car. Sometimes it feels like a glorious illness. I know it keeps me sane & helps to get a lot out of my system, stuff that plays on my mind or might otherwise be damaging. I think much of what I write comes from misery but also awe. I guess most writers are this way. I enjoy reviewing other artists music, any dialogue makes me tick. It stops me doing ordinary things like housework, cooking, the stuff I know I should do (YUK!) but I find it all so dull when compared to a blank sheet of paper and a room with a view. Though I have had some poetry published in shared anthologies I long to publish a personal collection. The file has grown to a hefty thickness and is used to support the bed!  Save me from my baaaad self!

Zzaj: What makes the 2 of ya’ “click” together? How long have you been playing together?

Maria & Paul – We met in 1996 & have been working together ever since.  It’s been a long road, some tough times and wonderful times too. Our musical influences and backgrounds seem to mesh in an uncanny way and we both know instinctively what the other is thinking. It’s been that way since the first time we performed together. This chemistry has permeated everything we do and has spilled over into our writing, which makes for a productive partnership and a happy relationship. As kindred spirits, we feel very lucky and privileged to be able to realize our dreams together and to keep each other going when life is hard.

Zzaj: Since our focus is truly on independent musicians, please offer up any words of wisdom you may have for aspiring talent(s) out in reader-land?

Paul  –  My advice is, if you really, truly, believe in what you are doing then there’s nothing at all to stop you no matter what anyone says, opinions are everywhere, people look at things differently, especially in music but music is art and true art comes from the heart and soul and that has to be all that matters. Being independent and being able to get songs heard is a wonderful thing, without the outlet of OMD we would be silent to many people & we are thankful that we are able to share our creativity.  Move with the times, the independent scene is developing at a phenomenal rate so jump on the wagon & go with it. Keep seeking new ways to follow your dreams.


Maria  –  When we were a new band I used to get on the phone & stay on the damn thing until I had at least a months worth of gigs in the diary. Paul would laugh, hearing me blagging dates out of venues that really did NOT want a loud rock band! I was driven and my enthusiasm could persuade bar owners to try us. That’s the way it has to be, no one can do it for you. If you have something to say then say it, do it, sing it, play it, put your ideas into action. I have a lot of time for doers. I run my life on the energy that comes from hope and determination. Standards and competition are high but there is a strong support network too and I don’t think there has been a better time to be involved in independent music.  With the opening of so many net radio stations there is a chance for everyone to be heard. Get out there & kick ass!


Maria & Paul  –  We’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to Zzaj for inviting us to air our views for posterity in IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION magazine.  And we would like to wish you all the very best with your music & life and hope to meet up with some of you one day.  Our best wishes, Maria & Paul



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    Well, we’re in our new abode, tho’ th’ dust is still settling ’round & about us… a big reason for that is that right after we moved in & completed the setup (new floor, new paint job & lots of other “remodel” type stuff), my sister’s family from Korea, & my first son & his wife, came to visit.  Truly a housefull, & lots of fun for all.

          During that whole transition, I was undergoing (yet) another change… I picked up a GS-13 position with the Army at Fort Lewis.  That could have some impacts on this ‘zine, though so far I’ve been able to keep both the job & the ‘zine going.  It’s really interesting, at my age (nearly 60 now) to be (still) getting new positions, & in places where I can “stir it up” a bit (not that I haven’t done plenty of stirrin’ awready, ey?)

         Music continues to pour in, & we don’t want that to stop, either.  Seem to be so many excellent players these days, & the QUALITY is gettin’ better all th’ time.

         This will be a short rant, as I’ve (thus farly) got little to rant about.  Life seems to be goin’ gr8… which means somethin’ bad is BOUND to be happenin’ soon… I’ll let’cha’ know when it does!

Till next time…,



Rotcod Zzaj