Agrelia’s Castle – ELDERS & ANCESTORS (Special review by Zzaj)

 

agrelia

Agrelia’s Castle – ELDERS & ANCESTORS:  The image you see above is of two very special musicians; husband and wife Paul and April Brown created the beautiful music on this release as a part of their journey together through the challenges of cancer.  I have listened to (literally) thousands of songs that use electronics, flutes and vocals to enhance your spiritual connections, and can say (without qualification) that this one, particularly on pieces like the opening title track, “Elders and Ancestors” (14:23), capture the beauty more poignantly than anything I’ve listened to in the last 10 years.  As you listen to April’s vocal work on this one, you will know the true power that music can bring to life – I loved this piece!

 

The playing is primarily by April and Paul, but they did add some talent to assist them with the production of these beautiful tunes – Paul plays Hammond B-3, Fender Rhodes, Keyboards, Drums, Percussion and April does Vocals, Native American Style Flutes, Drums, Percussion, BGVs and they are joined by Mike Farris on Vocals (Track 6), Tom Shinness doing  Harp Guitar, Guitar, Cello, Bass Guitar (Tracks 3, 5, & 6); and Richard Cushing playing Sitar (Track 3) – and the talent they have assembled is clearly up to the task, especially on their rendition of the traditional “Wayfaring Stranger”… it runs for 10:22, giving plenty of time to build the tune from the flute intro to a full-bodied magical experience like you’ve never had… Mike’s vocal on this one is just WONDERFUL (this was the tune that I learned how to sing solo spirituals on  many, many years ago – so it’s definitely a favorite) and will fill your heart with both sadness and joy!

What is most noticeable about what these two folks project through their music is the contentedness and peace they have in life, and they are able to do that without coming across (in any way) as pretentious, or “too new-agey”… having just been diagnosed with prostate cancer myself, I feel their message conveyed most effectively on tunes like the beautiful “Spirit Dreaming”… the mix of vocals, flutes and powerful keyboard work made this one my personal favorite of the seven offered up for your pleasure and enlightenment; I listen to this tune whenever I need encouragement (much more often these days, I can tell you).

I would recommend (very strongly) that you reserve an hour of totally quiet time, with your headphones on, for your first experience of this music… it’s filled with healing power and you owe it to your spirit to immerse yourself in that!  I give Agrelia’s Castle a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of (a perfect) 5.00 – meaning that this also gets the “PICK” of 2015 for “most powerful healing music”.  Get more information at the Mysterium Label page for this splendid and astounding release

Peter Calandra – First Light (*Special Review)

 

 

Peter Calandra – FIRST LIGHT:  It was only a few seconds into the first album I reviewed from Peter, “Inner Circle“, that I knew he was going to get very high marks in my review (issue 145, by the way) – I was particularly impressed with his string/synth work.    On his latest effort, to be released in September, 2015, you will be (quite simply) astounded, as you are left with memories of compositions like the 4:09 title track “First Light“… it’s clear that the spirit was guiding him on this exceptional piece, and (again), the strings/vocal strings are just superb. 

 

Peter is the kind of player who lets his music speak for itself, without the usual hype… he has scored over 40 films, and done numerous TV themes (as well as many Broadway shows) – so even though you may not have caught his name in the credits, you have probably witnessed his incredibly buoyant musical signature.  His piano style is full-bodied and lively, painting sonic imagery with every note he coaxes out of his head (& through his magical fingers).  It helped that he grew up with music all around him, and had parents who supported his forays into the professional side of music – his mom, an amateur musician herself, nurtured his musical side even as he started out his career doing the “gig thing” at bars doing blues, funk & other styles; his big break came when he was asked to sub in an off-Broadway production of “Little Shop of Horrors” – and the rest is history, as they say.

 

The thirteen songs he offers up on this new recording also encompass many of his playing styles… he doesn’t restrict himself to one genre, and is equally at home with New Age, Jazz and (even) “refined pop” – and that is what is really impressive about Peter’s music… he composes “for the moment” and “in the moment”, and achieves results that far outdistance his contemporaries; I was totally enchanted with his earlier “Dreamlike” video (shown below) on YOUTUBE, and have no doubt you will be as well:

You can, of course, find many more of his works on YOUTUBE by searching his name there.  I’m sure there will be some of the songs from “First Light” posted there after the September 21st release, too. 

 

It was the 5:12 “Valley of Two Lakes” that was my personal favorite of all the tunes on this release, though… imagine a dense and rich forest filled with sounds akin to elves and fairies flitting through the leaves, and you’ll have a pretty good idea what this sounds like – the strings on this one are pure magic.  Anyway you listen to these thirteen beautiful songs, you will realize that you are in the presence of pure musical genius, and will treasure these experiences for years (& years) to come.  I give Peter a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  You can get more information about this most creative player at Peter’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Peter Kater – Love (*Special Zzaj Review)

 

 

Peter Kater – LOVE:  I first reviewed Peter’s wonderful contemporary piano/keyboard works in issue # 129, on a release called “Light Body“, and it was evident that his extensive travels and well-honed talent (he started out learning classical piano at the age of seven) gave him an ability to express emotions through his playing that few other artists can lay claim to… words like “inspirational” and “healing” came to mind immediately as I wrote that review.  He also got very high marks for his work on an album in 2014 called “Ritual” in issue # 145.

 

On “Love“, he explores an even wider range of feelings associated with that most powerful emotion. Over my many years of reviewing music, I can honestly say that I haven’t heard a solo pianist capable of drawing the listener into their tale as deeply as Peter can.  That is made clear (most poignantly) on tunes like the beautiful “Union“, a wonderful improvised piece that touches the heart intimately and brings understanding of how powerful two spirits merging can be.  What makes Peter’s playing so unique is the pacing of each of the pieces… you’ll hear the power he’s able to project on the 6:08 “Turbulence” and know as you listen that this song comes from experience… the power of moving on from situations that have become too difficult to continue.

 

Peter’s early days (after growing up in New Jersey) were spent hiking ’round the U.S.A. with a backpack, his music books and his talent to help sustain him.  30,000 miles later, he wound up in Boulder, Colorado, where he incorporated many of the musical lessons he had learned into his playing… his unique and powerful style allowed him to do small concerts throughout Colorado & ultimately, with the help of folks like Robert Redford, John Denver and many others in the entertainment world, he was a recognized name on the world stage.

 

I can tell you as I listen to his beautiful composition on “Two Of Us“, that very few keyboardists in the world today can convey such a sense of intimacy as Peter did on this fine two-chord song (the only one he’s ever written with only two chords). I don’t think any listener will be able to walk away from Peter’s improvisation on “Intimacy” without remembering a person who they were able to share their deepest secrets with, and cherishing that memory.  Peter’s keyboard work is simple, yet stunning, and for folks who want musical inspiration to keep their love burning bright, these thirteen wonderful tunes will do just that.

 

Oftentimes, solo piano is just classified as “New Age”, kind of lumped into that category, anyway.  That’s another thing that makes Peter’s work so noticeable and pleasant to listen to… it goes far beyond that label, and takes the listener into sonic realms that approach the music on a much more personal level… and he’s got the “life” and “road” experience to back it up!  A perfect combination for a perfect album!  You can get a wealth of information on this high-energy (and high-talent) player at Peter’s website.  I give him a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of (a perfect) 5.00… meaning he also gets the “PICK” of 2015 for “best contemporary instrumental album”.

 

Seeking POEMS for publication!!!!

 

Many issues back (around # 75), was the last of our publication of POEMS from individual submissions… we didn’t stop publishing poems because we wanted to – I simply wasn’t getting poems in (or, they weren’t meeting our criteria for submission).  I have recently received inquiries about re-starting the poetry page – I will be happy to do that, as long as I have at least 2 or 3 submissions a month…

Here is the criteria for submission of poems for (possible) publication:

 

Must not be all “hearts-y and flower-y”

Must not be so “epic” that the reader nods off  (that does NOT mean you can’t submit long poems – it simply means that if it’s long – it must keep the reader engaged)

Poems that somehow relate to music or the arts always stand a better chance of being published

We (always) reserve the right NOT to publish a poem if it is (by OUR standards – which are quite “loose”, by the way) advocating violence or abuse – OTOH, if it DOES advocate such, it will NEVER be published here!!!

 

Just type (or copy/paste) your poem into the COMMENT form below – all COMMENTS are screened, so no one will see what you submitted, except me, until I decide if it will be published.  You do NOT have to REGISTER to use the COMMENTS to submit a poem!!!

NOTE:  If you’ve already commented and don’t hear something back from me – simply EMAIL me your submission to rotcod@rotcodzzaj.com

 

Tribute to Chris Hurtle

Deputy

December 25, 1958 – August 14, 2014

Details for viewing, from Bonita Hurtle:

2-5pm on Thursday Aug 21, 2014 at Crowford and Bowers funeral home in Copperas Cove,Tx… He will have full Military Honors Services at the Killeen Veterans Cemetery on Friday 22 August 2014 at 10am and then gathering at our home in Kempner, Tx afterwards.

     This man was a lot of things to a LOT of people!  Chris was a “rare breed”… someone who actually knew what he was talking about, and wasn’t afraid to say so!  That’s why I enjoyed working with him so much…

     I first met him “on the phone”, so to speak!  This was during my first rotation to the National Training Center in mid-2003 (NTC, for those who don’t know what that is)… he had been chartered by (then-Deputy for 404th AFSB) Ray Coffman to “go down there & straighten this out”.  I made the mistake of calling him “Sir” while on the phone with him… in no uncertain terms & a few $*?*&’s, he let me know that he was “Chris”, and he “worked for a living”… those of you who knew him can probably see him on that rant as you read this!  Of course, that was (& still is) exactly the way I like to operate – so we hit it off immediately – even though I had never seen him face-to-face yet!

     The other thing I remember most poignantly about Chris Hurtle is that he was a leader, something you don’t always encounter in Federal Service these days.  He clearly understood from his early days as an Artilleryman that you can’t “tell someone to do it” unless “you know how to do it yourself” (or are willing to learn).  Of course, leadership often means that you have strong opinions about things… I can tell you from personal experience that if he had FOX News (not my favorite channel) on – “don’t touch that dial”… or you would (very quickly) hear an EXPLOSION – right in the vicinity of your ears; in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was taken right after Warren decided to “switch the station” (thanks, Jeannie) – this pic was taken in the “SPO Shop”, where I worked for Chris just before he went back home to Texas (Fort Hood):

warren and Chris

     I worked for (and with) many Logistics Management Specialists during my “second career” as a Department of the Army Civilian, or DAC… I can honestly say that none of them measured up to the technical and moral standards that Chris did… but, on the other hand, he made sure that he took care of his troops – and you (truly) won’t find a lot of DAC’s these days who understand that once they’re elevated to GS-12, 13 & on up the chain – that IS their JOB! 

     One of our proudest accomplishments together was the corraling, identification and shipment of several thousand pieces of “Left Behind Equipment” (LBE) from Hawaii to Fort Lewis and then back to Hawaii… it wasn’t a cakewalk.. long hours, lots of work from the Department of Logistics folks & a few arguments along the way – but we pulled it off – & without his strong leadership talents, that wouldn’t have happened.  We also worked together in Iraq (he followed me there about 3 months into my 7 month tour)… so, we did a lot of things together – all over the world!  You can see him receiving his award for that tour below:

Chris & Souza Mosul

     Chris was also a very strong “family guy”… some might say that he kinda’ “looked the part”, too (of the TV character, I mean… ha! ha!). One of his pet projects at home (for both him and his wife Bonita & their daughters) was the restoration of an ancient 3/4 ton truck out of the Army inventory – I can’t tell you how many hours Chris devoted to that machine – but it was a lot!!!

m37a1

He worked ’round the house, & when he moved back down to where he wanted to be (Texas), he even did some farming, as shown below:

Tractor

     Chris will stay in my memory, to be sure… now, I’ve left the COMMENTS block open on this page… so, please DO add your comments in (I’ll approve them before they go live).  Chris Hurtle clearly deserves to be remembered as the fine and caring professional he was!  Fire away!

     You’ll find several pictures of Chris below (sent our way by COL Haebig – thanks!):

 

smoking Offloading

 

 

 

Port Operations above & below – he was definitely a “take-charge” kinda’ guy!

 

Hurtle in Charge

 

Always “on the lookout” for trouble!

Chris on lookout

 

Chris always had a tale to tell – & he told ’em well!

On the Job Chris Hurtle Making us Laugh

The pictures below were from the military ceremony, and the reception afterwards – sent by Bonita… thanks, Bonita – and R.I.P., my good friend:

more kids fam after1 trib endofsvc bn casket salute honors flag laidtorest

Ancient Archive

What you see BELOW is the index for OLD issues – if you want to look at our most current issues, use the DROPDOWN at the TOP of this page!!!

This magazine has been reviewing fine jazz, blues and improvised music from around the world since 1990 (& even a little before 1990).

During an average month, I receive about 30-40 CD’s (or digital downloads for review); each CD is guaranteed a review, unless it lacks what I call a high “EQ”, or “energy quotient”. As long as the musicians are PLAYING (& not just “playing at it”), a CD will always get a review here, no matter what the genre.

We will only be keeping the LAST 10 issues active on the site… anything previous to that will be placed in our HTML ARCHIVE… you still can click on the ISSUE page, and that will have a link to the ARCHIVE version.  All the content is saved in the ARCHIVE copy, which allows us to save server space.  Please spread the word to others, or write to me with any suggestions you may have at rotcod@rotcodzzaj.com

For your convenience, the older issues are also linked in here:

Prehistoric issues:

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Brand NEW!!! The very FIRST all-ONLINE issue: 

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I hope you’ll spread the word FAR and WIDE… it has been YOUR SUPPORT over the last 20+ years that has kept my efforts alive!

Get your own copy of the Rotcod Zzaj autobiography!!!

zzajfrankfurt

NOTE:  If you just want to “get to it”, you can PURCHASE this tome by clicking on “purchase” – only $12.00. 

(NOTE:  after you click CHECKOUT, you can enter the DISCOUNT code)

SO – you’ve been wondering about who this “Rotcod Zzaj” character is; what makes him tick… & why he’s STILL (after nearly 70 years) prowlin’ about on the net…you’ll also see a lot of pictures that would fit in (very well) with a “throwback Thursday” theme… quite a bit of stuff from my 1960’s period….

In his own words, all the way from Pennsylvania, to Yemen, to Thailand & all corners of this fantastic globe… you’ll get the “straight skinny” from the man himself in these pages!  Here are just a few quotes to give you an idea of what you’re in for as you read my story (the previews only go up through about 1968 – to get more, you’ll have to PURCHASE it…:

(the earliest years)  “I can’t tell you exactly where all my inclination to play came from, but I can say that I’ve always felt a need to play. I grew up in a family that (though sometimes slightly dysfunctional) had one common language they could always rely on – MUSIC! ”

PURCHASE

(mid-1960’s, boarding school)  “When I moved down to Kentucky (around 1960, I believe), I participated in a chorale run by (of all people in that region) “Doctor Pepper”… I’m not kidding, his name was Herbert Pepper, with (some kind of) a doctorate for teaching. In retrospect, considering the rather strict environment there (it was a “Holy Roller” church school that my dad had sent me to in order that he be able to conduct illicit affairs in a Cadillac hearse – another story in/of itself), I learned a lot from ol’ Herbert. He picked me for some solo works, as well as a “Youth For Christ” quartet… I must admit, we were pretty durned cute with our red vests, black bowties, black slacks & penny loafers. That musical adventure did teach me a little more about reading music, because Dr. Pepper was really hardcore about being able to read… and having groupies in the pews was a great experience for a 14-year-old.. ha! ha!”

freefrankfurt     (from Germany, in 1964):  “The exchange rates (Deutsch Marks to Dollars) were far higher than they are these days, so even on meager finances (I made about $98 a month during that first year there), I could still cruise the jazz cellars, rock joints & other venues (you know, the strip clubs on Kaiserstrasse) in search of new experiences.”

“Times (in the Military) were definitely different back in the mid-‘60’s – it was pretty much understood (with any of the “good” supervisors, anyway) that as long as a young guy wasn’t breaking the law (to any serious degree, anyway), he should be allowed to “form” his personality… of course, that led to lots of opportunities “to” violate the rules… the hope was that those same young men would learn from their mistakes & not repeat them. “Honor” was a concept that was still around… if you gave your word (no matter how painful it might be to do so), you kept it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(my Alabama period, 1968 or so)

I explored the joys of motorcycles, a 1966 GTO & other “guy” kind of things (like ladies – I got married in late 1968… another story too long to tell in this narrative). Southern bourbon, catfish & hushpuppies, as firstgoatwell as hours-on-end of listening to the emerging artists of the day, like Sly & The Family Stone, The Who, King Crimson, The Supremes, Allman Brothers, a smattering of jazz artists & a WHOLE LOT of southern blues, was a large part of the experience there… the military was just moving into “race relations” (in great part due to situations across the Army that came close to rioting)… my awareness of those issues was already pretty keen (from real-life experiences I had in Harlem when I was preparing to move to Germany, as well as the local scene there in Huntspatch in the late ‘60’s…. they still had the separate water fountains & lots of other hill-William devices to keep “the coloreds” down), but listening to the music with the black soldiers there lent a whole lot of weight to just how intent “the man” was on keeping them (and their families) in their place. (It wasn’t until a few years later that I came to believe that “the man” is really intent on keeping us all in our place… folks with $$$, meaning “stature”, don’t want to be replaced by anyone who is “uppity” (no matter what color they are)… while that’s a political view, I believe it ultimately had a LOT TO DO with how the music of the mid-60’s to the early ‘70’s was created and evolved into such a powerful force… ”

PURCHASE

New services – MVA – Zzaj-Trax

If you’re a musician, then you know you seldom have all the time you need; so what we do is act as your Musical Virtual Assistant!  That’s right – we can be thousands of miles apart and I can still help you…. in fact, with tablets, I-Phones & all the digits we have at our disposal today – you’ll wonder how you ever did without MVA services for all these years!

That’s why I started up a NEW SERVICE to help musicians do what they do best – create, compose and PLAY!  The service is called Zzaj-Trax, and I hope you’ll visit us there TODAY… after you scan the first page, be sure to visit the “PACKAGE/Rate” page to see which package you want to sign up for!  & even if you’re not ready to sign up right now – spread the word/link to other players you know who may need our services!

HOT Jazz CD of the week (4/12/2013) Austin Peralta – Endless Planets

This is one of the most full-bodied jazz recordings I’ve ever listened to; just LOVIN’ it!

This was actually my first listen to his music, in my memory anyway… here’s the bio from WIKIPEDIA:

Peralta was a piano player devoted to music from a very young age, starting piano lessons at the age of six and eventually studying with Eleanor Lindboe, Sara Banta at Pepperdine University, the noted jazz pianist Alan Pasqua and saxophonist Buddy Collette. Peralta won the Shelly Manne New Talent Award given by the Los Angeles Jazz Society in 2003, presented to him by Quincy Jones, at the age of 13.[2]

At age 15, Peralta was a featured performer at the 2006 Tokyo Jazz Festival, appearing with his own trio,[3] and performing live with major jazz and jazz fusion stars Chick Corea, Hank Jones, Sadao Watanabe, John Patitucci, Omar Hakim, and the young Japanese pianist Hiromi Uehara.

In 2006, at the age of 16, Peralta recorded two albums for Sony Music: “Maiden Voyage” featuring bassist Ron Carter,[2] and “Mantra” which included renowned bassist Buster Williams. In 2007, Peralta appeared at the internationally-known Java Jazz Festival.

In 2011, Peralta self-produced an original album “Endless Planets,” released on the Brainfeeder label.

He is featured on the 2012 Cinematic Orchestra release, “In Motion.”

Peralta composed and performed the score for the remastered documentary feature What Happened to Kerouac? (2012) and appeared on the track “DMT Song” on Flying Lotus’ album Until the Quiet Comes (2012). Before his death in 2012, Peralta was a touring member of jazz group The Cinematic Orchestra and was performing regularly with Allan Holdsworth and Virgil Donati.

Peralta was the son of filmmaker Joni Caldwell and the Z-Boy skateboarder and film director Stacy Peralta.[4] He contributed to the original soundtrack of his father’s documentary film Riding Giants with a piano solo.

Peralta passed away on November 21, 2012, at the age of 22. The LA County Cororner’s Report indicated the most likely cause of death was viral pneumonia, aggravated by a combination of alcohol and drugs. [5]

HOT rock CD of the week (3/15/2013) (Johnny Winter – Second Winter)

Johnny Winter is absolutely one of th’ SMOKIN’est bluesers ever… check out this full CD (Second Winter) here:

Here’s what WIKIPEDIA had to say about this great music:

Second Winter is the third studio album by Texas blues guitarist Johnny Winter, released in 1969. The original plan was to edit the songs from the recording session into one album but it was later thought that all the recordings were good enough to be released. The album was released as a “three-sided” LP, with a blank fourth side on the original vinyl. Two more songs, “Tell the Truth” and “Early in the Morning” were left unfinished but released on a 2004 re-release of the album.