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Improv 04


DEMO (cd)
Ernesto Diaz-Infante and Rotcod Zzaj

Sdrawkcab Zzaj (cd) 
Davey Williams & Rotcod Zzaj

                             two reviews…

      Having received two of Dr. Zzaj's new home-made Cd's, the first representing his current collaborations with Ernesto Diaz-Infante, I readied myself, and here's what happened...
     On DEMO, The first cut "We are Real" opens dramatically like a full orchestra espionage movie score, complete with string flourishes and tympani:  all the hallmarks of a suspense drama unfolds as the question, "Is there really life?" and the suggestion "get a taste" are repeated in a jazz chant .…with the admonition to "get a taste for what is really real"… upbeat and catchy! It kind of puts you in the hot seat.

The relentless full range synthesized orchestration sounds great while driving..great  road music! So catchy, I find myself replaying it in my head, if not singing along! (Michael Jackson in Nevada would love it! - See his article in Articles - the improvisor) The text gets darker as it unfolds. As questions are asked, that require a deeper response and inner quest as the music seems to go through transition into a cosmic space warp. The piece again comes to recapitulation with the question, "Is there Really Life?" But then…unfortunately..

the first cut proceeded to break up, skip, and did the rest.
I wasn't sure if ANYTHING was REAL after that, ….so I proceeded to the next CD. (But if you want to hear a mp3 example of Zzaj and Ernesto, try...
or  at,2939,6365,00.html you'll find zoolB s'yeveD & several other cuts from various & sundry albums/CD's).

Sdrawkcab Zzaj - Davey Williams & Rotcod Zzaj & friends…

Without really looking at the cover, I stuck it in the machine. It immediately presented music more in keeping with my image of what Zzaj plays; but with familiar sounding bluesy, jazzy meanderings, obviously freely indulgent of the moment. A positive revelry of "good time"/ "good moment" playing…

Then there were these eery, murky meanderings that I'm sure my mother would NOT call "music". .. piano bell tones, and vocalizations, some drumming, took a while to unfold before setting the tone for the dreamy poetic offerings and political grumblings. A long Zzaj jam obviously edited off to silence only to produce a demented "country-western" reprise improv on piano and guitar …waky and wavy, again sounding oddly familiar.

You can imagine my surprize when I opened the sleeve to realize this recording was made at MY HOUSE, 15 YEARS AGO! It was then that I recognized my own, slightly "out of tune" piano. Oh, boy.

The following cut sounded like it was recorded in a cavern, and indeed it was! At that time, our main venue for the "Improv Series" was a dark and dingy new wave bar called the CAVERN! Well, this was a Cavern gig! Mucho high voltage trips between drums and guitar, Zzaj's Rhodes piano and the alto saxophone of Wally Shoup, betray the unabashed freedom of time and indeterminate "jazzing" up with abstractions, noise, fugitive running on and on…

Next cut…back at the house. Ah, the memory of cappucino! with some of the queezy, sneering underwater melodics that only Davey Williams can produce, and Metcalf "flailing away" on my out of tune Mason and Hamlin piano.

It was really hard for me to listen "objectively" as the CD brought back so many verdent memories of a kind of golden age of development. Trial and error, passion in the midst of obscurity, eccentricity and rejection by the Southern society (a sign of virture), a time of calling with no guarantee of outcome. And poverty, a normal exchange for living a life of rampant creativity. Truly, it was the age of music exploration as both serious art and social recreation. We were an artistic statement that slapped the face of New Wave. Even the kids ignored us! But, we MADE them listen! With beat poet mutterings accompanied by soft jazz progression, trapset punctuations before the groove set in. Laid back…. a touch of "Rhodes" flavor, garnished by Williams. This jam must've been endless, because Zzaj cut it off. [ie. edit..fade out. ]

Cut 4 eigoow eigoob [fades in] At the Cavern, an upbeat breaky dancegroove led by Williams. Faintly, you can hear my own weak and amateurish fake cornet interactions creating the REAL "Holiday Inn" atmosphere of soft-bad-jazz-gone insane. Cut 5 oot edulretni onaip Back in the home studio, duet, pretty much consists of Williams soloing madly over Zzaj's accenting and pounding high energy, yet straight forward piano comps. Again, if I'd known this music would end up on a CD, I would've had the piano tuned, and served Champaign!


Cut 6 hasd oduesp At the Cavern, a quartet featuring drummer John Thompson and Wally Shoup's raw alto sax sound. I believe it was his old horn, the old nickel plated alto that got stolen in the park. Took me back, reminising the old Wally Shoup sound. Anyway, the improv broke away into some high level simultaneous not jollying. It's a wild furray of dense sound. Cut 7 eerht onaip Back in the studio….i get the drift. The alternating of some of the private playing that led up to the "event" we staged at the Cavern. This, so far, one of my favorite cuts. Lots of attitude! Zzaj splashing around…Williams horsing out too many notes, too fast for his own good, and carrying the listener with them. Well, that IS what it's all about…keeping us ENGAGED! And so, it is….

Cut 8    sdrawkcab zzaj      So it was, so it is… so it will be.

-LaDonna Smith


(backwards translation, courtesy of Davey Williams):

To begin with, the title of the CD,
Sdrawkcab Zzaj = 'jazz backwards'

Other titles as follows:

  1. desu appaz taht sedahs = shades that zappa used
  2. edulretni onaip = piano interlude
  3. cibeoma = amoebic
  4. eigoow eigoob = boogie woogie
  5. oot edulretni onaip = piano interlude too
  6. hasd oduesp = pseudo dash
  7. eerht onaip = piano three
  8. sdrawkcab zzaj = jazz backwards
  9. sngriv 000.01 = 10,000 virgins
  10. zoolb s'yevad = davey's blooz

Buy at:

catalog # ZP-32