Vale, Glaude, Metcalf - "In The Lifeboat"
(Zzaj Productions 2002, ZP-82)

From Aural Innovations #23 (April 2003)

Recorded June 7, 1997 at The Lifeboat Pub in Olympia, Washington, this trio consists of Harlan Mark Vale (aka Kramtones) on synthesizers, compositions and vocals, Dick Metcalf (aka Rotcod Zzaj) on keyboards, vocals and poetry, and Remus Glaude on trumpet, keyboards and compositions. The music this trio produces has a nice drifting spacey jazz vibe, the kind of grooves you can always expect from something the Zzaj man is involved with, plus some of the most accessible music I've heard from the Zzaj camp yet.

The CD opens with the "Strike The Match", a short head boppin rockin fusion instrumental. Ahhhh.... and it's nice to hear trumpet alongside Zzaj's keyboards on "In Honor Of Hot Rats". We also get a nice orchestral synth backdrop and a second keyboard jam that I'm guessing is from Vale. This track, I would assume, is in honor of the Zappa classic. "Beauty" is another standout track and has a spacey prog rock vibe... or maybe jazzy Vangelis. "Sancious" is similar but with stronger jazz influences. "Loop Thing" is similar still, but is more of a drifting avant-fusion tune. Very cool. "Internet Chat" is one of my favorites of the set, being more rock and jazz with a spacey vibe and cool narrative spoken word from Zzaj. Despite it's modern cyber theme, the music and vocal delivery sound like it would be right at home as the title song to an off-beat 70's action cop flick. "Four Women" features light jazz, maybe with a bit of a Maynard Ferguson or someone like that sound. But it's also got that ethereal feel that dominates the album. And "Mapassa" is similar but with a killer dancey - almost Latin - groove. Nice! Overall a nice set that will tickle your ears and senses. Sure, it's accessible and perhaps even mainstream in spots, but these musicians manage to infuse the music with a dreamy vibe that allows the listener to settle in and float along.

For more information you can visit the Zzaj Productions web site at:
Peruse the Zzaj Productions catalog at:
Contact via snail mail c/o Zzaj Productions; 5308 65th Avenue; Lacey, WA 98513.

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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