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Transvalue - Book III

Taking “Words & Music” to a whole new place…
Tom Waites meets Captain Beefheart…
Allen Ginsberg meets Ornette Coleman
Bukowski meet Zappa

Take a trio in the best beat-poetry tradition - a storyteller, a jazz trombonist and a drummer - with all of its promise of interaction, communication and "in the moment" interplay...

Now expand it - more players, more voices: broader drama, wider expressions; all while losing none of its spirit and spontaneity and you have Transvalue.

Transvalue, an ongoing exploration of the inner depths of human interaction and the outer reaches of jazz... and where both come together as one.

For Transvalue III, trombonist/composer Michael Vlatkovich, with his unique brand of improvisationally-friendly, genre-bending compositions, has created musical settings to support, surround and interact with the writings and vocal performances of spoken word artist, Chuck Britt. Over the years, Transvalue has grown into a sort of repertory company of West Coast experimental jazz artists with the instrumentation and personnel varying with the needs of the material. One mainstay of this repertory company has been drummer/percussionist, David Crigger, whose role as recording engineer/mixer has grown on Transvalue III beyond mere capturing of performances, to editing, shaping and extending those performances to match Transvalue’s current vision of itself.

Transvalue III’s eight horn players, besides Vlatkovich on trombone include multi-woodwind virtuoso, Vinny Golia and tuba artist, Bill Roper. The rhythm section consists of pianist Glenn Horiuchi, bassist Domenic Genova along with Crigger on drums, percussion, loops and additional keyboards. Also featured are Melanie Cracchiolo and Chuck Sabatino on vocals, Warren Hartman on keyboards, and many others.

1. Not Knowing
2. The '58 Retractable Hardtop
3. I Have These Tears
4. Frances Cheeks
5. Wars For The Numb (01-21-91)
6. Wedding Song
7. The Father
8. Of Dancers
9. For Alec From Pappy
10. The New Day
11. The Kissing Song

Michael Vlatkovich – Trombone/Compositions... called by JAZZIZ magazine, “…one of the most extraordinary improvising trombonists in this country as well as overseas... a daring and emotionally charged performer... takes delight in blending a broad variety of jazz and world music styles into his own brand of engaging and unpredictable music and manages to express a raw power and beauty within a minimally structured format that allows extensive group improvisations to lead the way.”

Chuck Britt – Vocals/Poems/Verbal Expressions... observes and invites us into his American life. From his loving but disturbed and too intense fifties family, through the polluted, war and riot torn, deteriorating sixties, the inflated, over watered desert of Los Angeles and the world of performance art and jazz in the seventies and eighties, through his visions of redemption in death and unlikely family healing over the last twenty years in the Northwest, Chuck growls, hisses, warbles and dances his vision. We can come or not… but it is clear that he will go on relentlessly.

David Crigger – Drums/Percussion/Additional Keyboards/Programming & Sound Manipulation... since joining the Don Ellis Orchestra at age 18, has recorded and performed with Elvis Costello, Klaus Doldinger's Passport, Burt Bacharach, Brian Auger, and many others; has engineered/produced CD's for Jeanette Wrate, Bruce Lofgren Jazz Orchestra, and Bill Plake.


Transvalue III, The '58 Retractable Hardtop takes "beat poetry" to a whole new level, mixing a big band horn section with a free, avant-garde jazz approach. Britt's poems, set to music, tell a story, usually about his family or self, with a strong dose of humor, philosophical views, and even anger. Vlatkovich has done a wonderful job with the music score, and Crigger (drummer/engineer/producer) out did himself wearing just about as many hats as one could wear on a single project.

I really enjoy listening to David Crigger's drumming on this album. The sound of his drums as well as the creative tapestry he weaves, mixing his own colors while providing direction for the band is nothing short of stellar. For me, David's playing alone is worth the price of admission!

Many of the tracks could pass for or work as a movie score ... the musicianship, the sonority and music content, as well as the quality by which the album was recorded and mixed ... it's that good. Tracks include:

  1. "Not Knowing" - a strange poem with an Argentinian Tango feel/sound.
  1. "The '58 Retractable Hardtop" - a great, funny story (17-minutes) with a fantanstic orchestration which takes you through a wide variety of styles (e.g. 60's Boogaloo, Big Band, Circus, Gospel, Modern Classical).
  2. "I Have These Tears" - slow, swing ballad with a self-reflective poem.
  3. "Frances Cheeks" - love poem / slow jazz ballad; features solo piano and alto sax.
  4. " Wars For the Numb" - anti-war poem with big band a lots of jungle drums.
  5. "Wedding Song" - theatrical score with chorus (11-minutes)
  6. "The Father" - somber poem with improvised, interactive music score
  7. "Of Dancers" - a metaphorical poem with a bouncy score; syncopated with driving groove in 5/4.
  8. "For Alec From Pappy" - poem about father/son; interactive drums and electronics.
  9. "The New Day" - bizzare, dream-like poem; extremely syncopated score in a variety of feels with an extended drum solo.
  10. "The Kissing Song" - a love song, almost sprechstimme, with a mixed ballad music score.

Parental Advisory - Explicit Content

If the "Tom Waites meets Captain Beefheart, Allen Ginsberg meets Ornette Coleman, Bukowski meets Zappa" has peaked your interest, I think you will really dig Transvalue III, The '58 Retractable Hardtop. Click HERE to listen to samples from the album or purchase online (MP3 downloads also available).

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