Bonazah and Sunny Village Foundation join forces at Microsoft’s Africa Day

Folks from Bonazah Community Development of Africa and the Sunny Village Foundation joined forces on 11 October, 2016, at Microsoft’s Commons Nonprofit Fair; Microsoft is a strong supporter of charities around the world – they encourage employees to donate freely throughout the year, and culminate the drive with an annual event in October of each year… this year’s theme was Africa Day, so it was a perfect setting for these two non-profit charities to join together in an effort to help those in African communities who are in need of our support. 

Travel to the Microsoft campus in Redmond was a miracle in itself… the week had been full of rain and sunless days, but on the 11th, everything turned out to be clear and wonderful.  The Bonazah contingent made it into the Commons cafeteria first, and setup the desk where we would share our message with (literally) thousands of Microsoft employees… here’s the first shot of our setup:

bonazah-setup-at-microsoft

 

 

Microsoft made it really easy to do the setup, too… connection drops for free Internet service right by each desk they had setup for the charities participating… an individual BARCODE right on the table, so employees could just scan the code into their phones and make their contribution right from the phone… we couldn’t have asked for anything better.

 

 

 

 

Shortly after the setup, folks from the Sunny Village Foundation began to arrive, so naturally, we took a quick group shot together:

bonazah-and-sunny-village-group-shot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Microsoft had also gone full-out to ensure the day’s theme was well understood… they brought in a highly-spirited and talented group of African musicians to play the event… the group from the Seattle area and is called Maya Soleil, and you can watch a few seconds of their live performance right here… click on the link to visit their website:

 

As the lunch hour progressed, many folks began to stop by our booth, looking for information on how to contribute… here’s a group shot of the activity at the Bonazah/Sunny Village desk:

veronica-at-bonazah-and-sunny-village-desk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contributions have already been received from this gathering… our thanks go out to all who contributed, and those who picked up our materials for a possible future contribution to Bonazah/Sunny Village efforts to aid those in need in Africa.  We were proud to have been selected for this Microsoft event, and look forward to participating in many other events like it around the country.  If you would like to contribute to our efforts, please visit the Bonazah homepage and click the DONATE button.

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A STAR IS BORN – SOFIYA FEDYNA SINGS SARA TEASDALE

You may have noticed that there are quite a few posts regarding the music of my keyboard-playing friend Andrzej Rejman from Poland lately… that’s because beautiful music such as he plays merits full-ahead attention from listeners everywhere.  You’ll agree, I’ve no doubt when you listen to his piano and Sofiya Fedyna’s vocal on the tune below…. ENJOY!!!

“I saw a star slide down the sky
Blinding the north as it went by
Too burning and too quick to hold
Too lovely to be bought or sold
Good only to make wishes on
And then forever to be gone”

 

E.A.R. (Electroacoustic Roar)

Here’s a “new” discovery… what a truly beautiful project… the song I’m reviewing first is “Peace“, which features grand jazz vocal work by Ewa (vocals), as well as superb keyboards by Andrzej, and Raf on Bass guitar.  The pace is laid-back, but the intensity levels established by the high-talent musicians takes me back to my first days in jazz listening, when the excitement levels were so high… in other words, it takes quite a bit to get me “stirred up” these days (approaching 70, ya’ know).  My favorite tune from this outing is, strangely enough, “In The End/Pop Pastische“, featuring some great electric piano work from Andrzej!  I just loved this tune, and have no doubt that you will, too, if you’re a jazz listener who understands how important it is for the players to be connected with the spirits that are guiding them!  Spread the word about E.A.R Music.  It’s a group well-worth listening to!

GREAT improvised music from our friends in Poland!!!

Our friend pianist Andrzej Rejman sent this great video of a Live improvised session titled  “Improwaves”, featuring Katarzyna Karpowicz (koto), Paweł Prochnowski (guitar) and with Andrezej doing the piano work… I’m hoping I’ll be able to get the entire release in here for review in the next couple of months – but for now, enjoy this – & if you’re truly into improvised music, you will find this very satisfying!  Spread the word ’round to all you know who are so inclined, please:

Digital review submissions!

While I was (by no means) the only one to encourage digital submissions for music reviews, I was certainly one of the first!

I can remember discussing this concept with several of the other reviewers, most notably Bryan Baker, who was publishing GAJOOB magazine (& still is, I think)… nearly all traffic related to reviewing (early 1992 or so) was done with old-fashioned pen/paper… only a few folks were doing “chat”, or email… we talked about using FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and other file-sharing techniques to allow artists & promoters to send us their files digitally.  Unfortunately, despite my prodding several of the promoters who were sending me CD’s & vinyl for review, it wasn’t until the early 2000’s that this began to take off.

The simplest argument for “doing it digitally” was that it would save postage costs… even back in those way-early days, postage and packaging were a major expense for Indie artists, labels, or promoters who had to do mass mailings… and that was when a single CD mailing only cost (around) $.75 or so… these days (& I know, because I just started pushing out hard-copies again for some of the artists who are using my services), the costs are truly prohibitive… more than $2.00 (nearly $3.00) for one CD…. WOW!  Even though digital services were starting to pick up in the mid-2000’s, there still weren’t services (at that time) like HIGHTAIL (formerly YOUSENDIT) and DROPBOX – which make it even easier to move CD’s and cover art around!

A part of this post is nostalgia, I suppose, for the days when I felt like one of the “pioneers” of the digital age…. on the other hand, I want to lay (at least) some of the credit for pushing the idea of digital submission at my own doorstep… for had those few of us not pushed this concept – we wouldn’t have the utilities we do today, and artists would still be slogging their way to the P.O. to spend hard-earned $ to snail their products around!

More on this later – what I really want to do is solicit NEW ideas (yes – from YOU) for the “music business”… what are your favorite methods?  How do you get your CD’s (or digital songs) to reviewers?  Email me at rotcod@rotcodzzaj.com with your ideas!

Press Release!!! Zzaj-Trax Musician’s Virtual Assistant (MVA) Services

Lacey, WA July 30, 2014 — If you’ve ever spent hours and hours setting up a website on REVERBNATION, SOUNDCLOUD or other music distribution sites, ripping files down to .MP3 format, loading them back up to the site, or tracking down legitimate sites to review your music – then you know why we’re here!

What Zzaj-Trax offers is a way to pass all that “tracking” work off to them… & since they’ve been doing it for so long, you can rest assured that the work WILL be DONE, accurately & on-time! What you need is a Musician’s Virtual Assistant (or MVA) – because, like it or not, these are tasks that MUST be DONE if you want to succeed!

Owner Dick Metcalf has received several kudos for these services already; here are just a couple of them:

” I am excited and grateful to see that Dr. Zzaj is launching “musician’s assistant.” For decades, Zzaj has been the solid rock of open ears, open mind, meaningful commentary and creative vision, pushing forward the concepts and evolution of the creative’s musical worlds. And now he offers his continuous selfless service to all musicians, whether the great masters of jazz, or the obscure innovators. I am inspired and encouraged! The old wisdom saying is, “When you pray, move your feet!” And Dr. Zzaj is offering a pathway. Thank you!”…. LaDonna Smith, performing artist, Transmuseq

“When Dick told me he was thinking about offering a services package, I wanted to be the first in line to take advantage of his expertise. I’ve known and keept tabs on him since 2010 and I knew that whatever he offered would be both value-added and effecient. I’m glad to have Dick as a part of my team because I know he will give it to me straight and that’s exactly how any self-respecting Jazz artist needs it, Straight-no chaser.”… Sweet Lu, jazz singer

“I’ve known Dick for a few years and he has done great reviews my CD’s and others. Also interviewing me for his blog. Now I’m using his services because his rates very reasonble, he’s easy to talk to, does what he says he’s going to do and most of all, he’s a honest very guy. I’ve worked many people that say that they’ll move mountains for you but ended up kicking sand. Dick is the real deal. I’m looking forward to all the help he will give me.”… Ron Jackson, jazz guitarist

Here are some of the services offered in the various price packages provided by the new company:

Establishment of your own (personal) DB/tracking tool that allows communication of ideas, asking questions, and modification of existing Projects/Sub-tasks, etc. (without needing to use email) No one has access to this except you and Zzaj-Trax – a complete track record of all the work done to get your CD out there!

Up to 3 SKYPE calls weekly (15 minutes) for progress reports

A quick site review, to provide you with suggestions on how to improve your music site

2 blog posts per month to your pre-established site on REVERBNATION (or other sites. like SOUNDCLOUD).

15 updates per month to your site(s); this includes conversion of your CD to .mp3 and upload; tracking and posting of reviews you’ve received; adding images, etc., to your site (or sites like AMAZON or CD Baby) for you; this also includes keeping your SHOW schedule up-to-date

Daily, weekly or more frequent, progress reports from your DB that show all actions taken for you, a copy of your current calendar, etc.

Other services are available too, for a modest hourly rate!

The bottom-line-up-front is that as a musicians, you need to spend your time doing things that will help you become a better performer/player. Zzaj-Trax helps you with that by doing all those chores that need to be done to get the word out about your work – we DO IT for YOU!

Dick Metcalf
Zzaj-Trax
http://musicians-virtual-assistant.com
360-870-1128 (text only)
rotcod@rotcodzzaj.com

Is “B-I-G music” dead yet?

Zzaj playjpg“Back in the day”, the keyword for many musicians was “D.I.Y.” – or, Do It Yourself.  A lot of rhetoric in those years was focused on “killing the music industry”… and with the advent of cassette tapes (which was the medium I started with, so that shows you how dated/old I am – lol!!), then easily accessible CD recording and other digital methods that let a musician go all the way from creation to release – we made a lot of progress with that D.I.Y. ethic in mind.

On the other hand, once we started releasing CD-R’s, and then ultimately (just) .mp3 files, the “B-I-G music” guys started lobbying (really HARD) to “outlaw” indie artists… kids today may not even remember the battles that ensured over NAPSTER, other file-sharing services & means for getting our music out there.

SO – are the monster producers (i.e., the “big music guys”) dead yet?  Ah, I don’t think so… but, to paraphrase a true leader in independent music (Frank Zappa) – they sure “smell funny”.  Of course, I’ve no doubt that they are sitting in their towers coming up with Machiavellian schemes for how to take it all back.

When I talk with my son here in Washington  about music, he says that he (and his friends) are more inclined to “make their own”… & with their MAC’s, a mike & a few wires – they are all over it!  I’ve listened to music recorded and performed by both my boys – & there’s no doubt they ARE able to make their own now.  If they need feedback to tweak something, they just shoot a crunched file out to a friend on their I-Phone, or I-Pad… hear what they have to say, make the tweaks & 30 minutes later, they’ve got a WRAP – and I can tell you – some of what they are putting together digitally is FAR better than the “big guys” ever thought about producing!

By the same token, sites like YOUTUBE allow that same type of peer evaluation on a WORLD scale… it’s actually pretty cool when you think about it… a kid that was making trax in his bedroom gets enough “hits” that he goes viral, and – A STAR IS BORN!  If all they were producing was “squeak & squak” (like some of US were doing on those 4-track recorders), I’d say you could write my thoughts off about this… but, like it or not, it IS a “whole new world” out there, folks!

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I believe, pretty firmly, that those “old days” of total control by record labels are indeed over… what exactly they will be replaced by, I can’t say for sure (& doubt you can either).  On the other hand, I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this, so please feel free to use the COMMENT box at the bottom of this post (or, if you’d rather just express your opinion privately to me, use the CONTACT form on the right side).  Have a good ‘un… & come back for more soon!