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Zytron

About Zytron

Zytron was the amalgam of avant garde saxophonist Bert Wilson with the electric sensibilities of Hammond, Wurlitzer electric piano and electric bass, all propelled by the insistent undercurrent of Zitro’s dynamic drumming. We created many compositions in odd time signatures – and the Big Sur folk would congregate and dance till the sun came up…

Handmade in Big Sur


  • Big Tut by Zytron
  • Soft Morning by Zytron
  • Transplacement of the Underbearing by Zytron
  • Haiku by Zytron
  • Water’s Edge by Zytron
  • Reminiscence by Zytron
  • Flower Lady by Zytron
  • Homage Á Zitro by Zytron
  • People’s Republic by Zytron

 

About Handmade in Big Sur

The band was ready to record, but needed an angel. Zitro went to Los Angeles, to look for an “L.A. lawyer with yellow shoes.” What he came up with was Terry Steinhart, an L.A. lawyer with a license plate “MAYBE 7.”

We moved to LA, spent a month rehearsing at the lawyer’s house, and recorded the tracks in a few days at a small eight-track studio (at the time, a one-inch eight-track recorder was considered a good-sized device.) The music went down smoothly, and the album was ready to release, but the lawyer didn’t come through, and we all moved back to Big Sur (except the second keyboardist, Michael Cohen, who chose to remain in LA. Dennis Parker moved to Mexico and became the Grammy-winning producer of El Haragan.

About the Music

Big Tut

Big Tut is the ‘street name’ of one of Big Sur’s fabled characters from the seventies. Large body, large heart, large personality, Tut was one of the honchos of the Big Sur scene and hosted many gatherings of the clan at his built-up collective near Bixby Creek. The song has words, though no one sings here. The rhythm is 14/4, divided 3-4-4-3.

Soft Morning

Soft Morning is just that, a slow, gentle, balladic exploration. Originally, there was a second part which was a hard-rock kicking 4/4/4/5 time frame, but the slow rhythm is 17/4, divided 6/6/5.

Transplacement of the Underbearing

Transplacement of the Underbearing wins the award as most rhythmically complex song of the album, as it was written in 22/8, 8½.4 and 5/4. (I should also add that of all the music on this site, this is my favorite recorded organ solo…

Haiku

Haiku was originally recorded on a 4-track Tascam 3340 recorder at the band’s house in Palo Colorado Canyon, Big Sur. There was a large, walk-in fireplace that provided a perfect reverb environment, and the recording came out really great. This version, recorded in the LA studio, does not convey the unique interest and complexity of the original, but it is nevertheless a very nice recording. Zitro overdubs and plays both parts.

Water’s Edge

Water’s Edge is designed as a follow-up to the previous piece, utilizing Wurlitzer electric piano, Echoplex and Hammond sustaining parts for a rich experience.

Reminiscence

Reminiscence is in 15/4, divided 4-4-4-3, with a rubato intro. This has been recorded numerous times, and can be found in several versions on this site.

Flower Lady

Flower Lady, originally known as Zytron and the Flower Lady was written by James Zitro for Hannah, his lady of the era.

People’s Republic

People’s Republic utilizes a tortoise shell for the primary rhythmic accompaniment.

Homage á Zitro

Homage á Zitro was written by the group’s other keyboardist, Michael Cohen. A brilliant pianist, he has performed with Zitro in the Charles Lloyd band.


Personnel

  • Bert Wilson: Saxophones, Flute
  • Robin Hough: Guitar
  • Michael Cohen: Acoustic Piano
  • David ‘Dasher’ Kempton: Keyboards
  • Dennis Parker: Electric Bass
  • James Zitro: Drums, Percussion

Live at Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society

zytronbach

The Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society is a private home in Half moon Bay that served as a venue for many of the Bay Area’s top talent. This gig transpired on a beautiful summer day, the audience was spread all about the property with picnic baskets and bottles of wine. The band was in top form, and a great time was had by all


  • Big Greasy Elephant by Zytron
  • Level Flight by Zytron
  • Big Tut by Zytron
  • Chen the Arousing by Zytron
  • Dusk by Zytron
  • Reminiscence by Zytron
  • Freedom Jazz Dance by Zytron
Big Greasy Elephant

Big Greasy Elephant is a cooker I wrote in 11/8.

Level Flight

Level Flight refers to the 1970 Richard Bach novella, Jonathan Livingston Seagull and his teacher’s admonition – “Begin with level flight.” The meter is a relaxed 7/4 divided 4-3, for an easy introdution to odd meter performance.

Big Tut

Big Tut is yet another performance of this Zytron classic.

Chen, the Arousing

Chen is a rework of an original composition from my first electronic album.

Dusk

Dusk is a Zitro original

Reminiscence

Reminiscence is a 15/4 Hindustani-style melody with rubato intro and recap.

Freedom Jazz Dance

Freedom Jazz Dance, the Eddie Harris iconic power groove..

Personnel

  • Bert Wilson: Saxophones, Flute
  • David ‘Dasher’ Kempton: Keyboards
  • Dennis Parker: Electric Bass
  • James Zitro: Drums, Percussion

Chakra – Zytron with guitar

About Chakra

Big Sur’s answer to the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Chakra was Zytron V2.0, the amalgam of the new jazz-rock idiom applied to electric guitar with all the power and subtleties engendered by the new timbral options..

Terry Secor, AKA ‘Flash’, or the ‘Alton Flash’ came to Big Sur via Alton Illinois, and soon proved a capable and dynamic member of the band. The addition of electric guitar to the Zytron band added a more rock-tinged flavor to the sound, and the dancers loved it. Here is the band at one of its favorite performance spaces, the River Inn in Big Sur.


  • Heavy Karma by Chakra
  • Top of Topanga by Chakra
  • Soft Morning by Chakra
  • Westmere by Chakra
Heavy Karma

Heavy Karma is a James Zitro original from before the band was formed.

Top of Topanga

Top of Topanga is another Zytron original reflecting the band’s fascination with odd time signatures and Indian-style melodies.

Soft Morning

Soft Morning used to be our morning warm-up in the band’s Westmere days, rehearsing in a hollow below the cabins.

Westmere

Westmere is a call-to-action for the gang of Big Sur residents, hipsters and gurus that frequented Big Tut’s Demesnes…


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