SANDY BLOCKER / VATTEL CHERRY / GARY HEIDT
Jizo plays completely improvised music which takes rock apart and rebuilds it from its African, blues, soul, jazz and country music roots. Sounds of punk rock, jazz, soul and world music combine in an exciting soup of dynamic, ever-shifting music that will electrify fans of psychedelic rock, free-jazz, soul, jam-bands and Americana music.
SANDY BLOCKER of McLeansville is a renowned expert in West African drumming and drumming for dance.
VATTEL CHERRY of Burlington has worked with jazz titans such as Cecil Taylor and Charles Gayle.
GARY HEIDT of Greensboro is a founder of Mammals of Zod and Fist of Kindness. "Heidt learned improvisation from jazz musicians during the 1990s and has performed at the Knitting Factory, CBGB, Lincoln Center, Manhattan Center as well as across the U.S. and around the globe."- News and Record "Deeply moving free-soul" Signal to Noise
Together they are JIZO!
SANDY BLOCKER, DRUMS
Sandy Blocker has studied percussion with top percussionists from around the world such as Glen Velez, Mohamed Da Costa, Ladji Camara, and John Bergamo.He lived with the artists of the National Ballet of Guinea for one month in Conakry, Guinea, West Africa, and studied with Gbaworo Keita, Laurent Camara , and Seny Toure. He also studied with the artists of the National Ballet of Mali , including Dresa Kone and Jeli Madi Kouyate, with a focus on the study of jembe and doson'goni while in Mali.
In 1995 Sandy performed with Glen Velez and Alessandra Belloni at New York's Lincoln Center.
For the past seven years Sandy has organized and led an active non-profit West African Drum Group in Greensboro, N.C. Sandy has also played for the African dance classes at UNCG for six years, and taught workshops at universities including UNCG, Winthrop University, and the University of South Carolina.
Blocker had been trained from an early age as a classical dancer. At age 18 he moved to Virginia to study ballet with the School of Norfolk Ballet before receiving a scholarship to move to New York to study with the Joffrey Ballet School. He studied in Virginia during the school years and spent his summers in New York during this two-year period of intense balletic training. After finishing his last summer in New York, he joined the Houston Ballet, where he danced for a year before electing to take a break from dance to give his body, and mind, a rest. This brought him to the decision to earn a college degree—something he had not previously had the chance to do.
"In 1988, he moved to Greensboro, NC to attend UNCG, going back to the city where he was raised. After graduating with a BFA in Dance, Blocker remained on staff at UNCG to accompany the dance classes as he continued to learn more about the art of world percussion drumming.
'I went to study in Guinea, West Africa with Les Ballets Africains—the national ballet of Guinea—for two months,' said Blocker. 'I lived with the dancers and the drummers—I studied with them.'
Two years later in 1997, Blocker went to Mali to study the djembe with the indigenous Malian people. The djembe is a specific type of African drum, rope-tuned and skin-covered, played with bare hands, thought to have originated from the ancient Mali Empire.
In combination with the skills he had picked up from this trip and the ones prior to it, Blocker had become a multi-talented and well-versed world percussionist, adding instrument upon instrument to his resume, ranging from the djembe to the juice harp to the mandolin, among many others.
'I do a lot of different types of drumming, all from different cultures,' Blocker said. 'I do a lot of West African drumming, but I’ve also learned North African and Egyptian styles, Middle Eastern and Indian styles, and I can play music from Cuba and Brazil.'
[Blocker} has also performed with Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands.
VATTEL CHERRY, BASS
Vattel Cherry has over 20 years experience as a performer, touring and recording artist with such artists as artists as: Charles Gayle, Cecil Taylor, Brother Ah, David Murray, Oliver Lake, Hamiet Bluiett, Sonny Simmons, Charli Persip, Roy Campbell, Bern Nix, Peter Kowald, John Tchicai, Khan Jamal and David Pleasant.
“Vattel Cherry is one of the few acoustic string bassists with the pure ability to sustain a listening experience over a complete album without ever retracing his steps. He boasts a rich, full sound, and a good, if not spectacular, technique that is well suited to the sort of free-style improvision that he has embraced.”
Steve Loewy All-Music Guide to Jazz
“Cherry is a funky player, enjoying the snap and pop of the strings against the fingerboard as much as the more conventional lines and walks of this music. His playing always seems to have a strutting, almost swaggering gait about it, cocky but warm too, perfect for a gospelly, sometimes raucous but above all blues-based jazz style”
“He can play the bass with a thumping verve and energy which few players have any more”
Richard Cochrane (musings)
GARY HEIDT, GUITAR
Gary Heidt (born Houston, Texas 1970) is a conceptual artist, experimental poet, musician, librettist, literary agent, and co-founder of Lovesphere, a 67-year performance project initiated in 1996, and more recently, the Perceiver of Sound League.
Biography and Career
Heidt was born in Houston, Texas. From 1986 to 1988 he was lead singer for Devil Donkey, which also included Susie Ibarra (drums), Erik Amlee (guitar) and Enrique Gualberto Ramirez (bass). In 1991 he cofounded the Mammals of Zod with Raymond Seraphim Porter, Scott Wilcox and Chris Grace.
At Columbia College he was Station Manager of WKCR-FM from 1992 to 1993. In 1992 his experimental poem cycle "Moo Goo Gai Pain" was published in D. R. Heiniger's Private Arts. In 1994 he moved to Austin, where he produced the Mammals of Zod CD Kill The Humans which Village Voice critic Richard Gehr dubbed a "masterpiece." He returned to NYC and started an improvising collective using the name Mammals of Zod; core members included beatboxer Kid Lucky, Mem Nahadr, Sabir Mateen, Daniel Carter, Lipbone Redding (then known as CitiZen One), Emmallyea Swon-Young, Matthew Heyner (of the No-Neck Blues Band), Gary Miles and Ira Atkins. This group played frequently at clubs in NYC in the late 1990s, including CBGB's, The Cooler, The Continental, ABC No Rio and The Pyramid. Heidt posed shirtless for Paper Magazine's 1998 "Beautiful People" issue. During this period Heidt also wrote the columns "From the Priest Factory" and "The Gnostic Eye" which ran in the Religious Observer and its successor, Deolog.
With CitiZen One and Metal Tiger Technologies, Heidt started the 67-year performance project Lovesphere in 1996 with a 36-hour improvised musical at the Museum of Sound Recording. Metal Tiger Technologies streamed the entire piece on the Web in a very early implementation of this technology. Four tracks from this event formed the core of the second Mammals of Zod CD, L'of. "With multi-instrumentalist Gary Heidt as unofficial ringleader, it's an enclave that draws upon improvisation and performance art as a means to promote its socio-musical vision." In an interview with the East End Beacon, 'Mr. Heidt describes LoveSphere as “a sphere inscribed in time in an embroidery of sound which can only be witnessed from a higher dimension. However, we can see its stitches.”'
Heidt wrote three librettos for composer Evan Hause's Defenstration Trilogy. Heidt's "engrossing " script for the second opera, Nightingale: The Last Days of James Forrestal "reflects, in accurate historical detail, on the political backstage manoeuvres that led to Forrestal's fall and on the dark side of his death....and can be considered a new chapter of its reception." Poems appeared in Intervalsss: The poems and Words of Musicians (ed. Steve Dalachinsky) and his first published crossword poem in John M. Bennett's Lost and Found Times. He worked as a theater administrator for Crystal Field's Theater for the New City and Barbara Vann's Medicine Show.
In 2003 he joined Imprint Agency, a literary agency in New York City. After a stint at Peter Rubie's FinePrint Literary Agency he started Signature Literary Agency with Ellen Pepus. He represents the Church of the SubGenius, Charles Yu, Benjamin Whitmer, Jeremy Bushnell, William Gillespie, Rob Klara, Jason Henderson and Chris Carter among others.
From 2003 to 2005 Lovesphere presented musical theater, which Heidt cowrote with Gary Miles, Nathan Metz et al., including "Feng Shui Assassin."
In 2006 Heidt was canonized by the Church of the SubGenius.
In 2010 Fence published four more of his crossword poems, poems that can be read both across and down. Heidt gave a talk on alternate poetic forms in Spring of 2011 at the New York Public Library. In 2013 Infinity's Kitchen published "The Wordsquare," a historical analysis of his predecessors in this art form, including the Formists and their successors the recreational linguists. He showed an exhibit of crossword poems constrained by images at Spirols Gallery in Saugerties, NY in 2015.
Heidt is a member of NYC band Fist of Kindness, and performs and wrote many of the songs on their three albums, The Dead and the Powerless (2010), Ponderin' with the Fist of Kindness (2011), and The Thirteen Repentances of the Pistis Sophia (2012). Fist of Kindness has been described alternately as "an art rock ensemble masquerading as a country western band" and as "edgy literate Tom Waits-ish alt-country rockers." Composer Noah Creshevsky used samples from The Dead and the Powerless to create his composition "The Kindness of Strangers."
With Cassandra Victoria Chopourian, Heidt started creating performances from Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons in 2010. They performed parts of this opus in London and the sister cities of Leipzig, Germany and Houston, Texas; as well as New York City and Jersey City. Heidt also composed music for the Van Reipen Collective's Shelly's Spherical Journey, which was first presented as part of Lovesphere 15.
TENDER BUTTONS: OBJECTS FOOD ROOMS premiered at Theater for the New City in October 2014 on the centennial of the publication of its source text. The five-hour performance was divided into three parts; Heidt was dramaturg for all three and director of OBJECTS. Heidt staged OBJECTS as a comic operetta for 12 performers. OBJECTS was set inside a human aquarium populated by incestuous gentlepeople, a well-trained nursing staff, an AWOL soldier and his amphibious fiancée. Heidt's treatment of the text emphasized kabbalistic-phenomenological themes and the ongoing exorcism of patriarchy. Critic Lana Adler claimed that 'aided by the melodious, sometimes folksy, sometimes ambient, and sometimes ecstatic live music (arranged by Fist of Kindness) and the skilled, nuanced, and passionate singing and movement work of the actors, the viewer moves into what is at once a deeper and more vague process of experiencing the performance as it comes at them. This aim, it could be argued, is shared by all devotedly cubist work.' Stein scholar Karren LaLonde Alenier called OBJECTS "a troubadour-like entertainment where... music-making, song-singing, odd choreography kicked my subconscious into another realm."