Skipping through pull-top alleyways with a belly full of monkeyshine, Zmrzlina
flits between delirious syncopation and sleepytime bedroom fuzz, filling the gaps between Fuck and Uz Jsme Doma. "Jacked-up rear lovely UFO almond eyes big oval head don't prod me with that silver stick," sings Jeff Ray on the band's self-titled release, a fetching CD packaged in clear vinyl by Dr. Seuss' ice cream man. "I'm standing there/ Dancing around in my underwear/ Got my glasses on/ I look kind of strange," he admits, with an armful of musical laughing gas that's catchy and head-bouncy, but tangled up with a surly gang of brooding violins, harmoniums, and surveillance devices that abduct Capp Street confrontations and tinkling ice cream carts for our own peculiar pleasure (Zmrzlina means "ice cream" in Czech, if that helps). Complemented and opposed by the vocals of drummer Heather Snider and violinist Tracy Harkins, Ray shares, "Bought some condoms at bulk discount/ Now they're old and unsafe ... I want my money back/ But not from the store/ I want my money back from the whore," and advises, "Steal the neighbors' chicken/ Steal the neighbors' pot/ If they start to get suspicious/ Offer them the fish you caught." But things are not always so breezy on Zmrzlina's side of town. "Get out of the Mission," they drone, sounding a little like X, Hallowed Ground-
era Violent Femmes, the Fall, and the Mekons, with a looming residential neurosis. But they're stranger than that, and funnier, like the mystery fruit at the Indian Bazaar (which also sells ice cream). Zmrzlina is going back into the studio with producer Joe Goldring (Tarnation, Steel Pole Bathtub) and some friends from Mingo 2000, Live Human, and Special Parrot (lots of strings and horns), but the album's not due until March. For now, you can catch Zmrzlina at the "Rainbow (Grocery) Rock Show" on Thursday, Dec. 16, at the Paradise Lounge at 10:20 p.m. with Songs for Emma, Three Day Stubble, Blue Grass Kitchen Unit, Rikki, the Cooperatives, Industrial Hoffman, Crash Scene, and Corner Tour opening at 6 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 861-6906.
In the passing of three notes Little Jimmy Scott can raise goose bumps on your skin and haunt your dreams, and that's on the radio. In person, Scott's smoky voice, with its distinctive effeminate catch and long-suffering tremble, will reduce you to tears. Of course, the real heartbreak would have been to have allowed one of jazz's most emotive vocalists to slip into obscurity because of half a century of shitty record contracts and failed marriages, but a little attention from some famous friends (David Lynch, Lou Reed, Alec Baldwin, and Doc Pomus, posthumously) has put Scott back in the spotlight. He returns to the Bay Area for his second, and what I hope is his annual, December show -- this time in the company of players as gifted as himself: Hank Crawford and Jimmy McGriff. One of the country's most notable alto saxophonists, Crawford has played with Ike Turner, B.B. King, and Bobby Bland, and led Ray Charles' band. Philadelphia's McGriff was born to the Hammond B-3 organ, slipping easily between jazz, R&B, and gospel in the city that made the organ famous. Even singly, Hank Crawford, Jimmy McGriff, and Jimmy Scott would be worth the price of admission, but you get them all Tuesday through Thursday, Dec. 21-23, and Sunday, Dec. 26, at 8 p.m. at Yoshi's in Oakland. There's also a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are $22; call (510) 238-9200.