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The best kept secret in music


"KOKOPELLI Surmounts Societal Norms"

This is a Los Angeles online newspaper

Posted by Nutan Patel on Sep 24, 2004, 14:40

It’s amazing how one can hear a magical tune and suddenly realize what has been lacking in music. We lack that base we seemingly no longer hear, where all music primitively began an unknown amount of years ago; we lack pure, solid instruments. Yet the adult alternative, progressive pop band, Kokopelli, is a beaming display of those using utmost music know-how to create melodies of contemporary instrumental beauty. Their album, “Forever for Now,” is a remarkable compilation of 10 songs filled with diverse instruments and sounds supported by various ethnic backgrounds.

Having been together for two years now, the most unique quality of Kokopelli is their close friendship among such extreme ethnic diversity. Consisting of main vocalist, Scott Baldyga, who also plays the keyboard and guitar, Violinist Varujan, Taki on the bass and guitar, drummer Bruce Zelesnik, and occasional female backup singers, the band holds talents from four different countries! With artists from the United States, Romania, Japan and Israel, it’s no wonder why Kokopelli has a difficult time categorizing themselves into a single genre. “It’s completely collaborative and democratic,” they say in regards to their creative processes. In all, when asked, they described their music as “radio rock mixed with jazz, funk, classical; you name it.”

As a group who actually plays their instruments, members of Kokopelli have played with such well-known artists as Jerry Lee Lewis, Ziggy Marley, Stan Ridgway, Pat Benatar and Third World, not to mention having played for the Romanian Symphony Orchestra. "We were all players, instrumentalists first and foremost,” they say. The band is a product of musicians who all originally felt an immense creative dissatisfaction with prior groups they were playing with. Thus, Kokopelli was an answer; Kokopelli is their challenge to a world of synthesizers and mundane, routine musical notes.

Naming inspirations John Williams, Paganini, Dave Matthews, Seal and Stewart Copeland among others, the group models their musical energy after such renowned artists, yet each artistic creation is always an expression of themselves. When questioned about the uncertainty of the fickle industry they have decided to swim into, they replied very nonchalantly, “The music is its own reward. It’s too tough an industry to do it without simply loving it.” Such a free feeling attitude has undoubtedly contributed to an album of real lyrics drifting above flowing instruments that would make any listener think twice about the quality of sound they previously heard in an alternate song.

The album “Forever for Now” is proof to the public that it is in fact possible to intertwine contemporary sounds with instruments from any and every genre of music. The album's titular song is a beautiful love ballad, accentuated by the atmospheric breathtaking sounds of the violin. Clear guitar plucks and violin strokes walk alongside deep, smooth male vocals, conjoining with percussions with uniformity. An entirely opposite melody reveals itself through “Cries For Help.” The tabla is used in this piece as a strong mysterious introduction, as amazing electric guitar skills escalate the track, building volume to create torment. Anguish filled emotions that surface are very much in line with the lyrics, “…no more cries for help. I can barely help myself.”

Kokopelli usually tends to be most proud of songs “with crazy time signatures and tricky key changes,” yet admits that some songs are more lyric driven. One such example in particular is called “My Company,” a piece about starting a media corporation that moves to the moon. The company takes over during a big business revolution, and then spreads to the stars, ultimately selling soft drinks to aliens. “That’s one song I believe every world of as I sing,” says Baldyga, who definitely hopes to be heading to “the stars” some day.

More information on the band can be found on soundclick.com and broadjam.com by searching for “Kokopelli.” In regards to CD sales and upcoming shows, please contact them directly at KokopelliLA@yahoo.com.
- Canyon-News.com


Current 10-song CD: Forever For Now

For more mp3s:



Out of Many, One Band

What happens when a group of talented musicians who have played with a diverse range of artists – from Jerry Lee Lewis to Ziggy Marley to Stan Ridgway to Pat Benatar to Third World to the frigging Romanian Symphony Orchestra - join together to take their careers into their own hands?

Well, stick a Native American name on it and you get KOKOPELLI.

KOKOPELLI fits into the current pop trend of a return to “musical music” where people actually play their instruments. KOKOPELLI is Dave Matthews mixed with Norah Jones, mixed with Paganini, mixed with Coldplay, mixed with…

KOKOPELLI, by the way, is the oldest known figure in Native North American culture, dating back to the cave drawings in Mesa Verde. KOKOPELLI, the hunchbacked flute player with wild hair, would travel from town to town with a bag of songs on his back, coming to young women in the night who would pray to him to fertilize them, impregnate them. Not a bad gig, thought these musicians. Something to aspire to. Hence the name.

For musicians, it’s not easy to be challenged playing pop music. This group of friends banded together when they found they had something in common – all were complaining about the bands & artists they were playing with… the lack of creativity, lack of fulfillment… so they decided to take control.

Singer/songwriter Scott says – “My first gig living in Jamaica for four years was playing keyboards for seven Grammy-winning acts in one concert. That was a rush. But the fun and excitement of playing on a stage like that wears off, and then it comes down to enjoyment – why you do it in the first place. I get such joy out of this band. On any given night I’d rather rehearse with KOKOPELLI than play a gig with some other group in front of twenty thousand people… Um, that doesn’t mean I’d turn those gigs down for pay, though… on, uh, other nights… why you gotta gig for me?”

Bass player Taki talks about hired gigs in LA - “They ask me to play eighth notes pretty much the whole time. It’s the simplest and most boring thing. So I start throwing in some things, playing a little more, and then the singer doesn’t like it. But then the producer says, oh, that’s cool so, of course, all of a sudden the singer thinks it’s cool. Oh well. It’s just a job.”

And that’s exactly what KOKOPELLI is not – just a job. For these world-class players, KOKOPELLI is the anti-job. That’s why they love it, why they stick with it.

KOKOPELLI is a forum where each member freely throws out ideas. The result is a fascinating mix of music that incorporates the various influences and stylings of its players, while still remaining familiar enough to be adult pop music… Four members, three countries of citizenship. Each member retains their individuality - and thus their joy – but together, they make up the one identifiable sound that is KOKOPELLI.


Feeling a bit camera shy


...musicians are doing it for themselves...

Los Angeles-based.

Experienced and diverse players hailing from Boston, Chicago, Osaka, the Israeli desert, and Transylvania.

Melodic rock mixed with... jazz, funk, classical... Same ballpark as Sting, Dave Matthews, Paganini, Sheryl Crow, John Mayer, David Grey, Tori Amos...

Sometimes refined as Norah Jones...
Sometimes driving & rocky as Coldplay...
Sometimes fun & poppy as Sugar Ray...
Sometimes live & jammy as Tortoise...
Mostly just ourselves...

Modern adult alternative rock.

Young, pro players. Individual credits range from performing onstage with 7 Grammy-winning acts to scoring American and Japanese TV to world tours opening for The Police to Romanian Symphony Orchestra touring featured soloist gigs to god knows what else. Ex-members of major label groups.

Individually or together, we've composed for the likes of MTV Productions, Spike Lee, Saban, numerous pilots, and placed songs on indie features.

Now, we gather to play what we want to play.

Love it.



Gigging regularly, LA area, from the Hollywood House of Blues down to tha rattiest Long Beach dives...

Many more songs available - radio pop, ecclectic alternative rock, funkier, hard rockier...

FOR MORE MP3s: Check out our pages at soundclick.com and broadjam.com.


Contact us. We have quite a library.

Professionals who are in it for the long haul!

Willing to travel.

Doing it 'cause we love it, dead serious 'cause we believe in it.

We'll work with ya!