Saxophonist in a six-man rock combo nestled within the Joffrey Ballet, Gambino spent a month touring the Soviet Union--Leningrad, Riga, Vilna, and Moscow. A natural writer he's not, and he seems to get a certain kick from the prevailing paranoia in the Workers' Paradise. A typical card home reads: ""Dear Mom and Dad. Having a time. Glad you're not here."" All the same, you can well believe that the comrades were freaked by the Stetson hats, Frye boots, beaded necklaces, Bette Midler T-shirts and other emblems of Western ""degeneracy""--or individualism depending on your vantage point. They did manage to meet and even trade some riffs with Soviet jazz and rock musicians; desperate requests for guitar strings, saxo-phone reeds, books, gum, and cigarettes assailed them on all fronts. Gambino's resentment of Russian officialdom and its petty restrictions runs high, even though he digs the people, especially the Latvians who know they're oppressed. At one point the Jeffrey entourage is actually cited on some bureaucrat's official ""perversion list."" The food is generally lousy, the hotel accomodations worse, but inevitably some soul-to-soul contacts are made. Gambino is flip and given to facile put-downs. Is he also likeable? Da & Nyet.