Reviews that mention Rob Mazurek

August 11, 2018

Porta Palace Collective + Rob Mazurek

Stone
Rudi Records EEJ 1038

Two years have seen a few changes since the previous CD by the top-flight Turin-based Porta Palace Collective (PPC) directed by trumpeter Johnny Lapio. While Lapio, who also leads the Arcote Project, which jumps from blues and swing to avant garde, is still front-and-centre alongside saxophonist Giuseppe Ricupero and bassist Gianmaria Ferrario, the other players have changed. Now Ricupero has moved from tenor to baritone, and the band is filled out by tenor saxophonist Pasquale Innarella, pianist Lino Mei and drummer Donato Stolfi. Another matter that’s consistent is the calibre of PPC’s guests though. Last time out it was Natsuki Tamura and Satoko Fujii. This time it’s Chicago cornetist Rob Mazurek. However there’s no foreign Jazz Star grandstanding on these five club-recorded tracks. Only the most sophisticated ear can probably distinguish the timbres of each brass player. MORE

April 2, 2018

Third Coast Ensemble

Wrecks
RogueArt ROG-0077

Conceived of as program music with back story and dialogue in English and/or French to go along with it, the strength of Wrecks, performed by a 16-piece Gallic-American ensemble lies in the compositions and orchestration of cornetist Rob Mazurek. Unlike some of the Chicago Underground linchpin’s other projects which gain shape from South American or electronic-Rock cadences, this CD is firmly in the Jazz tradition and the 10 selections highlight the solos as well as commanding affiliation from the players, who are either from Chicago or Brest, France. MORE

February 11, 2018

Atlantique Jazz Festival 14

Brest, France October 10 to October 14, 2017
By Ken Waxman

Did the first Black American music heard in France arrive with the African-American troops of the American Expeditionary Force, who landed in the port city of Brest in 1917?

This thesis is the basis of Nicolas Nogue’s film Quand le jazz débarque/Sammies in Brest, which was shown to a sold-out house at the mammoth Le Quartz theatre on October 12 as part of Brest’s 14th annual Atlantique Jazz Festival (AJF). While a syncopated score by pianist Christofer Bjurström mixed with appropriately descriptive noises from Vincent Raude’s electronics accentuated the silent archival newsreels, the few shots of soldiers singing or dancing didn’t make much of a case for jazz’s dissemination in France. More credible Yank-Gallic jazz admixtures were live festival performances by several American musicians who exhibited a profound rapprochement with their French counterparts. MORE

June 9, 2017

Chicago/London Underground

A Night Walking Through Mirrors
Cuneiform Records RUNE 428

Like a canny car fanatic who soups up his American-made flivver by adding appropriate accelerating parts from foreign autos, this year’s Chicago Underground (CU) Ensemble model is hybrid Anglo-American. CU inventors, cornetist Rob Mazurek and percussionist Chad Taylor, append high-class British engineering from pianist Alexander Hawkins and bassist John Edwards to come up with a model that speeds along with novel ferocity without losing any of the already developed unexpected sonic allusions. MORE

April 7, 2016

Artist Feature

Chad Taylor
By Ken Waxman

Modestly drummer Chad Taylor declares: “Being a band leader is a lot of work and effort for me. Some people have a natural gift for leading a band, but I’m not one of them.” Still the Brooklyn-based percussionist works as often as most leaders. For a start the Windy City-raised Taylor, 43, is, with cornetist Rob Mazurek, one half of the Chicago Underground Duo (CUD) plus the CU’s other iterations. He’s also one-third of Digital Primitives with multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore and saxophonist Assif Tsahar, and locally can be found gigging with everyone from Marc Ribot to Steve Swell. Plus he still plays, usually overseas, with his Chicago hommies. “I really enjoy working with people with the goal of creating a language regardless of what style it is,” he affirms. MORE

April 7, 2015

Artist Feature

Rob Mazurek
By Ken Waxman

Death, loss and similar topics aren’t usually the subject of jazz performances. But several of Chicago-based cornetist Rob Mazurek’s most recent CDs have dealt with bereavement to some extent. Return the Tides, for instance, recorded with Black Cube SP (BCSP) is what he describes as a “cathartic modern psychedelic spiritual” honoring his mother Kathleen who died in 2013. Similarly Mother Ode recorded on what would have been his mother’s 72nd birthday, uses cornet, bells, implements, incantation and noise to celebrate her lasting influence on Mazurek’s art. Meantime Alternate Moon Cycles is a salute by Mazurek plus an electric trio to one of his mentors, trumpeter Bill Dixon. MORE

October 14, 2013

Festival Report

Guelph Jazz Festival
By Ken Waxman

New combination and new conceptions, sporadically sprinkled with touches of exotica, characterized the 20th anniversary edition of the Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF) September 4-8. Affiliated with a contiguous academic Colloquium on improvisation, the GJF, located in a small university city, fewer than 100 kilometres west of Toronto, has from its beginning stretched the definition of “jazz”, while avoiding populist pandering. The approach obviously works well, with the GJF slowly expanding. On Saturday, afternoon and evening free outdoor concerts now take place in front of city hall; the free, dusk-to-dawn Nuit Blanche offers intimates performances in non-traditional downtown spaces. Plus a full schedule of workshops and formal concerts unrolls each day. MORE

January 22, 2013

Chicago Underground Duo

Age of Energy
Northern Spy NS 020

Wadada Leo Smith & Louis Moholo-Moholo

Ancestors

TUM CD 029

Not the most common configuration by any means, the mating of trumpet (or cornet) and drums is usually avoided because of a perceived lack of tonal colors and contrast. That concern hasn’t daunted these duos, with the qualities implicit in Free Music adding to their singular audacity. At the same time each chooses to highlight their brass-percussion output in an original fashion. California-based trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, 72, and South African percussionist Louis Moholo-Moholo, 73, play completely acoustically on their first-ever meeting. In contrast the Chicago Underground Duo (CUD) consisting of corniest Rob Mazurek, 47, and drummer Chad Taylor, 39, utilize a variety of older percussion and up-to-the-minute electronic peripherals to expand their sound. MORE

October 7, 2012

Festival Report

The Guelph Jazz Festival
By Ken Waxman

A spectre was haunting the 2012 Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF), but it was a benign spectre: the ghost of John Coltrane. The influence of Coltrane, who died in 1967, was honored in direct and indirect ways throughout the five days of the festival which takes places annually in this mid-sized college town, 100 kilometres west of Toronto.

This year’s edition (September 5 to 9), featured two live performances of Ascension, Coltrane’s free jazz masterwork from 1965, one with the original instrumentation by an 11-piece Toronto ensemble at the local arts centre; the other on the main stage of the soft-seated River Run Centre concert hall featured the Bay-area ROVA saxophone’s quartet reimaging of the work, scored for 12 musicians adding strings and electronics to the basic ensemble. MORE

September 11, 2012

São Paulo Underground

Tres Cabeças Loucuras
Cuineiform Records RUNE 325

By Ken Waxman

Newest entry in Chicago-based cornetist Rob Mazurek’s ongoing Underground ensemble projects, this CD fuses American improv textures with the beats and melodies prevalent in Brazilian music. With both jazz and maracatu based on African roots, the other members of the São Paulo Underground – Mauricio Takara, who plays percussion and miniature Brazilian guitar, drummer Richard Ribeiro and keyboardist Guilherme Granado – find common ground with Mazurek through rock and samba beats plus the spirited use of samples and electronics. MORE

October 5, 2011

Bill Dixon

Envoi
Victo cd 120

Taylor Ho Bynum/Joe Morris/Sara Schoenbeck

Next

Porter Records PRCD-4058

Pink Saliva

Pink Saliva

& Records &11

Starlicker

Double Demon

Delmark DE 2011

Something In The Air: Trumpeter Bill Dixon’s Lingering Influence

By Ken Waxman

Praised and reviled in equal measure during his 40-year career, Vermont-based trumpeter Bill Dixon was finally recognized as one of improvised music’s most original stylists and theorists before his death at 84 in June 2010. Fittingly his final concert took place a mere three weeks previously at Quebec’s Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, where a hand-picked octet played this composition under his direction. Luckily the performance has been released as Envoi Victo Records Victo cd 120. Not only do the two sections illuminate Dixon’s particular mixture of formalism and freedom, but with a horn section of four playing cornet, bugle and flugelhorn, Envoi also demonstrates Dixon’s influence on a younger generation of brass players. MORE

October 5, 2011

Starlicker

Double Demon
Delmark DE 2011

Bill Dixon

Envoi

Victo cd 120

Taylor Ho Bynum/Joe Morris/Sara Schoenbeck

Next

Porter Records PRCD-4058

Pink Saliva

Pink Saliva

& Records &11

Something In The Air: Trumpeter Bill Dixon’s Lingering Influence

By Ken Waxman

Praised and reviled in equal measure during his 40-year career, Vermont-based trumpeter Bill Dixon was finally recognized as one of improvised music’s most original stylists and theorists before his death at 84 in June 2010. Fittingly his final concert took place a mere three weeks previously at Quebec’s Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, where a hand-picked octet played this composition under his direction. Luckily the performance has been released as Envoi Victo Records Victo cd 120. Not only do the two sections illuminate Dixon’s particular mixture of formalism and freedom, but with a horn section of four playing cornet, bugle and flugelhorn, Envoi also demonstrates Dixon’s influence on a younger generation of brass players. MORE

February 12, 2011

Exploding Star Orchestra

Stars Have Shapes
Delmark DE 595

Mike Reed’s Loose Assembly

Empathetic Parts (with Roscoe Mitchell)

482 Music 482-1074

By Ken Waxman

One of the standout players among Chicago’s recent burgeoning crop of improvised musicians, alto saxophonist Greg Ward is versatile enough to gig with groups ranging from the chamber-oriented International Contemporary Ensemble to those lead by saxophonist Ernest Dawkins and other members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM). These CDs confirm his skills, although his role is more prominent in drummer Mike Reed’s Loose Assembly then as part of cornetist Rob Mazurek’s 14-piece Exploding Star Orchestra. His contributions to Reed’s Empathetic Parts are even more impressive, since he shares reed duties with saxophonist/flautist Roscoe Mitchell, more than 40 years his senior and an AACM founder. For his part, Mitchell is spontaneous enough to assimilate a performance strategy already tested with the existing five-piece band. MORE

December 12, 2009

Regenorchester XII

Town Down
Red Note RN 14

Rob Mazurek Quintet

Sound Is

Delmark DE 586

Although these similarly structured quintets play what could loosely be termed electric jazz, the complex patterns and unexpected strategies shouldn’t be confused with clichéd fusion sounds.

For a start the chief protagonists aren’t guitarists, but brass players – Sao Paulo via Chicago’s cornetist Rob Mazurek on one, Vienna’s Franz Hautzinger on the other. Another reason is that the inspiration for these sound-collages was as one way out of a conundrum, not towards fusion. As a matter of fact Sound Is doesn’t even feature jazz-rock’s most distinctive icon: a six-string electric guitar. MORE

December 12, 2009

Rob Mazurek Quintet

Sound Is
Delmark DE 586

Regenorchester XII

Town Down

Red Note RN 14

Although these similarly structured quintets play what could loosely be termed electric jazz, the complex patterns and unexpected strategies shouldn’t be confused with clichéd fusion sounds.

For a start the chief protagonists aren’t guitarists, but brass players – Sao Paulo via Chicago’s cornetist Rob Mazurek on one, Vienna’s Franz Hautzinger on the other. Another reason is that the inspiration for these sound-collages was as one way out of a conundrum, not towards fusion. As a matter of fact Sound Is doesn’t even feature jazz-rock’s most distinctive icon: a six-string electric guitar. MORE

December 8, 2008

Bill Dixon

17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur
AUM Fidelity AUM 046

Bill Dixon

With Exploding Star Orchestra

Thrill Jockey Thrill 192

More than an elderly lion in winter, 83-year-old trumpeter Bill Dixon seems to have reasserted his place in the jazz firmament during the dozen years since he retired from academe after nearly three decades of teaching at Vermont’s Bennington College.

Both of these big band CDs resulted from a purple patch of creativity in the summer of 2007, when Dixon was able to lead different orchestras in New York and Chicago through some of his extended compositions. Both the 56½-minute “Darfur” suite in New York and the two 18-minute versions of “Entrances” in the mid-West are shaped around a combination of composed work and spontaneously cued solos. The tonal colors emphasized on both are orchestral rather than standard big band arrangements, with woodwinds, strings and miscellaneous percussion prominent. MORE

December 8, 2008

Bill Dixon

With Exploding Star Orchestra
Thrill Jockey Thrill 192

Bill Dixon

17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur

AUM Fidelity AUM 046

More than an elderly lion in winter, 83-year-old trumpeter Bill Dixon seems to have reasserted his place in the jazz firmament during the dozen years since he retired from academe after nearly three decades of teaching at Vermont’s Bennington College.

Both of these big band CDs resulted from a purple patch of creativity in the summer of 2007, when Dixon was able to lead different orchestras in New York and Chicago through some of his extended compositions. Both the 56½-minute “Darfur” suite in New York and the two 18-minute versions of “Entrances” in the mid-West are shaped around a combination of composed work and spontaneously cued solos. The tonal colors emphasized on both are orchestral rather than standard big band arrangements, with woodwinds, strings and miscellaneous percussion prominent. MORE

October 3, 2007

Tigersmilk

Android Love Cry
Family Vineyard FV45CD

Geared more towards electronic-tinged improv than his other projects, the co-op trio Tigersmilk makes full use of Dylan van der Schyff’s understated yet rhythmically encompassing percussion licks. The Vancouver-based drummer serves as perfect foil for Chicago bassist Jason Roebke, whose electric and acoustic contributions are even more self-effacing than van der Schyff’s work, plus the fluttering synthesizer oscillations and muted rubato washes of cornetist Rob Mazurek, a Chicagoan now resident in Brazil. MORE

June 27, 2005

HORVITZ/SAMWORTH/LEE/CLARK/VAN DER SCHYFF

Intersection Poems
Spool Line SPL125

TIGERSMILK
From the Bottle
Family Vineyard FV28

North American free trade of the most benign kind, FROM THE BOTTLE features an invigorating live performance from a trio mad up of two Americans and a Canadian, while INTERSECTION POEMS is another fine effort which adds an American pianist to an already constituted Canadian combo, which includes Tigersmilk’s drummer.

Vancouver-based Dylan van der Schyff has also brought his percussion wizardry to partnerships featuring such disparate players as American trumpeter Dave Douglas and British saxophonist John Butcher. His most frequent playing partner – and his wife – is cellist Peggy Lee, who also works with a clutch of international performers. Those two, trumpeter Bill Clark and guitarist Ron Samworth made up the band Talking Pictures, making this CD a reunion plus. The plus is Seattle-based keyboardist Wayne Horvitz, whose credentials include work with Bill Frisell and John Zorn, and who has known of the Vancouverites since the late 1980s. MORE

May 31, 2004

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS

Titration
Delmark DG-547

TOM ABBS & FREQUENCY RESPONSE
Conscription
CIMP #288

Tom Abbs and Chad Taylor: remember those names. One day they may be as familiar as Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones or perhaps Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell. For the two young Western-born musicians, who play on both these CDs and lead one each, are prime examples of ascendant thirty-something players who have rejected the false promises of the neo-cons to create their own sounds. Not strident, their compositions and performances, like those created by Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), swing, but also includes the sort of technical and rhythmic advances that didn’t exist in the neo-con favored 1950-1960 period. MORE

February 9, 2004

MATT BAUDER

Weary Already of the Way
482 Music 482-1025

MATT BAUDER/JASON AJEMIAN
Object 3
Locust no. 38

Probably the biggest challenge facing listeners to reedist Matt Bauder’s two new CDs is figuring out how much of the music is composed, how much is improvised and how much is the result of studio manipulation. On the other hand you can merely allow the sounds to seep from your organ of Corti into your consciousness, reacting to them on a purely visceral level.

Bauder is one of the many young Chicago improvisers whose allegiance is as much with post-rock, contemporary classical and electro-acoustic drone as it is with jazz. Most of the players work in each others’ bands and a considerable number of them -- including at least three on the sextet date -- have played with the scene’s most prominent representative, saxist Ken Vandermark. MORE

May 12, 2003

TIGERSMILK

Tigersmilk
Family Vineyard 19

JEFF PARKER
Like-Coping
Delmark DG-543

Fame may initially have come to the members of the Chicago Underground bands for their phase-shifting mixture of jazz, rock and electronica dubbed post-rock. But over time the sounds have become more predictable pastiche than innovative.

Far more palatable are the newest trio projects by two of the musicians: founder conetist/electronicist Rob Mazurek, who is one-third of Tigersmilk, which is showcased on a self-titled CD; and guitarist Jeff Parker, who debuts his own group on LIKE-COPING. Without fanzine fanfare, either CD provides a sound picture of Windy City improv eclecticism. Each is also impressive in its own way. MORE

May 17, 2002

CHICAGO UNDERGROUND DUO

Axis and Alignment
Thrill Jockey Thrill 106

Stripped down to bare essentials of little more than brass, percussion and electronics, the Chicago Underground Duo still manages to produce a sound similar to what it creates with larger groups with similar names.

Yet, as the band’s foundation, Rob Mazurek on cornet and piano plus drummer and vibes player Chad Taylor seem to be able to take a few liberties with the band formula, so that it sounds more like ambient minimalism than anything you would expect from the City of Broad Shoulders. MORE