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Album Review

Rob Mazurek is far removed from any standardized progressive or contemporary jazz, preferring to play his cornet and electronics in modern creative modes beholden to nothing specific. His big-band, Brazilian-based, or small-combo recordings all sport a singularity that assures constant surprises along the path. This quintet of young and experienced fellow Chicago underground pioneers is yet another unique project in Mazurek's growing and original discography. Though the band prefers no static time signatures, an odd meter, funky, or rock beat creeps in occasionally amidst the space-derived or techno backdrop he always includes. Vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz is a shimmering light in darkness, Josh Abrams and Matthew Lux shade mixed colors with deft bass tones, acoustic and electric, respectively. This allows Mazurek to explore the full aural spectrum on his orotund toned cornet, occasional synthesizer or piano. All of these diverse elements can be heard right off the bat for "As If an Angel Fell from the Sky," as whirring, minimalist sonics and the spare vibe work of Adasiewicz builds somewhat out of an established vacancy. Mazurek himself is at his height of interaction with the ensemble during the modal 6/8 jam "The Earthquake Tree," a rolling wheel of hip cornet discourse with Adasiewicz laying low in the background. Also in the spontaneous composition mode and a similar beat, "The Hill" is a heavy water experiment based in rounded edged phrases that linger in Mazurek's head. His fascination with Brazilian music crops up during the funky and basic tune "Cinnamon Tree," a melodic work very reminiscent of the dancing sounds of Don Cherry. "The Lightning Field" interjects free bop, "Dream Rocker" is exactly as the title suggests, and the contemporary "The Field" is led by the vibraphonist, the bassists, and drummer, with Mazurek as an observer. As sonically arresting as the electronic-based pieces like the macabre "Le Baiser/The Kiss" and the fractured, circular to minimalist space theme "Beauty Wolf" are, they still are not the centerpieces or the command performances. "Dragon Kites" is a floating composition trumped by a purposely stuck skip phrase, while furious cacophony from the entire quintet is captured on "Aphrodite Rising," and "The Star Splitter" lays Christmas bells on top of South Side Chicago blues. The remarkable diversity displayed and stunning modernism heard on Sound Is should indicate that Rob Mazurek's musical footprint is difficult to pigeonhole, but is clearly an individual stance unique unto itself. If you are open minded, this CD is hard to resist. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Sound Is, Rob Mazurek Quintet
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