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Chicago Underground Trio

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The mercurial and improvisatory Chicago Underground debuted as the Chicago Underground Orchestra in February of 1998 with Playground. Though the term orchestra is usually reserved for ensembles with ten or more musicians, the Chicago Underground Orchestra were actually a quintet (Rob Mazurek, Jeff Parker, Chris Lopes, Sarah P. Smith, and Chad Taylor). A short time later, two members of this outfit regrouped as the Chicago Underground Duo. The duo, percussionist Chad Taylor and cornetist Rob Mazurek, released Twelve Degrees of Freedom on October 20, 1998. Chad Taylor has been performing in Chicago clubs since the age of 14. Now, as an adult, he has collaborated with such venerable figures as Lou Donaldson, Leon Parker, Junior Mance, Mark Turner, Chicago Art Ensemble bassist Malichi Favors, and post-rockers Tortoise. Similarly, Rob Mazurek has played with such noteworthy musicians as Fred Hopkins, Gastr del Sol, Loren Mazzacane Conners, Jim O'Rourke, and, once again, Tortoise. In 1999, this duo morphed into a trio with the addition of bass fiddler Noel Kupersmith. Their March 30, 1999, release (Possible Cube) continued to deposit the group's creative sound into many hip ears. With the Cinco de Mayo festivities in 2000 came another Chicago Underground Duo release. This CD, Synesthesia, is named after the sensory-abundance disorder of the same name. Three months after the release of Synesthesia, the duo burgeoned into the Chicago Underground Trio and kicked down with a fifth release, Flamethrower. For this CD, the core threesome of Mazurek, Taylor, and Kupersmith were joined by guitarist Jeff Parker. Parker, who has played with Isotope 217 and Tortoise, moves easily between Wes Montgomery-inspired melodies and Lounge Lizards-styled dissonant fret-board stranglings. All in all, whether they perform as an orchestra, quintet, duo, trio, or quartet, the Chicago Underground members deftly weave acoustically based improvisatory compositions -- often times redolent of the Ornette Coleman Quartet -- with subtle electronics and moody atmospheric reliefs. ~ John Vallier

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