Genre-defying composer and improviser Rob Mazurek explores different parts of the world across three new recordings | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Genre-defying composer and improviser Rob Mazurek explores different parts of the world across three new recordings 

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click to enlarge Rob Mazurek

Rob Mazurek

Sarah M. Vasquez

Rob Mazurek came up through Chicago’s jazz community, and the Chicago Underground Duo (his long-standing partnership with drummer Chad Taylor, which has past lives as a trio, a quartet, and an orchestra) attests to his ongoing identification with the city’s heritage of genre-defying improvisational music. But Mazurek, whose artistic practice encompasses free improvisation, large-scale composition, sound and light installations, and painting, is as restless geographically as he is creatively. This summer Astral Spirits Records will release three CDs of music inspired by his sojourns in other parts of the world. Love Waves Ecstatic Charge is a set of explosively colorful electronic music that Mazurek composed in response to corrupted sound and image files extracted from a camera that broke while he was documenting his 2005 residency in Abbaye Royal de Fontevraud, France. Psychotropic Electric Eel Dreams IV is a much more subdued piece of electronic music, first heard as a quadraphonic installation presented in the Lincoln Park Conservatory as part of Experimental Sound Studio’s Florasonic series. Mazurek assembled the music, whose low-watt sonic glow easily transcends its original role as an accompaniment to foliage, by combining recordings of the discharges of electric eels (made during his years living in Brazil) with sounds he played on analog and digital synthesizers. But the quartet that he’s bringing to the Green Mill, which includes Taylor, pianist Kris Davis, and bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, uses the jazz idiom to respond to the land and sky around his current home in Marfa, Texas. The wheeling, open-ended melodies and shifting rhythmic foundations on Desert Encrypts Vol. 1 have an expansive quality that’s new to Mazurek’s music—but when he takes commanding solos (on piccolo trumpet instead of his usual cornet), it feels like he’s returning to his roots for a spell.   v

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