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Trumpeter Rob Mazurek

By Published: July 15, 2004

AAJ: Tell us about hanging out with Wynton Marsalis—you took a few lessons from him? What do you think about his overall work?

RM: I met Wynton when I was very young. I think in 1980-81 when I was 14-15 years old. I had already decided I wanted to play music. Wynton was very encouraging and invited me up to his room to play for him. That's when he suggested I buy Ornette Coleman's record, The Shape of Jazz to Come. Of course, I bought the record the next day. I remember those days at the old Jazz Showcase which was situated in the Blackstone Hotel. That time was so exciting. Meeting Wynton and Branford, Jeff Watts and Kenny Kirkland. Wynton would talk about Ornette all the time. I went to the show five nights in a row. They played many of Coleman's tunes and Wynton seemed to treat me as an equal. I would meet him for the following few years and practice and such.

AAJ: What does he think of your work now?

RM: I have no idea, my mind went the other directions a while ago and I lost contact with him.

AAJ: Casey Rice ( Silver Spines ) the engineer plays almost a collaborative role with you on past recordings—please comment.

RM: Casey Rice is one of the most brilliant sounding people I know. He always comes up with good ideas and surprises. Of course he is able to get musical tones, his visual thing is excellent also. I always treat the engineer as a collaborator. Casey is always able to take my abstract thoughts and interpret them correctly, and usually expand on them also.

AAJ: Are you going to shift your artistic focus to the visual arts?

RM: At this point, it's all the same. The visual arts are sound and the music is visual. I am currently working on these projection blocks, which are 2 by 2 foot color squares with sound. There will be a performance and installation at the Chicago Cultural Center in the future. My thoughts are towards an integration of sound and color, matter, space and emotion.

The Silver Spines record is about objects in space and what's implied. Most of the sound is sculptural. I will be collaborating with landscape artist, architects, etc. in Sicily sometime in April for a project.

AAJ: How successful is your visual art?

RM: I guess that depends what you mean. I have been painting now for about eight years. I have been reluctant to show any of this except on record covers (Chicago Underground Duo, Synesthesia and Axis and Alignment along with an Isotope 217 remix recording) and to my friends. The only thing I did show at Carrie Secrist Gallery in Chicago sold almost immediately. I don't know, I feel like I have succeeded at times, but not before weeks and months of being uncertain.

AAJ: Why do you think of yourself as a "sound engineer" instead of being a cornetist?

RM: I think you mean "sound generator". It goes way deeper than that. Ever since I started delving into the world of electronics my head has been constantly preoccupied with the notion of everything being inter-connected. Of course this is nothing new, it's all over Buddhist philosophy, etc., which I was practicing earnestly for about 10 years. Sound is sound, color is sound, sound is color. I, of course, have many years on the cornet but so what. Who Cares! The only thing that matters for me is what I hear or what I see or smell and feel? I am also trying to locate the frequencies that best correspond to color and sight, etc., hoping that at some point these two areas might merge into something fantastic. Sound has also taken on quite a sculptural quality. Most of my more concrete pieces embody this; they are more about mass and volume than anything else.

Visit Rob Mazurek on the web at .

Photo Credit
Peter Gannushkin

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