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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spiral Mercury - Chicago/Sao Paulo Underground featuring Pharoah Sanders: Pharoah & The Underground

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Renowned tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and new music, jazz-centric pioneer, cornetist Rob Mazurek bridge alternate generations of avant-gard-isms with this highly persuasive and indubitably, audacious production. It's an electro-acoustic meeting of futuristic minds, intersecting the trumpeter's Sao Paulo Underground and Chicago Underground ensembles. Moreover, they yield intergalactic nods to classic space rock via Guilherme Granado's inventive electronics, synths and samples permutations along with Matthew Lux's pumped up bass lines and Chad Taylor's sweeping drums patterns amid several distinctive indicators throughout. Several movements are modeled with blustery flights of fancy, complemented and expounded upon by Sanders and Mazurek's flourishing ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chicago Jazz Philharmonic: Sketches of Spain Revisited

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One by one, the trio of classic big-band collaborations by Miles Davis and Gil Evans is being rediscovered and reinvented by contemporary jazz ensembles: Miles Ahead, Porgy & Bess and last but not least, the tasteful and picturesque Sketches of Spain, reappraised here by trumpeter Orbert Davis (no relation to Miles) and the splendid Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. Besides composing, adapting and orchestrating the music, Orbert Davis sits in for his celebrated namesake on solo trumpet. What makes these new Sketches especially intriguing is the fact that Davis has seen fit to retain the original album's opening and ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Chicago Transit Authority / Chicago II / Chicago III

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Chicago, the rock band, is not what you remember. Well, it is, but it's also more than that. The Chicago you remember is the hit machine of the '70s: “25 or 6 to 4," “Beginnings," “Make Me Smile," “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" and many others. Of course, Chicago is also the wimp rock machine of the '80s: “Hard to Say I'm Sorry," “Hard Habit to Break," “You're the Inspiration" and “Will You Still Love Me?" Rough stuff. But wait--there's a third Chicago, the band you don't remember, and maybe never heard. It ...

HIGHLY OPINIONATED

Sing a Mean Tune, Kid: Chicago for people who hate Chicago

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When people rebuff my attempts to share my love of jazz-pop-rock group Chicago with them, I understand their qualms. Really, I do. Few bands went from being quite so inventive to quite so predictable in the long, tough slog between 1968 and 1984. (The political parallels alone are terrifyingly relevant: many of the exact same people who were in SDS went on to become Yuppies by the midpoint of the Reagan years, but I digress.) So, I understand when people tell me why they don't like Chicago. I might disagree, but I do understand. These are good folk ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chicago: Chicago VII

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Consider the curious case of Chicago, the rock band. This is a group that has lived several lives--some wild, some mild. In the late 60s and early 70s, Chicago was at the cutting edge of rock. Its lead guitarist, Terry Kath, was favorably compared to Jimi Hendrix--by Jimi himself. Its horn section sometimes featured wild improvisations bordering on avante garde and free jazz. The band rocked. It was good. Later, of course, Chicago drowned in shmaltz, especially whenever Peter Cetera crooned a corny ballad. This was the mildest, most inoffensive band imaginable, at a time when ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chicago Underground Duo: Locus

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For over 17 years Rob Mazurek and Chad Taylor have collaborated as the Chicago Underground Duo, a long-running partnership that has served as the core foundation for larger configurations of the group, including Trio, Quartet and Orchestra. The expansive nature of the ensemble's fluctuating personnel and the subsequent diversity of music produced has been a direct reflection of the founding members' varied interests and ensuing career paths.Mazurek's reputation as a bold electro-acoustic sound sculptor is well established, but belies the fact that his fundamentals as a cornetist lie in traditional hard bop--a robust foundation for his increasingly adventurous ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chicago Jazz Orchestra: Burstin' Out!

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Covering the Great American Songbook can be tricky, thankless work for a singer. The options for handling the material just aren't as numerous (i.e., nigh infinite) as they are for instrumentalists. Severely warping a melody, chopping it up or getting rid of it altogether work perfectly well if you're blowing through a horn. But such abstractions of voice can seem forced or simply too weird within a straight-ahead format. There's scatting, of course, and other forms of nonverbal vocalization, but they rarely score on the same level as instrumental solos, and they can turn stale or quaint-sounding pretty quickly.



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