234

Chicago Underground Quartet: Chicago Underground Quartet

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Chicago Underground Quartet: Chicago Underground Quartet They've been a duo, they've been a trio, and they've been an orchestra—so why stop there? As the Chicago Underground Quartet has evolved, it's expanded cornetist Rob Mazurek's very democratic vision. On its eponymous debut, the CUQ covers a broad range of styles from percolating polyrhythm (as on the opener, "Tunnel Chrome"), to gentle lyricism ("Three in the Morning"), to spacious improv ("Sink, Charge, Fixture"), to all-out energy music ("Welcome")... with lots of stops in between. The most exciting moments on Chicago Underground Quartet lie at the intersection between different musical territories, which the group self-confidently treats as a fluid continuum.

While the CUQ comes across as a group effort, it's just as importantly a collection of individuals with distinct musical personalities. Mazurek's cornet playing sees him through many changes: equally at home singing pure melody or exploring the full tonal range of his instrument, he searches out the notes and the colors that work in different circumstances. Rather than brashly exercising pure virtuosity or sticking defiantly to the melody, he explores the middle ground. Jeff Parker, who joined the Trio as a guest on Possible Cube, contributes a sense of stability to the group. He's a listener as much as he is a player, and that reflects itself in his inclination to fill gaps.

Percussionist Chad Taylor handles the drums as well as the vibes. He does a great job in the drum chair, but his most interesting playing happens when he takes mallets in hand—combining counterpoint and melody with a keen sense of rhythm, and adding welcome color. The fourth member of the quartet, bassist Noel Kupersmith, often plays a structural supporting role. During periods of regular progression, he provides the group an electric ground. But when the music flies free, he takes a more harmolodic approach to his instrument, laying down twisting, thrusting lines that intertwine with the other instruments.

The general tone of Chicago Underground Quartet is reflective and deliberate, though regular moments of exuberance and open-ended play appear interspersed throughout. Each tune on this record (a collection of originals by each member of the group) is a composition in the formal sense. Themes and moods receive detailed attention before the quartet moves on. But the disc is constructed in a coherent way so that it acquires body and spirit as a whole. The sudden Ornette-ish fanfare at the end of the closer, "Nostalgia," openly promises another chapter in this evolving story.


Track Listing: Tunnel Chrome; Four in the Evening; A Re-occuring Dream; Welcome; Three in the Morning; Total Recovery; Sink, Charge, Fixture; Wo Ist Der Kuchen, Meine Frau; Nostalgia.

Personnel: Jeff Parker: guitar; Noel Kupersmith: bass; Chad Taylor: percussion, vibes; Rob Mazurek: cornet, electronics.

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Thrill Jockey | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Eos CD/LP/Track Review Eos
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 28, 2017
Read More Than This CD/LP/Track Review More Than This
by Henning Bolte
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read "Revolution Before Lunch" CD/LP/Track Review Revolution Before Lunch
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 2, 2016
Read "Out & About" CD/LP/Track Review Out & About
by Doug Collette
Published: July 3, 2016
Read "Ullr" CD/LP/Track Review Ullr
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 8, 2017
Read "Evolution - Seeds and Streams" CD/LP/Track Review Evolution - Seeds and Streams
by Phil Barnes
Published: December 19, 2016
Read "All Terrain Guitar" CD/LP/Track Review All Terrain Guitar
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 31, 2016
Read "Desire & Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!