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Chicago Underground Trio: Chronicle

Jerry D'Souza By

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Trumpeter Rob Mazurek and drummer Chad Taylor have a long history as experimental musicians. They play in several different bands and pull in like-minded musicians to expand into a trio or into the larger context of an "orchestra. For this venture they have Jason Ajemian on bass.



Chicago Underground Trio
Chronicle
Delmark
2007

Chicago Underground has never shied away from being bold and innovative. They prove it all over again with this performance, where everything is completely improvised. Ajemian, who plays as part of the trio for the first time, sets things in motion with "Initiation. His two-handed attack on the solo opens a spectrum of sound, from lithe prancing to a bass weave, from tapping the strings to strapping chunky chords. Then it all explodes.

The interaction between Mazurek, Taylor and Ajemian is on a high as they spin into "Resistance. Here is a vortex of sounds roiling in the intensity of Ajemian's bass lines and Taylor's spiky drumming, before Mazurek's cornet dives in blustery and torrid, and fits into the mix very nicely indeed. Heated animation cools in a seamless shift fanned by the translucent resonance of the mbira (thumb piano), and then taken into the shimmering folds of the gong.

The manipulation of sound gets an interesting workout on "Crisis. Electronics loop and whirl, the cornet sings a slight melody, the cymbals ring out the beat. The mood, laid back if not relaxed, is pumped by sudden interjections from the cornet. In that ebb and flow comes a tantalising sonic panorama. Shifts in time and tempo, calm and intensity, melody and abstraction, have built one cohesive body.

Though the performance is continuous, it has, in a sense, been segmented. This allows for each section to have a name, but these only serve as signposts for an enthralling journey.



Chicago Underground Trio
Chronicle
Delmark
2007

The Chronicle CD has a companion DVD release directed by Raymond Salvatore Harmon.

Harmon has a captivating sensibility for visuals. He washes the screen in a blaze of colours superimposing them on the performers. Blue, yellow, purple, green and gold, all sweep across the screen. They blink, they shimmer and they swirl, all the while attentive to the trio's music. One of the most stunning sequences comes as an extra—Rob Mazurek's "Chronolight Multiple, where nine panels of colour and light transform the music into a multi-dimensional treat.

Harmon flits across landscapes for "Initiation, some of which is captured on "Transcendental Landscapes, another of the extras on the DVD. The difference is that the first has the sound of Ajemian's bass, the second is silent.

Harmon uses the split-screen technique effectively. He hones in on different angles and even as these give the viewer a wider dimension, his close-ups bring in an intimate atmosphere. All of this nails the performance right in the middle.

The extras include two tunes from Mazurek and a live take from the Chicago Undergroud Double Trio which is stunning.

Just as the CD is an aural delight, the DVD is a visual treat.

Production Notes: 74 minutes. Recorded live on July 31, 2006 at the German Cultural Center, Chicago. Extras: Four music tracks, discography.


Tracks and Personnel

Chronicle

Tracks: Initiation; Resistance; Power; Crisis; Transformation; Transcendence.

Personnel: Rob Mazurek: cornet, computer, Moog source, electric celeste, gong, Chinese cymbal, bamboo flute, Moogerfooger pedals; Chad Taylor: drum kit, vibraphone, marimba, mbira, assorted percussion; Jason Ajemian: acoustic bass, electronics.

Chronicle DVD

Tracks: Initiation; Resistance; Power; Crisis; Transformation; Transcendence.

Personnel: Rob Mazurek: cornet, computer, moog source, electric celeste, gong, Chinese cymbal, bamboo flute, moogerfooger pedals; Chad Taylor: drum kit, vibraphone, marimba, mbira, assorted percussion; Jason Ajemian: acoustic bass, electronics.

Year Released: 2007


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