All About Jazz

Home » Articles » DVD/Film Reviews

247

Chicago Underground Trio: Chronicle

Nic Jones By

Sign in to view read count
Chicago Underground Trio
Chronicle
Delmark
2007



This DVD marks a break with precedent for Delmark in terms of its content. Whereas their previous titles have documented live performances in the raw with little in the way of visual stimulus outside that of the musicians working, this one is lent a contemplative air through the visual input and direction of Raymond Salvatore Harmon, a man who, if the evidence here is anything to go by, is better than attuned to the idiosyncratic sound world of a group whose music is arguably as informed by latter-day electronica as it is by anything closer to the jazz continuum.

The project's success on the purely visual level is testimony to Salvatore's exceptional empathy with the music; it's almost as if he went to the trouble of learning all of its subtleties and nuances before making any contribution of his own. His combination of footage shot from a moving vehicle and superimposed over footage of the group playing in real time enhances the overall effect without calling undue attention to itself. The same is true of his more prominently featured digital washes of colour, and such is the slightly disorienting level of visual and audio elements that the former seems to be in permanent service to the latter. The results make for a program with a slightly meditative edge even in the music's most frenetic moments, when for example Rob Mazurek shows the degree to which he has absorbed Don Cherry's cornet playing and incorporated it into his own distinct musical personality.

At some twenty-eight minutes "Power" makes up a significant part of the program, but its very duration offers ample evidence that this is a group with an acute grasp of dynamics, even if at a different time and in a different place the piece wouldn't suffer with some editing. That grasp is nowhere more evident than in the work of Chad Taylor who, along with Hamid Drake and Kahil El' Zabar, is one of a trio of Chicago-based drummers refining the advances of the past while shaping them for the future. Bassist Jason Ajemian is a potent force here as well, showing how he's more than equal to the task of letting the music breathe. He climbs all over the instrument when the music demands it but keeps ego in check in the service of the group—both a mandatory requirement and an achievement in itself.

The combination of ancient and modern might best sum up what this disc has to offer. In their embracing of traditions, Taylor's use of an mbira alongside the trio's adaptation of many contemporary developments in music testifies to the ensemble's breadth of scope. The inclusiveness is in a sense amplified rather than merely documented by Harmon's visual input. The result is much more than a visual record of a gig, not that there is anything inherently wrong with such an approach. This marriage of media, however, is something else, namely a work in which a meeting of creative minds has resulted in something not only innovative and unique but exemplary of what the relatively new DVD format could have been designed for.


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

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

Production Notes: Running time 75 minutes. Recorded at 24 bit/96kHz High Resolution Audio live July 31, 2006 at DankHaus, Chicago's German Cultural Center, by engineer Todd Carter, directed by Raymond Salvatore Harmon.

Extras: Abstractions: Transcendental Landscapes by Raymond Salvatore Harmon; Chronolight Multiples by Rob Mazurek; Randomness by the CU Double Trio; Selected Discography.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Eric Clapton: Life In 12 Bars DVD/Film Reviews
Eric Clapton: Life In 12 Bars
by Doug Collette
Published: June 24, 2018
Read Randy Brecker Quintet: Live at Sweet Basil 1988 DVD/Film Reviews
Randy Brecker Quintet: Live at Sweet Basil 1988
by John Kelman
Published: June 5, 2018
Read Jazz Ambassadors: Representing A Segregated America During The Cold War DVD/Film Reviews
Jazz Ambassadors: Representing A Segregated America During...
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: May 11, 2018
Read The Moody Blues: Days of Future Passed Live DVD/Film Reviews
The Moody Blues: Days of Future Passed Live
by John Kelman
Published: April 14, 2018
Read Chicago: The Terry Kath Experience DVD/Film Reviews
Chicago: The Terry Kath Experience
by Doug Collette
Published: March 10, 2018
Read The Doors: Live At The Isle of Wight Festival 1970 DVD/Film Reviews
The Doors: Live At The Isle of Wight Festival 1970
by Doug Collette
Published: February 24, 2018
Read "The Moody Blues: Days of Future Passed Live" DVD/Film Reviews The Moody Blues: Days of Future Passed Live
by John Kelman
Published: April 14, 2018
Read "Van Morrison In Concert" DVD/Film Reviews Van Morrison In Concert
by Doug Collette
Published: February 17, 2018
Read "Rolling Stones From The Vault: Sticky Fingers Live at the Fonda Theatre 2015" DVD/Film Reviews Rolling Stones From The Vault: Sticky Fingers Live at the...
by Doug Collette
Published: September 30, 2017
Read "The Doors: Live At The Isle of Wight Festival 1970" DVD/Film Reviews The Doors: Live At The Isle of Wight Festival 1970
by Doug Collette
Published: February 24, 2018
Read "Frank Sinatra: Live From Caesar’s Palace | The First 40 Years" DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: Live From Caesar’s Palace | The First...
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017