Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

171

Chicago Underground Trio: Chronicle

By

Sign in to view read count
The Chicago Underground Trio is more of an idea than a group per se. With albums being put out by an ever-changing group of musicians over the last decade-and-a-half, carrying the torch as the Chicago Underground implies a commitment to pushing boundaries; be it sonic boundaries, or the boundaries that could inhibit a trio creating live music, the Chicago Underground is constantly presenting music that is innovative, new and, without a doubt, boundary-breaking.

Chronicle, the trio's first all freely improvised album, begins with a droning, simplistic bass solo from Jason Ajemian that lasts for the full five-plus minutes of, "Initiation." Ajemian hangs on to chordal riffs and short phrases like a chant. It takes a certain mental peace of mind as a performer to deliver an extended solo and resist the temptation of muscle memory and virtuosic prowess. Ajemian does just that, laying in the pocket of his free improvisation, and allowing what was most elegant to sing for itself.

Suddenly, drums crash into the foray on "Resistance." Ajemian continues his simplistic, chanting bass work, while drummer Chad Taylor contributes a fierce second layer. Trumpeter Rob Mazurek finally enters the sonic arena with a flurry of reverb-infused notes that finally breaks down to the sound of marimba and assorted percussion interplay between the three members of the band, as Mazurek puts his horn down and plays a Chinese cymbal.

Chicago Underground has always been about finding some kind of groove and taking it to work. On "Power," the trio morphs from a soft, contemplative theme, shared between Taylor's mallet work and Ajemian's arco bass, into a shoulder-popping Afro-centric pulse, to which Ajemian quickly responds with an accompanying bass line. Again, Mazurek joins the ensemble like the capstone of an arch, the third and final element to complete the structure as a unit. Taylor delivers a short but timbrally interesting mbira solo. Another element brought into play is the use of electronically generated sounds, a tour de force of buzzing and whirring that eventually drones out the acoustic instruments, basking in an ethereal soundscape. Mazurek can be heard playing a bluesy lick in the background, while switching an effects pedal on and off as he repeats the same phrase over and over. The band breaks down towards its first moment of complete silence in the live performance thus far, with a gentle duet between Mazurek and Ajemian that hints at being contrapuntal.

The rest of the album consists of improvisation on the order of electronic sonic exploration. "Crisis" has the kind of synthesized thump expected from a house DJ's turntable. "Transformation" is one long sonic build, with Taylor creating a steady undercurrent of delicate song on mbira. With the closer, "Transcendance," the trio returns to the acoustic setup begun on the album, with a fierce groove underneath Mazurek's chants on his dry trumpet, as if to celebrate the sonic spiritual journey that has just been undertaken.

Track Listing: 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.

Title: Chronicle | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Delmark Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Beginnings" CD/LP/Track Review Beginnings
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 12, 2017
Read "Moldy Figs" CD/LP/Track Review Moldy Figs
by Paul Rauch
Published: July 10, 2017
Read "Without All the Chatter" CD/LP/Track Review Without All the Chatter
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 7, 2017
Read "Transient" CD/LP/Track Review Transient
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 3, 2017
Read "3's a Crowd" CD/LP/Track Review 3's a Crowd
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 21, 2017
Read "Book Of Rhapsodies Vol. II" CD/LP/Track Review Book Of Rhapsodies Vol. II
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 9, 2017

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!