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Rob Mazurek's Starlicker: Double Demon

Nic Jones By

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Starlicker is a trio which crosses the genres with ease and a healthy disregard for categorization. Cornetist Rob Mazurek is one of those musicians more preoccupied with the future of improvised music than with its glorious past. Much the same can be said for vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, who once again proves himself to be one of a handful of post-Bobby Hutcherson, post-Walt Dickerson players out there working in new margins, while drummer John Herndon has long been a stalwart of post-rock collective Tortoise.

In view of Starlicker's respective track records it's perhaps unsurprising that its collective music is full of out-of-kilter rhythmic vitality. What's surprising however is the full sound they get from limited resources, as on "Vodou Cinque" where Herndon's work borders on hyperactive for as long as it takes the ear to adjust, but when things fall into place it's clear that the balance between the free and the predetermined is finely, tellingly struck.

On the following "Orange Blossom," Herndon initially nails an almost martial groove before breaking at around the 1:20 mark. What follows is equally marked by a collective vitality, which keeps the ear cocked to Adasiewicz's understated contribution, the nature of which casts him in the role of eye of the storm.

It could be argued that Mazurek is a player who takes his cues from Don Cherry but the point is of limited utility, especially in view of his work on the highly reflective "Triple Hex," which over the course of its lengthy exposition is an exercise in contrasts. It would be misleading to say that Herndon is restrained by comparison to a lot of his work, considering he provides all the drive that's called for, but it becomes clear that Mazurek is intent on reconciling the music—something which he does admirably, even while he emphasizes how the apparently contradictory can make for creative tension. Starlicker is a trio which crosses the genres with ease and a healthy disregard for categorization. Cornetist Rob Mazurek is one of those musicians more preoccupied with the future of improvised music than with its glorious past. Much the same can be said for vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, who once again proves himself to be one of a handful of post-Bobby Hutcherson, post-Walt Dickerson players out there working in new margins, while drummer John Herndon has long been a stalwart of post-rock collective Tortoise.

In view of Starlicker's respective track records it's perhaps unsurprising that its collective music is full of out-of-kilter rhythmic vitality. What's surprising however is the full sound they get from limited resources, as on "Vodou Cinque" where Herndon's work borders on hyperactive for as long as it takes the ear to adjust, but when things fall into place it's clear that the balance between the free and the predetermined is finely, tellingly struck.

On the following "Orange Blossom," Herndon initially nails an almost martial groove before breaking at around the 1:20 mark. What follows is equally marked by a collective vitality, which keeps the ear cocked to Adasiewicz's understated contribution, the nature of which casts him in the role of eye of the storm.

It could be argued that Mazurek is a player who takes his cues from Don Cherry but the point is of limited utility, especially in view of his work on the highly reflective "Triple Hex," which over the course of its lengthy exposition is an exercise in contrasts. It would be misleading to say that Herndon is restrained by comparison to a lot of his work, considering he provides all the drive that's called for, but it becomes clear that Mazurek is intent on reconciling the music—something which he does admirably, even while he emphasizes how the apparently contradictory can make for creative tension.

Track Listing: Double Demon; Vodou Cinque; Orange Blossom; Andromeda; Triple Hex; Skull Cave.

Personnel: Rob Mazurek: cornet; Jason Adasiewicz: vibraphone; John Herndon: drums.

Title: Double Demon | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Delmark Records

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