All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

153

Chicago Underground Trio: Flamethrower

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
‘Chicago Underground’ is an overarching appellation for a myriad of projects under Rob Mazurek’s nominal leadership. Its various guises include Duo, Trio and Orchestra incarnations. Peripheral to these associations Mazurek and his partners also work together in a variety of other outfits including Isotope 217 and Tortoise. All of these groups demonstrate a penchant for electro-acoustic experimentation that has traceable roots in Fusion, but also draws liberally from modern electronics music influences. Real-time electronics and jazz-based, thematic improvisation are not always easy bedfellows and the music of these four players in trio setting demonstrates the problems that arise in trying to make the marriage work.

Spartan rhythmic and harmonic fragments are commonly at the center of the compositions, but these stripped-down referents allow for a surprising variety of permutations. The group juxtaposes modal post-bop pieces freely with abstractionist and minimalist electronics forays throughout and while the interplay on the former tracks is often absorbing the latter ones often sound like slipshod experiments rather than fully fleshed musical statements. There are instances when they do work as on the disc’s centerpiece “Number 19,” where atonal organ noises evoke immediate images of Sun Ra behind his cosmic keyboard set-up. But the tracks tinted with various electronic accoutrements largely left an uncomfortable metallic residue in my ears and I was faced on more than one occasion with the urge to skip forward to the more acoustic dominated excursions. Part of this may be my own bias showing through, as my tolerance for electronics in improvisatory settings is often taxed quickly.

That being said, the interplay here between the four players often operates at peak levels. Mazurek’s ferrous cornet negotiates tightly packed ensemble sections and skeletally spaced solo interludes with equal facility, his high-register mute work on “A Lesson Earned” being just one of many examples. Through the creative use of overdubbing there’s even an opportunity for a trifold conversation with himself as three twining cornet lines spin a somber web on “ Arcweld.” Kuppersmith is accorded a similar turn on the harmonically ambiguous “504.” Each member of the group seems equally adept alone or in concert. Parker’s chimerical chords radiate between luminous lines and jangling, charged static, at times within the same piece, and Taylor and Kuppersmith rarely reside over the rhythm in a traditional sense preferring instead to cash in with currencies of elusive pulse and wavelength. While not surpassing their last Delmark record Possible Cube this new offering still delivers plenty of intriguing music.


Track Listing: Quail; Fahrenheit 451; Warm Marsh; Antiquity; Flamethrower; Woman In Motion; Triceptikon; A Lesson Earned; Arcweld; Elroy; Number 19; 504; The Tungflec Treaty; The World Has Changed; Elray.

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

Title: Flamethrower | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Delmark Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

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

Slon

Thrill Jockey
2004

buy
 

Slon

Giant Records
2003

buy
Flamethrower

Flamethrower

Delmark Records
2000

buy
 

Possible Cube

Giant Records
1999

buy

Related Articles

Read Elvesang CD/LP/Track Review
Elvesang
by John Kelman
Published: February 17, 2018
Read Necessary Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Necessary Arrangements
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 17, 2018
Read Uniting Beats (Ritmos Que Unen) CD/LP/Track Review
Uniting Beats (Ritmos Que Unen)
by Barry Witherden
Published: February 17, 2018
Read Influences CD/LP/Track Review
Influences
by Don Phipps
Published: February 17, 2018
Read async Remodels CD/LP/Track Review
async Remodels
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 17, 2018
Read Way Out West CD/LP/Track Review
Way Out West
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: February 16, 2018
Read "Legacy: Neil Slater at North Texas" CD/LP/Track Review Legacy: Neil Slater at North Texas
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 30, 2017
Read "Duality: Particles & Waves" CD/LP/Track Review Duality: Particles & Waves
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 16, 2017
Read "Lionsong" CD/LP/Track Review Lionsong
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs" CD/LP/Track Review Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 23, 2017
Read "Two in a Box" CD/LP/Track Review Two in a Box
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2017
Read "Saturday Night Dogs" CD/LP/Track Review Saturday Night Dogs
by Joe Gatto
Published: November 30, 2017