All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

98

Exploding Star Orchestra: Stars Have Shapes

Nic Jones By

Sign in to view read count
This release by the Exploding Star Orchestra is one of those rare examples of a present day unit able to travel to other places. Under the direction of cornet player and composer Rob Mazurek they've come up with a program of music which incorporates advances outside of the jazz tradition even while it strikes an extraordinary balance between established precedents and developments still in the process of fruition.

Thus the collective voices on "Ascension Ghost Impression #2" are notable for the degree to which individual ego is negated in favor of group identity. Indeed the maelstrom of the first nine minutes of the piece is settled calmly, almost wanly in a passage of limpid beauty before the former reasserts itself and the electro-acoustic constructions Mazurek is credited with come into their own. The work of drummers Mike Reed and John Herndon ensures that the music at this point isn't lacking momentum, but again the entirely unselfconscious avoidance of the obvious ensures that when things pan out again it's in a tranquil direction, shot through with unease. Indeed that's underscored by agitation, as if the musicians are acutely aware and appreciative of the implications of fashioning spontaneous form.

Set against this the galumphing quality of "ChromoRocker" highlights how Mazurek leaves himself open to any and perhaps all positive influences. The quality of funk—shot through with a contrarily limpid quality—ensures that the music remains resolutely earthbound for all of vibes player Jason Adasiewicz's sleight of hand.

"Three Blocks of Light" is the place where balance is the key, especially so given the fact that the music settles down to become an embellished hypnotic drone before it concludes. Flautist Nicole Mitchelll's contribution at this point is a statement of what she can do in a setting as rarefied as this, where the balance between elements improvised and composed results in music both meditative and unsettling.

"Impression #1" closes things out and it is in essence a summary of what's gone before, albeit a summary notable for its own reflective air, balanced against a measure of agitation in the form of Greg Ward on alto sax. But as with the rest of this program a simple description of proceedings does little to address the totality of the music, which is something else besides being one beautifully realized program.

Track Listing: Ascension Ghost Impression #2; ChromoRocker; Three Blocks of Light; Impression #1.

Personnel: Rob Mazurek: cornet, director, composer, electro-acoustic constructions; Nicole Mitchell: flutes, voice; Matthew Bauder: clarinet, tenor saxophone; Jeb Bishop: trombone; Jason Stein: bass clarinet; Greg Ward: alto saxophone; Jason Adasiewicz: vibraphone; Matthew Lux: bass guitar; Josh Abrams: bass; John Herndon: drums; Mike Reed: drums; Carrie Biolo: gongs, vibes, percussion; Jeff Kowalkowski: piano; Damon Locks: word rocker.

Title: Stars Have Shapes | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Delmark Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Uplift The People CD/LP/Track Review
Uplift The People
by John Sharpe
Published: August 21, 2018
Read A New Shade Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review
A New Shade Of Blue
by Chris May
Published: August 21, 2018
Read Rabbits on the Run CD/LP/Track Review
Rabbits on the Run
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 21, 2018
Read Imaginary Numbers CD/LP/Track Review
Imaginary Numbers
by John Sharpe
Published: August 21, 2018
Read Point Blank CD/LP/Track Review
Point Blank
by Chris May
Published: August 20, 2018
Read Tell Me The Truth CD/LP/Track Review
Tell Me The Truth
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 20, 2018
Read "Formidable" CD/LP/Track Review Formidable
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: November 24, 2017
Read "Dream a Little Dream" CD/LP/Track Review Dream a Little Dream
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: November 16, 2017
Read "Cycle" CD/LP/Track Review Cycle
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 17, 2018
Read "Solos" CD/LP/Track Review Solos
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 24, 2018
Read "Just One More Time" CD/LP/Track Review Just One More Time
by James Fleming
Published: July 8, 2018
Read "Toy Tunes" CD/LP/Track Review Toy Tunes
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 16, 2018