Chicago's jazz and new music scene seems free from the heavy peer pressure foisted upon the New York Downtown crowd. Where New York's creative musicians tend toward holding things close to their chests, their Chi-town counter-parts are continually forming new bands, interchanging parts and creating music without the self consciousness and over-examination that goes on at der Knitting Factory. This openness is evident on the second release by the Chicago Underground Duo. The Duo comprises cornetist Rob Mazurek and percussionist Chad Taylor. With live and studio manipulation that Teo Macero would salivate over, the two sound as large as needed. Stripped down, Mazurek and Taylor hint at the duo of Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell. But add tape manipulations and Moog and they are now treading from planet-to-planet like one time Chicago resident Sun Ra. The disc opens with an atmosphere out of the electric Miles school that birthed Jon Hassell. It soon is fused with an electronic march derived from Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse." Their music is simultaneously modern and retro-early electronics. The beauty here is the etherealness of electronica fused with a human component. This "life" is achieved through the breath of Mazurek and the percussive touch of Taylor, be it on drums or vibraphone. Balancing audio manipulation with the randomness of human participation is the Duo's secret.
| Year Released: 2000
| Record Label: Giant Records