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!

528

Exploding Star Orchestra: We Are All From Somewhere Else

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Working from a commission by the Chicago Cultural Center and the Jazz Institute to assemble a group representing Chicago's contemporary avant-garde, cornetist/composer Rob Mazurek's newest venture, the Exploding Star Orchestra, has long since eclipsed its provisional origins. Conceptualized and composed between Brazil, France and the States, We Are All From Somewhere Else is as ambitious in scope as it is in execution.

Mazurek's recent music sounds partially inspired by his new home in São Paulo, where he lives with his Brazilian-born scientist wife. The sonic interpretation of a surreal parable about cosmic transformation involving electric eels, stingrays, exploding stars and phoenix-like rebirth, the album follows the narrative structure of a suite.

The Exploding Star Orchestra features a bevy of Chicago's finest improvisers, including the majority of Tortoise and some notable AACM members. While it's founded on the principle of democratic improvisation, and each member contributes equally to the ensemble sound, there are standouts. Nicole Mitchell's dulcet flute, Jeff Parker's edgy guitar, Jim Baker's otherworldly ARP synthesizer and the leader's expressive cornet all make particularly notable appearances.

Mazurek arranges a dizzying array of stylistic challenges for the Orchestra to navigate. The opening suite, "Sting Ray And The Beginning of Time" begins with a thunderous, propulsive vamp and a series of vivid solos bolstered by intricate, angular charts, suggesting a hybrid of the big bands of Muhal Richard Abrams, Don Ellis and Charles Mingus. Soloists materialize in and out of the mix, taking turns weaving brief thematic statements through the throbbing undertow.

"Psycho-Tropic Electric Eel Dream" features the sounds of pre-recorded electric eels from the INPA research lab in Manaus, Brazil. Accompanied by Jim Baker's ARP synthesizer and Nicole Mitchell's flute, the tune exudes a haunting electronic ambience. Serving as a bridge between suites, Jim Baker's majestic solo piano meditation on the stately interlude, "Black Sun," provides a respite in the eye of the storm.

The final suite, "Cosmic Tomes For Sleep Walking Lovers," opens with reversed recordings of Amazonian storms before the ensemble erupts, raging full-on in a riot of circuitous exhortation. Modulating from Ascension-like ecstasy into an intricate cyclic pattern, the second part gallops along hypnotically, recalling the minimalist drive of early Phillip Glass and Terry Riley. Invoking earlier styles, the third part of the suite references the multi-hued arrangements of Gil Evans and Sun Ra, with a nod to Miles Davis' "All Blues" interpolated into the tune's waltz rhythm.

Futuristic, adventurous and accessible, We Are All From Somewhere Else is Mazurek's most ambitious and fully realized statement to date—a stunning achievement, highly recommended.

Visit Rob Mazurek on the web.


Track Listing: Sting Ray And The Beginning of Time: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 (Psycho-Tropic Electric Eel Dream), Part 4; Black Sun; Cosmic Tomes For Sleep Walking Lovers: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 (Fifteen Ways Towards A Finite Universe), Part 5.

Personnel: Rob Mazurek: composer, director, cornet, computer; Nicole Mitchell: flutes, voice; Jeb Bishop: trombone; Corey Wilkes: flugelhorn; Josh Berman: cornet; Matt Bauder: bass clarinet, tenor saxophone; Jeff Parker: guitar; Jim Baker: piano, ARP synthesizer, pianette; Jason Adasiewicz: vibraphone; John McIntyre: marimba, tubular bells; Matt Lux: electric bass; Jason Ajemian: acoustic bass; Mike Reed: drums, percussion, saw; John Herndon: drums.

Title: We Are All From Somewhere Else | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Thrill Jockey


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Bricks CD/LP/Track Review Bricks
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 17, 2017
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 "Mt. Crushmore" CD/LP/Track Review Mt. Crushmore
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 8, 2017
Read "Caipi" CD/LP/Track Review Caipi
by Geannine Reid
Published: March 24, 2017
Read "Backlog" CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Signals" CD/LP/Track Review Signals
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 13, 2017
Read "Grace" CD/LP/Track Review Grace
by James Nadal
Published: August 5, 2017
Read "Incidentals" CD/LP/Track Review Incidentals
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 29, 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!