Last Call Review: Rob Mazurek's Exploding Star Electro Acoustic Orchestra: The Space Between/Delmark

Jan 27, 2014

Creativity, innovation, and artistry help define the rich body of work that cornetist Rob Mazurek has released. Mazurek's relentless exploration of the frontiers of jazz in recent years has put him at the forefront of adventuresome music. In a career spanning over 25 years, Mazurek has written nearly 200 original compositions. His latest work may be his most ambitious yet. Mazurek has returned with his Exploding Star Electro Acoustic Ensemble on one of the most profound discs in recent memory, The Space Between(Delmark Records).

In a program of eight selections that combine into a suite, Mazurek and his ensemble present an experience of cosmic jazz. On The Space Between Mazurek the ensemble is Rob Mazurek: electro acoustic composition, written scores, hidden scores, video scores, painting, cornet, main electronics, text; Marianne M. Kim: video, choreography, dance; Todd Carter: live sound recording, sonic manipulation, recording and mixing engineer; Damon Locks: vocals, electronics, text; Nicole Mitchell: flute; Matt Bauder: electronics; Jeff Kowalkowski: piano, electric piano; Carrie Biolo: percussion; Mauricio Takara: electric cavaquinho; Guilherme Granado: sampler; John Herndon: drums. Together the ensemble creates music very much in the mood of the Sun Ra Arkestra and with nearly equal depth and profound artistry. The release combines a CD & DVD of the music. 

The Space Between begins with "Vortex, Pts. 1-5", which announces the futuristic, electronic heavy date spearheaded by Mazurek's cornet and aided by Mitchell's flute.  "We Are All One With The Moon And Planets" follows with a recitation of cosmic imagery that recalls Sun-Ra, certainly a nice touch. For this writer the best selection is "The Shifting Sequence" which mixes hypnotic spoken word with dreamlike electronics and cornet & flute. A sense of timelessness pervades this selection, making for a profound listening experience. 

Cornetist Rob Mazurek is an artist with a seemingly limitless ability to create musical melodies and colors. Mazurek divides his time between activities in Chicago where he first came to prominence in the 1990s and  São Paulo, Brazil, where he has made an impact on the adventuresome music scene. Mazurek's recent recordings with the São Paulo Underground (last year's release was the adventuresome Beija Flors Vehlo E Sujo) have documented an impressive body of work recorded with some of the top artists on the Brazilian music scene.  Additionally, Mazurek is an active leader and force in several other ensembles,  including Exploding Star Orchestra, Pharoah and the Underground (featuring Pharoah Sanders), Chicago Underground, Pulsar Quartet, São Paulo Underground, Skull Sessions, SOUND IS Quintet, Starlicker, Mandarin Movie, Tigersmilk and Throne of the House of Good and Evil.  Adding to his role as a cornetist and composer, Mazurek is also an adept artist with computer programming, electronic efx and an assortment of keyboards. He is also a visual artist (incorporating sound, painting and video) with numerous international performances, exhibitions and artist residencies.

In person Mazurek can create music that will remain with the listener with years to come. This writer attended a live performance by Mazurek some years ago at the Bemis Underground in Omaha. Appearing with the Chicago Underground Duo, Mazurek's artistry was one of the most profound statements of inspired music ever heard by this jazz fan.

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