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12 Degrees of Freedom by Chicago Underground Duo

For those who think all the interesting / vital improvised jazz / music is coming out of NYC or Europe, or the city that spawned the AACM has "lagged behind," I direct you to the Chicago Underground Duo. These two young fellows have drunk from the fountains of Don Cherry, Ed Blackwell and Leo Smith, and taken a few sips from Steve Reich's as well. In some ways, the C.U.D. is picking up where Cherry & Blackwell left off with their legendary duo recordings. Cherry is clearly an influence (speed, phrasing) on Mazurek, as is Miles Davis (sense of space). Taylor is in the Don Moye sphere, with a touch of Gary Burton -- his playing his free, but with an implicit lyrical quality -- his piece "Gratitude" is sublime. The hypnotic "Waiting for you is like watching stillness grow into enormous wings" weaves a lulling, Reich-ian minimalist tapestry. "January 15th," with a sample of a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., is the track that most recalls the political context of the 60s jazz avant scene, as it sums up feelings of agitation, a nervous pensiveness and yearning, tinged with hope. I think the late masters Cherry and Blackwell would approve. (Special note: Thrill Jockey is primarily a label specializing in "unusual" rock music, so some stores might stick this in the "rock" section -- or, to find, write them at P.O. Box 476794, Chicago, IL 60647.)

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Chicago Underground Duo
  • CD Title: 12 Degrees of Freedom
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 1998
  • Record Label: Thrill Jockey
  • Musicians: Chad Taylor (vibes, percussion), Rob Mazurek (cornet, piano, bamboo flute), Jeff Parker (guitar)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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