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Boca Negra by Chicago Underground Duo

Chad Taylor and Rob Mazurek are two prominent ambassadors of Chicago’s progressive-jazz and improvisational scene. Among numerous side projects and band affiliations, this album marks the duo’s fifth release, and is aimed at touching the listeners’ nerve due to an aggregation of diverse thematic overtures. The album was recorded in Brazil, and marks their first effort not recorded in Chicago. And the electronics effects used here highlight Taylor’s computer programming skills. Hence, it’s a many-sided and multi-tiered engagement, where the duo delves into numerous abstracts and wily exercises.

They impart an oscillating impetus and change textures as they build upon thematic layers. Moreover, the artists incorporate ambient-electronic effects, boogaloo style improvisations and other cross-genre inferences. Mazurek’s prismatic and jazzy cornet lines align near flawlessly with Taylor’s polyrhythmic drumming as they investigate a hodgepodge of pathways. On "Confliction," the duo elicits an uneasy disposition via Mazurek’s free-form phrasings that impart a bit of angst atop Taylor’s perky groove. In other areas, they merge deep bass electronics with swaggering funk-rock amid Taylor’s vibes treatments and harmonious motifs. Essentially, the artists transform dissonance into memorable melodies during many passages.

Diversity is a key component, evidenced for example, on "Laughing With The Sun," which features scraggly and distorted keys, playful contrasts and the musicians navigation of dark alleys. In effect, you get a little of everything here. The duo avoids superfluous activities and sustains interest on a continual basis as they seamlessly fuse heady content with a rollicking sense of entertainment.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Chicago Underground Duo
  • CD Title: Boca Negra
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2010
  • Record Label: Thrill Jockey
  • Musicians: Chad Taylor (drums, vibraphone, mbira, computer, electronics), Rob Mazurek (cornet, electronics)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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