Rob Mazurek’s Intergalactic Jazz Aims for a New Dimension

By | November 17, 2020
Rob Mazurek’s Intergalactic Jazz Aims for a New Dimension

Rob Mazurek’s Intergalactic Jazz Goals for a New Dimension

In his Marfa, Texas, house, Rob Mazurek retains a synthesizer hooked as much as a maze of wires, which he makes use of to create morning drones “to get good vitality in the home.” On a sunny afternoon in early November, with constructive vibes nonetheless hanging within the air, the composer and cornetist sat at a black piano and talked a couple of Solar Ra gig in 1981, on the Chicago Jazz Competition, that did one thing comparable: shifted his perspective.

“That live performance modified my life,” Mr. Mazurek, 55, mentioned in a video interview. On the time, he was 16, and “floored” by the depth of the sound and the collaborative nature of the efficiency led by the experimental pianist, whose iconoclastic free jazz supplied the soundtrack to imagined protected journey. “I used to be exhilarated, terrified and shocked. I assumed I’d heard a couple of issues, however nothing ready me for that. I bear in mind considering to myself: ‘That’s what I need to do.’”

Solar Ra is a strong affect on Mr. Mazurek’s expansive new album due Friday, “Dimensional Stardust,” which additionally takes cues from the composers Toru Takemitsu, Invoice Dixon and Gil Evans, who all used sustained rhythm to create immersive environments. That includes Exploding Star Orchestra, an all-star forged of gamers together with Jeff Parker on guitar, Nicole Mitchell on flute, Damon Locks on vocals and Joel Ross on vibraphone, it too envisions intergalactic adventures, mixing classical, pop, spoken-word, jazz and rock. However in contrast to Solar Ra, who used meditative chants and droning organs to seize the cosmos, Mr. Mazurek deploys looping drums and counterpoint to flee actuality on an album that’s concise but nomadic.

“For essentially the most half, the world we stay in isn’t the world we’re dwelling in,” he mentioned. “It’s a world that’s very a lot imposed on us, and I’m bursting out of the galaxial ceiling of what we expect we all know, and what we expect is correct or mistaken.”

After the life-altering Solar Ra gig, Mr. Mazurek enrolled within the Bloom College of Jazz in Chicago, the place he discovered the tenets of musical improv instantly from David Bloom, the famous guitarist and flutist. After highschool, Mr. Mazurek had scholarship gives to review outdoors of town, however he determined to remain house and be taught from Mr. Bloom, spending numerous hours listening to albums by the drummer Artwork Blakey, the saxophonist John Coltrane and the trumpeter Lee Morgan. Concurrently, Mr. Mazurek studied classical composition with Ralph Dodds from Roosevelt College, having been spurred to discover completely different types of creation “from my astonishment of Solar Ra.”

Mr. Mazurek created Exploding Star Orchestra in 2005 after the Chicago Cultural Middle and the Jazz Institute of Chicago commissioned him to kind a gaggle that personified town’s new avant-garde scene. He amassed a 14-member collective for a debut at Millennium Park’s live performance corridor. Two years later, he launched “We Are All From Someplace Else” as his first album main the Orchestra.

“From the get-go, I used to be desirous about two flutes, two violins, two cellos, two keyboards and two drums, which became three drums,” Mr. Mazurek mentioned of the brand new album. “I additionally wished to create a state of affairs the place all the things is contrapuntal in nature. So I wrote this music the place I might take every half and shift it a beat or two and it could nonetheless work fantastically.” The brand new melodies have been greater, extra colourful and signaled a brand new course for the Orchestra.

“I wished it to sound like a flower rising, or a tree increasing, or a satellite tv for pc transferring throughout the sky,” he added.

The opening tracks “Solar Core Tet (Parable 99)” and “A Wrinkle in Time Units Concentric Circles Reeling” conjure wide-open house and open-air journey with their lush string preparations and sporadic horn blasts. The pulsing rhythm and vibraphone loop of “Galaxy 1000,” essentially the most pop-centered track on the LP, feels labyrinthine. However “Parable 3000 (We All Come From Someplace Else)” and “Autumn Pleiades” is perhaps the album’s two-sided centerpiece: Massive drums, undulating bass and searing trumpets lock into hypnotic grooves that sign moments of arrival.

Mr. Mazurek recorded “Dimensional Stardust” over a handful of studio dates between August 2019 and March 2020 (earlier than the pandemic took maintain). He tracked everybody’s work individually and stitched it collectively by means of meticulous edits and overdubs. Nonetheless, the completed album feels communal, prefer it was recorded in a single room underneath Mr. Mazurek’s course.

“There was by no means a degree the place Rob made us really feel like our concepts weren’t welcomed,” mentioned Scott McNiece, who helped produce the album and is likely one of the house owners of the label that can launch it, Worldwide Anthem. “He orchestrates an environment the place everybody can deliver their finest selves.”

The guitarist Mr. Parker, who first began enjoying improvised music with Mr. Mazurek within the early Nineteen Nineties, has seen him evolve from a musician who performed conventional jazz to a benevolent bandleader whose music can’t be labeled by one style.

“He’s extra like a vessel for sound,” Mr. Parker mentioned. “That’s a extremely easy means to take a look at your self as a musician, but when you can begin from there, the probabilities are infinite. Rob embraces that head-on. He’s a broad, wide-open musician who’s distinctive in at the moment’s panorama and fairly distinctive total.”

If “Dimensional Stardust” is partly about discovering unknown worlds past what is understood right here on Earth, it additionally tries to make sense of human complexity at house. “All of us come from stardust, dimensional stardust, we’re all the identical,” Mr. Mazurek mentioned with a smile. “There’s minute variations between us all.

“However there’s just one Solar Ra,” he continued, returning to his idol. “At first, there was Solar Ra. And ultimately of no ends, there’s nonetheless Solar Ra.”

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