Chicago Underground Quartet

Chicago Underground Quartet

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Merging the organic sounds of post-bop jazz with modern electronic and progressive music requires a delicate approach. This third album in less than two years from the admired Chicago Underground collective achieves a near perfect balance. Most interesting is the persistent influence of post-rock (members of the Chicago Underground form the funk group Isotope 127 with members of Tortoise) in both the repetitive texturing ("Tunnel Chrome") and the Marc Ribot-ish guitar tones of Jeff Parker. Weighing in also are leader Rob Mazurek's fascination and command of Ornette Coleman-style free jazz ("Welcome," "Nostaslgia," "Sink, Charge, Fixture"). Mazurek was before the formation of the Chicago Underground a world-class traditional jazz cornetist, but as a progressive, he uses it as an effective sound-sculpturing tool. On the electro-fusion tune "Total Recovery," he layers narrow, fleeting lines (played through an envelope filter) effectively over Parker's looped guitar, and on the dissonant dirge of "A Re-Occuring Dream" makes it sound like a rusty gate hinge. Free-form electro-jazz for the indie rock crowd it may be, but few young jazz players are daring to go this far on record. All the more telling, an indie label had the courage to release it.

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